Sindhuja Hari | 11 Aug, 2023

PHP vs Javascript in 2024: Comparison, Features & Applications


If you’re interested in writing code for the web, you will need to choose, at least at first, between being a client-side developer or a server-side developer. In other words, you will have to choose between front-end and back-end development. While there are many programming languages for both purposes, here we will discuss choosing PHP or JavaScript — or perhaps even both.

Many popular websites, such as Facebook, Wikipedia, Flickr, and Yahoo, were built with JavaScript and PHP. Even the most popular web page design tool, WordPress, is built using PHP and JavaScript.

Both JavaScript and PHP are general-purpose scripting languages suited for web development. However, JavaScript is a client-side scripting language and PHP is a server-side scripting language. The two languages can be used independently and collaboratively, and they can do wonders combined.

This post will help you understand the two languages better, including helping you make a decision on which to learn and their feature sets.

PHP vs JavaScript: Key Differences

PHP vs Javascript Comparison

What is PHP?

PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor, or PHP for short, is a widely-used open source general-purpose scripting language that is especially suited for server-side web development. PHP is used to create dynamic and interactive websites.

The PHP code is embedded in the HTML code and it has special start and end processing instructions. This allows you to jump in and out of "PHP mode."

PHP is different from client-side JavaScript as the code is executed on the server and the resultant HTML is generated which is then sent to the client. The client, which in this case is the browser, receives the results of running that script - but the underlying code is hidden. A PHP program can collect form data, generate dynamic page content, or send and receive cookies. You can also write PHP scripts for desktop applications. 

PHP runs on almost all major Operating Systems, such as Microsoft Windows, macOS, RISC OS, Linux, and UNIX variants, and Web Servers such as Apache and IIS.

If you would like to develop a full-fledged website and host it then PHP could be your preferred choice. The PHP code is simple, it is free, and your code can run on any platform. It has a huge set of standard libraries hence application development is fast. Some popular PHP frameworks are Laravel, Symfony, Zend, and CodeIgnitor.

Sample PHP code:

<!DOCTYPE html>
echo"Hi, I'm a PHP script!";

What is JavaScript?

JavaScript is one of the most popular and widely used scripting languages in the world. Giants such as Netflix, Walmart, and Paypal have built their internet applications with JavaScript. It was initially used to build interactive web pages, but today you can build web and mobile applications, real-time applications, and games. JavaScript conforms to the ECMAScript which is a specification standard.f

Being a client-side programming language, it runs on the browser. Every browser has a JavaScript engine to execute code - SpiderMonkey in the Firefox browser is and V8 in Chrome. 

Analysis reports say that JavaScript is currently being used by more than 94 percent of websites. You can also use cross-platform runtime engines like Node.js to write server-side code in JavaScript. You can also create web pages that work well across various browsers, platforms, and devices by combining JavaScript, HTML5, and CSS3.

There are many JavaScript Frameworks available in the web market like AngularJS, ReactJS, NodeJS, etc. By using these frameworks, the development time and effort are reduced significantly for JavaScript-based websites and applications. JavaScript allows programmers to build large-scale web applications easily.

Here is a sample JavaScript code:

document.write("JavaScript is the most popular language");

JavaScript is the most popular language

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Which is Better: PHP or JavaScript?

This depends on what career path you’re aiming to take (though there is some flexibility when it comes to this.) PHP is a back-end language, so you’ll be working on server-side responsibilities. JavaScript is a front-end language, so you’ll largely be working on client-side responsibilities.

However, there is some wiggle room in this. PHP can be used to write scripts for desktop applications and can have its code embedded in HTML code. Similarly, JavaScript can be used for back-end development via Node.js.

php and javascript salary

As far as salaries go, JavaScript has a slight lead. JavaScript developers have an average US salary of $96,533, compared to PHP’s $91,215

In terms of employment opportunities, JavaScript is the most popular programming language and has been for almost a decade. A quick job search on Indeed shows (at the time of writing) 104,000+ open jobs available for JavaScript developers, in comparison to 12,000+ open jobs for PHP developers.

So in terms of employment and pay, JavaScript could be considered the better programming language to learn, though both are quite lucrative.

Is PHP Easier than JavaScript?

This is something of an apples-to-oranges comparison, as the two languages are used to work on different problems. 

Generally speaking, learners and professionals consider PHP simpler to get off of the ground with, but if you’re going to put effort into learning a new language (especially if it is your first time), then JavaScript is the way to go. The difference in difficulty is minimal, and as previously mentioned, the salaries and employment opportunities are a bit better. 

Do You Need to Learn PHP or JavaScript?

The simple answer is that, if you’re picking which programming language to learn first, choose JavaScript. You can build functional applications fairly quickly, and the career opportunities are plentiful. 

You can always learn PHP later and, in fact, it should be easier once you’ve got JavaScript under your grasp.

Should I Learn PHP Before JavaScript?

You can learn either language first, but it would be better to learn JavaScript before PHP, as you can more easily find opportunities this way. You can learn PHP afterward and it should be straightforward enough. Besides this, there is no explicit reason as to why you should learn one before the other.

What Can JavaScript Do that PHP Cannot?

The difference between PHP and JavaScript in this regard doesn’t have a very straightforward answer as there are many things that both can do and features that both support. It’s better to think of it as both languages are good at doing certain things better than the other. The mutually exclusive capabilities are more technical in nature, so for now, just put the thought aside and know that you can do a lot with both.

PHP vs JavaScript: Features

It’s worth knowing what the differences between PHP and JavaScript are in terms of their features. The following section describes those differences.

1. Language Type

Both PHP and JavaScript are scripting languages. However, the PHP code is executed on the server and the result is pure HTML code which is returned as a response to the browser, making PHP a server-side language. As a client-side language, JavaScript code is executed on the browser and not on the server. 

JavaScript could only run on the browser until Node.js was developed. Node.js is an open-source, cross-platform JavaScript run-time environment that executes JavaScript code outside of a browser. Its developers use JavaScript for server-side scripting to produce dynamic web page content before the page is sent to the user's web browser. With Node.js, you do not need two different languages on the client-side and the server-side.

2. Open Source

PHP is open-source, developed and maintained by a large community, and has a good support base. Being free, all you need to start working with it is a PHP parser, a web server (such as Apache), and a web browser like Google Chrome. JavaScript is an implementation of ECMAScript and ECMAScript is an open standard, but not open source. JavaScript downloads are free.

3. Learning Difficulty

JavaScript is not a markup language like HTML or CSS, but a programming language. Hence, it’s easier to learn JavaScript if you have programming experience. Similarly, PHP is also regarded as a programming language that is easy to learn. There are plenty of online tutorials and resources available online for both JavaScript and PHP.

Both are interpreted languages, which means that you can make changes to your code and run it again to see the effect without having to recompile the code.

4. Concurrency

JavaScript is an asynchronous single-threaded programming language as opposed to the multi-threaded and asynchronous language that is PHP. You can use Ajax with JavaScript to bring in asynchronous functionality. Ajax is asynchronous JavaScript and XML, which is used on the client-side as a group of interrelated web development techniques in order to create asynchronous web applications.

5. Platform Independent

Both JavaScript and PHP are platform-independent. PHP can run on all major Operating Systems, such as Linux, Windows, Mac, and Solaris, and on web servers, such as Apache, IIS, and Lighttpd. JavaScript can run on any modern browser, like Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Safari.

6. Security

PHP is more secure than JavaScript as the code itself is not visible in the browser. JavaScript code is comparatively more vulnerable. You can secure your JavaScript code by using Security Analyzer tools and following best development practices like the usage of SSL/HTTPS.

7. Database Access

Accessing the database using a server-side language like PHP is easy. However, JavaScript, being a front-end language, needs an environment for directly accessing the database. With the introduction of Node.js, JavaScript gained the ability to perform tasks previously limited to server-side languages.

PHP vs JavaScript: Head-to-Head Comparison




Developed By

Rasmus Lerdorf 

Brendan Eich 

Scripting Language






File Extension




Mac, Solaris, Linux, and Windows

Google Chrome, Safari, and Mozilla Firefox


Highly secure 

Not secure

Database Access


Not directly. Requires an environment, like NodeJS.

Use Case

Dynamic web pages, sending and receiving cooking, collecting form data, sending emails, and creating sessions

Dynamic websites, mobile applications, real-time applications, and games


Laravel, Symfony, and CakePHP

Angular, React, Vue.js, and Meteor

Should You Learn PHP or JavaScript?

So there you have it - this has been our analysis of PHP vs JavaScript. The main point is that you can use either of them or both collaboratively depending on your application development needs. 

JavaScript is the most popular programming language used by about 10 million developers worldwide. As such, you’ll find plenty of resources to learn JavaScript and plenty of career opportunities after. There are also several Javascript libraries and frameworks to choose from.

PHP is still used by many companies and is an easy language to pick up. However, as we’ve repeatedly pointed out, you’re better off going with JavaScript if this is your first programming language. If you’d still like to learn it, PHP certifications will come in handy.

Whichever you choose, good luck!

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By Sindhuja Hari

Sindhuja Hari, a technology geek, content producer & writer brings over 20 years of experience. She builds and delivers best in class content for global audiences. Her favorite domains/ genres are IT, Manufacturing, Logistics & Supply Chain, and Travel & Leisure.

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Hello Sindhuja, Your infographic about employment opportunities is a mismatch with your copy below it. The salaries are switched, so by looking only at the infographic, PHP has the higer salary. Also from what I've read, PHP is used by over 70% of websites, largely due to Wordpress. Is that right? Using only one line of JS would count as a site that uses JS.

2 months ago


Sorry, in my previous post, it is the number of jobs that mismatch not the salaries.

2 months ago