JavaScript and PHP

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PHP vs Javascript in 2021

Posted in JavaScript, PHP

If you are interested in writing code for the web, you will need to pick your preference to write code on the client-side or on the server-side. Your choice will decide the programming skills that you will require to excel in your endeavor. Will it PHP, Javascript, or both?

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.

Some popular websites such as Facebook, Wikipedia, Flickr, and Yahoo were built with Javascript and PHP. One of the most popular web page design tools, Wordpress, is built using PHP and Javascript.

This post should help you understand the two languages better.

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 build internet applications around JavaScript. It was initially used to build interactive web pages, but today you can build web and mobile applications, real-time applications, and games. Being a client-side programming language, it runs on the browser. Every browser has a Javascript engine to execute the code. For example, the Javascript engine in the Firefox browser is SpiderMonkey and in Chrome is V8. Javascript conforms to the ECMAScript which is a specification standard.

Here is a sample Javascript code:

<script type="text/javascript">
document.write("JavaScript is the most popular language");

What is PHP?

PHP (recursive acronym for PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor) is a widely-used open source general-purpose scripting language especially suited for server-side web development. PHP is used to create dynamic and interactive websites.

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

The PHP code is embedded in the HTML code and it has a specialstart and end processing instructions . This allows you to jump into 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. And much more. PHP scripts are used on the server-side, in Command-Line scripting and 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, IIS and many others.

PHP vs Javascript: Features

How are they similar and how do they differ? Few salient features:

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. Javascript code is executed on the browser and not on the server, hence they are named as client-side and server-side scripting languages. Javascript was known to run only on the browser until Node.js was introduced. Node.js is an open-source, cross-platform JavaScript run-time environment that executes JavaScript code outside of a browser. Node.js lets 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.

Open Source, hence FREE

PHP is open-source, developed and maintained by a large community and has a good support base. Since it is free of cost all you need to start working with PHP 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 there is no need to pay for the scripts written in Javascript.


Javascript is not a markup language like HTML or CSS but a programming language. Hence if you know another programming language, then learning JavaScript will be much easier for you. Similarly, PHP is also regarded as a programming language easy to learn. There are online tutorials and manuals available online for 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.


Javascript is an asynchronous single-threaded programming language as compared to PHP which is a multi-threaded language and asynchronous. You can use Ajax with Javascript to bring in the 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.

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 browser such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer and so on.


PHP is more secure than Javascript as the PHP code is not visible in the browser. Javascript code is vulnerable and is prone to security risks. You can secure your Javascript code by using Security Analyzer tools and use best development practices such as usage of SSL/HTTPS and so on.

Database Access

Accessing the database using a server-side language such as PHP is easy however Javascript being a front end language needs an environment for directly accessing the database. With the introduction of Node.js, a JavaScript runtime environment, JavaScript gets the capability to perform tasks that other server-side programming languages can do.

What is your choice? Javascript? PHP?


Analysis reports say that JavaScript is currently being used by more than 94 percent of the 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 which 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 is reduced significantly for Javascript-based websites and applications. JavaScript allows programmers to build large-scale web applications easily.

JavaScript is the most popular programming language used by about 10 million developers worldwide.

You should also learn about various JavaScript libraries, frameworks, and tools and combine multiple libraries and frameworks to use the JavaScript as per the requirements of the projects.


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 of the popular PHP frameworks are Laravel, Symfony, Zend and CodeIgnitor, and many more. If you are comfortable with Object-Oriented Programming and are familiar with the usage of libraries and frameworks, then PHP should be your choice as it has a large developer community support!

To sum it up, you can use either of them or both collaboratively depending on your application development needs. This is the complete difference between PHP and Javascript.

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Sindhuja Hari

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. View all posts by the Author

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Graham Smith
Graham Smith

You should mention TypeScript as it greatly improves JavaScript, giving it a high level language experience like Python.


Thank you for this, very informative, I chose Javascript over PHP a year ago and I love it, will take PHP in the next few months i see