A quick Google search for the phrase PHP versus .NET reveals that these two heavyweights of the programming world have been the subject of comparison since their very inception. However, is it really possible to compare them, or better yet – is it even necessary?
The very first and most crucial distinction between PHP and .NET is that the former is a programming language, while the latter is a web framework. Comparing the two is like comparing apples and oranges; it would be more accurate to compare PHP to C#, for instance, one of the languages within the .NET framework. And yet people insist on placing PHP and .NET side by side in order to finally determine which of the two is superior. This is why we attempt to illustrate some of the advantages and drawbacks of each of the two and explain how Peachpie can blend them together into an unstoppable force that utilizes only the strengths.
PHP in a Nutshell
PHP can sometimes tend to get a decent amount of grief in the programming community for its comparative lack of security and simplicity. However, it is no accident that over 80% of all websites are built in PHP, including some of the most frequently visited ones, such as Facebook, Yahoo, WordPress or VK.com. Let us look at some of the factors that make PHP one of the most popular programming languages according to the PYPL index (albeit recently overtaken by Python, but still ahead of C#).
There is perhaps no language more suitable for beginners than PHP. With its unbeatably easy-to-understand syntax and lightning fast project start-up, PHP is understandably popular for the development of simple applications and webs. However, it is this very advantage that paradoxically gives PHP a bad reputation among the developer community. Because of the low barrier to entry into the world of developing with PHP, the percentage of poorly written PHP code out there is substantial. This is why PHP is perfectly suitable – and perhaps even superior to C# – for the development of certain applications, but likely not the first choice for more complex projects.
PHP used to be the clear winner in this category, being entirely free and open-source, while developing in C# required the purchase of – to start off with – Windows itself and the rather pricy Visual Studio. With Microsoft’s complete U-turn in how they approach its competition, this is no longer as clear cut. Microsoft now embraces its competitors (even Linux) and rather than attempting to silo its products and forcing them down our throats, it has made Windows and even Visual Studio free and compatible with the services of some of its rivals. Microsoft wants to be everywhere and work everywhere, which is also evidenced by its recent venture into cross-platform development through the acquisition of Xamarin.
What remains the same, however, are the costs associated with compensating the developers. A .NET developer continues to be 30-40% more expensive than their PHP counterpart. This is one of the most significant benefits of Peachpie, which allows for PHP and .NET interoperability, meaning that PHP and .NET developers can collaborate or projects can even be developed entirely in PHP, which can save companies a considerable amount of money.
Performance and Security
In terms of performance, .NET applications outdo PHP simply by virtue of the fact that they are compiled while PHP is interpreted. The interpretation is a well-known weak spot of PHP, which people often try to circumvent by various caching mechanisms. In terms of security, there is no debate – the .NET framework is as secure as they come. This is why government and state institutions are often unable to use PHP applications for legal reasons.
Again, this is where Peachpie is of enormous value, since it enables PHP developers to make use of the performance and security advantage of the .NET framework. It also allows companies and institutions to use PHP applications, which often have a brilliant architecture, without having to compromise performance or security.
Support and Community
The PHP community is vibrant, friendly and extensive, whereas .NET tends to have highly complicated documentation pages and a more closed-off community with a much smaller head count. Of course, .NET is Microsoft property, whereas the open-source PHP is maintained by the community itself.
Comparing PHP and .NET is, as explained in the very first paragraph, unreasonable. It somewhat makes sense to pick a language from within the .NET framework and compare it with PHP, but it is important to understand that applications in each of the two languages often serve completely different purposes.
The value of Peachpie is that it brings the two worlds together and allows one to pick each language for its strengths. Thanks to the seamless both-way interoperability, developers can code parts of their applications in PHP and run them safely within the .NET framework, or even split the development process among the two languages. This begs the question – is it even necessary to compare PHP and .NET when Peachpie allows for them to be combined to yield the best possible result?