7 Best PHP Alternatives – Which Programming Language You Should Learn

PHP was developed by Rasmus Lerdorf in 1995 and nowadays it is one of the most used server side scripting languages for web development. It is also widely used for general programming related tasks, due to its easy usage, object oriented structure, huge ecosystem and amazingly big community of PHP programmers and fans.

However, there can be many reasons to not use PHP for your project. Because of easy usage of PHP, there are many unskilled PHP programmers on the Internet who are not able to write good code. There can be a problem with safety of written code and also the not good variable handling could cause memory usage problems. In many cases, the so-called senior PHP programmers are much weaker than junior programmers of other more difficult languages.

Also, IT professionals often think that PHP is a weaker language when we speak about security and reliability. This is a serious issue, since a company that uses PHP scripts could be flagged as amateur or insecure business by other participants of the market. On the other side of this issue, it is not worth to be a real pro for a programmer in PHP, since big companies are rarely use this language. It is worth more to learn another programming language and work by using it.

But which are the best PHP alternatives on the market? There are many amazing programming languages what could be ideal PHP replacements, depending on the task. In this article we are going to cover 7 languages and observe their pros and cons to give you a full review of best PHP alternatives.

C#

c# programming languageC# is a multi-paradigm programming language developed by Microsoft. It is a simple and object oriented language, built up by modern disciplines of programming. The C# syntax is similar to C, so a C# programmer can easily learn other languages of the family, like Java, C and C++.

Pros

  • C# is closely related to Microsoft .NET Framework which provides many useful libraries. These small code pieces are widely used in the industry and can be easily used for coding the most common tasks.
  • C# is logical and well developed and follows the industry standard programming paradigms, all elements of the language can be used easily.
  • The language has wide range of object oriented assets, like classes, methods and other elements so it is ideal to learn the OOP paradigm. Even junior programmers are able to write C# codes after learning the essentials and the language’s consistency helps to be a good programmer.
  • Because of .NET libraries, C# is the best solution when it comes to write Windows based programs and applications. No external libraries are needed for building a basic Win app and by using the in-built code pieces your software will be nice and similar to other Windows applications.
  • C# can be used for non-Windows programming, including desktop programs for Linux and OS X platforms, as well for smartphone applications for iOS, Windows Phone or Android.
  • Memory management is handled by C# so most of programmers don’t need to handle this important task. However, in special cases manual memory management might be needed and the language supports the low level programming and direct memory management as well.

Cons

  • The language is too complex, it may need some time to understand and learn all the available assets.
  • The most common IDE for C# is Microsoft Visual Studio. Because it is highly advanced, many of C# programmers only learn how to code on Visual Studio and don’t know how to code independently. Using too advanced IDEs may lead to being a weaker programmer.
  • There are many free C# development tools but most of the developers use paid Microsoft product for work. This is even worst when we talk about bigger company level, the more advanced programming tools cost more money. Support and community is strong for advanced paid tools but amazingly weak for free products.

Ruby

ruby programming languageRuby was developed by Yukihiro Matsumoto in 1995. The object oriented language automatically manages the memory usage and has dynamic type system.

Pros

  • Ruby has clear syntax what can be easier understand than other object oriented languages’ syntax. Therefore it is ideal to learn the OOP paradigm for junior programmers.
  • There is a good community behind the language and there are almost libraries for all purposes. Many programmers create libraries on regular basis and maintain them for totally free of charge, just for being the part of Ruby family.
  • Ruby is one of the most used programming languages for websites. It is easy to find learning materials, source codes and community forums for Ruby, also the job opportunities are wider than most of other languages.

Cons

  • However Ruby is ideal for web applications, it is quite slow for other usage. If you want more than reading out data pieces from database, the language’s performance quickly decreases.
  • Ruby has its own syntax and coding language, so programmers of other programming languages also should learn the Ruby coding. This might be a huge disadvantage comparing it with other languages, which share similar syntax between each other.
  • The language’s new versions and updates arrive relative slowly, when we check the major competitors. The current stable Ruby version is 2.5.0 and was released on December 25, 2017, meantime PHP is on its 7.2.3 version, released on March 1, 2018.
  • Ruby on Rails, the most important server-side framework of Ruby is widely used by programmers, however it was developed under MIT license. It often confuses the users that not all Ruby on Rails version are compatible with Ruby versions. The problem occurs after almost all version updates of Ruby.

Python

python programming languagePython was designed by Guido van Rossum in 1991 and is maintained by Python Software Foundation. The main goal of language was to make a well readable and easy to use programming language, even if it was at the expense of performance and speed.

Pros

  • Python is very popular among the junior programmers and there are many questions answered on the internet. This means that you can find answer for almost any of your questions, just because someone had the same problem before.
  • The language was developed to help the easy programming so beginners can learn Python easily. The syntax can be read without problem and if possible, the language uses English words instead of symbols (for example it uses “AND” instead of “&&” or “OR” instead of “||”).
  • Many Python PROs spent thousands of hours writing crystal clear documentation to the language and its functions. The docs are well written like you’re reading a story, instead of some more advanced languages documentations filled with tech terms only. On the top of this, the most used Python functions already contain help info, so you won’t need to Google for them.
  • As you may already understood at previous point, Python users make amazing groups where they discuss related topics and spend hours with making online friends. You can quickly be a member of such groups where you can get valuable help for free of charge. For example, the biggest Python subreddit, r/Python has more than 227,000 participants.
  • The other hand of popularity of Python is that many big companies use it. If you become a Python programmer, you can easily get job at such companies, like Dropbox, Evernote, General Electric, Google, Citi, Lego and Toyota, to name only few of them.

Cons

  • One of the biggest disadvantages of the language is that it is not ideal for mobile application development. Of course, there are many Python frameworks for mobile development, but if you ask a PRO, he will never suggest you Python for this task.
  • Comparing with other languages, Python applications can be significantly slower. So when speed is a significant issue, other languages like Java could be a better choice.
  • The language uses dynamic data types, so beginner who meet programming for the first time with Python, will not have the essential knowledge about data types. This can be confusing when they work with programming languages that use static typing.
  • The structure of Python is not strict and based on conventions. It means that you can break the conventions when you can and set your own structure. Such behavior makes it really hard to read other programmers’ code in contrast with languages’ code that use strict structures.

Go

go programming languageGo was created by Google employees (Robert Griesemer, Rob Pike, Ken Thompson) in 2009, and the open source language is free to use for everyone. It uses static typing and garbage collection.

Pros

  • Because of Go was developed as small and simple language, it compiles the source codes very quickly. In comparison with other major languages, Go’s compiler is significantly faster.
  • It combines the advantages of C-like and Python languages. As often cited, Go is fast as C languages and simple as Python.
  • Google supports the further development of Go, so the team behind the language is built up by industry top programmers and engineers.
  • Newer versions of Go did not make the language more difficult. The inventors’ main goal was to make the programming language so simple that the documentation of it can be held in any programmers’ head. Actually, this key principle is still valid, a Go programmer rarely need to check the web documentation. Another advantage is that the official Go documentation is well structured and you can easily find anything in it.
  • Go supports code pieces in more than one file. You just need to use the same package name everywhere and the compiler will know that the independent files belong to the same compilation process. This can be a big help when you write a very long code.
  • The automatic garbage collection is a perfect asset to have a good memory management. You don’t need to worry about not used variables in the memory, Go automatically takes care of them.

Cons

  • There are less packages available for Go than other bigger languages. The main reason of this disadvantage is that the Go core is complex enough that third party packages are rarely needed. When extra libraries are needed, they can be more difficult to find.
  • Go has special error handling with built-in error type, and by using error values you can find out what went wrong with your code. Unlike other languages, like Java that throws exceptions and you can catch them, you should explicitly check the occurred errors in Go. By doing this, the size of code can be bigger than you expected.
  • The easiness of the language is a disadvantage when the programmers can’t use more difficult code pieces. In some cases you will need to write down the same thing as did earlier.
  • Go can be difficult for beginners, since it uses specific environment variable settings and directory structure. If you are a Go newbie, you need to learn these key things first.

JavaScript

javascript prgoramming languageJavaScript was designed by Brendan Eich in 1995, since then it became one of the three essential technologies of building web sites (along with HTML and CSS). The main goal of the language is making interactive websites and all of the major web browsers support JavaScript codes.

Pros

  • JavaScript support is a must have part of all modern web browsers, so you don’t need to install any extra tool to run JS code pieces. Many of the browsers also have advanced JavaScript editor and there are many free services on the Internet, where you can enter and run your own code for testing.
  • JavaScript codes run in the visitors’ browser so it is often called a client side language. However, by using Node.js you can use JavaScript to write server based application, without the need to use a real server side programming language.
  • You can quickly create web based applications that are nice and interactive, by writing the code in HTML, adding the style with CSS and make it interactive with JavaScript. This solution is much faster and easier than using other languages’ in built tools for styling an application.
  • JavaScript has one of the biggest community and there are almost no task that was not already written in this language. There are literally millions of JS codes on the Internet that you can get free of charge and use them on your website with only few clicks and customization steps.
  • The language has similar syntax to C, so a programmer who can work in JavaScript is able to quickly switch to C, C++, C# or Java programming.
  • JavaScript is an easy to learn programming language, many programming courses use it to show examples for essential programming disciplines. Combine this fact with the presence of online sandboxes of JS and the language is ideal for starting a programmer career.

Cons

  • JavaScript has few type coercions what really doesn’t make sense. For example, ‘9’ – 1 is equal to 8, while ‘9’ + 1 is equal to ‘91’. In the first case the result is a number while the second result is a string.
  • The language also uses dynamical language typing so newbies can easily miss to understood why typing is an essential programming feature.
  • When comparing to other languages, like Python, JavaScript’s standard library is weaker. However, you can really easily find extra libraries on the Internet.
  • The evolution of JavaScript has never stopped and the development is so fast, that there are many info sources on the Internet that are totally outdated. This can be confusing for newbies who may have hard times while finding the most trustable sources for learning.

F#

f# programming languageF# is a .NET programming language, therefore was developed by a Microsoft employee, Don Syme in 2005. It is strongly typed and has open source and platform independent compiler as well.

Pros

  • By using the Common Language Runtime, F# can easily access to .NET Framework’s assets and able to use other .NET related languages’ code pieces.
  • Similar to C#, F# is also natively supported by Microsoft via its Visual Studio. The paid service of the company has an amazingly wide list of services, supporting the coding, debugging and other sub tasks in both languages.
  • F# is a concise programming language, it does not use curly brackets or semicolons so you can focus on code writing. In comparison with in-house competitor C#, F# often needs less code to solve the same problem.
  • The language’s powerful type system helps to avoid many common mistakes, including null reference exceptions and more. By setting the values immutable by default, you will have significantly less errors.
  • Since F# and C# are closely related to each other, C# codes can be directly translated to F#. This is a big advantage especially in corporate areas, where many big companies using C#. By translating the C# codes companies can re-use their previous works and running them under F#, what can be more efficient in special cases.

Cons

  • One of the biggest disadvantages of F# is the lack of good support for Android and iOS. It is crystal clear that Microsoft did not make it their first priority to support the competitor’s services.
  • There are significantly less F# developers in comparison with major programming languages. For example, there are almost hundred times more C# in the World than F# programmers.
  • F# has no real support for GUI designer tools.
  • Among with imperative and object oriented methods, the language uses functional methods as well. This can be confusing with programmers who used previously clear OOP languages, like JAVA.
  • Microsoft engineers spent more efforts on making advanced tools for C# than giving the same tools for F# programmers. By comparing the two MS related languages, programming in C# is more convenient than working with F#. Also, the latter one does not have any refactoring tools.

Java

java programming languageJava was designed by James Gosling, a Sun Microsystems employee in 1995 and since then, it became one of the most popular programming languages. It uses object oriented paradigm and often used to teach the OOP principles for newbie programmers.

Pros

  • Java uses static typing so its IDEs are able to show the errors during typing the code. This is much more convenient than running the programs and checking the upcoming errors afterwards. Advanced functions of Java IDEs like auto completion of code, showing related assets or documentation may help the junior programmers to learn the programming language faster.
  • Java has widely used programming standards that help to write standardized code pieces and help in continuing other programmers’ work. The similar solutions in programming are extremely useful when it comes to work in a bigger group on the same project.
  • The language has clear structure and its object oriented point of view is super easy to understand. Even newbies are able to understand what encapsulation, inheritance, and objects are by seeing how they work.
  • Java is one of the most used programming language, it is as important as C or JavaScript. By learning this language you will always find job and companies that utilize it in their projects, and you will easily find people to continue the work.
  • Java has similar syntax to C-like languages, so a Java programmer can easily switch to C, C++, C# or JavaScript programming.
  • Because the language is older than 13 years and it can be considered as an industry standard language, there are amazingly big source of external libraries and other useful resources. For the same reason, there is a strong community behind Java, whose members are often huge fans of this language.
  • The Java Virtual Machine (JVM) can be installed on many platforms, hence Java codes are platform independent. Wherever you have JVM, you can run the same Java code pieces. This independency highly supported the industry leader role of Java.

Cons

  • Java primitives are against the key OOP rules, which determines that everything should be objects. Such primitives, like integers or characters are not objects in Java. This needs a different kind of usage than objects have.
  • The language is not as advanced as competitor languages like C#, and misses some of the important tools for enterprise level programming. However Java continuously gets new programming assets with new versions, its evolution is quite slow.
  • The garbage collection automatization is a big help for programmers but also a huge disadvantage of newbies. Since Java handles the memory management and takes care of unused variables, junior programmers may not learn these essential tasks of programming.
  • Advanced IDEs could be also a problem, since first time users also need some time to learn the usage of tools and the wide range of possibilities can totally confuse them.

Wrapping Up

While there are many programming languages that are a good alternative to PHP, you should still not avoid using PHP because the majority of the websites are based on this programming language. Also I’m very interested in your opinion on which programming language do you use and recommend. Please let us know in the comments bellow.

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