PHP vs. JavaScript: A Comprehensive Analysis of the Two Scripting Languages

Web developers frequently use PHP and JavaScript as scripting languages. However, each has its own quirks and applications.

We’ll look at the differences between the two in this post, as well as when you should use each in development projects.

Let’s start with a look at how these languages came to be.

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Origins of PHP vs. JavaScript

Rasmus Lerdorf created PHP as an open source language in 2004. Personal Home Page Tools, a set of scripts used by Rasmus to track visits to his site, inspired the name.

PHP 3.0 introduced a new reverse acronym for the language: PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor. It’s now simply known as PHP.

Originally known as Mocha, the name was changed to LiveScript and then JavaScript to capitalize on the popularity of the Java programming language. Brendan Eich of Netscape created JavaScript in 1995 to bring interactivity to the Web.

Although JavaScript is now officially known as ECMAScript, most people still refer to it as JavaScript.

As a result, both languages have a long history.

We’ll now look at some of their other resemblances.

Here’s where you can learn more about these popular scripting languages. To tweet, simply click here. Or that PHP stands for “Personal Home Page Tools”? Did you know that JavaScript used to be called Mocha?

Similarities between PHP and JavaScript

Type of Language

Scripting languages include PHP and JavaScript. In contrast to ‘pure’ programming languages like Java or C++, this is not the case.

That is, rather than being translated directly into machine code, they are translated through a third party. This has an effect on their performance. The majority of scripting languages are interpreted rather than compiled.

You’d need an interpreter if you didn’t know the Navajo language, and the translation would take longer. Consider the following scenario: you want to translate a website from your native language to Navajo.

Computed languages are faster than interpreted languages because of this.

Variables are classified according to their type.

Another thing that PHP and JavaScript have in common is that they are both weakly typed.

This means that you don’t have to specify the data type of a variable in either language; it’s assumed.

As a result, in PHP, you can write the following:

Alternatively, in JavaScript:

These variables will be recognized as strings (groups of characters) in both languages.

This is in contrast to a strongly typed language like Java, where you must declare the type of variable you’re using:

Both PHP and JavaScript are dynamically typed, which means you can easily change the type in your code by redefining it:

$x is now an integer in PHP.

x is now a number in JavaScript.

Because types in PHP and JavaScript aren’t defined explicitly, you’ll need functions to figure out what data type you’re dealing with.

The typeof function in JavaScript can be used to accomplish this.

The PHP 8 release includes a new, improved version of gettype called get_debug_type. The gettype function in PHP returns the type of a variable.

Objects and Classes

Neither PHP nor JavaScript were designed to be object-oriented from the start. As the languages progressed, object orientation was added to them.

PHP 5 introduced the ability to create objects and classes in 2004.

Objects and classes were not used in JavaScript until much later. With the introduction of ES6, they became part of the language in 2015.

A class is a type of object that is grouped together in a generic way.

A property (characteristic) and a method (behavior) define an object.

A good analogy is the role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons (D&D).

An object corresponds to a player character. A character class, such as Barbarian, Rogue, or Wizard, is assigned to each character.

You can define as many properties as you want for an object.

As an example, a character’s properties could include:

  • the name
  • racial
  • Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom, Dexterity, Constitution, and Charisma are all abilities.
  • personality type (e.g., outgoing, reserved, or inquisitive)
  • (lawful, chaotic, good, evil) alignment

You can get information about an object by using object methods.

Here’s an example of a class and object definition in PHP code:

When this code is added to an HTML file, the following should appear in the browser:

Sid Yen

Human beings

18 Intelligence

You can also define methods, which are actions taken by or performed on the objects.

They could be, for example, in D&D:

  • surpriseAttack() is a function that allows you to attack someone unexpectedly.
  • disarmTrap() is a method for disarming a trap.
  • castSpell() is a method for casting spells.
  • resistPoison() is a function that helps you avoid getting poisoned.

When a method is applied to an object, the result may be influenced by its properties. As a result, a sorcerer’s apprentice object won’t be able to cast spells as well as an experienced wizard object.

Demand on the Market

Another thing PHP and JavaScript have in common is that both languages have a high demand for developers.

JavaScript and PHP developers are also well compensated.

They earn around $80,000 per year on average in the United States.

Salaries for PHP Developers on Glassdoor.com

Salaries for JavaScript Developers on Glassdoor.com

Documentation is required.

It was written with experienced developers in mind, not beginners. The bad news for newcomers to PHP or JavaScript is that neither language’s official documentation is very user-friendly.

The documentation for each language can be found here:

  • Documentation for PHP
  • Language specification for ECMAScript 2020

Chris Ferdinandi, a JavaScript instructor, laments the lack of good JavaScript documentation, citing it as one of the reasons it took him so long to master the language.

You might be wondering, “What is the difference between PHP and JavaScript?” at this point. There are a number of them.

What Are the Differences Between JavaScript and PHP?

Client-Side Scripting vs. Server-Side Scripting

This means that instead of running on a client machine, it runs on a web server. PHP is a scripting language that runs on the server.

When a user logs in, server-side programming can be used to deliver dynamic content (typically from a database) to them, such as a welcome message (“Hi, Claire!”).

For example, there are over 100 WooCommerce extensions that connect to various payment providers via APIs (application programming interfaces) to process transactions. Server-side scripting is used in ecommerce on a more serious level.

JavaScript is a client-side scripting language, which means it can run on a user’s laptop, phone, or tablet.

The DOM, which stands for Document Object Model, is a tree-like structure formed from the HTML of a web page that JavaScript can manipulate.

You’ve probably seen client-side JavaScript in action if you’ve ever seen an accordion or toggle, perhaps as part of a FAQ plugin. JavaScript event handlers toggle the CSS display or visibility properties on or off when you click or tap on a question, revealing or hiding the relevant answer.

Backend vs. Frontend

PHP is used in the backend of a website, which is hidden from visitors. This means that PHP does all of its work in the WordPress admin and on the web server.

JavaScript was traditionally used on the frontend, but that changed in 2009 with the introduction of Node.js, a backend runtime. JavaScript is now a true full stack language.

Other Languages in Combination

The LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) includes PHP as a backend language.

PHP and HTML can work together. Examining the code of many web apps, including WordPress, will reveal this.

Here’s an example from the index.php file of the Twenty Twenty theme:

It is, however, more difficult to maintain web apps that combine PHP with other backend languages. Plus, you must not only know PHP, but also study and be proficient in the other languages!

JavaScript programmers have a little more leeway when it comes to writing code. They can use HTML, XML, and Ajax with the language.

Sensitivity to the circumstances

When naming entities in the language, case sensitivity refers to the distinction between uppercase and lowercase letters.

Some things require a case, while others do not. PHP is case sensitive to some extent.

Variables in PHP are case sensitive.

If you want to create a variable in PHP, you can do so as follows:

It won’t work if you try to get the value of $DOG later in your code.

However, PHP functions are case-insensitive.

If you write this function in PHP, it should look like this:

Your function will still run if you later call DogFetch() in your code.

However, because it is inconsistent, this is not a good coding practice.

As a result, variables named beagle, BEAGLE, and Beagle would all be distinct. JavaScript, on the other hand, is case-sensitive throughout.

grammatical structure

The set of rules that govern a language is known as syntax. Word order, grammar, and punctuation are all part of this.

We could say in English:

I took my time eating my soup.

If you were Yoda, however, you’d say:

I ate my soup slowly.

The same words, but in a different order. The syntax is unique. What is the reason for this?

The Yoda-Speak Generator is a tool that allows you to create your own Yoda-

Some languages have words that look similar but have different meanings.

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Lui is a French word that means “him” in English.

Lui is an Italian word that means “he” in English.

While humans are tolerant of misspellings, computers are very literal. When we make a mistake in our programming syntax, a computer frequently does not understand what we mean, resulting in an error.

For single-line code comments, both JavaScript and PHP use the same double forward slash syntax:

However, PHP has a different comment syntax:

You’ll get an error if you try to use PHP comment syntax in JavaScript:

Uncaught SyntaxError in JavaScript

Other syntax errors that can be found in both JavaScript and PHP include:

  • A semicolon (;) is missing at the end of a line of code.
  • For conditional statements, do not use a pair of curly braces.

Definitions of Variable and Constant

Variable declaration differs between JavaScript and PHP, as we saw earlier.

They also have different definitions of constants.

This is the syntax used by JavaScript:

The value of a simple constant like this cannot be changed later.

For constants, PHP uses the define() function.

PHP constants are always written in uppercase. Here’s an example:

Within the brackets, the first two parameters are self-explanatory.

The third option, case-insensitive, is set to false by default. The constant will only be case insensitive if it is set to true.

That is to say:

Arrays are a type of data structure.

Arrays are variables that can hold multiple items.

Arrays in PHP are either ordered maps or associative arrays. That is, the array’s items have key and value pairs that are related.

The following is a less abstract example, in which the key is a first name and the value is a surname.

You can convert PHP objects to arrays and arrays to PHP objects for convenience.

JavaScript, on the other hand, can only have arrays with numbered indexes. Consider the following scenario:

You must use the array index, which starts at 0, to retrieve a value.

JavaScript does not support associative arrays with named indexes.

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Integration of databases

PHP works particularly well with MySQL or MariaDB, which are both used by WordPress. A number of PHP frameworks also make it simple to connect to databases. Connecting to databases is something that PHP excels at.

Searching, sorting, and filtering information to present to a user, such as products in an online store, can be done with the help of a database.

Traditionally, JavaScript hasn’t worked with databases, but that’s starting to change.

One example of a JavaScript database is PouchDB.

PouchDB is a JavaScript database that is open source.

Embroidery

The number of instructions that a programming language can handle is referred to as threading.

PHP is multi-threaded, which means it can handle multiple instructions at the same time.

A single-threaded language, such as JavaScript, on the other hand, can only handle one command at a time.

Developer Samim Yaquby uses the analogy of a coffee shop serving customers to demonstrate threading.

It’s easier and more efficient for a small café with a single barista to serve customers with simpler orders first, one at a time. This is similar to the single threading in JavaScript.

A large Starbucks, on the other hand, would almost certainly have several baristas working on the same orders at the same time. This is similar to PHP’s multithreaded approach.

Effortlessness

On the same hardware, JavaScript is generally faster than PHP. However, because JavaScript is run on the client, if the client machine is old and slow, the execution time will be affected.

Since PHP 7, thanks to a new engine that doubled performance and reduced memory consumption, PHP speed has increased by leaps and bounds. PHP 7.0 can handle more than twice as many requests as PHP 5.6, and performance has improved even more with each 7.x release.

When developing real-time applications such as chatbots or games, PHP outperforms JavaScript.

The Just in Time Compiler, which will be included in PHP 8, is expected to make PHP even faster.

Managers of packages

Package managers are third-party reusable code modules that add extra functionality to a project. Each language has its own package manager. Because some packages rely on others to function, they are referred to as dependencies.

PEAR and Composer are two package managers for PHP that can download PHP packages from the Packagist repository.

npm, Yarn, and Bower are some of the most well-known package managers for JavaScript.

Package managers for JavaScript

Npm is the most popular of these, with over 11 million developers worldwide using it.

Use on the Internet

PHP is the most popular server-side programming language on the internet today, with nearly 80% of websites using it.

Server-side programming languages from W3Techs

While PHP is widely used, JavaScript is almost universally used on websites, with 97% of them using it.

Client-side programming languages from W3Techs

What Is the Purpose of PHP?

PHP can be used in a variety of ways.

PHP is used by over 34 million websites, according to BuiltWith, and it powers some of the most well-known and highest-earning websites on the Internet, such as Nike, Salesforce, and Walmart. It’s most well-known for its ability to create dynamic web pages.

Websites that use PHP and generate $1 million or more in revenue

Cookie and session management, username and password authentication, and two-factor authentication are all part of this. If your project requires secure user authentication, PHP is an excellent choice.

It also has built-in data security for handling user input, which protects against threats such as SQL injection. PHP is good for working with databases because it can interface with a variety of them, as previously stated.

PHP is also widely used in the development of real-time applications such as instant messaging.

Finally, you’ll need a server backend even if you do most of your work on the frontend. PHP is an excellent choice because it was designed specifically for this purpose.

What Is the Purpose of JavaScript?

JavaScript has grown in popularity to the point where the better question might be, “What isn’t JavaScript used for?”

JavaScript has been used to create the following things in addition to websites and web apps:

  • Apps for mobile devices
  • Servers for the internet
  • Playing games
  • Decks of slides
  • Chatbots are computer programs that communicate with each other.
  • …as well as programmable drones

Super Chrono Portal Maker is a JavaScript and HTML5 game.

Is it possible to use JavaScript with PHP?

The answer is a resounding yes.

Web forms are a good example of where it’s useful to validate user input before saving it to a database.

After that, you can use PHP to perform server-side validation, such as verifying that the email address is valid in your database. JavaScript can be used for client-side validation, such as ensuring that an email is formatted correctly.

How WordPress Makes Use of PHP and JavaScript

With the introduction of the Gutenberg editor, this has begun to change. WordPress has traditionally used both languages, but PHP far outnumbers JavaScript.

In his State of the Word presentation at WordCamp US in 2015, Matt Mullenweg hinted at how important JavaScript would become by urging the audience to try it out.

“Deeply understand JavaScript.”

Here’s how both languages are currently used in WordPress.

Theme template files, the loop, authentication, validation, and database access are all done with PHP.

Interactivity in themes and plugins, client-side validation, and event handling are all powered by JavaScript. Because blocks rely on the React JS framework, some knowledge of JavaScript is required for block development.

PHP vs. JavaScript: What’s the Difference?

There’s no reason why you can’t learn both PHP and JavaScript because they’re both fairly simple to learn.

Variables, loops, conditional statements, scope, and objects are common programming constructs in both languages.

PHP is simple to learn because it is such a well-known and widely used language.

You’ll need a server to write PHP code because it’s a server-side language. DevKinsta, XAMPP, WAMP, and MAMP are some examples. A real web server or an emulation of one, such as a local development environment, could be used.

By practicing in the browser console, you can quickly get started learning JavaScript.

You can open the console in Chrome by pressing Control+Shift+J on Windows or Command+Option+J on Mac.

In Chrome’s JavaScript console, create a simple Hello World program.

The sheer size of JavaScript’s ecosystem makes it more difficult to master.

The JavaScript language has grown to include a slew of frameworks in addition to vanilla JavaScript. Angular, Vue, jQuery, and React are just a few of the many options available these days.

Frameworks for JavaScript

MDN Web Docs’ JavaScript documentation is a good place to start for beginners.

Chris Ferdinandi, who has made a name for himself teaching vanilla JavaScript, claims that it wasn’t until he learned jQuery that JavaScript really clicked for him.

His advice to newcomers to JS is as follows:

Don’t waste your time trying to find the ideal item, because there isn’t one.” “Don’t get too caught up in the order in which you should learn things.

HTML is the foundation of the Internet, and it can be severely harmed by an overzealous JavaScript developer. Just be wary of the “shiny object syndrome” when it comes to JavaScript frameworks if you haven’t first learned the fundamentals of HTML and CSS.

Table of Comparisons between PHP and JavaScript

‘ ‘ Do you want to learn more about two of the most widely used scripting languages? To tweet, simply click here. Here you can find out about their similarities and differences, as well as a detailed comparison chart.

In conclusion

They both have advantages and disadvantages. There isn’t really a winner in this deep dive into PHP vs JavaScript.

JavaScript has become the cool kid on the block, while PHP is stable and reliable. However, this does not imply that one is superior to the other.

Whichever one you choose for your next project — and it could be both! — you can be confident that if you take the time to learn the language, you will create a website or app that will delight your users.

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