PHP vs Ruby: what would best fit your business?

PHP vs Ruby: what would best fit your business? image

If you are looking to start a new project, but you don’t have the slightest idea which programming language to choose  ̶ Ruby or PHP ̶ we are here to tell you more about them and compare their strong and weak points. Without further ado, let’s get down right to it.

What are PHP and Ruby?

In truth, comparing Ruby and PHP is not an easy task as the two have been and still are in TOP 10 popular programming languages in the world, which means that they are in high demand and probably have their own strengths and weaknesses. They also have quite large and close-knit communities of supporters ready to provide you with the necessary answers when you meet a “deadlock”. Furthermore, Ruby and PHP are widely used for web development projects in many industries such as online marketplace service, hospitality, social networking, and e-commerce.  

In technical terms, Ruby and PHP are both run on the server side (basically where a website is hosted), unlike programming languages that run on the client side (in simple terms, it is what a user sees when they interact with the website), for example JavaScript or also markup languages such as HTML. Considering all the similarities, PHP and Ruby projects still have many differences in terms of web development cost, speed or simplicity. Let’s look at each of them, compare their primary characteristics and decide which one will make the best match in your project.

What is PHP?

PHP is an open source scripting language which is used for dynamic web development on the server side.

There are many companies that have incorporated this language into their businesses. For instance, you can find such corporate giants run on PHP as Wikipedia, MailChimp, Tumblr, Yahoo!, and Facebook, which are now using a custom version of PHP ̶ HVVM. PHP is suitable for companies of different sizes since it is easy to scale and maintain.

WordPress is a prime example of PHP development. This content management system is one of the most popular and widely-used CMS platforms throughout the world, as it allows creating anything from a personal blog to a sophisticated online store. More than 33% of websites on the Internet are powered by WordPress. The company uses three client-side languages ̶ HTML, CSS, and JavaScript and one server-side programming language –PHP, which serves as the core for WordPress.

Why does WordPress use PHP?

WordPress gives its users considerable freedom to create websites with various plugins, themes, and templates. It is suitable even for users without solid programming knowledge or technical background. However, when it comes to customization and modification, you will probably require specialists’ support who create a custom solution that perfectly meets your business needs. To scale your website, you need to have a profound knowledge of PHP. Still, this CMS is quite popular with both non-programmers and developers.

Previously, if you wanted to create a webpage you had to use static HTML and for each page of your website, you still had to use this markup language. PHP makes this task much easier. It helps you generate as many pages as you need. That is why WordPress utilizes PHP. In simple terms, when someone visits your WordPress website, your web server analyzes the PHP code (your themes, plugins, etc.) and then outputs HTML on your visitor’s browser screens. PHP is just a good choice for dynamic webpages.

What is Ruby?

Ruby is an open source object-oriented programming language which is used for web development and it runs on the server side. Ruby was created for programmers to make coding fun and friendlier.

GitHub, Airbnb, Kickstarter, Couchsurfing, Hulu, Groupon are among the companies that use Ruby to create diverse Ruby projects.

Why does Shopify use Ruby?

Shopify is another illustrious example of Ruby development.

The reason why Shopify utilizes Ruby is quite simple. A programmer who was selling snowboards at that time couldn’t find a proper e-commerce platform to meet his business needs. That is why he decided to use Ruby, or to be more precise, the framework Ruby on Rails, to build a website that would meet all his requirements.

Ruby has very clear and elegant syntax and Ruby on Rails was chosen because it was quite easy to use for development. The code of Ruby might be understandable even for those who do not know programming languages very well.

Ruby and PHP comparison

Now we are going to compare Ruby and PHP programming languages using several criteria: performance, speed, scalability, timeframe, tools, learning curve, and cost.

  • Performance and speed

Performance and speed are the most important criteria in programming languages comparison. To analyze languages, you should do a test to find out which language is the fastest in terms of run time and lines of code.

In the case of PHP and Ruby, pure PHP is the overall winner as Ruby is quite slow compared to its competitor. It should be borne in mind that PHP was designed for dynamic webpages, so the language is extremely fast in terms of requests. Nonetheless, if you have PHP projects that require full-stack web frameworks, the speed drops significantly and is now almost comparable to the Ruby on Rails framework.

  • Scalability

Project run on Ruby and PHP are relatively easy to scale. While Ruby projects are scalable and the big ones can be easily maintained, PHP executes code in restricted environments. At the same time, PHP is considered to be left in the early years of web development, while Rudy has all the necessary tools and techniques to catch up with the latest market trends.

  • Timeframe of development

It is true that thanks to being interpreted languages, the timeframe of PHP is quite fast. However, a middle-level Ruby specialist writes code by 30-40% faster than any other developer, which provides this language with a significant competitive advantage. When you have to work on agile and deliver a quality product within a tight deadline, Ruby will make the best match for you.

  • Tools

Ruby can boast of having one dominating framework ̶ Ruby on Rails and several not so popular ones like Sinatra, Hanami, Padrino, while PHP has multiple PHP tools which are all widely used and competitive: Laravel, Symfony, CodeIgniter, Yii2, and Phalcon. Still, it does not mean that PHP and its frameworks are better than of Ruby and Ruby on Rails. PHP just allows having more options. The tools of both languages can perform tasks with their advantages and disadvantages as it will depend on your business needs.

  • Learning curve

Although Ruby has an elegant and flexible syntax, it is still hard to learn. This programming language has a low learning curve and that is why Ruby (and Ruby on Rails) developers are in high demand throughout the world. Therefore, PHP has a higher learning curve in comparison with Ruby and it has a wide pool of developers to choose from. What does it mean for you? It is much easier to hire a PHP developer for your project at an affordable cost. There are many outsourcing software development companies on the market ready to provide you with timely and quality assistance.

  • Cost

As it was stated above, Ruby is a difficult programming language to learn, and as a result, it has a high web development cost. Thus, hiring PHP developers is more cost-effective because of their high competition. Therefore, if you are looking to significantly reduce cost and save money, PHP would be a perfect choice for you. But it is not always the case as the pricing can depend on a developer’s qualification. For example, an experienced PHP developer sometimes can charge as much as a Ruby professional.

Wrapping up

To sum up, PHP and Ruby have their similarities, advantages, and disadvantages. Both languages are scalable open source and are widely used for web development and have strong communities of supporters. Ruby is much faster in terms of timeframe development and allows you to work on agile. Thus, if your deadlines are burning and you have a good budget at your disposal, go with Ruby and rely on its flexibility. However, take into consideration that PHP websites are more dynamic although the timeframe for development might be longer compared to Ruby projects.

PHP has a wider choice of tools to choose from, like Laravel, Symphony or CakePHP, which are highly popular in the IT community. They equip developers with the right instruments to customize your website to clients’ needs and add numerous features to your platform. Ruby also has several frameworks, but the most popular one is Ruby on Rails. It is a competitive product that has been tested by hundreds of developers in projects of different complexity.  Nonetheless, when you work with a Ruby project, you don’t have another option apart from this framework.

Ruby is a difficult language to learn, so be ready to spend more money out of your pocket for recruiting purposes. There are less Ruby developers out there to help you and they charge higher rates compared to PHP developers.


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