PHP or Ruby: Which One to Use for Web App Development

Ruby and PHP are two well-known names of the web world and possibly the oldest ones too. Although developers now have plenty of other options to work with, a report in W3Techs survey reveals that PHP and Ruby remain among the most popular server-side programming languages. The web world is currently seeing a tug of war between PHP and Ruby. While the former is preferred for its flexibility and practicality, the latter is chosen for its simplicity and productivity.

But picking either of them is a tough call as both languages come with their own set of strengths and weaknesses. So a detailed comparison between the two is necessary, especially now when both the languages are at their best with their upgraded features and functionalities. So let’s have a look at the basics, their similarities and their differences of course.

Read: 8 Programming Languages that Every Teachie Should Master

PHP and Ruby – Short Intros

PHP is a scripting language that houses effective tools for web development. It can be used across all major operating systems including UNIX variants, Windows, macOS and Linux. It also offers support for the modern web servers including IIS and Apache. So the very first advantage of using PHP is that it offers developers the freedom to choose from their preferred OS and server. Besides being employed for web programming, it can also be used for the development of graphical applications.

Ruby on the other hand offers a simpler structure and is fondly called an artful language by its users. Ruby is all about balance and blends the features of imperative and functional programming. It is known for its flexibility as it enables programmers to make as many changes as possible freeing the developers of unnecessary coding restrictions. Apart from its flexible syntax, Ruby is popular with programmers for the facilitation of meta-programming with dynamic reflection, default arguments and block syntax.

Now talking about the similarities, both PHP and Ruby are general-purpose, open-source programming languages and are chiefly used for the development of web apps as server-side scripting languages. Also, they are both dynamically typed and have the capability to scale. But besides these generic traits, they differ in other crucial features which are described below.

Read: Best Web Application Development Languages for 2022

The Main Differences between PHP and Ruby

1) Frameworks

When it comes to development frameworks, PHP certainly has the upper hand here. While the most popular frameworks of Ruby are restricted to a handful including Ruby on Rails, Sinatra and Padrino, PHP houses an impressive list of open-source web development frameworks which include Yii, Symfony, Laravel, Phalcon, CakePHP and CodeIgniter. All these frameworks are well-known to users and are chosen by developers for their avant-garde features.

2) Development Tools

When it comes to development tools, PHP seems to have gained pace in them too. Though Ruby on Rails has a plethora of beneficial tools, their uses are highly restricted and are mostly compatible within the jurisdiction of the language. On the other hand, there’s an array of tools for PHP like web templates, content management systems and frameworks and most of them have PHP at its core. Therefore, PHP developers find themselves surrounded with a wide palette of development tools that can effectively cater to their varied requirements.

3) Deployment

In terms of deployment, the winner is PHP again. Ruby’s framework is a tad more difficult to deploy as the software developers need to have in-depth knowledge about all the nitty-gritty of the web servers and databases. In addition, they also need to pre-compile assets just to ensure that all the files are in the proper place. These prerequisites make deployment a hassled affair in Ruby, especially during the development of large and complex applications.

Read: Best Nodejs Frameworks for Web Apps in 2022

PHP, on the other hand, makes for easy deployment as developers can use FTP to easily transfer the files to the required web server. Since maximum hosting services already use web stacks from popular web servers including Apache and MySQL, loading the files becomes a lot easier.

4) Community Support

Both Ruby and PHP have strong and thriving community support, but compared to Ruby, PHP’s community is wider and branched out. That’s because PHP’s community is branched out. You can get help from developers who work with its frameworks like Laravel and CakePHP and you can also get assistance from programmers who work with CMS like Joomla and Drupal, and then you have dedicated developers who work hands-on with PHP.

So if you happen to be a PHP developer and encounter a problem while coding, you can rest assured that someone’s going to address that sooner than expected. But in this aspect, Ruby can’t be put down either given its big and strong circle on GitHub where its supporters have shown excellent collaborative efforts to focus on its overall development. So in terms of community support, both seem to have maintained a neutral ground, more or less.

5) Speed and Stability

When it comes to the speed and stability of these scripting languages, here are the key points to keep in mind:

– Ruby works on MVC and DRY patterns and hence is considerably more stable. PHP’s stability depends more on a programmer’s coding skills because PHP offers complete freedom to developers when it comes to customized coding. So the better the developer is working with it and on it, the more stable the web app is.

Read: How Learning a Language Can Help you Become a Better Programmer

– When it comes to development with frameworks, Ruby is a wee bit faster than PHP because Ruby offers developers plug-ins and ready-to-use gems which significantly simplify the database operations and pace up the development process. PHP developers on the other hand can directly insert PHP script into HTML and can use it without a framework but in order to run a custom web application, they need to utilize a PHP framework which may need time.

– When it comes to speed, there’s another important point to consider, memory consumption. Building and scaling small projects on PHP are simple and don’t consume much memory. But that’s not the case with Ruby because scaling an app in Ruby requires additional tools which means consumption of more memory, which puts speed limitations on the project.


It won’t be wrong to deduce that the comparison shows PHP to be on the favored side, but the decision actually lies with the developers and certainly on the types of projects to be attended to. For users who simply want to go for a simple, straightforward website for an online presence, Ruby makes for a good choice, but if you are looking to have a blogging site by implementing an intricately detailed CMS, then you will be looking forward to working with PHP-based frameworks.

However, besides focusing on the above-mentioned points, make sure you also cross-check the following factors before making the final decision to work with Ruby or hire PHP web development services:

  • – Project size, complexity and its type
  • – Overall development cost
  • – Modifications and extensibility
  • – Ease of maintenance and security

So, choose your winner and get started.

Author Bio:

Albert Smith is Digital Marketing Manager at Hidden Brains, a leading Mobile & Web development company specializing in mobile & web applications. He provides innovative ways to help tech companies, startups and large enterprises build their brand.


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