This question has no yes or no answer. It is like asking which is better a nail or a screw… depends on what you’re doing. Let’s look at a few of the pros/cons and you can decide which is better FOR WHAT YOU’RE DOING.
- PHP is still to this day the fastest programming language to put together a web application with from a learning curve perspective to the newb. It’s simple, relatively forgiving, and you don’t need a comp-sci degree to figure out how to make a basic application. For this reason, if you’re building a simple small site say for example for your author buddy who just needs a simple WordPress site to advertise his new book, PHP is probably a good fit.
- If you’re building an enterprise level application, PHP may STILL be a good fit, but now you really need to at least evaluate other options. PHP is interpreted (although there are ways to make it compiled such as the Phalcon Framework) and by default it doesn’t support multi-threading (although there is a PECL extension called pThreads (not to be confused with the POSIX pThreads) that allows for it). This still may not be a problem for many applications that don’t need to store things in active RAM on the server (and even there using REDIS and/or Mongo you can get RAM based storage). And recent frameworks such as Laravel add a lot of solid industry standard coding practices and such that really do make it a solid language with PHP7.
- All of what I just said taken into account… notice how much “if you add this on” I just mentioned to match what’s offered in most compiled languages. Python does the things I just mentioned you’d have to tweak out of the gate… so if you’re a good programmer and don’t mind a little learning curve – Python MAY be a better solution. I’m coding a huge project in Scala right now – I DON’T recommend Scala for the newb. It’s confusing, although not much can match a JVM based language for development overall.
- If you’re looking to hire developers – you’ll pay more to get Python or JVM based developers vs. PHP guys… just the sad truth. While they may be better programmers, not everyone has $120K a year to drop on a programmer, and not everyone needs “that guy” that can optimize a site to run .000002MS faster.
Bottom line I view it like this – PHP is the fastest way to go from idea to web page. It may not be the most sustainable long term, but if you plan it out right (proper coding practices, RAM optimizations, database concerns, etc.) it can grow. I was lead engineer at Kaplan University and we supported millions of users every month on PHP – it works fine despite popular opinion.
The reality is – many nerds view you as a PHP coder like the guy driving a brand new Kia. They may well be absolutely fantastic cars and not as bad as they used to be at all – can even hold their own against many BMWs etc. – but there’ll be a lot of people that won’t even give it a fair chance because it’s “oh but it’s a Kia.” – PHP is the Kia of the programming industry. Used to suck, now it’s pretty darn good – but a lot of people have already gotten a bad taste in their mouth. Don’t let that drive you away… do what’s best for your project. Productivity before ego.