Ruby On Rails vs. PHP

PHP and ROR are two very widely used and in-demand programming languages. Both of these languages are dynamic, are very flexible and fun, concept driven and easy to learn. This means that you spend less time learning the details and focus more on learning the programming concepts which eventually help the developer build applications faster. Both, ROR and PHP are open-source programming languages and have been around for quite some time to prove their stability. While PHP had not been too frequent with their upgrades, over the past two years they have had some major releases that have spiraled their popularity even more. Presently, PHP holds 20.1% of the market share while ROR stands at a close 18.91%. However, in 2016 ROR adoption is picking up greater speed when it jumped seven points from last year and secured its highest ranking every in the TIOBE index.

Here, we try to take a close look at both to determine which is to be used and when.

PHP is a generic Object Oriented Programming language that is simple to learn and easy to use. It has a very large community of developers and users and provides extensive database support. There are a great number of extensions and source codes available in PHP and can be deployed on almost all web servers and works on almost all operating systems and platforms. PHP also allows for the execution of code in a restricted environment, offers native session management and extension API’s. Deploying a CMS in a PHP application is phenomenally simple because of the sheer number of frameworks, libraries, and resources at its disposal.

Deploying a PHP application is also a very simple process. You can simply FTP the files to a web server or deploy it equally easily using Git without worrying too much about the web stack. The entire PHP framework directly can be easily copied onto the server and run when using frameworks like Code Igniter.

PHP also has a huge web focus and. While it is a server-side scripting language and can also be used as a general purpose programming language it essentially has a huge web focus and seems to be born for it. It has a high degree of extensibility which renders it easy for customization in the web app development process. PHP has also addressed previous issues like object-handling and improved the basic object-oriented programming functionality in their upgrades. The latest PHP 7 release boasts of explosive performance improvements, drastically reduced memory consumption and easier error handling amongst other features.

Since programmers could manipulate the code to suit their requirement, the evolution of PHP led to a lot of bad code. As the coding standards improved the code became more verbose making it suitable for enterprise usage. PHP is still the go-to language for building web applications and web development because of its ability to interact with different database languages but still remains unsuitable for desktop applications. PHP is also a great resource to create dynamic web pages and also to create internal scripting languages for projects. Some of the big names using PHP presently are Facebook, NASA, Zend, Google etc. Wikipedia says that PHP is installed on over 240 million websites and approximately 2.1 million web servers.

Ruby, the programming language that runs with ROR or just Rails, is heavily influenced by Perl, Eiffel, and Smalltalk. It is a full-stack web application framework which is object oriented, has a dynamic type system and automatic memory management. ROR is a mature framework that enables high-quality products that are can be maintained easily. It works on multiple platforms, offers a Very High-Level Language (VHLL), has advanced string and text manipulation techniques and can easily be embedded into Hypertext Markup Language (HTML). The ROR framework is extremely automated that allows the programmer to focus on solving the business problem that needs addressing instead of spending time working around the framework. The Generators/Scaffolding and plug-in assets accelerate the development process and make maintenance a lot easier as compared to PHP. The ActiveRecord ORM in ROR is extremely straightforward to use. Additionally, it has integrated testing tools and is Object-Oriented right from ground up with a concise and powerful coding structure. Rails also supports caching out of the box which makes it easy to scale, unlike popular belief.

However, unlike PHP, ROR has a comparatively steeper learning curve and is not quite easy to run it in Production mode. ROR is also more difficult when it comes to errors as in Ruby instead of throwing up an error message the entire app just blows up.

Having said this, while ROR might not be easy to learn, it has better security features, a flexible syntax debugger and comes off as a more powerful language than PHP. It won’t be too off the mark to say that, while learning Ruby can be difficult this is a language meant for the ‘thinking developer’ and offers a superior toolset for application development.

ROR is being used by AirbnbGitHub, Groupon, Shopify, Google Sketchup, BaseCamp, SoundCloud, Hulu etc. Rails also makes an excellent choice for web apps, highly scalable websites, enterprise applications, and for projects that need rapid web development. However for single page applications, dynamic content and games, high traffic and high usage platforms like chat rooms, ROR might not be the best choice.

So which one is better – PHP or ROR? To begin with, it wouldn’t be fair to compare the two languages since Rails is a framework for Ruby while PHP is a language and also has many frameworks. However, both these ecosystems are efficient and powerful in their own right. Sometimes the selecting one over the other becomes a matter of personal preference , availability of skills and the specific business case.

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