Difference between JavaScript and PHP

Updated on July 23, 2016

This is something someone who has not coded in JavaScript or Php would ask, or would want to know more about – two of the most popular programming languages in use today. Grab a can of Mountain Dew and a bag of Cheetos, and let’s go!



JavaScript is usually defined as a scripting language that works in a web browser, which is why it is often called a client-side scripting language. It makes web pages interactive for users. JavaScript is also used in non-web based applications such as PDF documents and desktop widgets. Game developers, mobile and desktop app creators, and server-side network programmers use JavaScript as well.

Developed in just 10 days by Brendan Eich while working for Netscape, it was first named as Mocha before being officially named LiveScript. It came out with the release of the beta version of Netscape Navigator 2.0 back in September, 1995. It was later changed to JavaScript when it was used in Netscape V 2.0B3.

An immensely critical feature of JavaScript is that it lets programmers extend some specific aspects by introducing new code or objects while the program is up and running without the need for compiling it.

If you have some coding background, it’s highly likely that you’ve experienced having to declare the required variable type. In JavaScript, you just declare a variable using the var keyword.

One of the most widely used scripting platforms on the web, PHP is a server-side scripting language that can help create highly interactive web pages – login pages, forums, and picture galleries, just to name a few, are all possible with PHP.

It’s called a server-sided script because the PHP code does not execute in your computer, but in the computer that owns the page. You’ll know you’re in a website running PHP when the site’s URL ends with a .php.

PHP is open source, and supports most of the well-known operating systems such as Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, and Unix, just to name a few.

PHP was initially known as Personal Home Page and was designed by Rasmus Lerdorf in ’94. The name evolved to Hypertext Preprocessor, a “recursive acronym” as Wikipedia explains it.

Since PHP works at the server-side of things, there is a level of control on what users can do in a website running a PHP script. PHP can set conditions that can validate, track, and authenticate users, among other important functions.

Javascript vs PHP

Now that we know that both are scripting programs that make web pages we access viewable and interactive, what’s the difference between Java and PHP, then?

Although JavaScript is normally used as a client-sided scripting language (except in Node JS), it can be server-sided. PHP works in the server-side of the web pages, i.e. it runs on the computer that stores the web page you want to access. In relation to this, JavaScript can be disabled in the browser, while PHP cannot.

JavaScript is a web-standard language and can be quite complex, while PHP is open source and a beginner can start writing lines of codes in no time. However, PHP is highly scalable as it offers advanced features just like JavaScript can for advanced programmers.

A comprehensive tool for enhancing the visual effects on a website, JavaScript is responsible for a lot of aesthetics on the web GUI. PHP, on the other hand, concentrates more on security as it can set conditions before any user can view or access the site. A website running JavaScript employing the same security checks can easily be bypassed by simply disabling the script on the browser.

Comparison chart

Client-sided scripting language (except in Node JS)Strictly server-sided
Open standard as implemented, but not open sourceCompletely open source
Can be disabled in the browserCannot be disabled
Enhances website interfaceImplements secure access to website


Here’s a really informative video highlighting the main differences between JavaScript and PHP.

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