Ruby on Rails vs PHP: Battle of Programming Languages

Lyudmila Kucher
Lyudmila Kucher

I specialize in outstaffing and staff augmentation, and I have extensive experti...

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ruby on rails vs php

Have you heard the legend of Ruby-istan, PHP-istan, and Arrogant-Programmer-istan?

One of the most interesting and honest places on the internet is Reddit. While browsing threads to find material for this article, I stumbled upon an interesting legend.  Legends are rarely the stuff of articles about software development, but this one very elegantly sums up the problem of Ruby vs PHP.

Allow me to give you the short version of the legend. (or you can read it in full right here, but come back to this article right after!)

There were 3 kingdoms. In PHP-istan, warriors would first learn to fight without any weapons. Then they were given a choice between 3 main weapons – the Dreaded Drupal, Elegant Laravel, and Mighty Symfony. Then there was Ruby-istan. Here, a lot of warriors never learned to fight without weapons. Most started their training by learning to wield their one main weapon – the Powerful Rail.

The last kingdom, Arrogant-Programmer-istan, was observing the development of both kingdoms as they were nearing a state of war.

Spies informed the leaders of Arrogant-Programmer-istan of what was going on, and they hold the council to decide what to do in light of the upcoming conflict.

Despite there being 3 different, but equally powerful armies in PHP-istan, the council disregarded that. They focused on the fact that some warriors in PHP-istan never learn to wield a weapon, so all warriors must be unprepared for real battle. Especially when compared to the glorious Ruby-istan warriors with their shining, Powerful Rail.

Ultimately, this was what led to their demise. PHP-istan warriors powered through Ruby-istan, and eventually reached the borders of Arrogant-Programmer-istan to conquer it.

Ruby vs PHP vs popular opinion

The legend is universal, and apparently it constantly repeats itself in real life with slightly different scenarios.  It alludes to the fact that there is a popular opinion that PHP is a “silly” language. There are plenty of examples of this.

Like this developer meme – a dev job ad for the pornographic site Pornhub, where a developer commented “I don’t want my friends and family to be ashamed of me. If I get the job, will people know I use PHP?”.

You know, because using PHP is more shameful than working for a porn site. (cue the laughter!) Opinions are like DNA sequences – everybody has one, and they are often so deeply built into our mind that they’re virtually unchangeable.

If several high-profile IT experts repeat something, like a negative comment towards PHP, that opinion spreads and becomes popular throughout the programming community–regardless of whether it’s actually true, or only applicable in one specific situation.

All this goes to say that popular opinion doesn’t really matter. And sometimes it can be damaging when people pay more attention to opinion than facts.

Like when one developer became the laughing stock of a hackathon simply because he opted for a tech stack that included PHP, whereas most other developers from outstaffing services there went for JavaScript.

So instead of opinions, let’s look at the facts.


It’s focused on server-side scripting, but it can do much more than that. With the extension of previously mentioned Drupal, Laravel or Symfony, it can be used to build powerful web applications.

Probably the biggest reason why people smirk at PHP is that the basic use of PHP is as an extension of HTML. By comparison, JavaScript started out with a similar purpose, but there’s a key difference:

JavaScript code is executed in the user’s browser, whereas PHP code is executed on the server, and generates HTML that is then sent to the user’s browser.

This way, with PHP the user doesn’t see the underlying code–just the resulting page element. Actually, all HTML files can be processed with PHP, and then users wouldn’t be able to see any of the code that runs your website or web application.

Another reason why it’s laughed at is that it’s simple to learn. But most things that are simple to learn are hard to master. Mastering PHP opens up a whole new world of possibilities for software developers, because it offers a smorgasbord of advanced features.

All in all, it is a stable, seasoned, tried & tested & perfected technology that can be used in various situations.


Similar to PHP, Ruby is described as a scripting language that can be used for various purposes. It, too, isn’t too complicated to learn, and holds powerful features in store for those who take time to master it.

First developed in the 90s, it only really started gaining popularity after the creation of Ruby on Rails around 2005. To this day it is still the most popular Ruby framework, just observe the number of Ruby freelancers on Toptal and other Upwork competitors’ platforms to confirm this. It helped a lot of developers make the switch to Ruby, as well as enabled Ruby programmers to build powerful web applications more easily, and much faster.

Ruby is built with Object-Oriented programming in mind, whereas PHP support both Functional and Object-Oriented approaches.

It is a clean, easy-to-read language that can be applied to much more than just web scripting. Nowadays, it is trendy to hire ruby on rails developers as well as offshore python programmers.

Okay, so these things might matter to programmers.

What are the real differences between PHP vs Ruby from a project manager’s perspective?

Ruby vs PHP

The real differences in technology and demand

Are Ruby developers for hire more expensive than PHP? Well, sort of.

It depends where you look. says that PHP developers earn between $44.000 and $93.000 per year, whereas Ruby developers earn between $50.000 and $122.000. But then says that PHP developers earn between $77.000 and $122.000, whereas Ruby developers between $62.000 and $94.000. You can find ruby on rails developers on our website at a good price.

Which site is right?

Payscale’s estimate seems more realistic, especially when you look at Stack Overflow’s 2019 Developer Survey. Under most popular programming languages among professional developers, the survey shows that PHP is much more popular.

The TIOBE index (which ranks programming languages by popularity) supports this, with PHP on the 8th position on the list, and Ruby on the 11th. Simple demand-supply reasoning tells us that if there are more PHP developers, then a Ruby developer with the same amount of experience and similar skills will probably be more expensive.

However, I’ve mentioned it in other articles, and I’ll probably keep mentioning it: what’s good for the project manager is what’s good for the project. If your codebase is in Ruby (for valid technical reasons), and you need more developers, then market demand doesn’t matter. You just do all you can to find the right Ruby developer, even analyze if such a freelancing platform like Toptal is legit against your project requirements.

Same with PHP, and same with any other technology. From an ongoing-project perspective, what matters is that you find the right people to finish before the deadline. If you’re already building in one technology, switching to another might be too much trouble (it’s doable, but you need a big budget and the rarest commodity of all – time).

From a planning perspective, however, choosing the right technology from the start is a crucial decision. Choosing the right tech stack matters the most before starting the project.

That’s when you should consider not only technological limitations, but operational aspects. For example – how easy will it be to add more developers to the team if necessary?

If this matters in your project, and it can be built with either PHP and Ruby without quality loss, then choosing PHP will be a better business decision, as it will be easier to find new devs when the need arises.

But if it doesn’t matter, you have all the time in the world to finish your project, and there are technical advantages to using Ruby – it will be the better choice. These are the things you should consider when planning your project.

PHP vs Ruby on Rails: Understanding the Pros and Cons

When you’re asking, “What is Ruby on Rails vs PHP,” the first thing you need to know is that neither is definitively better than the other. Both have their own unique pros and cons.

The main advantages of Ruby on Rails are:

  • Plenty of community-created development tools and libraries
  • Very fast and efficient to use
  • Ensures users adhere to web standards
  • Budget-friendly programming
  • Widespread usage
  • Syntax based on English language

Just keep in mind that Ruby also has some cons, such as:

  • Not the most flexible language
  • Fairly long boot time for framework
  • Tricky for new programmers to learn
  • Simple mistakes can cause major problems

Meanwhile, PHP comes with these excellent benefits:

  • Extremely flexible and adaptable
  • Lots of large libraries and resources
  • Scalable for large projects
  • Loads and runs very fast
  • Forgiving syntax is easy to learn

However, PHP’s downsides include:

  • Less debugging tools
  • Potential issues with security
  • Won’t let you modify core behavior
  • Less used in modern times


Ruby vs PHP

Reasons to Use Ruby on Rails

Since Ruby tends to have a slightly higher learning curve, you might assume it’s only used by highly-trained devs. However, this particular programming is actually a favorite for projects where experienced developers will be interacting with team members who don’t program much. Thanks to its simple syntax, even people who barely program can look at Ruby on Rails code and understand what it accomplishes.

Ruby on Rails is especially good at handling complex projects with a lot of different features. With so many different tools and libraries, Ruby lets users seamlessly combine a lot of different functions into one cohesive website. It offers a lot of freedom to modify and change your code as your business expands. Ruby on Rails can even handle complex concepts like artificial intelligence and virtual reality.

Ruby is also a great choice when you need something secure, consistent, and organized. Due to its high level of security, it was used to create Shopify, Instacart, and several other sites that handle a lot of financial transactions. It’s very reliable on a day-to-day basis and has few maintenance requirements.

Situations Where PHP Works Best

As you’ll notice on most Ruby and PHP comparisons, PHP works best for websites and web applications. PHP is especially good for things like blogs and e-commerce sites because it’s already used for content management systems like WordPress or Moodle. It’s a flexible language that plays well with other languages and all types of operating systems.

Since PHP runs almost three times as fast as Python, it’s particularly good when you want an end product that runs very quickly. A main difference between Ruby vs PHP performance is that PHP is very fast to boot. Even huge projects like Facebook and Tumblr were done with PHP because it can load vast amounts of data so quickly.

Thanks to PHP frameworks like Laravel and Symfony, developers can create oversized projects without having an excessive workload. Overall, PHP is a good choice when you’re working on a project that is straightforward yet large. It’s especially popular for server-side processes because you can quickly scale it up with additional servers.


PHP is just as good as any technology–up to the point where it isn’t a viable choice for your project. That’s why it’s important to make the right technological choices while planning.

Ruby is less popular than PHP, but it doesn’t make it better or worse. It’s just the way that the market is shaped.

All in all, popular opinions about tech, or market demand for different types of programmers don’t matter much.

What always matters the most is what’s good for your project.

Frequently Asked Questions

Looking to hire remote software developers but have a few questions unanswered? We are sharing our list of frequently asked questions by our clients when hiring software developers.

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Not necessarily. It works better in some situations, but in others, PHP is more useful.

It’s easier to learn PHP first, but learning Ruby first helps you find jobs faster.

No, even if it’s not new and trendy, Ruby has a lot of useful applications.

Not only is it free and open-source, but its “human-based” syntax is easy to comprehend.

Yes, PHP’s still useful for website or application development, and learning it’s quick and simple.

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