RoR vs PHP: What a Startup Founder Needs to Know

RoR vs PHP: What a Startup Founder Needs to Know


Today, RoR and PHP are two of the most widely known and used programming languages. For a long time, web programmers, engineers and companies have been immersed in a debate of establishing the superiority of one over the other. Because both have their pros and cons, their superiority, per-se, depends on the utility one derives from them. As a startup, which technology to leverage is a question asked by quite a few folks. Which platform to opt for depends on what functions and capabilities a startup expects. Let’s take a closer look at the two languages and compare their performance on certain parameters.

Background information:

PHP: It is a server wide scripting language widely used for websites such as Facebook, WordPress and Yahoo (indicating a huge web focus). It’s high degree of extensibility making it easy for customizations during web application development. It is extremely easy to learn and use and enjoys extensive database support.

ROR: Ruby on Rails is essentially used to develop web applications. It was originally developed by developers at 37 Signals, company behind popular tools like basecamp as a general-purpose language without any domain specialization. A front-end and object-oriented programming language, it is very dynamic and flexible in nature. It’s a very high-level programming language but quite easy to learn. Anautomated framework allows programmers to focus on solving business problems. A lot of startups such as Airbnb, Soundcloud, Pixlr have been developed on Ruby on Rails.

Comparison on parameters

  • Time to Market: Time to market is one of the most critical aspects for a startup founder and both Ruby on Rails and PHP support rapid application development, but with features like GEMS and Libraries building and deploying applications fast is a breeze on RoR.Within PHP frameworks like CakePHP support Rapid application development but when it comes to speed of development RoR still takes a lead.
  • Scalability: Both PHP and Ruby on Rails have the ability to scale. However, when it comes to the actual scaling process, inexperienced developers prefer to look at websites to gather information. Here, PHP scores over since there are plenty of resources written for PHP developers specially because PHP has been much longer in use, while Ruby on Rails has a much smaller pool of information thereby causing problems for the developers.
  • Ease of maintenance: This is often a question about the organization of the application. Application built using a framework are easier to maintain. Due to a massive selection of web frameworks designed for specific goals, PHP offers wide range of selection as compared to Ruby on Rails. Though it might have its disadvantage as no one PHP developer would be well versed with a range of frameworks, starting from the most used ones like Laravel to YII.
  • Performance: When it comes to requests per second, PHP is faster since it’s a language designed for web. These numbers equate with RoR as full stack web frameworks are introduced.
  • Speed: To begin with, both the languages are slow when compared to others in the programming spectrum. Also, comparison on speed entails looking closely at other features such as database systems and hosting providers. It is also not a good parameter to judge because RoR compromises speed to offer ease of use and superior functionality while using more server resources.
  • Learning Curve: A higher learning curve indicates that the programming language is easier to understand and has cleaner codes. Among the two, PHP has a higher learning curve than RoR.
  • Usability: All programming languages serve as an interface between the computer and users. High usability leads to a powerful and a high performing software. It has been found that PHP takes a conventional approach while RoR is more usable due to a powerful underlying coding structure. The latter is also more straightforward to use.
  • Cost: PHP has large number of developers as compared to RoR leading to lower prices. Also, when it comes to hosting Ruby on Rails applications, the costs can go up very quickly. For example, if regular shared hosting plan costs about $5 on RoR, support Ruby will charge around $40 for their service, since a lot more server resources are required. Hence, PHP can prove to be more cost effective.
  • Security: When PHP was being designed the original developers wanted to develop it as a developer friendly platform so aspects like register_globals was used to help rapid application development. This parameter allows users to access the value with $var instead of $_GET[‘var’]. Making the platform vulnerable to threats if not addressed. On the other hand, Ruby On Rails has some innovative methods to address security for example Ruby on Rails will start a new session if it detects a new user accessing the application.

Summing Up

To draw a conclusion, both the languages are powerful and effective in their own rights. The startup founder needs to look at his requirements and take a decision accordingly. While Ruby on Rails is a good programming language that is easier to start with and makes it easy to focus on developmental tasks and customization. PHP is much easier to understand, was built to solve web-based problems and is very cost effective. Few important takeaways for startup founders are:

 Cost Effective Easier to set up
 More developers and resources Offers more skilled developers
 Focused on web Automated features
 Easier to Learn Rapid Application Development


Gopiraju M

Gopiraju M (Masters in CSE) is a full-stack developer at Navtech. He has experience of building over 100+ apps allows him to rapidly architect and design solutions. His ability to explain complex technologies in simple. He has a lot of passion for writing clean code and having a clean deployment/release process. Also, his practical ways have resulted in him becoming a popular speaker at colleges, universities, and conferences.