Selecting the Right Web Programming Language

When approaching a web development project, whether it be for a public facing site or an intranet, one of the most important and often difficult decisions is selecting the right dynamic web development language. In today’s web development world, three major languages stand out – PHP, .NET, and ColdFusion. Each is suitable as a web platform to develop robust database-driven dynamic websites demanded by today’s consumers and business alike. Each is capable of storing and retrieving data from a database. Each has its pros and cons in terms of learning curves, maintenance costs, hosting costs, scalability, etc.

So which one is right for you?

Developers tend to fall into one camp and fiercely defend their language as “the best”.

There’s widespread debate among developers about the advantages and disadvantages of .NET when compared to PHP and ColdFusion. .NET is Microsoft’s commercial web development technology that runs only on Windows servers. PHP is an open source web development language which is best known when used with Linux, Apache and MySQL – although PHP now also runs on Windows. And finally there’s ColdFusion, the ‘old man’ of the three. Developed long before .NET or PHP, ColdFusion (CF) is a stable, mature language that runs on Linux, Windows and Mac OS. Unlike PHP, ColdFusion is not open source and requires the purchase and installation of the ColdFusion server in order to deliver CF applications over the web.

There are many technical differences between .NET, PHP and ColdFusion. It’s important that when making your decision take into consideration the following: # What skill sets does your development team (internal or outsourced) already have?

  1. Is the cost of proprietary software (.NET / ColdFusion) versus open source (PHP) a factor?
  2. Which technology does your hosting provider or internal data center support?

The answer to the above questions will steer you to the development language that’s best suited for your budget, environment and team skills. While neither language is wrong, there’s certainly one that’s a best fit for your suitation.