Nowadays web developers have option to choose from many programming languages and web application development frameworks. So they often find it a daunting challenge to find the right technology for creating modern, customized and responsive applications without investing any additional time, effort and money. The smart programmers often evaluate the pros and cons of widely used web technologies according to specific needs of their projects. Both PHP and ColdFusion help programmers to create and deploy modern web applications rapidly.

PHP is used widely by programmers as a server side scripting language. In addition to being open source, PHP is compatible with most operating systems, web servers and browsers. On the other hand, ColdFusion is a licensed and commercial framework from Adobe that comes with a number of features to effectuate development and deployment of modern web and mobile applications. That is why; it is important for web programmers to understand some of the major differences between PHP and ColdFusion.

Most Important Differences between PHP and ColdFusion

Worldwide Popularity
In the category of worldwide popularity and market share, PHP scores much higher than ColdFusion. According to the latest usage statistics posted on w3techs, PHP is being used by 81.3% of websites, whereas ColdFusion is being used by only 0.7% of websites. There are also a number of factors that make PHP more popular than ColdFusion.

Project Overheads
PHP is an open source server side scripting language. So it can be used by web programmers without paying any licensing fees or royalty. Also, the developers have option to take advantage of several open source PHP frameworks to speed up development without increasing project overheads. On the other hand, ColdFusion is a licensed rapid web application development from Adobe. The users also have option to choose from several editions of the framework like developer, enterprise, standard and express. But the licensing fee and available features differ from one edition of ColdFusion to another.

Coding Options
Both PHP and ColdFusion allow developers to write code in a number of ways. While using PHP, programmers have option to either combine HTML and PHP code or use the scripting language with various frameworks and template engines. However, often developers have to write longer lines of PHP code while building complex and modern web applications. It allows ColdFusion programmers to write code using ColdFusion Markup Language (CFML) or tags. The varying coding options make the code written using these technologies completely different.

The syntax of PHP resembles the syntax and keywords of several C-inspired programming languages including C++, C#, Java and Perl. So the programmers familiar with these programming languages can easily switch to PHP. On the other hand, the syntax of ColdFusion tags resembles HTML, and the CFML syntax resembles JavaScript. Often beginners have to put additional time and effort to learn a syntax-based programming language like PHP. But they find it easier to learn and use ColdFusion within a shorter amount of time. On the whole, the syntax of CFML is simpler, cleaner and more consistent that the language syntax of PHP.

Database Handling
PHP supports many widely used databases including MySQL, Oracle and PostgreSQL. It further allows web applications to access databases either through a database-specific extension or the database-independent PEAR DB library. But it requires programmers to write additional code to accomplish common database operations like create, update and delete. But ColdFusion is designed with features to simplify and speedup database handling. It includes several built-in features related to database handling that PHP lacks. Further, ColdFusion enables programmers to take advantage of object relational mapping (ORM) to perform common database operations without writing length SQL statements.

Error Handling
PHP comes with a simple error-handling mechanism. Whenever any error occurs, it sends an error message to the web browser. In addition to describing the error, the message also includes the file name and line number. The developers can further use specific functions to handle errors in the code efficiently. But ColdFusion is designed with an advanced error handling mechanism. It allows programmers to create customized error handles and error messages according to particular event or situation. Thus, the framework makes it easier for developers to display more relevant error messages to users and programmers.

Development Frameworks
PHP programmers often use frameworks and template engines to deliver high quality websites quickly. While building PHP applications, programmers can take advantage of the resource provided by several frameworks including Laravel, Phalcon, CodeIgniter, CakePHP, Zend, Yii and Symfony. Adobe has launched ColdFusion 11 with several features to facilitate both web application and mobile app development. But the framework lacks advanced features like MVC support and package manager. So programmers have to use community frameworks like Fusebox, Model-Glue, Mach-II, and ColdBox. Likewise, they also need dependency injection frameworks like LightWire and ColdSpring to manage ColdFusion components effectively.

Cross Platform Mobile App Development
At present, PHP is also used widely by developers as a general-purpose programming language. They have option to use specific frameworks to use PHP for developing GUI desktop applications and mobile apps. But PHP cannot be used exclusively for mobile app development. But ColdFusion 11 comes with a number of additional features to help developers to create and deploy mobile apps for iOS and Android platforms. In addition to writing mobile apps in CFML, the programmers can further use ColdFusion 11 to easily inspect the applications’ look and feel across many devices.

Community Support
Like other open source technologies, PHP is also supported by a large and active community. So it becomes easier for PHP developers to reduce coding time by availing the prewritten scripts and code snippets shared by other members of the community. They can further avail the online support of the community to resolve various programming issues without any hassle. But ColdFusion is not supported by a vibrant community. Further, the users do not have option to avail too many prewritten scripts and code snippets, as the framework is not used widely by programmers to build a wide variety of websites and web applications.

On the whole, both PHP and ColdFusion have their own pros and cons. As a popular and modern programming language PHP helps programmers to create a variety of modern websites and web application. But ColdFusion comes with a set of advanced features to effectuate development of both web and mobile applications. So the programmers must keep in mind the specific needs of each project while comparing the web technologies. Also, they must not forget to use the most recent versions of the server-side scripting language and web framework to avail addition features and enhancements.