Each programmer frequently looks for technologies that enable him to deliver quality web application within a shorter amount of time. But the choice of web technologies varies from one developer to another. Both PHP and ColdFusion are popular among modern web developers. PHP is a server-side programming language, whereas ColdFusion is a web application server. According to the latest usage statistics posted on W3Techs.com, 81.4% of websites are currently using PHP, whereas less than 1.0% of websites use ColdFusion. So the developers need to compare ColdFusion vs. PHP to pick and use the right web technology.

ColdFusion vs. PHP: Major Differences between PHP and ColdFusion

Programming Language:

PHP is a programming language with built-in web development capabilities. So the programmers can create dynamic websites by using PHP as a server side programming language. On the other hand, Adobe has designed ColdFusion as a web application development server. While using ColdFusion, ColdFusion developers have to use ColdFusion Markup Language (CFML). They can also use the scripting version of CFML, i.e., CFScript.

Web Framework:

Despite having built-in web development capabilities, PHP requires developers to add features and functionality to the web application by writing longer lines of code. So developers need to avail the resources provided by PHP frameworks to reduce both time and effort. Based on the requirements of the project, the developers have option to choose from several PHP frameworks including Laravel, CakePHP, Symfony, Yii and CodeIgniter. But CodeIgniter comes with features to help developers create custom and enterprise web applications rapidly.

Learning Curve:

Both PHP and ColdFusion code can be embedded seamlessly in HTML code. But syntax of PHP is inspired by C programming language, whereas CFML uses a tag-based syntax identical to HTML. So many developers find is easier to write and read ColdFusion code in comparison to PHP. They can easily learn and use the built-in tags to create websites quickly. Also, they have option to create custom tags and write custom functions using CFScript.

Quality of Code:

As noted earlier, ColdFusion enables programmers to create websites without writing any additional code. The developers can further present the code in a clean and readable form. So it becomes easier for programmers to support and upgrade the ColdFusion code base in future. On the other hand, developers have to avail the features provided by various frameworks to make PHP code readable and maintainable.

Advanced Features:

Adobe has designed ColdFusion 11 with features to facilitate development of web applications and mobile apps. The most recent version of the framework comes with advanced features like built-in HTML5 support, HTML to PDF conversion, social media integration, improved caching, and security enhancements. It further enables users to test the websites and mobile apps across multiple devices. But PHP requires developers to use tools and libraries additionally to accomplish these common tasks.

Mobile App Development:

PHP is a widely popular server-side programming language. But PHP cannot be used directly for mobile app development. Developers cannot use PHP directly for creating applications for popular mobile platforms like iOS and Android. But the latest version of ColdFusion comes with features to facilitate development of both web applications and mobile apps. The developers can avail the features provided by ColdFusion 11 to write iOS and Android apps in CFML.


PHP is an open source programming language. Most of the PHP frameworks are also open source. So the developers can use PHP and frameworks without incurring additional expenses. On the other hand, ColdFusion is a commercial web application development framework. However, Adobe allows users to choose from different editions of the framework according to their individual needs and budget.

Community Support:

PHP is currently one of the more mature and popular web programming languages. So it is supported by a large and active community. The members of PHP community regularly share plug-ins, modules and code snippets to help others to create modern web applications rapidly. The PHP programmers can further stay connected with the community to resolve new issues and problems quickly. However, ColdFusion is not supported by a large and active community. The ColdFusion programmers have to avail support from Adobe to resolve various issues.

A developer cannot pick the right web technology simply based on its popularity and market share. So developers need to understand the benefits of developing web applications with PHPit is always important for him to keep in mind the nature and requirements of web development project while comparing PHP and ColdFusion.