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Poll Results: Server side language of choice?

Published by Chris Coyier

Over 18,500 people voted on this last poll, making it the most voted-upon poll in this site's history, when I asked:

What is your server-side language of choice?

Now I'm definitely a front end guy writing about mostly front end stuff. Because of that I kind of assume most of you folks are too. That doesn't mean we don't care about or have an opinion on server side languages too, just know that these poll results are probably indicative more of designers than developers. I essentially got started hacking up WordPress themes and I haven't moved to far from that, developmentally. So my affinity is for PHP. My favorite part is how it kinda "just works" on just about any server out there out of the box. I also like how at the basic levels I use it at, the app doesn't really need to be "running," it just is a series of scripts that do their thing when they are hit with a request. But anyway, on with the results:

Looking at these results it looks like PHP's domination of the server side language market is just about as complete as jQuery's over the JavaScript library market =)

I've moved this over to the polls archive. Any last words, leave them here! New poll in a few days.


  1. Not surprising, PHP is very popular for smaller companies, which I assume is where most visitors work (if not freelance). I voted PHP too. I have got the most experience with it. Although I would love to get into Ruby for one reason only: Rails.

    • I agree. I think the results of this poll have been skewed by the front-end bias of this website. I’m not stating this in a negative way of course – just stating that the survey results could not really be taken as a entirely representitive summary.

    • I agree , also many CMS are developed with PHP

    • Indeed, PHP wasn’t surprising at all, but I consider the explanation to be because PHP hosting is very competitive and therefore affordable and omnipresent (the PHP hosting I found was free with a very cheap domain).

      When I started looking at deploying my own projects, like most people, my budget was shoestring (as they were not commercial at all), I looked at hosting packages first, and realised I needed to learn PHP out of necessity (despite my day-job being Sun Certified Java).

    • RONSS
      Permalink to comment#

      yes are absolutely right .

  2. I have surprised about few ppl using ASP.Net, bleh.. not surprised at all anyway but yes if i look JAVA has almost the same results


    • Pawan

      I think PHP is winning here because most of the audience here on this website is from web designing and not web development.

      ASP.NET is the clear winner when you talk about enterprise server side development.

    • Daniel

      Funny, how those absolute positions are not valid until backed-up. Thing is: you can’t. I really hate such statements, just so you get my pointer there. “bla… clear winner …bla”. Stop this.

    • Pawan

      This is what I not wanted.

      I was just saying that ASP.NET has a lot of great functionality when you think about enterprise server side development.

    • Tom

      I can’t agree with you. PHP is great because of freedom, which is given. I mean you don’t have to use MS Visual Studio, or another MS components.

      Is great because of many others factors too, like linux-based servers, great syntax and docs, big community …

    • Pawan

      You can do ASP .NET programming in free VS Express Editions… and if you say that you need to buy Windows for that to run, then other than Linux based OS, every other OS has a price tag.

      And not many people use Linux to their day-to-day or even business purpose.

      so the price tag never comes into picture when working on ASP .NET.

      PHP is also awesome, but on a better unbiased voting platform, ASP .NET would easily get better votes.

      Again, I like this site for all the knowledge it imparts in me.

    • Can anyone name me a single thing “enterprise” related that asp can do better than php ?

      I see asp as the more expensive and smug alternative to php.

      I’m not saying ASP is not a great language because it is, but comparing the two, I really don’t see anything a lot better about ASP that would make it more awesome than php on enterprise-related software.

    • Caesar Tjalbo

      “”Can anyone name me a single thing “enterprise” related that asp can do better than php ?”” Convince the management. Most typically the ones who won’t be doing any work with it, most likely in a business that’s already vendor locked-in into the MS stack.

    • We’ve often been able to counter vendor-lock with the fact that you can put PHP on IIS. Been able to interface with apps natively written in .NET, kept the cost down, and had happy clients.

    • Rob

      I think PHP is just as useful as ASP. I think more people use PHP because many are intimidated by IIS as was I when I first started using it, but now I am as comfortable using it as I was with Plesk.

  3. Perl is the duct tape of the web, I am surprised not more programmers are learning that.

    • Borstis

      Amen to that

    • If NGINX hits the magical 1.0 and people get involved more with it, i bet Perl gets a hell of a comeback. As a Perl developer, you should be proud at the results of PHP. Rasmus Lerdorf made PHP to solve real life problems concerning serving webpages and dynamic content. Before PHP, he used to combine C and Perl to get the job done. This was inefficient according to him, so he developed PHP. As we see an upcoming webserver like NGINX, that’s based on Perl, i can see Perl getting back in the race. I actually love this concern, because i know of a lot of companies who spend tens of thousands of dollars in licenses and education for PHP. They’re probably too stubborn to make the step to Perl and NGINX when needed. I even spoke to a company that’s trying to make desktop applications with PHP. I asked them: “So.. How are you planning to do that? Using PHP-GTK? And what about Windows and Mac?” Their answer was something similar as what we once saw appearing as .hta on Windows, where you’d get an embedded webpage inside a minimal window, which was often used as “Autorun” on CD’s.
      The fact remains that the web evolves under our noses and if we don’t see what’s happening, then a lot of us won’t survive modern assignments.

  4. i learn web development mainly in PHP. currently exploring ASP.NET MVC 2 seems to be good. easy deployment, C# as programming language. maybe more powerful. with .NET, i can learn 1 language, eg. C#, and use for web/windows/mobile (silverlight, maybe infuture)

    currently still considering. the main cons of ASP is costs. great apps like wordpress are developed in PHP too. Zend Framework 2 and Doctrine 2 seems like attractive

    • What costs are you talking about? Other than having to purchase Visual Studio to make it easier to program .NET, everything else is free. By that I mean I could program an ASP.NET site in notepad, but then I would have to slit my wrists.

      I think that the attractiveness of .NET is that your working within the framework that was designed to run on a windows box. So, if you’re a Windows person or the server that is hosting your site is Windows, then it would be better to work within .NET over PHP.

      Don’t get me wrong, PHP is awesome, but I’m more comfortable within .NET since that is what I learned to develop in when I was in school.

    • Daniel

      See, that what he was talking about when he said that thing about costs. You *need* a Windows box for deployment. That means having to pay for a license. Funny, but it’s true. ;-)

    • make that licenseS…….. :)

  5. I am not surprised by this poll ;)

    PHP for the win!

  6. The results are presented in a slightly deceptive way. The order listed to the right of the pie chart should have matched the order of highest to lowest. For example, looking at the list quickly, I would assume that Java was the 2nd to last most popular choice, when in fact it was the 3rd most popular. This is the order they should have been listed in:

    Cold Fusion

    • Sai

      I second that.

    • I believe they’re just being presented in the order that they were listed in the actual survey. A legend’s sole purpose is to describe a chart, not to duplicate the chart itself.

  7. Chris, not to be a jerk, and interesting poll/topic, but quick typo…

    “to far from that” should be “too far from that”


  8. I actually prefer .ASP as its easy :)

    Surprised that its not actually on the list.

  9. PHP = WIN; I was surprised (happy) by the low ASP result. Nice to see ColdFusion is fading away into the sunset.

    • ColdFusion will never have market dominance, but it continues to remain profitable for Adobe. As such, it continues to be developed and upgraded. Overall, I’d say it’s a bit of a stretch to declare “death” on any of these languages though. A survey from 18k persons is impressive, but there are easily over several million Web developers around the world. That’s partially why I’m still up in the air regarding TIOBE’s credibility.

    • JC Jones

      Coldfusion is far from dead, in fact I am surprised it was not more popular, but since PHP is a free open solution that may influence the results.

      Developing in CF takes about half the time as in PHP, not to mention writing less lines of code. I find most comments against CF come from ignorance.

      If you have not tried it, check it out, it may pleasantly surprise you as to how easy you can pick it up and how efficient you become because of it. For a list of who is using this code check out:

  10. Jesse

    ASP.NET isn’t a language. The language is either C# or or VB depending on the developers preference. ASP.NET is just the web development platform for .NET. That aside, this isn’t surprising. PHP is simple to figure out and get going. Whether or not it’s popularity translates into superiority is debatable. Personally, I’ll stick with .NET; but that’s because it just resonates with me. I like its type safety, I like that C# was built to be OO and not just “support” OO like the versions of PHP I’ve used in the past. I’ve not kept up with PHP so I can’t speak to its state now.

    • Yeah, I guess its safe to list it here as ASP.NET since you need that stack with your language of choice.

      I’m like you, I’ll stick to ASP.NET w/C#

    • if you’re talking about php4’s object-oriented support, version 5 is much better.

  11. Alexis Coudeyras

    Well my server-side language is not listed there : javascript. Even if nodeJs is a bit new on the market, maybe you should add it.

    • Node.js isn’t a language either, its an I/O framework for V8. V8 too is not a language, but an engine for JS. From the V8 intro page:

      “V8 enables any C++ application to expose its own objects and functions to JavaScript code.”

    • …javascript is completely client-side. Can’t be run on a server.

    • Andrew


      Don’t understadn your comment. Under ASP “classic” you could certainly program server side in VBScipt (my choice) and Javascript. Under ASP.NET there are more choices still.


    • @traq You really should check your facts. JavaScript can completely run on the server side.

    • Maybe JScript a Windows Scripting version similar to JavaScript
      Javascript is interprated by the client browser thus is client-side at least that is how it is widely used
      JScript can be used in ASP or ASP.NET for server side and the code is very different and is not meant for the browser rather it is interprated by the ASP engines. Again you do not even mix up the two scripting languages. one will have the serverside tags to show it is meant for the server otherwise it will have for the browser

  12. ASP.NET, Java, Ruby, Python, Cold Fusion, Perl, yada yada yada yada

    PHP is the best! Zend Framework Too!!!

  13. What fell into the “other” category?

  14. “Looking at these results it looks like PHP’s domination of the server side language market is just about as complete as jQuery’s over the JavaScript library market =)”

    I do not know whether that statement is true or not, but I do know that it is inaccurate if you base this on your survey. Your site does not represent the market, just some preferences of a tiny fraction of the market which has a large emphasis on front-end development.

    PHP definitely is dominant and I personally love it too, I’m just objecting to the word “market” in your conclusion.

  15. nothing interesting to say other than…


    Thank you.

  16. Andre

    It’s interesting to compare this with the actual language distribution

  17. Yes! it worth!

    thank you for the poll!

  18. PHP is definitely my language of choice!

  19. I agree with this poll result. It’s very obvious that many popular websites uses PHP like Facebook, Youtube, etc.

    PHP is a powerful and very popular server side language and I used it too for the sites I developed and maintained.

    Now tell me why youtube and facebook use PHP instead of

    • Logic

      Youtube is not PHP, Youtube is written in a bunch of different languages mostly Python.

    • I don’t say Youtube is PHP, I said Youtube uses PHP which is part the bunch of different languages. Now try this link

    • YouTube definitely uses PHP. Their old view URLs were watch.php instead of just “watch” as they are now – Look in the Internet Archive ( Open any YouTube link and change “” to “” and it’ll still work :)

  20. Hurray php win..
    East or West, PHP is the Best.

  21. I came from a long time of PHP development and it was realy great. All
    the things with PHP seems to be easy and free. Now I have started with
    Ruby development, and seriously… it’s going to be the best choice i made
    in life…

    Learning ruby is easy, but understand the Rails framework not.
    By the way, all the things I made until now were realy easy, functional
    and worked realy well.

    The point here is the server side, but I believe that everyone here is
    considering all the things around all the languages, so… in general, I
    believe that, when the Ruby on Rails get a great simpathy, it will be the new PHP.

  22. 0.3% for Python, I was wondering if it’s only Google use it.

    • dave

      I use it. It’s awesome. Check out django.

      PHP is a not nearly as awesome clusterf***. That being said, I would take it over MS proprietary garbage any day.

      And the guy above who said not many people use Linux. We’re not talking about the average email checking, web surfing grandma here. If you’re a developer and can’t use linux.. yeesh. What are using, a Windows Server?? Gross.

  23. Khaled

    @Cris I was very sure that php will win cause your blog as you said it is more for front end developer and wordpress etc… but check the new ASP.Net MVc guys it rocks

  24. Steve

    I’m a full time enterprise level PHP developer. We push 150TB + of data a month, and handle well over 30,000 CONCURRENT users using our system.

    People who say PHP isn’t an enterprise solution have obviously never tried. Way more responsibility falls on the developer than the platform :P

  25. No PL/SQL?!?!? :-D

  26. Tholithemba

    I’m not a designer and yes i like PHP more than any of other languages listed.

    I agree with the poll, i think PHP dominates regardless of the community in which the poll is held

  27. I personally prefer PHP

  28. neoprabhu

    I’m happy to see this poll results, Frameworks like zend, CodeIgniter, cakePHP and CMS like wordpress, joomla, drupal make the PHP incredible ..

    Its sure time of open-source …

  29. Superior to all PHP rocks it is simple and it is easy to use cheapest to host I love it. I like it that most of us do love it too!

  30. PHP all the way.

  31. All hail PHP. Lol…

  32. Go PHP

  33. PHP is easy and useful for the designer to learn, thus its popularity.

  34. i know that java and asp maybe better than php but php is free and popular which makes learning it a very easy task only ask uncle google about your issue and he will show you the answer directly illustrated on a programming website, just know how to ask the question.
    good isn’t it?

  35. PHP is great, C# in ASP.NET MVC 2 is also very nice. I use both :)

  36. I have recently learnt PHP. It’s good to know it’s such a popular language.

  37. i use only php – that is cool and quite simple. my brother learns java, but i think he’ll also learn php (actually, java is more difficult :) ).
    however, i’m wondering how to generate dynamic pages with html extension (except of configuring the server)!!! i need to learn this feature, but i can’t find out what language is used in this case. how to produce different page with unique addres, if each page is created on fly?!

  38. I am a web designer and developer and prefer PHP over ASP for its functionallity and ease of use. It is also a good script for beginners to pick up being accompanied by many tutorials online.

  39. Matt

    I voted Python, since Django is my mode of development, but I really wish Javascript was a listed option.

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