PHP vs HTML- Differences You Must Know in 2023

If you are not sure which language should you learn learning first between PHP and HTML?

You are not alone! So many beginners often ask this question and this blog post is the perfect answer.

Here i have covered what is HTML, what is PHP, uses, and what’s the big difference between PHP and HTML.

What is HTML?

HTML is a client-side language, this suggests that it is interpreted by the user’s web browser to display the content of a web page.PHP Vs HTML: difference you must know

In simple terms, this language is the sole reason to build structure, headings, paragraphs, lists, links, and other elements. But these are static elements and can not change dynamically which is something PHP and javascript does.

Here are some common uses of HTML include: Basically these are elements you see in a web page.

  • Creating the static structure and layout of a web page.
  • Adding text, images, and other media to a web page.
  • Creating links to other web pages or resources.
  • Adding forms for user input.
  • Structuring data in tables.
  • Adding multimedia elements such as audio and video.
  • Creating interactive elements using JavaScript and other technologies.

What is PHP?

PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor) is a server-side programming language that is used to build dynamic web pages and applications.

This language is frequently used in conjunction with a database, such as MySQL, to store and retrieve data on par the user’s request, and this called Dynamic webpage.

Retrieving Elements can be coded in HTML, but since these are stored in the database and only show up when a user request for.

Some common uses of PHP include:

  • Building dynamic web pages that can interact with databases.
  • Processing and validating user input from forms.
  • Creating login systems and other user authentication systems.
  • Generating dynamic content based on user input or other factors.
  • Creating and manipulating image files and graphics.
  • Sending and receiving cookies and other data.
  • Generating PDF documents and other files.

PHP vs HTML- the main difference

The main difference between PHP and HTML is that HTML is a text-markup client-side language and PHP is a server-side language.

Now, the client side also represents the front end of a webpage, all static elements, images, and text-based formatting we see are thanks to the HTML code.

And if you understand what a server or database is (often called a back-end), then it should be easy to understand to you how does PHP works.

Conversely, PHP language is used to retrieve data from servers like MySQL database to show dynamic content (including text, and images). PHP is also able to perform calculations, logically operate, and do much more.

In order to better understand, it’s important to understand dynamic and static webpage.

Dynamic content is defined as any digital or online content that changes as per the data, user interactions, and preferences. languages such as PHP are used to retrieve such dynamic data according to the behavior of users.

Static content: Static content is any content that can be delivered to an end-user without having to be generated, modified, or processed. Text-markup language like HTML is used to show static content in form of HTML tags.

PHP vs HTML- Table of differences

Here are some additional differences between PHP and HTML that you can add to the table:

PurposeProgramming language for building dynamic web pagesA markup language for structuring and formatting web content
SyntaxUses variables, loops, functions, and other programming constructsUses tags and attributes to structure and format content
File extension.php.html
Example of simple code<?php echo "Hello, World!"; ?><h1>Hello, World!</h1>
Data manipulationCan manipulate data stored in databases and filesCannot manipulate data stored in databases or files
User inputCan process and validate user inputCannot process or validate user input
SecurityCan perform security checks and take security measuresCannot perform security checks or take security measures
ScalabilityCan be used to build large, complex applicationsLimited in terms of scalability and complexity

How does HTML Code work?

HTML code is simple. It works by telling the internet browser how to display or format a page. It’s done by using HTML tags, also these tags work on text editors as well.

Here are some examples of common HTML elements and their corresponding tags:

<h1>This is a heading</h1>

<p>This is a paragraph</p>

<b>This is a bold sentence</b>

<i>This is an italic sentence</i> 

How does PHP code work?

PHP being a server-side language, the entire workflow is on the server itself. A PHP interpreter is also installed on the server to check for PHP files. While on the client side, the only requirement is a web browser and an internet connection.

Let us understand step-by-step how a PHP page works:

PHP interpretation vs HTML static pages
  • Step 1: The client requests the webpage on the browser.
  • Step 2: The server (where PHP software is installed) then checks for the .php file associated with the request. 
  • Step 3: If found, it sends the file to the PHP interpreter (since PHP is an interpreted language), which checks for requested data in the database.
  • Step 4: The interpreter then sends back the requested data output as an HTML webpage (since a browser does not understand .php files).
  • Step 5: The web server receives the HTML file from the interpreter.
  • Step 6: And it sends the webpage back to the browser.  

The point to clarify here PHP does not show the structure that is already there in the static format. Rather it shows something that does not exist in the front end, so when a user searches for it, it is needed to fetch it out from the database that is linked to the front end.


HTML is used to structure the content of a website, while PHP is used to add dynamic functionality to a website. For example, a PHP script might be used to retrieve data from a database and display it on a web page, or to handle a form submission and send an email. HTML is used to define the structure of the page, such as the headings, paragraphs, and links, while PHP is used to add dynamic elements to the page.

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With 10+ years in software engineering, I specialize in blogging and web development. My skills span front-end, back-end, database design, web security, and SEO. Passionate about crafting helpful digital experiences.

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