PHP vs Node JS: The Battle For Web Development Supremacy

PHP vs Node JS

PHP and Node.js are both used for server-side development and thus have become a competitor for each other. Below are some differences based on different parameters to understand the two and make decisions between the two giants.

The arena of web development is always full of old and new warriors. Now and then a new competitor enters the arena with never heard of tools. On the other hand, old web development tools innovate new ways to stay relevant in this ever-changing field. In such times, it is important for web developers to be well-acquainted and well-updated with all the developments. Web development is also divided into the front end, back end, and full stack web development. Web developers use HTML, CSS, etc. for the front end and PHP, and Node.js for the back end among many other contenders. PHP vs Node JS is a never-ending and ever-hot debate topic for back-end web development.

Who is the winner of the PHP vs Node JS battle? Let’s have a look.

PHP Development

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PHP is an acronym for Hypertext Preprocessor created by Rasmus Lerdorf in 1994. PHP is an open-source server-side scripting language designed specifically for web development. Although PHP is a server-side scripting language, it is also used as a general-purpose scripting language. PHP scripts have an extension of PHP and can contain Javascript, HTML, CSS, and even plain text.

It is not that PHP is the best and most versatile back-end scripting language out there. There are certainly many other options and some of them are even better but PHP has been around for more than 25 years now. It is a very mature and popular language too. That is the reason 75% of all websites use PHP one way or the other.

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A Long Way Ahead

As noted earlier it has been around since 1994 and almost 75% of all the websites use it in one form or the other. Developers can easily integrate it with a number of frameworks and templates so they use it on servers without second thoughts.

When it comes to PHP vs Node JS, PHP is compatible with more content management systems than Node.js. Frameworks like Laravel, Symphony, and CakePHP support PHP. It is also easy to learn with a little prior knowledge of a scripting language. PHP is also very fast because it doesn’t require a lot of processing power.

When we see login pages, online forms, survey, and picture galleries, 3 out of 4 must have been developed with PHP.

Node JS Development

Node.js is an open-source server-side Javascript run-time environment built on Chrome’s JavaScript Engine(V8). Node.js is used for building fast and scalable applications and is an event-driven, non-blocking I/O model. Node.js files have .js extension and contain only Javascript. Its original author is Ryan Dahl and was initially released on May 27, 2009. With the birth of Node.js, it brings users the facility to build completely Javascript-based applications.

The second part of the PHP vs Node.js argument is Node.js. Node.js is a server environment that is open source.

Node.js is completely cross-platform which means it can run on Windows, Mac, Linux, Unix, etc. The package ecosystem of Node.js is the single largest ecosystem of open-source libraries in the entire world. Simply put, Node.js is a web server. It handles the incoming connections. Developers can use Node.js for front-end development too but, normally, they don’t use it for the front end. It is more extensive and a lot faster than PHP in many regards.

Similarities Between PHP And Node.js

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1) Synchronous OR Asynchronous

Synchronous code executes line by line and proceeds to execute the next line of code when the current line has been executed. 

Asynchronous code executes all the code at the same time.

a) PHP

PHP is synchronous but there are some APIs that behave asynchronously apart from the synchronous lot. The problem with being synchronous can be understood by a simple example. Suppose, the first line of code has a function that takes a lot of time to execute. Now due to synchronous nature, the below lines of code has to wait for their turn and will execute only after the function is executed. This makes it slower and the user to wait.

b) Node JS

Node.js is asynchronous in nature which means the JavaScript engine runs through the entire code in one go and does not wait for a function to return. The lines of code below the function will execute and the function be executing too and will return the output once done and thus it make Node.js fast.

2) Modules

a) PHP

PHP uses module installing technologies like PEAR(a veteran package system), and Composer which is comparatively new. 

PEAR is a framework and distribution system for reusable PHP components.

Composer is a tool for dependency management in PHP. It allows users to declare the libraries on which the project depends and it will manage (install/update) them for user.

b) Node JS

Node.js comes bundled with a package management system called NPM (Node Package Manager) and its registry which is easy to use and publish.

3) Frameworks

a) PHP

PHP is a very popular server-side scripting language and has many frameworks which help in easy backend development. Some of them are Laravel, CodeIgniter, Cakephp, etc. These frameworks help in agile, robust, and secure backend development of web applications.

b) Node JS

Frameworks like Express and the full-stack MVC frameworks Meteor and Derby are the most popular. New frameworks keep popping up every now and then like koa.js, hapi, total.js, sails.js, etc.

Difference Between PHP and Node JS

Here’s a detailed comparison highlighting the key differences between PHP and Node  js:

1) Language and Runtime

A) PHP:

Language: PHP is a server-side scripting language designed specifically for web development.

Runtime: Runs on a web server such as Apache or Nginx.

B) Node JS:

Language: Uses JavaScript, which is traditionally a client-side scripting language, for server-side development.

Runtime: Built on Chrome’s V8 JavaScript engine, enabling server-side JavaScript execution.

2) Concurrency and Performance

A) PHP:

Concurrency: Handles requests synchronously, creating a new thread or process for each request.

Performance: This can be slower for high-concurrency tasks due to its synchronous nature. However, modern versions and tools (like HHVM) have improved performance.

B) Node JS:

Concurrency: Utilizes an asynchronous, non-blocking event-driven architecture, allowing it to handle many connections simultaneously with a single thread.

Performance: Generally faster and more efficient for I/O operations and high-concurrency tasks.

3) Development Environment

A) PHP:

Development Stack: Often paired with LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP).

Frameworks: Popular frameworks include Laravel, Symfony, CodeIgniter, and Yii.

Ease of Setup: Widely supported by most web hosting services, easy to set up.

B) Node JS:

Development Stack: Commonly used with MEAN/MERN stacks (MongoDB, Express.js, Angular/React, Node.js).

Frameworks: Popular frameworks include Express.js, Koa, and NestJS.

Ease of Setup: Requires more initial setup compared to PHP, typically involves setting up Node.js runtime and npm packages.

4) Community and Ecosystem

A) PHP:

Community: Large, established community with extensive documentation and resources.

Ecosystem: Mature ecosystem with many libraries, extensions, and CMSs (WordPress, Joomla, Drupal).

B) Node JS:

Community: Rapidly growing community with a focus on modern web development practices.

Ecosystem: npm provides a vast repository of packages and modules, fostering a dynamic and expansive ecosystem.

6) Learning Curve

A) PHP:

Ease of Learning: Known for its simplicity and ease of learning, making it beginner-friendly.

Syntax: Procedural and object-oriented programming, straightforward syntax.

B) Node JS:

Ease of Learning: JavaScript knowledge required for both client-side and server-side, can be advantageous for full-stack development.

Syntax: Asynchronous programming model, can be more complex due to callbacks, promises, and async/await patterns.

7) Application Types and Use Cases

A) PHP:

Use Cases: Traditional server-side web applications, content management systems, e-commerce platforms.

Strengths: Quick deployment, extensive hosting support, excellent for CMS-driven websites.

B) Node JS:

Use Cases: Real-time applications (chat apps, live streaming), SPAs, microservices, API development.

Strengths: High concurrency, real-time capabilities, unified language for client and server-side.

8) Deployment and Hosting

A) PHP:

Deployment: Easy and widely supported by shared hosting providers.

Hosting: Compatible with most web servers and hosting services without additional configuration.

B) Node JS:

Deployment: Requires specific server configuration, often deployed on platforms like AWS, Heroku, DigitalOcean.

Hosting: Typically deployed using containerization tools like Docker or services like PM2 for process management.

PHP vs Node JS Which is Better

A) PHP may be better if:

1) You are developing a traditional web application or CMS-based site.

2) You need a simpler, more straightforward development process with extensive hosting support.

3) Your application does not require handling a high number of concurrent connections or real-time interactions.

B) Node JS may be better if:

1) You are building real-time, highly interactive web applications or services.

2) You prefer using JavaScript for both client and server-side development for a more consistent stack.

3) You need to handle high concurrency and I/O-heavy operations efficiently.

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Final Thoughts

There can be no clear winner for the battle of PHP vs Node.js. It all depends on the use case. When the requirement is robust and steady development, one can opt for PHP development. On the other hand, when the speed is a must-have element, one can opt for Node.js development. When the client doesn’t have to interact with the server all the time, PHP is good whereas the frequent requirement of interaction with servers means Node.js.

If you are thinking about full stack web development, iCoderz Solutions is an ideal choice for you because we are a full stack web development company. We are also a leading full-stack mobile app development company too. Our company houses dedicated teams for web development, iOS app development, and Android app development. These departments have delivered more than 500 projects cumulatively. Contact us now to discuss your requirements and have a quote now.

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