Node.js vs. PHP: Full Comparison Guide for CEO/CTOs
Two major back-end technologies that fuel web applications are PHP and Node.js. Since PHP is the older of the two, it naturally has a larger community and a longer list of active projects. The PHP community has begun to recognize a dearth of current and important projects. Unexpectedly, this is the area where Node.js excels the most—establishing a solid user base across projects designed for contemporary use cases.
Even though both technologies were developed in distinct eras and technological environments, they share several notable characteristics. For example, both are regarded as viable options for the back end of web applications, are open source, and have sizable user communities.
PHP has been serving developers for nearly three decades and currently powers 77.3 percent of the internet:
In comparison, Node.js is a relatively new language that is rapidly gaining popularity due to its full-stack development features.
Businesses that have used PHP in the past prefer it, while Node.js is favored by developers who use its quickly expanding libraries and frameworks to address current-day issues.
Choice of one technology over the other will affect time-to-market, resource utilization, product performance, budget, and many other factors because of their interconnectedness and significant disparities.
We’ll take a thorough dive into both Node.js and PHP in this article, analyzing all of their features, characteristics, and benefits.
Table of Contents:
Introduction to Both Technologies
In case you are not familiar with Node.js and PHP and what exactly they are, let’s go through a brief introduction.
What is Node.js?
As a result, it works with C++ to control certain computer characteristics, resulting in Node.js, a super-efficient server-side and client-side development environment.
What Is PHP?
The recursive acronym PHP stands for Hypertext Preprocessor, which was derived from the phrase Personal Home Pages. PHP is a server-side scripting language that is largely used for web development. It is object-oriented and open source.
PHP is mostly utilized in the development of web servers. Nonetheless, it may be run from the command line as well as via the browser. You can display your code output in the terminal if you don’t wish to do so in the browser.
The Zend Engine, which is the most extensively used implementation for regular use, is utilized by PHP. Facebook, on the other hand, created several PHP implementations, including parrot, HipHop Virtual Machine (HHVM), and JPHP.
Node.js vs. PHP: Reasons to Use
After you got familiar with both technologies, let’s discuss what both of them are their best uses.
Why Use Node.js?
According to StackOverflow’s 2021 Developer Survey, 33.91% of professional developers used Node.js for heavy development in the previous year/2021:
The number is expected to rise in the coming year/2022. That’s because Node.js has a wide range of capabilities, including:
- Simplicity: Learning Node.js is a breeze. If you’re new to web programming, it’s a great place to start. With various tutorials and a large user community, you can get started learning quickly.
- Non-blocking code: One of the strongest arguments for using Node.js as your server. The majority of the code in Node.js is event-driven and uses callbacks. As a result, the programs might pause or sleep while other requests are being processed. Non-blocking calls are also available in the node.js libraries and core API, allowing for the development of high-performance applications. Furthermore, some applications make use of I/O delay time to fulfill additional demands.
- Fast and Scalable: It provides a lot of scalability in applications. Because Node.js is single-threaded, it can handle a large number of concurrent connections with ease. Similarly, Node.js is faster and more efficient thanks to non-blocking thread execution.
- Powerful backend connection: Because Node.js is written in C and C++, it has a direct and reliable connection to the server.
- Vast Ecosystem: Numerous open-source Node.js packages are available to help you with your projects. The NPM ecosystem, in particular, provides access to over 1 million open-source Node.js packages.
- IoT Protocol: Node.js does not necessitate a large amount of server memory or resources. As a result, IoT development can be used by software developers to provide concurrent links across multiple devices. Furthermore, Node.js supports the Message Queuing Telemetry Transport (MQTT) protocol, which is widely used in IoT applications. At the backend level, it becomes easy to incorporate independent and third-party devices.
- Community support: As an open-source project, Node.js receives widespread user support and contributions to improve and expand the platform. As a result, the community continues to grow, providing additional information and aid to both novices and pros.
Why Use PHP?
Last year, more than 21.98% of professional developers used PHP for heavy programming, according to StackOverflow’s 2021 Developer Survey:
Even though many web gurus anticipated PHP would die out, it has endured the test of time. A sizable number of users continue to rely on PHP and its many good features, which include:
- Cross-platform: Most major operating systems, including Linux, Windows, and macOS, are compatible with PHP. PHP is also supported by all major web servers, including Nginx, OpenBSD, and Apache. PHP is also supported by a number of cloud systems, including Microsoft Azure and Amazon AWS.
- HTML-friendly: Anyone who is familiar with HTML may readily transition to PHP. PHP and HTML are interchangeable within a page. PHP can be used outside or inside the HTML document. While PHP enhances your site’s functionality, the primary design remains HTML.
- Connects all databases: PHP is a flexible programming language. Almost all databases, including MySQL, PostgreSQL, MS SQL, db2, Oracle Database, and MongoDB, are supported by PHP. As a result, developers have more flexibility in selecting the optimal databases for the application under development.
- Web compatibility: Most online technologies, from cloud services to seamless HTML integration, are compatible with PHP. As a result, PHP is enabled by default on all hosting services. PHP’s adaptability and flexibility match that of other programming languages, and it’s used in a variety of application development stacks.
Who Uses Node.js/PHP?
It’s time to go over the top websites and platforms that use Node.js/PHP.
Who Uses Node.js?
Node.js has resurrected a significant role for various industry giants since its inception in 2009. Node.js is being used by many types of businesses, from startups to Fortune 500 enterprises.
Let’s have a look at some of the most well-known Node.js users in the industry:
Who Uses PHP?
PHP, in a figurative sense, owns the internet. PHP is used by more than 78 percent of websites, therefore its popularity in the development world is undeniable. It’s also still a critical technology for some of the world’s biggest tech firms. Let’s have a look at some of the most well-known PHP users:
Pros and Cons of Node.js/PHP
Currently, Node.js is one of the most widely used software development technologies because of its frontend and backend development and cross-platform capabilities.
Meanwhile, Just like with any scripting language, there’s a plethora of benefits and drawbacks to PHP, despite its dominance in the market. We’ll explore these as well.
Pros of Node.js
Let’s go through all the advantages of using Node.js:
- Scalability: Node.js cluster modules provide load across multiple CPU cores, making it simple to accomplish desired outcomes with fewer modules without running out of RAM. In addition, Node.js uses a non-blocking event-loop design, which allows for exceptional scalability and allows the server to respond to requests in real-time. Furthermore, Node.js allows you to assign applications to several teams and design and assign tasks at the same time. As a result, you get a framework that is high-performing while consuming fewer resources.
- Cross-platform functionality: Developers may use NW.js and Electron together to develop real-time cross-platform apps without having to write separate code for each platform. As a result, you don’t need to be concerned if your development team doesn’t have a thorough understanding of Objective-C and C#; Node.js can build native apps without them. Additionally, Google products can be a great help to developers when it comes to coding and debugging.
- Shorten Time-to-Market: Because Node.js is full-stack, lightweight, and quick, you can cut your development time in half. Apart from that, your team has access to a plethora of Node.js libraries, ready-to-use programs, and assets via GitHub. It will save a lot of time and effort in the development process. As a result, your time to market is more likely to be reduced.
Pros of PHP
Let’s go through all the possible advantages of using PHP:
- Inexpensive: PHP is an open-source programming technology that is free to use, as are its tools. Multiple frameworks, such as Laravel and CodeIgniter, as well as CMSs like WordPress and Drupal, extend PHP’s capabilities and provide a pleasant development environment.
- Extensive documentation and resources: Numerous tutorials, manuals, references, and demo projects about PHP development are available. These materials will help you when you’re stuck, whether you’re a newbie programmer or a seasoned master.
- Less maintenance: Model-view-controller (MVC) architecture is supported by PHP frameworks, which makes it easier to create and maintain online applications. MVC design, for example, can be used to partition a web application into models, views, and controllers. To separate the application’s user interface and business logic, you can utilize a PHP MVC framework.
- Automation: For developer browser-based automation test scenarios, PHP bindings can be used. The Selenium web driver works well in all major browsers, and the framework is extensible. Furthermore, PHP framework features and utilities assist you in automating common web development chores such as caching, authentication, session management, and URL mapping without sacrificing performance.
- User-friendly: PHP has a more manageable learning curve that you can master rapidly. You can easily learn PHP for application development if you know a primary language like C. Even if PHP is your first language, you can easily install it on any operating system or server and then try it out for yourself.
The majority of users choose PHP because it is straightforward to learn, understand, and use. For novices, a lot of programming languages are confusing and intimidating, yet PHP is well-organized, straightforward, and flowing.
Cons of Node.js
Let’s go through all the possible disadvantages of using Node.js:
- Unable to process heavy computation: Node.js does not currently allow multi-threaded programming. Nonetheless, it can handle far more complex applications than Ruby, despite the fact that it isn’t designed to execute long-running calculations. Multi-threaded demanding computations, on the other hand, can reduce performance. As a result, Node.js is best suited for single-threaded sophisticated systems; otherwise, processing power and time would be wasted.
- Unstable API: The Node.js Application Programming Interface (API) is constantly changing and evolving. Furthermore, various backward-incompatible changes accompany each new API release, forcing developers to update their access code on a frequent basis to keep up with the latest version of the Node.js API.
Cons of PHP
Let’s go through all the possible disadvantages of using Node.js:
- Outdated methodology: Machine learning is gaining popularity, and it’s the future of technology. Thus, languages like Python are attracting users. However, while PHP has its libraries, it cannot compete with Python’s TensorFlow, Scikit-learn, Theano, and Keras libraries to construct web apps powered by machine learning or similar modification of its old methodology. As a result, PHP is not the ideal solution if your app will require machine learning.
- Security flaws: Because of the low entry barrier for new programmers, PHP has a bad reputation for security. In addition, untrained developers generate websites and apps with security flaws. As a result, these results frequently contribute to PHP’s reputation as a less secure programming language. You’ll obtain rock-solid online security if you know PHP inside and out and are an experienced developer.
- Framework quality: The majority of popular PHP frameworks are free to use and open source. As a result, web designers can employ these frameworks without increasing project expenditures. However, not every framework has the same characteristics, or features in the community, and not every framework attracts the same number of developers. As a result, several PHP frameworks are lacking in resources and support.
Node.js vs. PHP: A Head-to-head Comparison
Now that we’ve learned a little bit about both technologies, their features, and their applications, it’s time to compare Node.js vs. PHP based on a few key metrics. This will assist you in deciding which option is best for your application development by demonstrating how efficient and straightforward they are to work with, as well as which option may deliver the highest return on your development efforts and time.
Let’s compare them head to head.
Similarities Between Node.js and PHP
The similarities between Node.js and PHP include:
- Application types: On servers, Node.js and PHP handle routed requests. Static content, dynamic web pages, and data requests can all benefit from them. Despite the fact that PHP introduced web socket servers, Node.js web sockets are presently the most used. Socket.io is used by Node.js, whereas Ratchet is used by PHP. Furthermore, both of them serve streams (Node.js does this using the Stream API, while PHP requires some bespoke code).
- Extensibility: You can grow both Node.js and PHP since they are open source, and each has a vibrant ecosystem of add-ons. Similarly, you can edit and fork the source code in any way that suits your needs.
- Interpreted: Both Node.js and PHP are interpreted languages, allowing you to work on the implementation page without stopping your workflow. The advantages of an interpreted language are ease of debugging, reduced program size, and dynamic typing.
- Cross-platform: Platform independence is a feature of both Node.js and PHP. They can both run on Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows. Official Docker images for Node.js can be found on the Docker hub, but you’ll need to execute PHP from the command line. You can also build both Node.js and PHP source code.
- Service: Web requests are served by both Node.js and PHP, and both are fairly efficient at supplying web sockets. They easily handle dynamic web material and provide an interactive, user-friendly interface.
If the syntax is easy and well-engineered, you’ll be able to do more with less code.
Over the years, PHP has grown tremendously and has been around for a while. From a distance, it could appear like PHP is simpler and requires fewer lines of code to execute the same function. However, you also need to be familiar with how Linux, Apache HTTP Server, MySQL, and PHP itself’s operators and generators operate (commonly referred to as LAMP).
The focus of server-side programming is on the efficient performance of the operations that will eventually make up the UI. This is an important parameter because it greatly affects how an app works, how much data is utilized on the client’s device, and how quickly pages load.
Node.js Client-side Coding
The main advantage of this development environment is that you can import all of the server-side functionality from the back-end code. The features you have allocated on both fronts are then simple to access. Node.js also shifts a significant amount of work to the client side. Therefore, Node.js is the best option for your use case if your target audience has smartphones with respectable processing capability. However, it requires a constant connection to the server because it employs the AJAX engine to update web pages in response to GET and POST requests.
PHP Client-side Coding
PHP was created specifically to support dynamic web pages. As a result, many features that you would require for the website’s UX aspects are already included.
Beyond that, each static web page’s HTML code is what PHP is dependent on. Since no modifications are required for each web page, the page loads quickly and without taxing the processing abilities of client devices.
Every technology has a distinct user and audience base. Similarly, Node.js and PHP each have their own set of users. Modern learners interested in full-stack programming with less effort and greater Node.js wages are drawn to Node.js. PHP, on the other hand, is aimed at a diverse readership from all over the internet.
PHP, on the other hand, has proven to be too large to overcome thus far. As a result, predicting the final winner is difficult.
The less you have to code (comparatively to the abstraction), the better the programming language foundation is. The prepared modeling APIs, bundled codes, and other elements make programming easier and faster for you. Both PHP and Node.js provide a variety of frameworks to suit a variety of needs.
Meteor, Derby, Express, Koa, Nest, Sails, and a slew of additional libraries for Node.js have exploded in popularity in a short period. By reducing development time and resource consumption, these frameworks boost productivity. Node.js, in particular, outnumbers PHP frameworks in terms of popularity.
PHP has amassed an extensive library of frameworks for various specialized markets throughout its 27-year existence. Laravel, CodeIgniter, Symfony, CakePHP, and Phalcon are PHP frameworks that have long supported professional developers and mainstream development organizations. In addition, industry heavyweights like Facebook have created their PHP frameworks, such as HipHop.
Although PHP has been providing rich frameworks to developers throughout the world for decades, Node.js is gaining popularity among experts due to its current methodology and a fast-growing number of frameworks.
The time and effort you put into learning Node.js, on the other hand, will pay off handsomely. Knowing Node.js will be useful because it is growing more popular than PHP.
This measure describes the execution speed that both technologies have by default. A shorter development process and more cost-effective projects result from high execution speed.
One of the few asynchronous development environments is Node.js. This makes Node.js stand apart from other languages and offers it an advantage. Because it is asynchronous, it does not have to wait for a module to complete its execution before loading the next one. Such execution provides a seamless user experience and significantly lowers the web app’s downtime.
Like most pre-2K languages and technologies, PHP relies on synchronicity to function. This implies that each module and function is carried out in the sequence provided by the code. If one module or function is not run, the subsequent ones won’t begin until it is.
Performance measures how well PHP or Node.js code performs in terms of KPIs like page loads and seamlessness. When employing KPIs that have a significant impact on the UX of your product, a high-performing technology will produce superior results.
Concurrency is the term used to describe this execution that is not dependent on the order. Multiple modules are run at once but not simultaneously when they are executed concurrently.
Simply put, even if they use the same resource and are carried out in the same setting, their start and end times may vary.
PHP was created considerably earlier, which can be seen in how quickly pages load, thanks to PHP. It causes a process to be blocked until it has finished computing, which results in delayed loading and no room for concurrency.
But if you still want to utilize PHP, you may combine it with the HHVM Virtual Machine, which runs PHP web applications. It can increase your PHP web app’s performance by over 75%. However, Node.js is still a quicker option.
Without a doubt, no computer language is unhackable, and none is free of security flaws. However, you can create a system resistant to even the most sophisticated security threats.
Both Node.js and PHP have security flaws (and also resolutions). The security of a website or application, on the other hand, is dependent on the developer’s coding style.
You may encounter vulnerabilities like the machine-in-the-middle (MITM) attack, code injection, and advanced persistent threats as a Node.js user. For example, XSS attacks, data breaches, Cross-site Request Forgery (CSRF), and HTTP response header vulnerabilities plague Node.js.
However, the system also includes security principles, authentication tools (Okta, Firebase, OAuth), OWASP Dependency-Check, and Acutinex to help you deal with issues, reduce vulnerability, and build a secure system.
You may encounter security vulnerabilities such as SQL injection, XSS (cross-site scripting), session hijacking, directory traversal, and others when using PHP.
All of these difficulties can be avoided with PHP’s preventions and pathways. But here’s where the true genie comes out of the bottle:
Your PHP code is only as safe as the code you write.
Your software will be as secure as it should be with various other programming languages if you code it correctly. However, if you’re a novice coder, the chances of your website or app having a security flaw are significantly higher.
You should think through a secure design if you consider safety and security issues extensively while creating the system. You can use the OpenSSL function extension Cryptography to encrypt and decode a string in PHP, and you can also use Language-Based Security (LBS) to improve the security of your apps.
This is a gauge of how quickly a technology responds to requests from clients. While precisely executing the request is unquestionably important, it must also be done with the least amount of resources and time possible. Error handling would provide us more insight into which technology enhances the user experience.
Node.js Request Handling
The system doesn’t have to wait for one process to finish before starting the next one because numerous requests are processed asynchronously. Additionally, no RAM or CPU time is wasted. The main issue here is that if a request’s fault isn’t resolved right away, it can interfere with other requests and result in a system-wide error.
PHP Request Handling
PHP only processes one request at once. Naturally, it uses far more RAM and CPU resources. Since it’s on the opposite end of the spectrum for this parameter, every request is executed in a silo.
This prevents cross-contamination of request errors, but it also creates a lag in the system with its one-request-at-a-time approach.
Numerous databases are supported by both Node.js and PHP. However, despite operating within the same application, there are a few specific databases that work best for them and lessen the risk of potential assaults.
Node.js Database Integration
Generally speaking, MySQL is the best-performing database for Node.js.
However, Node.js accepts a huge number of client requests and queues them in EventQueue because of its event-driven architecture. As a result, Node.js provides the EventLoop, an infinite loop that simultaneously accepts and processes requests, saving computation power.
If Node.js can handle it without I/O blocking, the event loop will execute the request and deliver the response to the client on its own. Additionally, you can use the Node.js cluster module or worker threads to enable your system to handle several requests concurrently.
PHP Database Integration
Some of the conventional/relational databases that PHP supports include MySQL, MariaDB, Db2, MongoDB, Oracle, PostgreSQL, and SQLite. On the other side, MySQL seems to be the most often used PHP database.
MySQL has many advantages and is SQL-compliant. It is simple to use, incredibly strong, quick, secure, and scalable. Additionally, MySQL is compatible with a number of different operating systems, such as UNIX or Linux, Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac OS X, and others.
Modules and Extensibility
Modules are program components that serve as sub-programs for one or more related functions/classes.
A program can be built from a few discrete components. If you wish to boost your technology’s capabilities, these modules can help.
Node.js Modules and Extensibility
Modules are discrete units of code in Node.js that communicate with an external application based on their capabilities. A single file or a collection of files/folders can be used as a module. Modules are useful because of their reusability and ability to break down difficult code into manageable chunks.
PHP Modules and Extensibility
Core extensions, bundled extensions that come standard with the PHP installation, and totally external extensions (which do not come with the core PHP or any package) are the three categories of PHP modules.
C is the most common programming language used to create PHP extension modules. You can, however, compile them using PHP such that they can be loaded either statically (as part of the binary file) or dynamically (through the php.ini directive extension=modulename.so).
PHP has amassed a diverse set of extension modules that offer a great lot of flexibility. Despite the fact that Node.js is gaining popularity, PHP modules still outweigh Node.js modules.
The ecosystem of a platform is controlled by its community. It demonstrates how many open-source projects, frameworks, modules, libraries, and APIs are being released by the community at any time.
Although the Node.js ecosystem contains a large number of libraries and frameworks, they are far outnumbered by PHP. Node.js doesn’t have as many projects as other frameworks, but it makes up for that with its variety. Because it is used for both server-side and back-end programming, the readily available projects can fit into a wider range of use cases.
WordPress has significantly improved the PHP ecosystem. Nothing better illustrates PHP’s omnipotent reach than the fact that the corporation directly manages a sizable portion of all websites on the internet.
In addition, the PHP community has created a ton of educational resources and enabling technologies throughout the years to attract new developers.
Nearly all hosting providers offer PHP support. Although fewer hosting companies offer Node.js, the number of those that do is increasing quickly. The functionality offered for PHP and Node.js should be taken into consideration when choosing a hosting service.
We’ve optimized our shared hosting servers for Node.js, although most web hosts only offer Node.js Hosting on their VPS or Dedicated server plans. Even our simple Node.js setup process has been tried, tested, and documented so you can focus on business development. In cPanel, you can set up your Node.js apps quickly and hassle-free:
All hosting services use PHP by default. The adaptability and flexibility of PHP are comparable to those of other programming languages and are used in a variety of application development stacks. For small businesses or individuals who can run and administer their apps without any understanding of console commands, integrating PHP projects and their deployment is somewhat simpler.
Surprisingly, hosting costs are frequently determined by the availability of hosting firms. As a result, do your homework before selecting one. When picking a web host, however, you must prioritize speed, performance, and security. At FastComet, you get all those at an exceptional price.
Node.js vs. PHP: Which Should You Choose?
Without a doubt, this is the question we’ve been attempting to answer with a meaningful response here. So let’s see if we can connect all of the dots we’ve been drawing.
Indeed, each of these technologies has a slew of capabilities that will make your development easier, fancier, and more stable. Choosing a technology, on the other hand, is more dependent on your needs and the type of work you intend to conduct.
Rather than choosing the greatest technology based on random factors or the opinions of others, you should examine your requirements based on your goals and wants and then choose the technology that best suits you.
When to Use Node.js
Let’s look at the requirements that would make you choose Node.js over PHP any day:
- FullStack: If you want to do both server-side and client-side programming at the same time, Node.js is the way to go. Another compelling argument for using Node.js is the ease with which multiple frontend and backend teams may collaborate.
- Speed and Performance: Node.js is faster than most other programming languages at executing programs. In addition, the Node.js applications have shown a significant increase in performance and stability. If you want your application to handle several instructions and requests at the same time, Node.js is the way to go.
- Modern Development methodology: Node.js is a fresh, modern, and up-to-date environment that includes a variety of packages, great frameworks, and a competent collection of a fairly modern library. Overall, it enables you to carry out imaginative development.
- Real-Time Data: Because of its non-blocking architecture and the unique connectivity between the server and client sides, Node.js excels at synchronizing real-time data. As a result, if you need real-time data synchronization on your application services, Node.js is the way to go.
When to Use PHP
Let’s take a look at the circumstances that can lead you to pick PHP over Node.js:
- Flexible and Dynamic: Because PHP-programmed online applications and websites are encrypted and grow quickly, they are highly secure, contributing to their dynamism and adaptability. Furthermore, the online programs and websites automatically refresh themselves, requiring no manual intervention. As a result, if you want a dynamic language, PHP is a good choice.
- Portability: When connecting to servers and databases, PHP has good portability and efficiency. Rather than recreating your web project, you can port it to any server that supports Apache at any moment. Furthermore, PHP is used by the majority of content management systems (CMS), such as WordPress, Jumla, and Drupal, making it more accessible in general.
Node.js vs. PHP: Which One to Pick?
It’s impossible to choose between PHP and Node.js. Since each has benefits and drawbacks, it is not in our power to make a definitive determination about which technology is superior. However, you do need to choose the one that fits your project the best.
Simply write down the specifications for your product and see how Node.js and PHP will function for it. Then decide which will best complete your job. Additionally, you must consider the developers you are collaborating with. You might decide to go with PHP if they are more adept at using the technology. The same goes for Node.js.
Which one would you pick? Share your thoughts in the comments section.
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