Node.js vs PHP

Node.js and PHP both are the powerful back-ends to create versatile websites. Even when these two technologies fall under the same category, their features are pretty diverse. There’s no doubt – PHP is one of the popular and commonly used languages for server-side scripting, whereas Node.js, introduced in 2009, made it feasible to work with JavaScript programming on the server-side scripting. Thus, the rise of websites is entirely powered by JavaScript stacks for the back-end and the front-end. But before getting to any conclusion or comparing them, let’s discuss both of these technologies, Node.js and PHP, in brief.

Node.js

Node.js is a non-proprietary and platform-independent runtime environment for implementing JavaScript code outside of a browser. Node.js was developed in 2009 by Ryan Dahl and was designed using JavaScriptC++, and C. It was built on the JavaScript V8 Engine, used in Google Chrome. However, Node.js is not a framework and not a programming language. We frequently use Node.js for creating back-end administrations like APIs for Web or Mobile Applications. It is being used by enormous organizations, for example, Uber, Paypal, Walmart, Netflix, and many more.

PHP

PHP is a non-proprietary and platform-independent scripting language particularly suitable for web development. PHP was designed in 1994 by a Danish-Canadian programmer named Rasmus Lerdorf, and developed by the PHP Development Team at Zend Technologies. It has been the first choice for many tech industries for more than two decades. PHP was an acronym for Personal Home Page originally; however, it now stands for the recursive acronym, i.e., Hypertext Preprocessor. According to the statistics produced by w3Techs, around 79% of websites use PHP as their server-side programming language and a preference for content management systems like Joomla, Drupal, Shopify, WordPress, and many more.

Similarities between Node.js and PHP

There are some similarities between these two technologies, as follows:

  • Interpreted Languages: Both PHP and Node.js usually do not require to compile a program into machine instruction for interpretation. Thus, both of them act as interpreted languages. Moreover, Node.js and PHP can run in their runtime environments.
  • Viable Choices: Both the technologies, Node.js and PHP, are used to create websites and feasible to work on server-side also. Various reasons make one more ideal over the other. Talking about Node.js, it is faster and more extensive compared to PHP that could make it a more viable choice. However, some programmers prefer PHP as it is simpler to pick up than Node.js and features an integrated database. It is to be understood that one is not better than the other. Their uses are responsible for determining which one would be more superior for the specific purpose.

Difference between Node.js and PHP

CharacteristicsNode.jsPHP
Runtime EnvironmentNode.js is a server-side JavaScript runtime environment.PHP provides a pre-installed ready to use server-side environment.
ArchitectureNode.js is built on JavaScript V8 Engine used in Google Chrome.PHP works on Zend Engine.
ComplexityNode.js provides not a much complex system. However, it requires more code lines and fundamental knowledge of closures and callback functions.In comparison to Node.js, PHP has a less complex system to use.
ConcurrencyNode.js works on an event-driven non-blocking I/O execution model.PHP works with multi-threaded blocking I/O to process multiple tasks to work parallel along with each other.
JSONNode.js makes relatively better use of JSON. It uses functions like JSON.parse() and JSON.stringify().In contrast to Node.js, PHP makes lesser use of JSON. It uses functions like json_decode() and json_encode().
Execution SpeedNode.js has a faster execution speed than PHP and also has less weight in comparison to PHP.The Execution Speed is low in PHP.
ExecutionNode.js uses an Asynchronous way to handle the executions of an operations.PHP uses a Synchronous way to handle the executions of an operations.
Package ManagerNode.js widely uses the Node Package Manager (NPM).PHP widely uses the Composer package manager.
Web ServerNPM does not require a web server as it works on its runtime environment.PHP works on the Apache webserver. It can also work on an IIS web server if in case a windows machine is used.

Understanding the pros and cons of Node.js

Pros:

  • Node.js stands out as a fast server-side solution. Node.js influences the JavaScript event loop to create non-blocking I/O applications that can easily service multiple synchronous events. With the help of built-in asynchronous JavaScript processing, the users can easily build highly flexible server-side applications that maximize the use of a single CPU and computer memory while managing more synchronous requests than conservative multithreaded servers.
  • Node.js provides an overall application development stack by providing the functionality on both ends, the front-end and the back-end, respectively. Thus, it provides the easier maintainability as developers have to work on the same JavaScript data structures, idiomatic expressions, functions, and language conventions for both ends.
  • Node.js also provides flexibility to the developers. It does not impose strict conventions that allow the developers to choose the perfect architecture, design structures, features, and modules for the upcoming project. Moreover, Node.js also provides access to thousands of modules for any presumable purpose with the NPM repository’s help. 

Cons:

  • Node.js is a single-threaded and event-based runtime environment that is less efficient in handling CPU-intensive operations, for example, generating or editing graphics, videos, and audio.
  • The Node.js repository provides access to many third-party modules along with stable built-in libraries, like Crypto or HTTP. However, this ecosystem of modules is still fairly undeveloped and hard to evaluate a specific module’s quality before deploying an application.

Understanding the pros and cons of PHP

Pros:

  • PHP has a powerful codebase, including many famous platforms to build websites (For example, Joomla, WordPress, Drupal, and many more) and web development frameworks (For example, Symfony, Laravel) that allow Rapid Application Development (RAD).
  • PHP provides a highly portable solution for application development that can work on mostly any server (like Apache, Nginx) and every platform (like Linux, Windows). This indicates that a user has to write the code only once and execute it anywhere.
  • Like Python, Java, or other general-purpose programming languages, PHP was designed to work properly on the web. This is why it includes all the needed operations and functionalities to manage servers, HTML, and databases (like MySQL). PHP provides a comprehensive server-side solution that can be easily generated and rendered on the server without bothering about the JavaScript available in the browser.

Cons:

  • PHP allows the developers to mix HTML with language syntax, making it difficult to extend PHP applications with new functionality. In addition to this, it has poor management of code.
  • PHP has an outdated client-server model that makes it slower in comparison to Node.js.

Some Famous Websites Build on Node.js and PHP

Both the programming languages, Node.js and PHP, are popular due to their features, usability, and tools. We can see various famous websites that have been built on the top of these tech giants.  Some of these popular websites are listed below:

Some websites build on Node.js:

  • eBay
  • GoDaddy
  • Groupon
  • Netflix
  • Yahoo
  • PayPal
  • LinkedIn
  • Uber
  • Mozilla

Some websites build on PHP

  • iStockPhoto
  • Digg
  • Flicker
  • Facebook
  • Flipkart
  • Baidu
  • Tumblr
  • Wikipedia
  • Yahoo
  • WordPress

Deciding between Node.js and PHP

Both of these programming languages, Node.js and PHP, have their own pros and cons. And we need to leverage our skills in both environments to pick the right platform to work on.

PHP can be a great choice for web portals, blogs, landing pages, and news sites. We can easily build e-commerce sites and blogs without much coding. In addition to it, PHP also provides many customized themes that give new opportunities to web developers. PHP stands out to be a better choice if hosting support is an issue.

On the other hand, Node.js comes out to be a great fit if someone plans to build real-time applications such as IM, video conferencing, and many more. Node.js is perfect for server-side events that make it easy to execute, subscribe, and publish architectures in real-time applications. This Node.js feature allows the developers to build IoT applications with flexible and heavy client-side functionality.

The Conclusion

While choosing between Node.js and PHP, we must consider what type of application we are going to develop. We should keep it in mind; if we are looking to develop real-time applications, we should choose Node.js. On the contrary, we should consider PHP if we are looking for a standardized solution with fantastic hosting support.

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