In order to strike a contrast between PHP and Nodejs, we need to first understand why people often make a comparison between both these languages.
The clear reason is that both PHP and Nodejs are primarily used for server-side web development. Both these technologies compete for more or less the same kind of projects and hence the competition.
We would study each of these technologies in detail. As you move forward, keep in mind that this article does not intend to pass a verdict in support of or against any one language. Rather, we look forward to enhancing your knowledge on PHP and Nodejs and empowering you to make an informed decision.
The question ‘Which language is better?’ does not have an absolute answer. It entirely depends on the use case of the programmer. Hence, it’s very important that you are well-equipped with the basic knowledge of both languages before you move forward with any one of them.
Let’s begin our journey of Nodejs vs PHP by understanding in-depth about both languages. We begin with learning the concept of PHP.
What is PHP?
PHP is basically a server-side programming language that runs on almost all platforms and is compatible with all servers6. It is usually used in developing webpages and applications. It is embedded in markup languages like HTML.
PHP which now stands for Hypertext processor was created by Ramsum Lerdorf in 1994.
What exactly does PHP do?
Here is a list of some important functions of PHP
- PHP is popularly used to create dynamic content on webpages.
- It collects data from forms that would be filled by users.
- PHP can access and edit the database
- PHP can edit and use files on the server
PHP is at its core a lightweight scripting language. It has frameworks and CMS like WordPress, Drupal and others. It makes application development simpler and more efficient. It's a portable solution and also easy to deploy compared to other computing languages. However, PHP has a slow response method as it again initialises the application every time after each request.
Now that we have a fair idea of what PHP is, we are better equipped than before to comment on Nodejs vs PHP. Let’s sharpen our knowledge hub more by learning about Nodejs.
What is Nodejs?
- server-side applications
- networking applications in distributed systems
- real-time web applications
- ones interacting with hardware
- and other common purpose software.
Applications built with the help of Nodejs are fast and highly scalable. Nodejs can generate dynamic content on webpages, it can collect data produced through forms and add, delete or modify the database you are using in your project.
Nodejs is asynchronous and event-based and allows you to create fully advanced applications from scratch. Nodejs also has a large set of modules to aid with your development process. Allows advanced and customised request handling. It also supports efficient package managers like NPM and YARN.
However, Nodejs is not suitable for CPU intensive apps. A large set of dependencies and modules can overwhelm a developer who's just trying to build a simple application. They can also cause too many bugs and errors that might be difficult to resolve.
For a detailed analysis of Nodejs and understanding what it is, you can always refer to this article.
It’s time we look at some of the differences in the architecture and environment of Nodejs and PHP that makes all the difference.
Nodejs vs PHP: The Technicalities
Let’s look at some technical differences between Nodejs vs PHP that sets them apart from each other.
Synchronous and Asynchronous
PHP follows the synchronous method of execution; every line is executed one by one whereas Nodejs follows Asynchronous execution and hence the entire code is executed all at once.
The single-threaded architecture of Nodejs contributes to faster execution and response time of Nodejs and an efficient mechanism of debugging in PHP.
PHP is compatible with almost any database, be it SQL, Mongodb or others. In the case of Nodejs, developers usually use Mongodb as it has a lot of default functions which makes it for an efficient development process.
However, there are a few vulnerabilities with the use of Mysql with PHP like SQL injection. Programmers have to be careful while they build applications with PHP. There are documented vulnerabilities with Mongodb also but it is more secure as compared with SQL.
A composer is a tool in PHP that installs modules that whereas in Nodejs there is NPM which downloads all relevant modules. Modules make the experience of coding a lot easier as it automatically installs and configures all files one needs for developing an application.
Frameworks provide a foundation for building your projects. It’s essentially a structure that contains all necessary libraries, modules and other relevant things for the development of your application. PHP supports a number of frameworks like Laravel, Codelgniter, Yii and others. PHP framework simplifies the development process and minimizes the workload.
Nodejs also has a number of frameworks that provide the skeleton of the program on which you can write customised code. They provide scalability, productivity and speed to the process. Some of the popular Nodejs frameworks are Express.js, Nest.js, Angular.js among others. Any Nodejs framework makes the task a lot easier. If you choose the right kind of framework then the application becomes all the more robust and efficient.
Nodejs vs PHP
Let’s begin Nodejs vs PHP by considering some points that are prominent for considering one computing language over another. We will look at some practical points that you should consider when you make your next project.
The Product you Want to Build
The first on our list is the product! Which language is better depends on what you want to make? If you have a simple blog in mind, then Nodejs wouldn’t be a good choice. PHP would be a better option if you have a simple application like a blog to make. On the other hand, if your project includes the use of API’s on the web, then Nodejs would be a convenient option.
The next important factor is community support. Developers neglect this point but it comes very handy when you are actually making your project in any one of the languages. The community support for both languages is fairly decent but PHP scores an extra point here. The internet is full of tutorials, code architectures and question answers for PHP. If you are stuck in between a PHP code then chances are that your issues are already resolved by an expert somewhere on the web.
Next, we come to the Learning Curve of both the languages. Nodejs is a little difficult if you are a beginner. It caters to a wide variety of purposes and hence becomes a little complex to learn especially if you are just starting with your journey in web development.
Nodejs comes with an excellent set of features to host on actual servers. But if you are a beginner, then PHP is easier to handle when it comes to hosting and production.
Nodejs is clearly far ahead of PHP when it comes to diversity. Nodejs has an array of uses, be it web development or a stand-alone application. Nodejs can also be used to develop networking applications also. On the other hand, PHP is dedicated to the purpose of developing web applications.
Industry Scenario: Nodejs vs PHP
We may have talked about a lot of pros and cons of PHP and Nodejs, but now let’s talk about what really matters and that is – the importance of Nodejs and PHP in the IT industry. Let’s begin by PHP.
Major companies are using PHP for their core competencies. Facebook, for example, was originally developed in PHP. It continues to use PHP and keeps on inventing PHP related technologies. It developed a custom version of PHP called the HVVM and a PHP derived language – Hack.
Another giant that uses PHP in its core stack is WordPress. It was originally written in PHP and still, all the processing of WordPress is done in PHP.
There are a majority of other companies that have PHP as one of their core technologies. Wikipedia, Tumblr, iStockPhoto, Yahoo and many more.
Nodejs has helped many technologies to develop fully functional applications. Its use is popular on social media, messaging and real-time applications.
Tech giant Google uses Nodejs to make it easier for developers to build high-performance applications. Google says that Nodejs doesn’t only make it easier for development but it is also a very scalable way to deliver value to end-users.
Walmart, the world’s largest retailer uses Nodejs for its mobile application. Organizations like BookMyShow, Uber also use Nodejs as a core part of their technology stack.
You may have noticed a pattern in the industry share of Nodejs and PHP and the type of companies that use each of these technologies. Applications that require continuous communication with server uses Nodejs and the ones that have a simple architecture and doesn’t require communication with the server, again and again, tend to use PHP.
Here we come to an end of our analysis of Nodejs vs PHP. We have tried to comprehensively cover each and every point that is relevant, however, if you feel we missed out on something important, we would love to hear from you.
Both PHP and Nodejs have their own importance in the market and none can be declared redundant or superior to another. It depends on the type of project you are building and the level of expertise you possess as a developer.
PHP and Nodejs are important in the world of web development. As a developer, you should be aware of the pros and cons and the technicalities of both in order to make an informed decision. If you are a beginner or thinking of making a lucrative career in the world of web development then you deserve professional guidance.
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