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PHP vs. Node.JS : Which Is Better For Backend Development?

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PHP vs NodeJS

When it comes to backend technologies, PHP vs Node.js has always been in debate.

PHP is perfect for server-side scripting, and Node.js meets all the development demands of today’s modern web applications services. 

Both languages are great deals when it comes to a better web program experience for end-users as well as developers. 

PHP is faster and more straightforward than Node.js. Conversely, Node.js might seem a bit complex.

So which one is the best choice for you? How can one decide – Node js vs PHP – which technology would provide satisfactory services? Do they have different features? 

Let’s uncover the truth! 

What is PHP? 

Hypertext Preprocessor A.K.A. PHP was developed in 1994 by Rasmus Lerdorf. It is an open-source server-side scripting language, and PHP became so popular in all these years that almost 79% of websites in the data of W3Tech are built using PHP.

An interpreter processes PHP by its quick installation as a module in Nginx or Apache web servers. One can use this language to write server-side applications and connect with databases. 

Content Management Systems (CMS) like WordPress, WooCommerce, Drupal, and Shopify are symbols of PHP’s efficiency and competence as the strongest backend. 

What is Node Js?

Node.js is also an open-source, cross-platform, server-side JavaScript run-time environment, runs on JavaScript Engine (V8), and executes the code outside a browser on OS X, Microsoft Windows, and Linux. Its latest version is v0.10.36.   

Developers who want to build fast and scalable web applications can choose Node.js as it is a non-blocking I/O and an event-driven model.

Ryan Dahl released Node.js on May 27, 2009, and provided users with a facility for pure JavaScript-based web applications.  

The official definition of Node.js is as follows:-

” Node.js is a platform built on Chrome’s JavaScript runtime for easily building fast and scalable network applications. Node.js uses an event-driven, non-blocking I/O model that makes it lightweight and efficient, perfect for data-intensive real-time applications that run across distributed devices.”

It also offers a huge tree of JavaScript modules which help developers to build web programs and services in the simplest manner. 

Node.js vs PHP – Which is more popular?

Being purely built on one of the most famous scripts, JavaScript, Node.js is winning the game in the world of programming languages. Many big projects are written in JavaScript, and various famous hashtags define it.

But the hype is fading away.

In the past few years, PHP slipped away from its top rank in terms of product rollouts and other marketed moments. 

But, it’s slowly binding the peace with new upgrades. It serves a massive portion of the text on the web that we read in our daily life. Almost 40% of the web pages we read every day are built with PHP. 

PHP is continuously evolving, and the parts of the systems running PHP have been rewritten to provide more efficient services and improve the performance of the web pages.  

There are almost 7,400,000 PHP websites on the web today, where Node.js stands with only 129,000 websites. 

However, according to a thorough survey of Stackoverflow, 58.4% of developers dreaded PHP, and 66% of respondents loved Node.js.

Pros and Cons of PHP Over Node Js

Pros:

Stability

When compared with other programming languages, PHP is quite stable. Many programmers have enhanced PHP and fixed various bugs and issues in the last various years for different PHP versions so that the developers can develop web-based applications in the simplest way in a stable environment. Hence, PHP is one of those languages that provides proper stability.

Maintenance

The major purpose of PHP is to make web app development effortless and automatically maintain the code. With the support of the MVC (Model View Controller) architect in the PHP framework, developers can easily use the code and maintain it for a long time. This architecture of PHP also helps in the file separation for each module separately.

Cons:

Difficulty in handling a large number of applications

If you want the technology to handle multiple apps, PHP might disappoint you. Because of low modular competence, it’s not easy to manage multiple apps.

Bad code manageability

Developers can freely combine HTML with PHP syntax, which makes it harder for them to extend applications with new functionality. It makes code difficult to manage and understand.

Pros and Cons of Node Js over PHP

Pros: 

Easy to Learn: 

Many front-end developers have a sound knowledge of JavaScript. And now we all know that Node.js is built on JavaScript, it becomes easy for developers to learn the language for the backend. Hence, Node.js is one of the easiest languages to learn and consumes less time. 

Fast Solutions: 

Node.js is used to service numerous concurrent events. While using Node.js, developers can build a scalable solution that maximizes the memory of a computer and fully utilize the CPU for various requests. Therefore, nodejs offers fast solutions to all your web app needs. 

Better Flexibility: 

Node.js comes with limited guidelines and dependencies when it comes to software web development. There are no hard and fast rules to select patterns or architecture, which give programmers access to thousands of modules. On the top, being similar to JS, it becomes easy to work with the bulk of files in Node.js.   

Cons:

Immature Environment: 

A complicated code structure disappoints many coders.

Unsuitable for intensive applications:

This framework can’t handle intensive CPU activities like editing graphics, generating audio/video, etc.

Node.js creates a responsive type of apps which makes it difficult to build graphic-centric apps. 

This framework is not able to handle intensive CPU activities such as generation of audio and videos, editions of graphics, etc. The apps made by Node are more responsive, which makes it quite difficult to develop graphic-centric applications.

Detailed Comparison Between PHP and Node Js

The following table will help you to fully understand the difference between PHP and Node.js.  

Features PHP Node JS
Development  PHP language provides a quicker and simple web development experience as no compiler or converts are included.

There is a simple connection between SQL and zero hosting confinement in PHP.

Node.js is more complex than PHP. A developer has to have a deep knowledge of complex preparation and server infrastructure for deploying the application and framework.    
Context Switch The user switches between different syntax, and languages while writing back-end code. This is because PHP is used as a part of the LAMP stack. This stack includes PHP as server-side code, MySQL for database, and Linux. All of these have different syntax and a developer must have sound knowledge of HTML/CSS and JavaScript. Node.js is purely written in JavaScript. It makes both sides, client and server sides, based on javascript as well. Hence, the developer doesn’t require to switch between languages like they do in PHP. 

Also, Javascript stack: MEAN or MERN is used because the only coding used is JavaScript-based.  

Database PHP language works perfectly with MySQL, but it also offers great support with other databases like PostgreSQL and MariaDB. The code function with a database doesn’t rely on the engines used. Node.js acquires a wide collection of libraries to reach SQL. It also uses JSON to connect with other databases. 
Modules A module installing technique such as PEAR and composer is used to install PHP. 

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

Composer is a powerful tool to manage dependency in PHP. Users can use it to declare libraries on which their project relies and will be managed (install/update) for them.

It also has a package management system known as Node Package Manager (NPM). Its registry can be used and published easily.
Frameworks PHP also offers a variety of frameworks that provide easy backend web development.

Some of these frameworks are Laravel, CodeIgniter, CakePHP, etc

These frameworks ensure the robust, agile, and most secure backend of the web application.

Node.js offers one of the most popular frameworks, such as Express and full-stack MVC Meteor and Derby. 

There are some more new frameworks such as total.js, koa.js, Hapi, sails.js, etc.

Implementation PHP is used only for web applications. It is used in various places such as multithreaded apps, web apps, browsers, gaming servers, and much more.
Hosting  PHP language is supported by many hosts. Hence, PHP can be easily deployed and integrated.  Node.js is supported with less server support. As a result, it is complicated to implement and deploy node.js because it needs a virtual server with SSH access to run an application.    
Performance PHP provides better, more reliable, and stable performance to the app as a comparison to the javascript framework of Node.js. However, PHP is not as faster as Node.js. The javascript framework might not provide as smooth a performance as you might have expected. Besides, it is a lot faster than PHP because it has a continuous server connection, the fastest V8 engine, and a callback function capable of processing various requests simultaneously. 

When to Choose Node.js Over PHP?

Technically speaking, Node.js can be used for: 

  • Software stacks such as MEAN stack 
  • Dynamic single-page applications (SPAs) 
  • Front-end technologies such as React, Angular, JQuery, etc. 

Now let’s explore some business reasons for choosing Node.js:

Development Efficacy

If you want to build a dynamic single-page app, you can use MongoDB, ExpressJS, or AngularJS. 

But Node.js is used in conjunction with this collection and provides ease of web development with optimal execution. 

High Speed and Steady Response from Servers

Now we all know that Node.js is faster than PHP because it is built on JavaScript. Apart from that, it continuously sends requests to the server, which makes it even faster.

Node.js also consists of asynchronous architecture, which offers non-blocking execution, suitable for projects which require great speed.

Real-Time Data

Those apps that require real-time data functionality must be built with Node.js for optimal transfer of data from the server-side to the client-side.   

Big firms such as LinkedIn, Netflix, and Medium use Nodejs for their app because they need real-time data fetching on their website. 

So providing your customers with a great experience or a properly functioning web application will increase your turnover.

When to Choose PHP Over Node.js?

You can use PHP for:

  • eCommerce or blogging website with CMS 
  • Easy deployment and integration  
  • To use it with LAMP stack (MySQL, Apache, etc.)

To make PHP your go-to tech, consider the following properties:

No Need to Scale & A Centralized Server  

Do you want to allocate a specific centralized server to the web application, which is not scaled all over the servers? If so, PHP is the perfect choice to be used for your app with your technical stack. You can also use it side-by-side to Apache, MySQL, and Linux. 

Mobility

You can easily connect a web application built with PHP with numerous servers, which makes it portable among servers. 

Hence, you can port your web app to the desired server that consists of IIS, Apache, and other database functionalities. 

You can have your website live and running quickly if you will use it with CMS such as Joomla, WordPress, Drupal, etc.

Wikipedia, MailChimp, and Tumblr are a few famous PHP users. They are the perfect examples of what one can achieve with a centralized server and accurate use of PHP.

Final Thoughts

Now comes the time to decide which one wins – JS vs PHP?

Well, both are incredible in their means and provide outstanding execution of app. They both have positive and negative sides, just like any other programming language.

However, it depends on the requirements of a developer and the kind of web application they are planning to build.

By considering the above information, you can decide which technology will work for you and your project.

While choosing a technology for your project, ask yourself, “Which one will meet all the requirements of my project?” rather than “which one is better?” 

By understanding the logic of your development services and business, one can get a clear vision for choosing one out of PHP and Nodejs.

Moreover, there is no specific process to identify whether Node.js is better or PHP. All you need to do is map out your requirements and the functionalities you expect from your app.

Apart from that, pay attention to your expertise as well. If you have teams of coders who have sound knowledge of PHP, going for Node.js could be a wrong choice.  

Hence, you have to consider each factor while choosing a technology for your project.

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