Market Overview

Node.js vs PHP: Which Technology Is Better for Server-Side Development?

5 Mins read

Web development is a constantly growing and evolving field. As long as the web exists, there will always be a need for newer, better web applications. Hence, if you want to pursue an option where you learn and create something new every day, web development would be an excellent choice.

When it comes to creating web apps, there are plenty of options to choose from for the development stack, that is, the technologies used in this process. People who wish to start with something reliable often stick to the classics. The leading web development companies have a niche of their own and have a set of rules to follow.

Node.js and PHP are two such reliable options to be used for server-side development. They are both programming languages used to develop web app back-ends. They have been around for so long that they have experienced immense growth and, on the way, garnered the support of developers of both – old and new age. Hence, everyone in the developer community trusts them as a safe and steady choice.

Now, since they are both rivals, it naturally leads to the question, “Which is better?” To answer the question, we will take a look at both Node.js and PHP as separate programming languages with their individual pros and cons. We will also present a brief comparison to aid us in settling this debate.

What is Node.js?

Node.js was introduced in 2009 by Ryan Dahl and has since proved to be a very vital and crucial contribution to the world of JavaScript. While it is commonly called a programming language, Node.js is actually an open-source runtime environment that aids in running JavaScript at the server-side of a web application. The skilled Node.js developers have a knack of opting for this to build a more secure and efficient solution.

Node.js is used in the development of various types of applications such as SPAs (single page applications), I/O intensive apps, and DIRTs (Data Intensive Real-time Applications).

Pros of Node.js

  • It is based on JavaScript, which is one of the easiest programming languages to learn.
  • It is flexible in that it does not cause developers to bother with a lot of dependencies, following a fixed architecture, etc.
  • It allows high scalability and speed of both project development and execution.
  • Its asynchronous processing works well for real-time I/O-sensitive applications, such as instant messengers.
  • React, Angular, and other JS-based frontend development frameworks work well with Node.js at the backend.
  • Having the same language at the front- and backend allows for easier maintenance of the code.
  • There are plenty of useful NPM libraries and packages available for quicker and easier Node.js development.

Cons of Node.js

  • Some users may find the code structure a little too complex.
  • It is not a good enough solution for CPU-intensive applications since it is single-threaded.
  • Node.js carries the risk of type safety issues hence it is unsuitable for number-intensive applications such as financial ones.
  • Some third-party packages and libraries may be unreliable. Hence, extra care needs to be taken when using unofficial add-ons for Node.js.

What is PHP?

Danish-Canadian programmer Rasmus Lerdorf first introduced PHP way back in 1994, which makes PHP as one of the oldest languages in the market. PHP, which is a recursive acronym for Hypertext Preprocessor, is a programming language that was released purely for the purpose of web development. The experienced PHP development companies have PHP as their primary choice when they need to develop robust and scalable web apps.

Pros of PHP

  • Since PHP was launched many, many years ago, it has had a lot of time to develop and mature, resulting in a stable version in the present day.
  • The code written in PHP is highly portable and extremely easy to deploy.
  • PHP code is easy to maintain.
  • PHP is a perfect choice for applications hosted on a centralized server.
  • It works very well with Linux OS, Apache Web server, and MySQL database.
  • PHP offers a huge code-base with many popular standardized web app solutions such as WordPress and Drupal, which are great for simple blogs or websites with high customizability.
  • It is an easy programming language for beginners. Even those with no technical knowledge or experience can work with it.
  • Since PHP was specially developed for web apps, its packages, libraries, and modules are tailored to fit every little need in that regard.
  • It is an efficient server-side solution that helps avoid client-side code overloading.

Cons of PHP

  • Since PHP has an extensive code base, it may, at times, become hard to manage all the code.
  • It might be tricky to resolve scalability issues in PHP applications.
  • Using PHP for backend development means you will have to learn not just PHP but also JavaScript (for the frontend).
  • Many of the newer APIs offer limited or no support for PHP.
  • It is not a good option for developing single-page applications or apps requiring multiple client connections.

A Side-by-Side Comparison of Node.js and PHP

Setup and Installation

For Node.js, there are two options:

  • Direct download from the official Node.js website
  • Command-line installation using NPM (Node Package Manager)

PHP’s official website offers multiple new and old versions of PHP for download. The website also has instructions on how to make PHP work with a web server.

Framework

Some well-known frameworks that work with Node.js are

  • Express
  • Meteor
  • Koa
  • Sails

Two of the most popular PHP frameworks are Laravel and Codeigniter. However, there are many lesser-known options such as:

  • Yii
  • Symfony
  • CakePHP
  • Zend

Engine

Node.js is based on the powerful Chrome V8 Engine, an open-source JavaScript engine developed by the Chromium Project, while PHP is powered by Zend, which supports versions higher than PHP 5.6.

Web Server

Node.js has its own runtime environment for executing its JavaScript code. Hence, it does not require a separate web server.

PHP, on the other hand, works with multiple very popular open-source web server solutions. As a beginner, you might find it easy to configure a PHP server using XAMPP, which will set up an Apache server for you. According to a report by W3Techs, when it comes to the most commonly used server, Apache takes the lead, being used by 43.9% of all websites. However, it is closely followed by Nginx at 30.6%.

Percentages of websites using various web servers

Ease of Use

Node.js seamlessly integrates with the frontend development technologies since they are both JavaScript-based. Hence, it speeds up the development process for developers already familiar with JavaScript.

PHP, on the other hand, has to be learned from scratch, so it might slow your progress down a little. However, it is an easy language to learn, with comprehensive documentation as well as a lot of community support available online. The simple structure of PHP also encourages most beginners to start with PHP instead of Node.js.

Popularity

We took a look at how the two languages, PHP, and JS, fared against each other in another W3Techs report and discovered that PHP topped the list of most-used server-side development languages.

Percentages of websites using various server-side programming languages

Wrapping Up

As this is the case with any project, you need to choose the most appropriate technologies for your project’s development while keeping all your requirements in mind.

Choosing Node.js would enable you to build highly scalable and fast I/O sensitive projects. On the other hand, if you are looking to develop a project on a much smaller scale using a piece of dedicated web technology, then PHP would be a great choice.

The post Node.js vs PHP: Which Technology Is Better for Server-Side Development? appeared first on TopDevelopers.co.

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