Table of Contents
- Node.js Pros
- Node.js Cons
- PHP Pros
- PHP Cons
- Comparison of technologies
- Node.js vs PHP Comparison Table
- PHP and Node.js Use Cases
Node.js is actively gaining traction: it is currently used by big companies such as Microsoft, Yahoo, LinkedIn, PayPal, Netflix, Uber, eBay, and many more.
PHP was created in 1994 by Rasmus Lerdorf. He created a shell program that was installed as a module for the Apache. It was originally developed as a preprocessor for hypertext pages so that PHP could be easily integrated into HTML code. This approach is not considered a good practice anymore, despite the fact that it used to be simple and understandable to beginners back in the day.
Popular websites built on PHP include: Wikipedia, WordPress, Facebook, Tumblr, Etsy, Spotify, Drupal, and Magento, just to name a few.
Which one is more popular?
PHP-driven websites greatly outnumber those powered by Node.js, or any other framework for that matter. As of the beginning of 2023, PHP is responsible for running the backends of approximately 79.2% of all websites on the internet, with around 43% of all websites using the PHP-based platform, WordPress.
On the other hand, Node.js is currently used for 2% of websites on the net. But the framework has been steadily growing in popularity, while PHP has been on a slow decline. Notable examples of Node.js usage include Netflix, Twitter, Github, Spotify, and many others.
Why it is highly important to choose the right technology
The choice of technology for backend development plays an important role in your project success. But it can be a difficult task for small businesses and startups that typically operate with limited resources. The smaller the company is, the harder the impact of a bad decision will be.
Making the right choice, however, will ensure that the project:
- meets your business needs;
- has greater productivity and efficiency;
- improves user experience;
- is compatible with all the software and devices you need;
- is scalable and secure;
- complies with all industry standards;
- saves you money (no need for expensive customisation or extra maintenance costs).
Get a free consultation with our experts to choose the best technology for your project.
Which one will suit you better? Let’s take a closer look at what they offer.
Fast server connection
This functionality makes Node.js a great choice for real-time applications and those that require a lot of input/output operations.
One language for frontend and backend
Having the same frontend and backend language is very good for providing support for your application and coordination between team members. Node.js also has API requests that serve as a thin layer between the database and the web client. Besides, the Google Chrome V8 engine supports Node.js for fast delivery and high performance.
Node.js is open for any development and any technology. There are no limits or strict rules that must be followed before developing a project. Our team has built a huge variety of projects with the help of Node.js, including an educational healthcare app for teens, a luxury clothing store, and an HR management application.
Node.js also has no hard dependencies, which leaves more space for creativity. The developers choose the architecture and dependencies themselves. Furthermore, Node.js can handle large and small files equally well. The framework comes with Node Package Manager (NPM), which is a great help for developing applications quickly and smoothly.
Comparing Node.js and PHP, the first has a non-blocking and asynchronous feature that makes an application fast and allows you to manage many events running at the same time. SPAs and data-driven applications are built by using Node.js as their core technology.
Easy to learn
Little effectiveness in operations using CPU
Node.js can run on the server side all the time without breaking the connection. You can do it locally or look for specialised hosting services, like a virtual cloud (VDS / VPS, server environment with full access). Unfortunately, not all hosters can afford it, so the prices will be corresponding.
Code can get convoluted
As was already mentioned, Node.js is very reliant on callbacks due to its asynchronous nature. As a result, the so-called “callback hell” often happens when a queued task has multiple individual callbacks. This results in longer and slower code that is very difficult to work with, especially for less experienced developers.
Big code base
PHP contains a rich and powerful codebase that includes popular web development platforms and frameworks. Moreover, it is so simple that even a person who is not versed in technology can operate it.
PHP has a huge code base for all kinds of solutions, from content management systems to powerful frameworks like Laravel and Symfony. For example, by using WordPress, a CMS written on PHP, you can create a blog in a matter of minutes.
PHP is platform-based, it can run on almost any server and platform. You can write your code once and use it anywhere. Any web host supports PHP, and you can get a MySQL database for a great price. PHP is much simpler here than on the local server, and you will know exactly which PHP extensions are disabled and which are not.
Also, there is a huge PHP support community, which is another benefit for developers.
At the same time, there is a wide variety of hosting sites to support PHP, and you don’t need to rent a full server with SSH access to run your project. It means that the integration of PHP projects and their deployment is somewhat easier for small companies or individuals who can run and manage their applications without any knowledge of console commands.
Unlike Java or Python and other general-purpose programming languages, PHP was designed specifically for the web. That is why it contains all the necessary functionality for working with HTML, servers, and databases. In most cases, you can get by with a minimal amount of JS code in the frontend.
However, it’s worth noting that PHP is an interpreted language and Node.js is compiled, which directly affects performance. Interpreted code must be translated into CPU machine instructions during execution, which can slow the system down.
PHP is also quite stable. It has been around for a long time. Programmers have worked on PHP to make it fairly stable and easier for developers to create web applications with this technology. They have spent a while working on bugfixing for different PHP versions and made it fairly stable.PHP is compiled with numerous frameworks like Codeigniter, Laravel, CakePHP, etc. The PHP backend is highly efficient for a website or an application.
Limited MVC applicability
PHP is not applicable enough for implementing the MVC pattern recommended for web development, which essence is in the separation of application data, user interface, and management logic into three components. You can often find a mix of the HTML and PHP code, where the business logic is merged with visualisation, causing difficulties for code maintenance. You can solve this problem by using a suitable framework, but there is more temptation to mix HTML and PHP in one file.
Outdated client-server model
PHP follows the classic client-server model where a page request initiates an application, a database connection, their processing, and HTML rendering. It creates productivity losses. Comparing PHP and Node.js, the first is slower, and because of that Node.js is more suitable for writing real-time applications. But it is worth noting that this PHP disadvantage can be overcome with the help of Memcached. Though, keep in mind that it will create an additional dependency for your application.
Weak NoSQL support
PHP is designed to work with traditional relational databases, such as MySQL, PostgreSQL, and MariaDB. But if you want a more flexible database, you’re out of luck: while it is technically possible to use a NoSQL database with PHP, the language isn’t optimised for it. So processing takes much longer and causes more strain on the system.
Comparison of technologies
Help and support
You can’t rely only on your knowledge without studying any courses, modern practices. To become a comprehensive professional, you need to ask questions on forums such as StackOverflow. In the battle of Node.js vs PHP, the second technology wins this round easily, it has a great manual on php.net and twenty years worth of frequently asked questions. Whatever you do, someone has already encountered this problem and tried to solve it for you.
Node.js has good documentation, despite the fact that the technology is quite young. So you can find a solution to your problems in documentation or on some forums.
Need support for your Node.js app? We can help you with that – check out our Node.js services.
However, as a result of this approach, PHP has become a bit of a mess. Today one of the main problems plaguing PHP is that there can be several functions that do the exact same task.
However, the syntax isn’t exactly light. Callbacks can get unwieldy, and there is some criticism to be made regarding maths errors (0.1 + 0.2! = 0.3). Though, the latter situations rarely cause problems and are easily solved with the help of maths libraries.
Both technologies have a good range of editors, IDEs, debuggers, validators, and other tools. You can declare a draw here, but Node.js has a great tool called NPM. It is a package manager with the help of which you can manage modules and dependencies.
PHP has its package manager influenced by NPM – Composer. However, if NPM is built-in by default, you have to code that composer yourself. Thanks to NPM, build systems for frontend projects such as Gulp and Grunt have become widespread.
Where can these technologies be used? How to deploy them? What platforms are supported? Web developers often need to create web-only applications, such as an online service, data transformation scripts, etc.
In PHP, you can develop console utilities, but it’s most needed on the server side and rarely goes beyond that boundary.
Your development technologies are limited unless they can integrate with databases and drivers. In a battle of PHP vs Node.js, the first is strong in this area. It has been developing for years, and its system extensions allow direct work with any host using the API.
Node.js is catching up fast, but you may struggle to find modern integration components for old modules.
Speed and performance
Some real projects and options make PHP run faster. As an example, Facebook developed Hack, built to be compatible with PHP. The Hack’s aim is to make existing PHP code faster. Even the most demanding PHP developer rarely cares about speed, but Node.js performance tends to be better. Of course, performance is largely a consequence of experience and the team’s skill. Even so, when comparing Node.js and PHP, the first one has several advantages:
1. Fewer dependencies
All requests to the PHP application must be directed to the web server, which runs the PHP interpreter, which processes the code and serves it up. Node.js vs PHP doesn’t need so many dependencies, and while you’re almost certainly using a server-side framework, it’s quite lightweight and manages parts of your application.
2. Fast interpreter
3. Event-driven, non-blocking input/output stream
PHP and most other server-side languages use an obvious blocking model. When you make a request to retrieve information from a database, the request will execute and complete the process before moving on to the next statement. In the battle of PHP vs Node.js, the second technology obviously wins. Here you don’t have to wait. Instead, you can create a callback function that listens to the process and executes it after the activity is complete.
It’s quite difficult to compare, but relatively few PHP developers are passionate about the language itself. When was the last time you read a PHP article or watched a presentation that captivated the audience? Perhaps, all that was said already? Maybe it’s less fun? Maybe you are not looking in the right places? Some interesting features have appeared quite recently, for example, the creation of PHP7. Still, this technology has been trampled on for several years. This affected the language itself, and many developers began to scold PHP.
It doesn’t really matter which language you use on the server side – it will continue to work even if the project is abandoned. Many people continue to choose PHP vs Node.js. This is a safe option and its support has been looking confident for some years.
Node.js vs PHP Comparison Table
PHP and Node.js Use Cases
So when do you use one or the other? Let’s look at some common use cases.
When to use Node.js?
- Real-time communication. Node is great if you’re making a collaborative tool, a chat app, or a multiplayer game. It comes with native support for WebSockets and a diverse range of libraries and frameworks that simplify RTC implementation.
- NoSQL support. Node.js is equipped to handle non-relational databases and offers a plethora of libraries and tools for working with them. This is very useful for apps that need adaptable and scalable data storage.
When to use PHP?
PHP is the better choice for CMS projects, apps that require legacy system and code support, and software that needs to follow strict security regulations.
- CMS support. PHP is the preferred programming language for projects that require integration with content management systems due to its extensive use in popular CMS such as Drupal and WordPress. It makes integrating or modifying the CMS to suit your requirements much more manageable.
- Legacy system support. Being an older technology, PHP enjoys support across a broad spectrum of platforms and environments. It makes it easier to integrate with legacy or older systems and maintain compatibility with earlier versions of PHP code or frameworks.
- Security and compliance. PHP is good for security and compliance-focused projects thanks to its built-in security features such as input sanitization and output encoding. This is particularly important for sensitive data storage in fintech applications, for example.
Both are very powerful tools when used for the right project. Make sure to carefully consider your project priorities when choosing between the two – ideally, consult a trusted specialist with experience in the field.
The creation of a stable and reliable server side is one of the most important things in app development. That’s why it’s highly important to choose the right technology that will meet all your needs. To make sure everything works correctly and causes no failure, think of entrusting the development process to a reliable company.
Bamboo Agile can become your dependable partner in backend development. Fill out the form below to book a free consultation with our web development experts. Make your application performance incredible!
We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!
Let us improve this post!
Tell us how we can improve this post?