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A blog about software development best practices, how-tos, and tips from practitioners.

Node.JS vs PHP – Who Is Winning The Battles And The War?

Node.JS vs PHP – Who Is Winning The Battles And The War?

One is more than 15-year-old. That was something all the cool kids were exploring back in the 2000s when the Internet bloomed. The other one is a new kid on the block – just a few months old but it has started gaining popularity. That’s something people are going to by abandoning PHP. Of course, PHP will not disappear just because Node.js has started making its presence felt, but its position is certainly being shaken.

PHP has gained enormous popularity over the years because it’s an interpreter language and does not require code compilation like Java or C++. It offers enormous flexibility with direct use with HTML. The cheap shared hosting providers make the deployment easy. And, last but not the least, the functional nature makes learning easier as compared to the object-oriented programming languages.

Node.js, on the other hand, uses JavaScript. The non-blocking I/O mechanism of Node.js offers a better performance.

We come across many startup entrepreneurs coming to us asking which technology stack to use. This article compares Node.js Vs PHP through different angles, such as:

Language:

PHP:

  • In the case of PHP, everything, including class-based OOP, lots of functions and methods, exist in the core language.
  • The built-in functions (for several functionalities) allow the developers to focus on business logic rather than coding.
  • It offers rich features of class-based programming language, including classes (abstract, final), inheritance, constructors, destructors, static methods, interfaces etc.
  • It’s extremely easy to learn and programmers can get started using it within no time.
  • It allows easy implementation of all design patterns.
  • While class aggregation is permitted, PHP does not support multiple inheritance.
  • PHP does not offer native support for Unicode.

Node.js:

  • In Node.js, everything is an object and it is event-driven allowing extensive use of callbacks.
  • It’s extremely simple and expressive.
  • It is a Prototype-based Object Oriented Programing language.
  • It allows for faster, cleaner, robust and easier to maintain code.
  • Although sub-optimal, Node.js offers native Unicode support.
  • It is possible to code faster in Node.js – a lot of things can be achieved through small codebases.
  • Since it is event-drive, I/O operations are easier and faster – because of this, dealing with websocket is extremely easy with Node.js.

Syntax

Both PHP and Node.js have access to the command line interface via $ php -i and $ node.

In Node.js, semi-colons are optional. However, those are mandatory inside the ‘for loops’.

Since objects inherit directly from other objects, Node.js does not have classes. Instantiating patterns like pseudo-classical, functional and classical are supported.

Performance:

PHP:

  • Because of the use of an interpreted compilation strategy, the PHP Zend runtime leads to less optimized code execution.
  • Zend PHP 5.5+ offers OPcache caching engine, which helps in string precompiled script in the shared memory and thus removing the need for PHP to load and parse scripts on each request.
  • PHP manages concurrency by using a blocking process.
  • HHVM, an open-source virtual machine for running PHP applications, uses a Just-in-Time (JIT) compilation approach which helps the applications in achieving better performance.

Node.js

  • The proven Just-in-Time compilation with the V8 JavaScript Engine, used by Node.js, helps in increasing the startup time.
  • js manages concurrency by using a non-blocking event loop.
  • With the availability of more async code modules, Node.js performs much better.

Some studies, performed using Apache ab benchmarking tool, have found that while the performance of Zend PHP is less than half of Node.js, the HHVM performance is around 74% better than Zend PHP and Node.js is faster than HHVM.

Ecosystem:

PHP

With hundreds of free scripts, open-source applications like WordPress, tools, books, online courses and vibrant community, PHP probably has one of the best ecosystems in place.

Node.js

Node.js is also gaining rapid popularity. With already available JavaScript resources and experts, it is gaining acceptance amongst the web-developers. It also has a highly collaborative GitHub open-source community. I won’t be surprised if Node.js soon has the maximum number of contributions.

Hosting:

PHP

With the availability of easy and cheap shared hosting solutions, it is extremely easy to host PHP applications. There are plenty of hosting options available with LAMP stack. However, this has opened up quite a few security holes.

Node.js

Node.js offers great compatibility with PaaS (Platform as a Service) hosting options such as Heroku and Nodejitsu. Apart from this, Joyent (the cloud infrastructure company which is the maintainer of Node.js), offers SmartOS system for performance bursts, easy deployment and debugging.

Frameworks:

PHP

In terms of popularity, CakePHP and Zend are the widely used tools and libraries by PHP developers. There are also other hundreds of ready frameworks available.

Node.js

As far as Node.js is concerned, Express.js is quite popular. 

Coding:

PHP

  • With the use of tags, coding in PHP is extremely simple - No need to learn about extra files or architecture.
  • With the availability of tremendous amount of open-source PHP code, it is easy to simply download some readymade code and modify it as per the requirements – this can tremendously reduce the overall development time.
  • PHP is optimized to create pure HTML for browser side and a separate code-base on the server side keeping the code execution separate and clean.
  • PHP works extremely well with MySQL and its variants, like MariaDB. It also supports SQL databases from Oracle and Microsoft. With a few changes in the code queries, the database can be switched very easily.

Node.js

  • Being a relatively new language, the Node.js plugins are built with knowledge and use of latest architecture. Built for modern web apps, these plugins are more suitable for today’s web app requirements.
  • js allows separation of the cosmetic layer from the logical layer making the code maintenance simply and clean.
  • Being a modern language, it offers modern syntax and useful features like closures making reconfiguration easy.
  • js supports JSON, facilitating interactions with many latest NoSQL databases. While JSON libraries can be used with PHP stack as well, it is extremely simple to use those with Node.js – the sheer simplicity of the same syntax can save hours of programming time.
  • The callback mechanism in Node.js saves the developers from juggling the threads and the core is extremely well-built.

Each technology has its own advantages and unique offerings. The choice really depends on the business requirements and goals. With experienced PHP as well as Node.js experts on board, we can help you make the best choice.

 

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