The age-old frontend language that always remained popular for a wide variety of development projects went through a massive evolution in the hands of various JavaScript frameworks suited for different developer needs and objectives. NodeJS appearing in 2009 quickly became a popular JavaScript framework for backend development. It became particularly popular because of the faster development pace, rock-solid performance, and stability. For the first time, a language that is primarily known for frontend development was used for a backend development framework.

Before NodeJS really brought JavaScript into the realm of backend development, PHP has been the uncontested language used by most developers worldwide for the web. Any PHP Development Company of that era were basically into web development. With the emergence of NodeJS as the JavaScript-based alternative to PHP, developers are using both languages depending on the demands of the project and their preferences.

This is why it is imperative to see the key strengths and weaknesses of both the languages and what are the most suitable projects for them.

PHP Overview

PHP Overview

Hypertext Preprocessor which is also known as PHP is a globally popular and open-source scripting language for the server-side. Developed way back in 1994, PHP became a huge success as it collided with the emergence and proliferation of the web over the next decade or so.  It has been the language used in all major content management systems like Shopify, WordPress, Drupal, WooCommerce and several others.

NodeJS Overview

Node.js developed by Ryan Dahl in 2009 was conceptualized basically to develop server-side backend applications using JavaScript. NodeJS for the first time offered a viable alternative to a server-side scripting language such as PHP, Python or Perl. NodeJS also offered the scope of building a complete app with a single language. Thanks to NodeJS, both frontend and backend can be built using the same language. As for key characteristics, NodeJS is known to be asynchronous, event-driven and nonblocking in nature.

Now, that the basic overview of both languages is clear, let us explain the key differences between them.

  • Node.js vs PHP: Development

It is true that PHP coding is much simpler and quicker in comparison to the NodeJS. With PHP you don’t need to use the compiler and converters. PHP helps setting up an effective connection to the SQL database without making it confined to any specific hosting requirements.

In contrast, NodeJS is a lot complicated. The app coding and deployment requires a complex preparation along with befitting server infrastructure.

  • Node.js vs PHP: Database

Though PHP is known to support the MySQL database, it is capable to provide support to other database forms such as MariaDB and PostgreSQL as well. The PHP code can work with any database irrespective of the used engines.

Node.js uses an array of libraries for accessing the SQL database. In the same way, it uses the JSON format to connect to NoSQL databases.

When you need support for JSON format for connecting to databases NodeJS has an edge over PHP. Though a PHP project can always be configured to support JSON.

  • NodeJs Vs PHP: Hosting

PHP enjoys support from almost all major hosting services as it is the oldest backend language on the web. NodeJS being a new language enjoys much-limited support from hosting services. This is also the reason why integrating PHP is easier compared to NodeJS.

  • Node.js vs PHP: Practical Implementation

PHP is mainly used for websites and web apps. On the other hand, Node.js can be used across a variety of applications and use cases ranging from websites and web apps to game servers, native apps, apps with multiple threads, etc.

  • Node.js vs PHP: Performance

Node.js vs PHP

As for website and web development, PHP is known to offer a most stable and consistent performance that made it popular over the years. For regular web apps, PHP has an edge over JavaScript in terms of performance.

But when you only compare the loading speed, NodeJS seems to be a lot faster than PHP. NodeJS has some unique value propositions like a high-performance V8 engine, continuous server connectivity, callback feature for simultaneous processing of multiple requests, etc.

Pros and Cons of NodeJS

NodeJS

-> Pros
  • Because of the popularity of Javascript language, even frontend programmers can use NodeJS for the backend development needs.
  • NodeJS offers very less learning curve and developers can quickly get accustomed to it.
  • NodeJS can be used for a wide variety of applications and concurrent events other than the common website and web apps.
  • NodeJS stands as a highly scalable solution to allow accommodating the larger inflow of traffic and activities.
  • Without any set patterns or guidelines NodeJS gives developers a lot of freedom and flexibility for coding their apps.
-> Cons
  • NodeJS is still immature and less evolved development environment.
  • NodeJS uses complicated code structure and that can be disappointing for the developers.
  • NodeJS is not considered to be an ideal solution for intensive and rich web applications.
  • NodeJS is very responsive in terms of design, can be very challenging to develop apps loaded with graphics and visuals.

Pros and Cons of PHP

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-> Pros
  • PHP framework has come a long way as the leading and most popular scripting language for websites and web apps.
  • PHP offers MVC architecture that helps to separate the files and maintaining and using the code as and when required.
-> Cons
  • PHP as a framework now has a big code base and thus makes it really challenging for the maintenance. Just because of the ease of combining HTML and other languages with PHP became easier, the codebase of PHP became bigger than ever before.
  • PHP is proven to be less capable for handling large number of applications.

Nodejs or PHP: Which one to Choose and When?

Now, we need to face the ultimate question. Whether to choose PHP or NodeJS? More specifically to ask, which of these two frameworks really suits your purpose and objective?  Before you decide to hire NodeJs developer or a PHP development company for your projects, these are the questions you need to answer.

PHP is an appropriate choice when you need to develop a new website or just a fresh blog, web portal or landing page. There are several PHP based content management systems to choose from. PHP is also the choice when you need to use server databases like MYSQL, SQL, Oracle or PostgreSQL. Some popular technology stacks such as the LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP) also need PHP development for server-side scripting.

NodeJS is an appropriate technology when you need to build a Single Page App using the asynchronous architecture of NodeJS. Many apps boasting of teamwork collaboration and communication such as Teamwork, Trello apps for instant messaging, etc. fall in this category. If you are using technology stacks such as MEAN (Mongo, Express.js, Angularjs, and NodeJS), it is a scripting language for the backend process.

Conclusion

Is there really hard and fast measurement to consider any of these two frameworks better over each other? Presumably no, since you need to choose NodeJS or PHP as per the project and your typical backend development needs.