NodeJS Vs PHP: Difference Between NodeJs & PHP

Web development is rife with questions about NodeJs and PHP as to which is the more viable option, if one is better than the other, or if the new NodeJs can replace most developer’s favourite PHP.

There is no simple answer to that. Although both Node.js and PHP are capable of handling complex applications, there are a number of ways in which they are different from each other. And that is enough to confuse any new programmer or business owner.

In this article, we will explore the key differences between Node.js and PHP to help you make the right choice for yourself based on your business needs.

What Is PHP?

PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor) is a powerful, general-purpose programming language used in back-end development. Rasmus Lerdorf invented in 1994 as a server-side scripting language for web development.

As per recent surveys, over 80% of all websites are based on PHP, thanks to its versatile and easy-to-learn framework that also results in faster development.

PHP can be integrated with Javascript, HTML, and CSS to operate as a general purpose scripting language. It is actively used in content management for some of the most popular frameworks like WordPress, Drupal and Joomla. It is largely synchronous but also exhibits asynchronous behaviours in coding.

Read: PHP Projects Ideas on GitHub

What Is NodeJS?

NodeJS is an event driven, non-blocking I/O, Javascript run-time environment created by Ryan Dahl in 2009. It runs on Google’s V8 JavaScript and is known for its highly scalable and asynchronous nature.

It was Node.js that made server-side scripting possible and gave birth to applications that were entirely powered by Javascript.

As an open-source, cross-platform technology, it is fast gaining popularity among back-end developers.

Difference Between NodeJs And PHP

In this section, we will explore the various differences between NodeJs and PHP based on various parameters.

Here’s a quick comparison in a tabular form before we go into more detail

PHP NodeJs
Concurrency
It is largely synchronous but also exhibits asynchronous nature It is asynchronous in nature
Runtime
It uses the Zend engine It is powered by the V8 Javascript Engine
Modules
It uses PHP Extension and Application Repository (PEAR) It uses Node Package Manager (NPM)
Scalability
It is compatible with most content management systems It is highly scalable
Web Servers
Iy used to rely on Apache and IIS web servers. However, it comes with its own development server from the new version 5.4 It doesn’t require a web server. NodeJs is already a Javascript runtime environment
Performance and Speed
PHP is comparatively slower. But, it is evolving to adapt to faster development principles NodeJs is faster due to: asynchronous nature, event driven, non blocking I/O model, and uninterrupted server connection
Software Stack
It belongs to the LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP) stack. NodeJs is compatible with the MEAN (MongoDB, ExpressJs, AngularJs)

Also Read JavaScript Vs PHP

Node.Js Vs PHP: Differences In Modules

PHP uses PHP Extension and Application Repository (PEAR). It is a structured library for PHP users that is employed for code distribution, module installation and component reusability purposes.

PHP also relies on the dependency management tool Composer through which users can define the libraries that highlight a project’s dependency.

Using this information, the Composer installs or updates the desired packages.

Node.js uses the Node Package Manager (NPM). As the name suggests, it is a package management system for NodeJs users.

The benefits of being an open-source platform are visible here; users can seek help in package installation, module management, etc.

NodeJs Vs PHP: Differences In Runtime Environment

As we mentioned before, Node is a Javascript runtime environment that operates on Google’s exceptionally fast V8 JavaScript engine.

PHP, on the other hand, runs on the Zend engine.

Although they require an interpreter at run-time, both server-side scripting languages allow embedding into HTML.

NodeJs Vs PHP: Differences In Concurrency

Although PHP is primarily synchronous (I.e., it executes code line by line), it can also be asynchronous when it comes to some APIs. However, code execution in PHP is slower than NodeJs and to make up for it, it employs multithreaded blocking I/O so multiple tasks can  run parallely.

NodeJs’ asynchronous nature makes execution extremely fast as its engine does not have to wait for a function to return after executing every line. It works on an event-driven non blocking I/O model and goes through the entire code in one go.

NodeJs also has a fix for when programs get stuck in ‘callback hell’. It uses Async/Await to initiate synchronous execution of a particular block of code.

NodeJs Vs PHP: Frameworks And Web Servers

NodeJs has its own http, DNS, file system modules and a runtime environment. Therefore, it doesn’t need a web server. It allows users to create custom web servers for network applications.

NodeJs is dependent on the likes of Express, Meteor and Derby.

With the right configurations, custom web servers in Node.js can be capable of high scalability.

Some other prominent frameworks NodeJs uses are koa.js, hapi, total.js, and sails.js, to name a few, which require very less effort to set up.

// starting Node.js server

$ node app.js

// app.js source code

var http

= require(‘http’);

http.createServer(function(req, res) {

res.writeHead(200, { ‘Content-Type’ : ‘text/plain’ });

res.end(‘Hi Programmer\n’);

})

.listen(8080, ‘127.0.0.1’);

console.log(‘Server running’);

PHP takes help from Laravel, CodeIgniter, Cakephp in creating secure backend solutions. It used to run on Apache web server or IIS until version 5.4.

However, after v5.4 was released, PHP is shipped with its own development server that can be used as a full-fledged web server.

// starting php server

$ php -S localhost:8000

// index.js file code

<?php

echo ‘Hello!’;

?>

NodeJs Vs PHP: Scalability

PHP is a popular choice for blogging and ecommerce websites since it supports integration with most content management systems.

Node.js, on the other hand, was created to boost scalability by allowing users to build dynamic, functional web applications. NodeJs’ scalability also extends to multi-cores systems.

NodeJs Vs PHP: Differences In Databases

NodeJs is compatible with NoSQL (Not only SQL) databases. Some of these include MongoDB and CouchDB. It also works with graph database systems like Neo4j.

PHP is compatible with both traditional and relational databases. Some of these are MySQL, MariaDB and PostgreSQL. Like NodeJs, PHP can also work with NoSQL databases if needed.

NodeJs Vs PHP: Performance

NodeJs’ asynchronous nature and its event driven, non-blocking I/O model have earned it the high performance tag. It is a lot faster than PHP, thanks to its V8 Engine and uninterrupted server connection.

However, PHP is also catching up. It supports event-driven programming with ReactPHP, and after its new update, users do not need to rely on web servers.

Which Is The Right Choice For You?

Both PHP and NodeJs are extremely popular back-end technologies but NodeJs comes with the added advantage of building a web application with both the front and back end based on Javascript.

So, basically it boils down to what you are finding a solution to. One can also consider the development skills that will be needed and pay attention to the technologies in association with which you plan to work on your project.

If your purpose is purely for backend development, PHP is the easier choice due to simple, and understandable framework, and compatibility with popular content management systems.

NodeJs is also a backend technology and it has its own advantages. Plus, it gives you the complete solution stack.

In terms of compatibility, PHP belongs to the LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP). It supports almost all Apache-based and IIS platforms.

Whereas, NodeJs is compatible with the MEAN (MongoDB, ExpressJs, AngularJs) stack, which means if you are working with any of the MEAN technologies, NodeJs is the right choice for you. This will ensure consistency across both server-side and front-end development.

You can also opt PHP if you don’t have plans to scale your app. Besides this, PHP is also highly portable and cost ineffective.

As we have already established before, Node.js is significantly faster in performance and execution than PHP. Therefore, if speed is what you are after, NodeJs is the one you should choose.

We hope this helped!

Conclusion

Coming to the end of our collection of some of the most asked NodeJs Vs PHP, we hope you find them valuable and are able to impress your interviewers by answering them right.

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