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What should you choose between Node.js and PHP?

Web-programming is developing rapidly, and the back-end developers face the question of choosing between the well-established heavyweights of Java, C, Perl, and modern web-oriented languages, such as Ruby, Clojure, Go.  It’s an important decision that will have long term implications for your application.  Y Node.js and PHP are used for server-side development. Therefore both of them are high competition for each other. Based on different parameters, you will be able to decide between the two.

But what is the best choice for web development? In this article, we will talk about PHP and NodeJS today.

Evaluate your options and choose a language based on your requirements. This is much more practical than relying on the pros and cons!


PHP was created in 1994 by Rasmus Lerdorf. He created a program shell (interpreter), which is installed as a module for the Apache or Nginx web server. It was initially developed as a preprocessor of hypertext pages so that PHP can be easily integrated into HTML code. However, this approach is not considered a good practice, but for beginners, this approach was evident. This contributed to the popularity of the language, so 80% of the sites on the Internet are written in PHP, and they, in particular, are running WordPress CMS (20% of websites on the Internet).


Node.js was created in 2009 by Ryan Dahl. He created a software platform based on Google’s JavaScript V8 engine. Unusually, the platform has built-in libraries for processing requests and responses, so you do not need to use a third-party web server or any other dependencies. Node.js is gaining momentum and is used by companies such as Microsoft, Yahoo, LinkedIn, and PayPal.

Why not talk about C #, Java, Ruby, Python, Perl, Erlang, C ++, Go, Dart, Scala, Haskell, and others?

We limited and narrowed the circle to two famous ones because of the following reasons:

  1. PHP and Node.js are web-ordinated, both have open source code, and they are aimed exclusively at web development.
  2. PHP is a long-standing language, however, Node.js, in our case, it is an upstart that is gaining momentum in popularity, so the PHP developer should ask a question. Is it worth it to change the technology?
  3. Many developers program from the distant 90s into PHP and JavaScript, and not everyone wants to switch to other programming languages because they do not give them their due.

Quick start
We need to determine how quickly we can write a “Hello World” page in one or another programming language. At this time, we include the time spent setting up the server.

Preparing the environment:
1. How fast can you build a “Hello World” web page in PHP:

echo ‘Hello World!’;

This code can be written anywhere, as a rule, the code is written in files ending in the .php extension. If you wrote this code in the indx.php file and launched it on the local server through port 8000 (on your computer, and not on the real hosting), then its display will be available at http://localhost:8000

However, using a ready-made PHP interpreter with an embedded server is instead a tricky task. It is better to use ready-made solutions, Apache assemblies- XAMPP or virtual OS (Vagrant). By the way, you can upload your file to any Internet hosting.

Installing the Node.js platform is as simple as possible; if you work on a unix-like system, you can do this with the help of package managers. Let’s create the index.js page:

const http = require(‘http’);
const hostname = ‘localhost’;
const port = 8000;http.createServer((req, res) => {
res.writeHead(200, { ‘Content-Type’: ‘text/plain’ });
res.end(‘Hello World\n’);
}).listen(port, hostname, () => {
console.log(`Server running at http://${hostname}:${port}/`);

We repeated the same steps; JavaScript code is usually written in files ending in the .js extension. If you wrote this code in the index.js file and launched it on the local server through port 8000 (on your computer, and not on the real hosting), then its display will also be available at the address (provided that PHP now works on a different port):http://localhost:8000Now, let’s evaluate the code, even if you know client-side JavaScript well, you will have to think and understand what is written here. You need to understand closures and callback functions, promises, programming on the node.js side requires some skills.

PHP wins this factor comparison due to a low entry threshold, and it is instead a matter of perception. On the screen, they are displayed identically, and they do not have significant differences. In fact, the syntax is much simpler for beginners programming.

Moreover, when developing on a local machine, no difference can be seen between the two. To run the script in a browser, you need to have a web server and terminal. In order to do something serious on Node.js, you need to install additional modules, for example, express (web application framework).

However, conceptually, PHP is simpler.

Help and Support

In fact, you will not go anywhere on your knowledge without studying any courses and modern practices. In order to develop, you need to ask questions in forums such as- StackOverflow. PHP has a great guide on and twenty years of frequently asked questions. Whatever you do, you can find solutions to the problems you come across.

Node.js has proper documentation, but the technology is quite young, so there will be significantly fewer answers on forums.

Language syntax

Unlike some languages and frameworks, PHP will not force you to work in a certain way and grows with you. You can write your little programs on simple PHP4 functions, and they will be different in their beauty from MVC PHP 5+. However, in this case, your code may be chaotic; you will begin to write better code only with the understanding of some things.

PHP syntax has changed with the release of new versions, because of which work was done on backward compatibility. You can easily port your code from PHP4 to PHP5. However, as a consequence of this approach, a mess has formed in PHP (mess).For example, How to count characters in a string?

– count ()? str_len ()? strlen ()? mb_strlen ()?You will find several functions in the documentation for this, but in fact, everything is simple. In general, in PHP, there are many functions that work the same way; try writing a few lines of code without consulting a mentor.

C JavaScript is different:

var len = (‘Hello World’).length;

We can see that JavaScript is relatively clear at the same time, with several major trends. Its object-prototype model attracts developers, and it seems that the syntax is pretty easy, but it’s not. You will find criticism about mathematical errors (0.1 + 0.2! = 0.3) and dynamic typing (‘6′ + 3 == ’63’ and ‘6’ – 3 == 3).

These situations rarely cause issues, and all languages ​​have features.

Developer Tools

Both technologies have a good selection of editors, integrated development environments, debuggers, validators, and other tools. Here you can give a draw, but still, Node.js has a great tool, npm is a package manager, developed under the influence of npm- Composer. However, if npm is built-in by default, the composer will have to be built on its own.

Thanks to npm, Gulp, and Grunt, which are widely used to create front-end projects.While the composer was initially inspired by npm, now it is even better than npm. Unlike npm, the composer does not damage your system, in case two versions of the same library are installed. Also, the composer can install recursive dependencies, while npm just can’t. Npm also has completely terrible error messages called “friendly.”

Finally, npm doesn’t work very well with Vagrant, and thus prevents you from getting started properly, not to mention the fact that they do not pay attention to the desires of their users. There was an error that was open for many years, because of which it was not suitable for users on Windows- it is hardly a small user base.


Your development technologies will be limited unless they can integrate with databases and drivers. PHP is secure in this area. The development has been over the years, and it’s system extensions allow direct work with any host using the API.Node.js catches up quickly, but you can sweat pretty hard to find modern integration components for old things.

PHP has an age advantage, giving it more features, but even here, you could suffer from some outdated integrated things, for example, the MySQL extension, which you finally managed to get rid of in PHP7.

Hosting and Deployment

How easy is it to deploy brand new applications on a real web server? Here is another clear victory of PHP. Any Internet hosting support PHP. You can get a MySQL database at a bargain price. Here PHP extensions are disabled and which are not.

Node.js is an entirely different beast, and it can work on the server-side consistently, without breaking the connection. For this, you’ll have to look for specialized hosting services. You will need a virtual cloud (VDS/ VPS, server environment, with full access). Unfortunately, not all hosters can afford this so that the prices will be corresponding. In the future, Node.js will make up for a lot. Typically, a PHP web server is distributed with MySQL.

To see some PHP code, all you have to do is create a file with the .php extension and put the code between <?php and ?> Upload the file to the server, specify the path to this file in the address bar. The same cannot be said for Node.js. Of course, there are many hosting options for Node.js, but they invariably require more detailed configuration and access to the command line, which potentially repels beginners.


PHP does not slouch, and there are real projects and options that allow PHP to work faster. Sometimes the most demanding PHP developer doesn’t worry about speed, but the performance of Node.js is generally better. Of course, execution is mostly a result of experience and team development. However, Node.js has several advantages:

  • Fewer dependencies
    The requests made to a PHP application must be directed to a web server that runs a PHP interpreter that processes the code and gives it. Node.js does not need so many dependencies, and although you almost certainly use a framework on a server such as express, it is completely lightweight and manages part of your application.
  • Quick interpreter
    Node.js is smaller and more agile than PHP. This is due to the legacy of Google, which has made a considerable contribution to the performance of the JavaScript engine – V8.
  • Applications run continuously
    PHP performs the usual client-server model. Each page request is initiated by the application, loading database connection parameters, extracting information, and displaying HTML code. In Node.js, the app is continuously running and needs to be initialized only once. For example, you can create one database connection object that is reused when a new request is made. True, there are ways to implement this behavior in PHP using unique systems such as Memcached, but this is not a standard language function.
  • Event, non-blocking input / output stream
    PHP and most other server languages ​​use an obvious locking model. When you make a request to retrieve information from the database, the process will be completed before moving on to the next statement. Node.js is different. Node.js doesn’t have to wait. Instead, you can create a callback function that, while listening to the process, is executed after the action completes.Node.js is distributed as a platform with high performance, low latency applications. Node.js has become synonymous with the words “fast” and “scalable” because of its Google Chrome V8 technology and non-blocking i/o mechanism. There are numerous stories about how Node.js brought serious productivity gains to the company and increased the productivity of the developers themselves.

PHP has many advantages, but Node.js wins for several reasons

  • JavaScript seems to be the most obscure language in the world, but as soon as you grasp its concept, other words ​​become cumbersome compared to it.
  • JavaScript looks minimal than PHP, and you do not need to deal with the same UTF-8.
  • Full-stack developers can write JavaScript code both on the client-side and server-side. You no longer need to switch between technologies.
  • Studying JavaScript, you want to write more and more in this language; this can not be said about PHP.

The future

Without depending on the language used on the server-side, it will still continue to work, even if the project is abandoned. Many continue to use PHP. This is a safe bet, and its support looks confident for another twenty years.

However, we know that the climb of Node.js was quick. The modern approach to development is obvious in that it uses the same syntax as on the client-side. JavaScript supports HTML5, web sockets. Node.js inevitably takes market share, but PHP may overtake. Both technologies have a great future.

Due to the steep learning curve of Node.jsm, it is not ideal for novice developers, but it still wins. Simply. If you are a competent JavaScript programmer who loves his language, Node.js will not disappoint you. You will feel fresher and gain a liberating web development experience. But do not discount PHP. PHP is alive, and there is little reason to put the bandwagon on PHP because it looks fashionable.

PHP is easier to learn, and you can master professional programming techniques, the main practice. PHP is very easy to deploy to a server. Even stubborn Node.js developers should use PHP for simple sites and applications.

Evaluate your options and choose a language based on your requirements. This is much more practical than relying on the pros and cons!

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