NodeJS Development

In-Depth Comparison of Node.js vs PHP

06th Jun 2023 by Sanket Thakkar
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PHP was first released as a programming language in 1994, and Node was first released as a JavaScript Runtime Environment in 2009. The most extensively used framework is Node.js, and PHP is still the server-side language of choice, powering about 77.5% of websites. The V8 JavaScript engine powers the cross-platform JavaScript runtime environment Node.js, whereas PHP is a general-purpose scripting language designed for web development. According to SimilarTech, PHP is used by 4,403,243 websites.

Node js

In 1995, Netscape developed JavaScript to provide web pages with more interaction. To employ JavaScript on the server side and enable the development of quick, scalable, and effective back-end applications, Ryan Dahl launched Node.js in 2009. Since then, this has gained notoriety in back-end development and is utilized by well-known businesses like Netflix, eBay, and PayPal. Express.js and Socket.io are just two of the strong JavaScript frameworks and libraries that have grown as a result of the Node.js ecosystem's expansion, making it even simpler to create intricate, real-time, high-performance applications.

PHP

Rasmus Lerdorf developed PHP in 1993, and once it was coupled with other technologies to form the Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP (LAMP) stack, it came to be known as a cornerstone of web development. As a potent, open-source platform for creating and deploying dynamic web-based applications, this software package quickly acquired popularity. The open-source aspect of it allowed programmers to freely exchange code and work together on projects, which sped up the development of the Internet. Over 70% of all active websites were created using PHP, which is now used for everything from web development and microservices to command-line scripting.

Node js vs PHP Similarities

  • Cross-Platform Compatibility

    To serve their target market, business owners of all sizes are looking for a cross-platform IT stack. Platform-independent, PHP, and Node.js can run on Windows, Linux, macOS, and SunOS. While PHP must be launched directly from the command line, Node.js has Docket images for the Node.js Docker hub. Additionally, PHP and Node can be used to assemble courses.

  • Interpreted Language

    An interpreted language, as we are all aware, is one in which a program is run directly by implementations without being converted into machine language beforehand. As a result, PHP and Nde.js both first permit development on the specific implementation page without interfering with your workflow. Benefits include easier debugging, smaller programs, and dynamic typing.

  • Service

    Web socket requests can be handled and served well by both PHP and Node.js. Both tech stacks are capable of managing dynamic web material and offer an interactive and user-friendly experience.

  • Application Types

    Another similarity between these tech stacks is that both Node js and PHP handle routed requests and execute on servers. Together, they can support data queries, static web pages, and dynamic web pages. The Node web sockets are the industry standard, even when PHP introduces web socket servers. Both PHP and Node js can serve streams, but Node includes a Stream API while PHP needs to be coded specifically to do so. PHP utilizes Ratchet while Node uses socket.io.

  • Extensibility

    Due to their open-source nature and robust add-on ecosystems, PHP and Node.js are able to expand into new areas. You can also change the code to suit your requirements and make it the best possible fit for your project.

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Node vs PHP In-Depth Comparison

  • Popularity

    Both the PHP and Node.js software stacks have seen a considerable change in popularity in recent years. Node.js is the most widely used framework among developers, with 47.12% of all developers reporting that they prefer it for their project development, according to the StackOverflow Developer Survey 2022. Furthermore, Node.js is the first choice for developing web applications for 46.31% of skilled developers and for 52.86% of novice developers starting to code. These statistics and data show that tech stacks are dominating the market and expanding rapidly, hence the popularity contest between Node js and PHP is tied.

  • Performance

    PHP vs. Node.js Performance is a statistic for comparison that is influenced by the tech stack and other elements. Node.js is extremely fast and has a quicker startup time because it is asynchronous and uses the JavaScript V8 Engine. Since PHP is an older product on the market and handles requests in a different manner, it is slower. But by integrating it with HHVM, PHP performance can be increased by up to 75%. Your web application will run more quickly on Node if you compare it to PHP.

  • Learning Curve

    A key point of comparison between the two tech stacks is the learning curve of PHP and Node.js. Node.js has a steep learning curve, but JavaScript beginners may encounter a challenging learning curve. While the learning curve for PHP is the simplest, To manage a PHP-based project, developers must have substantial expertise in CSS and HTML. Even with this, PHP has a lower learning curve than Node.js.

  • Concurrency

    PHP executes the code line by line because it is synchronous. Because NodeJS is asynchronous, the code does not have to wait for I/O operations to finish. Fast and able to handle huge requests or connections, Node employs promises, callbacks, or JavaScript's built-in async to handle slow tasks like I/O and remote data fetching.

  • Development Kit

    There is a large variety of IDEs, editors, validators, debuggers, and other tools available for the two tech stacks, Node.js and PHP. The NPM, a useful utility provided by Node.js, enables developers to manage modules and dependencies. Composer, the package manager used by PHP to handle modules and dependencies, was inspired by NPM. NPM is created by default, although PHP's Composer package management, which is influenced by NPM, is fundamentally different from the two.

  • Syntax

    The changes in syntax between PHP and JavaScript are the most crucial information in this essay. Since the release of new versions, PHP has undergone changes that make handling it difficult. Developers are drawn to JavaScript because of its various characteristics, including the object prototype model. The JavaScript Syntax has, however, come under fire for math flaws that may be quickly fixed with the aid of math libraries. In terms of syntax, Node.js beats PHP because it does not necessitate learning an entirely separate language. It would be easier to work with even though there are more lines of code if you are familiar with the JavaScript programming language.

  • Database

    The distinctions between Node.js and PHP in terms of web application development are the most crucial information in this work. Along with graph databases like Neo4j, Node.js works with NoSQL databases like MongoDB and CouchDB. Relational database management systems, such as MySQL, PostgreSQL, MS SQL, and others, use PHP. The most common database used for PHP websites is MySQL, however, it also supports NoSQL databases like MongoDB. Based on a comparison of the two tech stacks using the database parameters, it can be said that Node.js is the best option if scalability is not a problem and PHP is a decent choice if it is.

  • Security

    Any manufacturer or company owner's primary concern is security since it's rare for any tech stack to be completely safe from security risks. It is preferable to be cautious and pick tech stacks that protect your web apps from serious security threats. PHP offers protection against threats such as directory traversal, XSS (cross-site scripting), session hijacking, and SQL injection attacks. The OpenSSL function extension sometimes referred to as Cryptography, is used by experienced developers to encrypt or decrypt a string in PHP. Node.js is susceptible to machine-in-the-middle assault, code injection, and advanced persistent threats. By lowering risk and building a secure system, Node.js enables security methods like OWASP Dependency-Check and Acutinex for handling problems quickly.

  • Modules and Extensibility

    Both Node.js and PHP contain modules, which are outside applications depending on their features. Modules in Node.js are reusable and can be used again. Code extensions, bundled extensions, and external extensions are the three primary types of modules in PHP. Although the majority of PHP extensions are written in C, they can also be compiled using PHP to support static or dynamic loading. Although Node.js dominates the Modules section of our comparison, PHP offers a wealth of vibrant extension modules that enable tremendous extensibility.

  • Scalability

    The term "scalability" causes product owners to shudder when comparing Node.js with PHP, however, it really just comes down to needs and requirements for any scalable language or framework. Nevertheless, some scale better than others over time. Due to the same reasons, Node.js in this case has a higher potential for scalability than PHP. Many developers are unable to design complex PHP applications since PHP is easy to learn but challenging to master; as a result, Node.js is a better choice.

  • Hosting

    Around 80% of websites use PHP as their backend technology, and this technology's main goal is to be interoperable with all of the major hosting companies. Although it meets the needs of many servers, the LAMP stack with PHP is not a safe hosting option. Node.js provides a variety of features that aid in its effectiveness. Speed and security are other aspects to take into account when selecting a hosting provider, and it evaluates a technology platform's range of interoperability with different hosting service providers. Although Node.js offers more possibilities for hosting service providers, all tech stacks are equally capable in terms of hosting. Either of the two options is viable if security is not your top priority.

  • Code Example

    Considering the Code Example, we can conclude that both languages differ from one another in terms of coding. PHP is a server-side scripting language mostly used in web development, whereas Node is based on JavaScript and uses an event-driven non-blocking I/O architecture. For instance, it could seem at first that PHP is simpler because there are fewer lines of code, but you need to grasp how the operators and generators in LAMP work very well. Contrarily, Node is significantly easier and simpler because it just employs one language, even though it does require more lines of code.

  • Runtime Environment

    An open-source scripting engine is used by PHP to parse the PHP code, and on the other hand, Node js. employs Google's V8 JavaScript engine and is a cross-platform backend JavaScript runtime environment. Hence, both tech stacks have unique functionalities with distinct runtime environments.

  • Ecosystem

    WordPress plays a significant role in PHP's global adoption. It actively provides online tutorials and educational content for teaching and supporting PHP and controls a sizable portion of all websites on the internet. When compared to PHP, Node.js' libraries and frameworks offer a wider variety, but they are also more limited and compact. But because it has a variety of projects and is frontend and backend compatible, it extends beyond this small community and offers greater room for development.

Node vs PHP When to Choose What?

Two of the most widely used server-side scripting languages for creating web applications are Node and PHP. Although there are many solutions available for web application development with both tech stacks, the use cases differ. It is crucial to take into account the use cases for both tech stacks in order to decide with confidence.

    Node.js Use Cases:

  • Realtime Web Applications

    When looking for social media, chat, and online gaming apps, Node can be your best option. Its event-driven architecture and non-blocking I/O make it an excellent choice for processing real-time data for this reason.

  • Single Page Applications

    Node.js is a good option for Single Page Applications since it is effective at transferring data between the client side and server side of the applications. As is common knowledge, JavaScript is the primary language used for user interaction in SPAs, and Node enables developers to utilize the same language on both the client and server sides.

  • Microservices

    The tech stack Node is compact and has a quick startup time. Due to the fact that microservices are compact, autonomous components that can be deployed, it is incredibly efficient when it comes to their development.

PHP Use Cases:

  • Server-Side Scripting

    PHP is mostly used for server-side scripting to generate dynamic web pages since it can be readily incorporated into HTML and execute activities like accessing databases, processing form input, and sending mail.

  • eCommerce Portals

    The majority of online marketplaces and stores use PHP since it has a number of eCommerce platforms like Magento and WooCommerce that provide capabilities like inventory management, payment processing, and order tracking.

  • Content Management Systems

    Building CMS, or content management systems, such as WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla, which allow users to produce and manage digital material including blog entries, web pages, and multimedia content, is another common application for the PHP language.

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Companies using both of them in 2023

The industry for web app development is experiencing altering trends as well. Many well-known brands and companies have adopted Node js and PHP for their web application development in 2023, despite the fact that PHP is consistently popular among product owners as well as Node.js.

Companies Using Node js in 2023

1. Netflix

In an effort to enhance user experience, Netflix, which as of October 2019 had more than 182 million customers globally, has been working to speed up interface loading. It was employing a JAVA backend until 2015, which was good for data administration but had long user wait times. In order to take advantage of Node.js's performance advantages, Netflix chose to switch to it. Node.js offers Netflix advantages such as a microservice-oriented application, a 70% faster startup time, and improved backend-to-frontend transition. The backend-to-frontend transition was greatly enhanced, and the application adopted a microservices orientation that made it simple to divide the user interface into smaller chunks. Because Node has been so useful, Netflix is extending its use to additional stack layers.

2. NASA

The pioneer of aviation, NASA, was having trouble combining its scattered historical files pertaining to EVA spacesuits. Collins Estes, the architect of NASA's Node.js enterprise architecture, explained the necessity of the system's API-driven architecture. NASA benefited from Node.js because it reduced the time it took to access the database by 300%, enabling users to obtain requested data sets in seconds as opposed to hours. Legacy databases could be moved to the cloud and made accessible to users via APIs thanks to the Node.js microservices architecture. The data synchronization made possible by Node.js is assisting everyone from astronauts to ground personnel for safe and quick access to NASA's enormous databases, enabling scientific study to be done with much greater ease and in much less time.

3. Trello

The Trello team, makers of the well-known Kanban-style project management tool, was seeking a server that was light and quick to load. Because it is native to Javascript and has the capacity to handle numerous concurrent requests, Node.js was the first option. To maintain the speed and delivery of updates, the  node.js web application development needed several real-time open connections on the server and rapid updates with the least amount of latency. Trello's use of the Node.js app allowed for speedy development and met expectations for an event-driven server that is amenable to Javascript. The use of Node.js architecture sped up development and prototyping.

4. Paypal

PayPal is one of the leading digital payment apps with 87.5% of online users. It was also impacted by the same JAVA to Javascript transition issues that Netflix was. As a remedy, PayPal made the decision to switch from Java to Node.js in 2013, becoming one of the pioneering businesses to do so. PayPal benefited from  Node.js mobile app development due to its shorter time, performance, and productivity. The number of files used by the application decreased by 40%, while the size of the code shrank by 33%. PayPal pages started to load with a reduction in response time of 35%. The number of queries handled by the Node.js application per second was doubled.

5. LinkedIn

The largest professional network in the world, LinkedIn, has more than 690 million users and is one of the most popular apps to use Node.js in production. Due to improved app performance and reduced resource utilization, they migrated to Node.js. By implementing Node.js as their backend, they transitioned to asynchronous from synchronous request processing, which results in noticeably quicker interface loading times. When there was a spike in traffic, the server was overworked, and because the Ruby App operated synchronously, it took longer for the pages to load. Node.js provided advantages to LinkedIn, such as decreased resource utilization and enhanced app performance. It is now simpler for development teams to manage client-server interaction as the client and server are both governed by the Javascript regime. Every aspect of the code was made simpler, making it more modular and less state-dependent.

6. Walmart

The industry leader in supermarkets, Walmart, needed its mobile app and e-commerce website to be nimble enough for scattered teams while being optimized for improved performance. They desired a change to a microservices architecture, faster loading times, and an HTML-based front-end, all of which their existing JAVA program was unable to provide. Because of its modularity, front-end SEO friendliness, and improved website performance, Node.js was chosen. Walmart improved the performance of its website by implementing a combination of React JS and Node.js for its front end, which decreased consumer response time and raised customer engagement. The conversion rate for the Walmart Checkout Cart rose, and the development teams were releasing changes more quickly than ever with less work.

7. Uber

One of the first major companies to use Node.js in production, Uber uses it for crucial tasks including running trips and integrating more than 600 APIs. Uber wanted to run complex analytics on the massive quantity of data produced by its platform, so it needed a real-time, quick API-driven architecture that could handle millions of connections at once. Node.js mobile app development or web that extensively rely on Node.js were able to be developed in a dependable, self-healing, distributed environment thanks to Node.js.

The component in charge of carrying out trips is created using Node.js, making use of its asynchronous and single-threaded event loop. Uber's API ecosystem contains over 600 stateless endpoints implemented in Node.js, enhancing connection and lowering administrative costs, and it can handle a significant number of user queries. The finest example is Uber, which powers 14 million trips every day using the majority of Node.js features with seamless front-end and back-end connectivity.

Companies Using PHP in 2023

1. Facebook

The most well-known social networking website is Facebook, which has more than 1.49 billion active users. Since its creation in 2004, it has been able to generate dynamic material in a matter of seconds thanks mostly to the use of PHP. HipHop for PHP (HPHPc), a transpiler that converts source code into source code of another language, was introduced by Facebook in 2010. This had a snowball effect, and now, PHP is used by many modern software firms. HipHop for PHP was abandoned in favor of the HipHop Virtual Machine (HHVM) in 2013, which offered significantly better performance and simplified the development and deployment procedures.

2. Etsy

With more than 45.7 million active buyers, Etsy has become one of the top 10 most popular retail PHP websites in the US. Etsy is now recognized as one of the biggest PHP-powered e-commerce websites as a result. Etsy is the most competitive company employing PHP in the retail industry with the top users. They actually recorded their HHVM experimentation for enhancing webpage performance. They have developed a static analyzer to detect incompatibilities between PHP7 and PHP5, which is named Phan.

3. WordPress

It is the largest content management system in the world, and it uses PHP to communicate with databases and extract data from them. PHP extracts important data from the database and outputs it as static HTML. As a result, many active users can design or use templates without any prior coding knowledge by dragging and dropping the UI components.

4. Slack

Since its creation in 2009, it has been the standard team communications tool. PHP is a programming language that Slack uses for backend development. Slack is maximizing PHP's advantages with more than 3 million active users and a 4 billion dollar value. They benefit from reduced program flaws, accelerated online request times, and increased workflow effectiveness.

5. Tumblr

The Tumblr community, which is dubbed the "birthplace of memes," has generated more than 555 million monthly visits and 325 million blogs. Since 2016, Tumblr has been using PHP, which has improved performance metrics and included new language features. Return-type declarations, scalar-type hints, etc. are a few important features.

6. Yahoo

Recall using Yahoo Mail, Yahoo News, Yahoo Answers, etc.? It began out only using PHP, but due to its poor performance when compared to Google's search engine, it is currently in a transitional mode. A high-end user interface, user-friendly email templates, user-optimized account security, and policy frameworks are just a few of the many advantages PHP has brought Yahoo.

7. iStockPhoto

iStockPhoto, a global stock content marketplace, uses PHP to support approximately 160,000 foreign contributors. Royalty-free photos, searchable internet databases, and instantly downloaded images are some of its most appealing qualities.

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Drawbacks of Node.js

Limited effectiveness of CPU activities

Node.js' event-driven architecture has some drawbacks, including poor performance when the CPU is used heavily. Node.js is good at handling these multi-table tasks, but it still performs poorly when it comes to producing graphics and analyzing images. Thankfully, Node.js now includes a native Worker Threads module as of version 10.5. This module is highly useful for running JavaScript procedures that require a lot of CPU power. Additionally, a CUDA SDK is available to help you cut down on CPU usage and operating time.

Hosting

The server side can host Node.js continuously without disrupting the connection. You have two options: you may do it on your computer or you can hunt for specialized hosting services like a virtual cloud (VDS / VPS, a server environment with full access). Because not all hosts can afford it, the costs will reflect this.

Code may become complicated

Due to its asynchronous nature, Node.js is heavily dependent on callbacks, as was already established. As a result, when a queued job includes numerous distinct callbacks, the aforementioned "callback hell" frequently occurs. As a result, the code becomes longer, slower, and much more challenging to work with—especially for less experienced developers.

Drawbacks of PHP

Little MVC application

PHP is not suitable enough to implement the MVC design, which divides application data, user interface, and management logic into three parts, and is advised for web development. The business logic is frequently combined with the visuals in HTML and PHP code, which makes it tough to maintain the code. Although you can use a proper framework to handle this issue, the desire to combine HTML and PHP in one file is greater.

Antiquated client-server architecture

PHP uses the traditional client-server architecture, where a page request starts an application, connects to a database, processes it, and renders HTML. Losses in productivity are the result. Because Node.js is faster than PHP,  Node.js real-time applications can be written using Node.js more effectively. It is important to note, however, that Memcached can help PHP overcome this drawback. But bear in mind that your application will now have a new dependency.

Inadequate NoSQL support

Traditional relational databases like MySQL, PostgreSQL, and MariaDB are all compatible with PHP. Although it is technically feasible to use a NoSQL database with PHP, the language isn't optimized for it, so if you need a more adaptable database, you're out of luck. As a result, the system is put under additional stress and processing takes significantly longer.

Conclusion

Node.js is a JavaScript framework that can execute JavaScript code on the server, making it a useful alternative to PHP. Additionally, Node.js performs better than PHP, thus while Node.js is superior, PHP is still an effective choice in some situations. We can infer from the facts above that both tech stacks are crucial in their respective industries. Which one is most appropriate for your project will depend on its use case and requirements.

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