PHP vs Node.js for backend

Stefan Richi Stanislaus Software Engineer
November 6, 2020

Choosing a programming language for a project requires the development team to analyze and review the benefits, pros, and cons of many programming languages.

As new programming languages emerge all the time, developers tend to choose between two popular languages: PHP and Nodejs when it comes to the Backend development of web applications and mobile applications.   

What is PHP?


PHP is a server-side scripting language created by Rasmus Lerdorf in 1994.PHP originally stood for Personal Home Page, but it now stands for the recursive initialism PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor. This language is used mainly for web development and it is processed by an interpreter. PHP is now used in over 80% of all web servers.

What is Node Js?

NodeJs is a javascript runtime environment, which means it executes javascript codes outside the web browser. Javascript used to be a client side scripting language where it used to contribute to the look and feel of a website. By the invention of Node js in 2009 javascript was able to be used outside the web browser to get and send requests to the servers like any other server side programming languages. Nodejs is open source and  powered by Google’s V8 JS engine.image

The Difference between PHP and NodeJs

  • Synchronous Or Asynchronous

Comparatively, PHP is slower than Nodejs because of its Synchronous behavior.

Which means the code lines of PHP will be executed one after another. Therefore, the second line of code should wait until the first line is executed.

Node Js runs the entire code simultaneously and does not wait for a return of a function, which makes the Node Js faster than PHP when executing.

  • Application Domain.

PHP is best for creating CMSs like WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. And also suitable for ECommerce sites and Blog sites.

Nodejs is suitable for real-time applications like video streaming, chat applications, and Single Page Applications.

  • Database

Databases like MySQL, MariaDB, PostgreSQL, etc are mostly known for traditional databases in PHP. Developers use NoSQL too for PHP but the use is limited.

No SQL databases such as MongoDB, CouchDB, Firebase work seamlessly with Node.js.

  • Learning Curve

If we consider the learning curve, PHP is a bit easier than Nodejs. Function declaring, returning arguments, returning values and etc are straightforward, So that the developers can easily grasp the backend techniques.

On the other hand, Nodejs has some quirky features to learn, and to code in Nodejs developers should know the ECMAScript (ES) concepts of javascript since nodejs is coded in ES.

  • Frameworks.

PHP has many famous frameworks to help developers in web development such as Laravel, Codeigniter, CakePHP, Symphony. Nodejs also has its frameworks such as Express and MVC frameworks like Meteor.

The Similarities between PHP and NodeJs

  • Both are Cross-Platform, which means both can run on any platform. Both are available for Windows, macOS, and Unix operating systems.
  • Both are used for back-end development, in other words serving web requests.

Hence, we can utilize both to serve static content, dynamic web pages, and requests for data.

When To Use?

PHP is well suited when,

  • Developing web applications like blogs, cms, or web portals.
  • Using databases like Mysql, MariaDB, Postgresql, or any other relational Databases.
  • Using Stack lick LAMP (Linux, Apache, Mysql, PHP)
  • Building a Landing Page.

NodeJs is well Suited when,

  • Developing a real-time application like a chat application.
  • Using front-end technologies like ReactJS, Angular, and Etc.
  • Using stacks like MEAN or MERN.
  • Using NoSQL databases like MongoDB , Firebase.

In Conclusion, We can clearly see that both technologies have their own advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, the usage of these technologies is going to be depending on the project requirements. 

Our experienced and highly skilled developers put extra effort to build dynamic and robust PHP and Node.js applications that can best fulfill your business needs. If you are seeking flexible and scalable web development services, your search ends here. Stay tuned with us for unique web development solutions.

Stefan Richi Stanislaus Software Engineer

Stefan is an undergraduate in Information Technology from the University of Colombo School of Computing (External) who is currently working as a Back-end Developer at Konekt. Stefan is specialized in Java, JavaScript, PHP, Node JS, React JS, MYSQL and Docker.

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