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Discussion on: Node vs PHP

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Haikel Fazzani

Node.js is a JavaScript runtime and PHP is language !! PHP vs Javascript or you can compare Nodejs vs Zend Engine. be productive and avoid comparing languages .. all languages are good ...

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Aleksey Razbakov Author

My question is not about language, but about Server-Side Environment. How would you let your server handle request?

P.S. Should I put PHP-FPM in original question instead? :D

andreidascalu profile image
Andrei Dascalu • Edited on

You should really make your question clear as to the scope of the expected answer.

You can mention fpm, sure, but fpm is simply the interpreting engine.

As to how to let the server handle requests, it's more about what features you want and whether you have external constraints from other systems in your stack.

Theoretically both node and fpm benefit from a reverse proxy or lb in front of them. The downside of fpm is that it needs a compatible web server as opposed to node.

Fpm only interprets php code, so the proxy in front needs to route those requests for php files and be able to serve non+php directly, unless you want to write a generic we server in PHP (not efficient). Therefore php works with nginx or lighttpd unless you go modphp and use apache with the embedded module (where prefork raises questions on performance VS the multithreaded nature of nginx)

Node has no such constraints. It can work with plain proxies like haproxy or even serve requests straight up (but you would need to pay attention to stuff like security).

In a containerized environment, php shows some limitations in that nginx +fpm is a bit of a pain to setup efficiently (think kubernetes) and you end up using roughly 3 lb's in front of fpm, nevermind the inherent networking overhead (usually I go with apache there)

Node is easier from this perspective, but switching ecosystems coming from php is not that easy.

Myself I ended up going with Roadrunner for php, as it is wrapped in a very efficient golang server + enforces psr compliant requestd/responses

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razbakov profile image
Aleksey Razbakov Author

If you would start a new project, what would you make as your backend? Node or PHP? Express or Laravel? Let's say you write a REST API, what stack would you use and why?

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Andrei Dascalu

I would make my decision based on the goal. For example I have projects that leave a lot of room for learning. I would go with express in this case just to improve my knowledge, but I would also use it in cases where node packages may be superior to php (in case of grpc for example)

Otherwise I would use php but I would not use any of the major frameworks (I have a performance comparison of returning 100k json encoded rows from two related tables, Laravel is the worst performer of all).
I would favor a microservices framework like Swoole if I weren't inclined to make a monolithic API. Otherwise I would use a microframework like Symlex but nowadays I sort of favor a custom solution built around a fast router (there's nikic but also the phpleague router). For an API there aren't many requirements: fast router with Middleware support, DI container (phpdi is excellent) and maybe doctrine for a strong orm with several layers of caching. Of course, logging and some metrics/observability would be nice.
I have a sort of personal 'framework' that rivals symfony 5 in performance but it still lags behind the likes of ubiquity 2 and symlex.
But my main requirement from a php stack would be to handle routing for psr requests and responses and neither symfony nor laravel do that.
This comes from the fact that nowadays I consider it mandatory for a php api to be deployable with roadrunner (symlex is built for roadrunner compatibility), in this case php blows node/express out of the water and can close in on rust performance for example.

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Michael J. Ryan

I wouldn't use either for grpc... If you're interested in container orchestration like kubernetes, I might use node for it. You can't use grpc+cluster modules together iirc.