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PHP or Node.js: The right technology for your project

Raj2791
・4 min read

PHP is a general-purpose scripting language whereas Nodejs is an open-source, cross-platform, back-end, JavaScript runtime environment that executes JavaScript code outside a web browser. To gain in-depth knowledge of their functioning, lets take a look at the article.

PHP is a programming language that interacts with HTML and allows the users to interact with the database. It is a robust tool for developing web applications. PHP was created by Rasmus Lerdorf in 1994. Since then, PHP has only grown, and become better since then. There are a lot of popular companies which use PHP, they include Facebook, Yahoo!, Wikipedia, WordPress, Tumblr, MailChimp, Flickr etc.

Reasons why you should use PHP for your project:

Integrate code and content: Since PHP is embedded in HTML, you do not need separate files to write HTML and PHP code. You can build the logic as well as prepare the content of your web page right in one file.

The world (wide web) is using PHP, what are you using: A large fraction of the websites on the internet are built with PHP as their server-side language. Most of them are built on older versions of PHP but patches are being made worldwide to provide updates.

Save your browser from overloading: PHP does not require any heavy packages to be loaded along with the loading of the web page.
SQL’s best friend: PHP was built to be integrated and work closely with SQL.

Survival of the fittest: Owing to the advancement of other server-side applications, PHP is building itself bigger and better than ever to stay afloat in the competition.

Which projects work best in PHP?

Projects which need to have a continuous inflow of data from the database
Applications which need forms and hence flow of data from the web application to the database. It can modify, create and delete elements while working with SQL.

Data Encryption

PHP can be used for encrypting your data and creating applications which require authentication and based on the result of the authentication, some pages are displayed to the user and some pages are not.

WordPress Development: The plugins and themes available on WordPress have PHP backing them up. In order to create custom themes and plugins, one can utilise PHP effectively. WordPress is growing to provide the users with an option of creating fast search engine optimised websites, and if the developer is well-versed with PHP, it adds glitter to gold and offers the website a more customised experience.

What is NodeJS?

We have always heard that Javascript is a language which runs in the web browser. Earlier, frontend code had to be integrated with languages like PHP for server-side scripting. But with the evolvement of technology, NodeJS emerged and enabled Javascript to be run outside the web browser.

It enables the developer to produce efficient dynamic web page content. NodeJS is a revolution in the ease of utilising one language which is all powerful, JavaScript. Developers now do not have to pick different languages for making a full-fledged application. However, with different requirements come different solutions.

NodeJS is scalable, highly optimised and is capable of asynchronous I/O. Companies which use NodeJS: GoDaddy, IBM, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Netflix, PayPal, Walmart, Yahoo!, Amazon Web Services etc.

Reasons why you should use NodeJS for your projects:

Asynchronous: All aspects of the NodeJS library perform asynchronously which means, that after making one call, there is no delay while waiting for a response, rather the application moves to another call and one event is not affected by the previous calls. The previous calls are handled by the Events Mechanism of NodeJS.

Fast: NodeJS is built on Google Chrome’s V8 JavaScript Engine; hence it offers swift, productive and effective code.
No buffers: NodeJs applications do not buffer rather they output data in chunks.

Non-blocking I/O: This feature of NodeJS prevents applications from crashing.

Sharing is Caring: NodeJS library codes can be shared among the developers and reused.

SEO Friendly: To make one’s site more visible, it is essential that the website is search engine optimised. NodeJS is built to make the website gather more engagement and hence adds to its optimisation.

Which projects best work in NodeJs?

Real-Time Communication Web Applications

NodeJS can be a good option for backend development while building communication/social media applications as comments, likes and other features can be incorporated easily. Popular frameworks such as Express.JS and Feather.JS with Socket.IO integrity is used to build social media applications.

Games: NodeJS along with ExpressJS and Socket.IO can be used to make console-like gaming applications. The game code which requires some calculations is handled on the server-side by NodeJS. ExpressJS assists NodeJS in fulfilling the integrity of front end with backend and Socket.IO helps in communication between the web browser and the server.

IoT Devices: NodeJS’s package manager NPM has multiple packages for IoT support. Since IoT applications work on MQTT protocols, NodeJS is the best choice because it is built for handling MQTT protocols with ease and delivering real-time data which is the base of an IoT application. Since the server-side programming of IoT devices does not need resources of CPU and RAM, NodeJS is definitely a great choice.

Data Streaming Applications: NodeJS can effectively handle real-time data and set up proxy servers with ease which lets data to be streamed from multiple locations and/or in real-time. Use of NodeJS by Netflix can be a very good real-life example that supports this fact.

JSON APIs Based Applications
If you wish to build REST APIs, NodeJS combined with ExpressJS and JSON is a fast, easy and least code solution.

Single Paged Web Applications
NodeJS combined with ReactJS is a really powerful tool for building single-page web applications. The logic of the application is being handled on the client-side and calls to the server are only made when the DOM needs to be changed dynamically.

FOllow Me for more updates .

Discussion (4)

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kalashin1 profile image
Kinanee Samson

PHP is a great language for building fast apps but the thing with PHP is security issues, using PHP directly on your applications opens the door for someone to hack your website and worse there's no built in support for asynchronous programming.

Node.js on the other hand enables you to build out of the box applications, you can throw typescript into the mix and get the static typing for your code which PHP lacks. Nodejs allows you to use driven code which is lacking in php too..

I can go on and on about why you should be learning or using node.js however most of my work is with php?? There are a lot of jobs out there that requires php as a skill and i think that's something to consider.

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joelbonetr profile image
JoelBonetR

I would like to see a detailed explanation about PHP security issues (that are implicitly from the language, not an implementation issue/devs fault) in comparison with other languages. If you do this deep insight you'll find out that everything has a "hack-able degree" and most of time are implementation issues more than language's fault (which all languages face sometimes and thus they add patch versions for it).

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jwhenry3 profile image
Justin Henry

I hate to be the devil's advocate against PHP, but the benefits that php give you have nothing to do with the language or the templatization it was originally intended for. The benefits really come from the server that is compatible with PHP; NGINX/Apache. Outside of the concurrent connection perks of everything running in separate threads, the benefits of PHP start to waver. The C modules and libraries you need to install into the OS make the ecosystem quite rigid. NodeJS benefits from its portability and light-weight nature.

On a side note, PHP does not "interact" with HTML, it simply outputs it into the response as the default form of output. You could output JSON instead and it would be valid, so as the headers were properly set at the top of the file (or in the framework).

The way that PHP outputs HTML could be compared to how NextJS/Gatsby/PUG outputs content.

The interesting conversation is why you pit PHP against NodeJS? NodeJS is the platform in which JS is executed on the server, whereas JS is the language, so it's really a PHP vs JS conversation. Both languages are single-threaded and can be used in a way to give a multi-threaded feel, and the platform in which they stand can become multi-threaded with the right wrappers and/or libraries (or web workers).

The real comparison is how flexible is it, how valuable is it when talking about software engineering in general, what are the benchmarks. Speaking from working in both, I give more value to JS/TS/NodeJS than PHP any day, since work in JS can translate much further than PHP due to its very proprietary syntax and architecture.

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joelbonetr profile image
JoelBonetR • Edited

First of all the comparison is between JavaScript and PHP. Node is just a runtime environment so it cannot be compared to a language (it's said in the post but I need to clarify this many times). We'll understand "Node.js" as JavaScript running on a server over Node from now on the following lines.


Similarities:

Both are scripting languages, both are interpreted (but also both are compiled by the server to gain efficiency), both lack of strong typing, both are single-threaded (you can currently use more than a thread on both with different approaches).


Use case

The main question is that if you need async or not. If you are going to code a whatsapp knock-off you'll definitely need Node. Handling this amount of requests synchronously would be a mess.
On the other hand if you are going to develop a blog, both tech can be equals fine.

TL;DR: if you need Async, use NodeJS, if you don't need Async, both are great unless you need high CPU demanding tasks, in whic case none of those two languages would be the best. You better use (Python, Kotlin, Java, C#, C++, Go, Rust...) for this


Performance

Even the given similarities, these technologies adhere to different concepts in handling requests: PHP has a slower, synchronous code execution procedure, which means that every module or function is processed in the code-specified order. If one query is not executed, the next one will not get executed until the previous one is accomplished.

The process of opening a file in PHP looks like this:

  1. PHP sends a query to the computer's file system.
  2. Waits until the file system opens and reads the requested file.
  3. Returns the content to the client.
  4. Works on the next request/code line.

Owing to the powers of the V8 engine, real-time server interaction, and asynchronous execution (order-independent execution), Node.js can boast superior performance and obviously outperforms PHP.

This is how Node.js concurrently handles a file request:

  1. Node.js sends a query to the computer's file system.
  2. Works on the next request without waiting for the previous one.
  3. When the file system has opened and read the requested file, the server sends the content back to the client.

Conclusion:

Because of a slower loading process rendered by PHP, Node.js is the winner in terms of performance and code execution speed. It eliminates the waiting downtime and provides real-time data in a much more efficient manner, which allows using Node.js for high i/o load projects.