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Comparison of Node.JS vs. PHP: Performance, Benefits, and Everything in Between

Comparison of Node.JS vs. PHP: Performance, Benefits, and Everything in Between | SolidBrain

Our life is full of controversies, ranging from the challenging choice of a movie for a cozy evening to critical life-changing decisions. Although the world of technologies differs from real life, it is also associated with multiple options, especially when it comes to choosing the proper tech stack for your next market-leading solution. Luckily, we are going to resolve one of these controversies related to Node.js vs PHP performance. Today we will consider the specificities of these technologies in order to help you choose between Node.js or PHP so that your business does not suffer from the final result. Node.js vs. PHP? Let's delve into this eternal controversy together. 







PHP vs. Node.js: A Basic Overview 


Needless to say that every successful investigation always starts by exploring the origins. For this reason, the first step of our  Node.js vs. PHP research path is associated with identifying the core definitions of PHP, Node.js, and allied topics. 

The World before JavaScript


A few decades ago, websites were created with the use of HTML and CSS. Even though JavaScript existed, it was not popular among programmers. In fact, JavaScript was introduced to bring web pages to life by creating animations and adding various interactive elements. Then, few developers used it because the language was controversial: from browser to browser, the same language constructs worked differently or did not work at all. Moreover, Flash was considered a more convenient technology for creating animations. It is clear that the old programming methodology significantly differs from the modern approaches most of us are used to working with. No JavaScript, just HTML, CSS, and PHP. Sounds boring, right?


Yet, everything has dramatically changed thanks to Google and Ryan Dahl. First, Google killed Flash. Yes, they did it only in 2021, but the process was already started in 2017, and all web developers understood that it was time to switch to JavaScript. Second, Google played a crucial role in introducing the Chromium browser, based on which, later, more than 70% of all modern browsers will work. Think at least of Yandex Browser, Google Chrome, Edge, or Opera. Since all browsers run on a single-core, problems with the JavaScript language began to disappear while more and more features were added. Finally, Node.js was born — Ryan Dahl created Node.js based on Google's V8 JavaScript engine.


Node.js in Simple Terms


Merely stated, Node.js is a server-side implementation of the JavaScript programming language, but it should not be confused with Java. Even though Node.js is similar to JavaScript, it can still be used outside the browser. According to the Node.js manual, it is “an open-source and cross-platform JavaScript runtime environment” suitable for developing almost any kind of project.


In general, Node.js helps developers with the following tasks:


  1. Developing dynamic page content.

  2. Handling files on a server by creating, revising, reading, writing, deleting, or closing them. 

  3. Accumulating form data.

  4. Editing information in a database.


PHP: The Story Behind


Typically, the older the technology is, the less convenient it is for developers. Old technologies tend to die because of irrelevance or loss of popularity, and all these tendencies lead to a rise in the cost of programmers. Over time, more convenient tools appear for solving specific problems, which are often cheaper than the previous ones. Therefore, in the 2000s, PHP displaced Perl from the pedestal of the best programming language for creating websites. 


The language was introduced in 1994 for the sole purpose of creating websites, and in 2022 its primary goal has not changed. Unlike Node.js, which was created for multiple purposes, PHP aims at developing websites and web applications. Even the PHP language abbreviation, which stands for Personal Home Page, tells us a lot.


PHP in Simple Terms


As reported by the PHP manual, “PHP is a widely-used open source general-purpose scripting language that is especially suited for web development and can be embedded into HTML.” This open-source programming language was developed by enthusiastic programmers from all over the world. It has a simple syntax, partly similar to Java and C++. According to statistics, 77.5% of all websites were created with PHP.


In general, PHP helps developers with the following tasks:


  1. Developing dynamic page content.

  2. Handling files on a server by creating, revising, reading, writing, deleting, or closing them. 

  3. Accumulating form/act data.

  4. Transmitting cookies.

  5. Editing information in a database.

  6. Managing user access.

  7. Encrypting data. 







Pros and Cons: Node.js vs. PHP


When it comes to the choice between Node.js or PHP, it is essential to consider the key benefits and drawbacks of these technologies. Nevertheless, it will take the whole article to mention all the advantages of Node.js vs. PHP, so let's concentrate on its core features instead. 

The Benefits of Node.js

1. Dwell into the Nature of Node.js Fast 

If you worked with JavaScript, learning Node.js would not become a matter. As we have already sorted out, these technologies are similar. Thus, by using Node.js as the back-end foundation of your solution, you automatically obtain all the advantages of full-featured JavaScript development, including cross-platform nature, free & powerful tools, and fast performance. 


2. A Perfect Choice in Terms of Microservice Architecture

Node.js may be described as a lightweight and straightforward programming environment, which also means that it can become an excellent solution for the so-called microservice architecture. In a nutshell, microservice architecture turns a single application into a collection of small services, each running its own operations and interacting with specific mechanisms such as the HTTP Resource APIs.


3. Reduced Efforts due to NPM

Another crucial advantage of Node.js is NPM, which stands for Node Package Manager. It is like an App Store but in the world of programming. Thanks to the App Store, you can easily download an app published and designed by any iOS developer from anywhere in the whole world. The same with NPM: it enables programmers to get any package created and published by any Node.js developer. As a result, developers can insert these packages into their own projects. 


The Drawbacks of Node.js

1. Unstable API

In fact, unstable APIs pose a wide range of disadvantages related to the development process. For instance, APIs are constantly changing, so they can come up with a number of incompatible transformations. Consequently, developers are forced to add modifications to the available codebases to guarantee compatibility with the latest version of the Node.js API.


2. Poor Library Support System

Compared to most programming languages, JavaScript does not provide a vast and robust library system. In most cases, developers are forced to implement the shared library support, which makes it challenging for them to manage even common programming tasks, such as image processing or object-relational mapping. 


3. Better Avoid Complex Web Apps

Last but not least, Node.js is not suitable for designing large web applications or handling complex programming tasks because it does not support multi-treated programming, which is associated with improved server responsiveness and throughput. 






The Benefits of PHP

1. Easy Code Maintenance

While it is pretty easy to develop web apps with PHP (at least most developers think so), another significant advantage of PHP is that code is maintained automatically. Moreover, thanks to MVC architecture, files are split for each module separately. 


2. Cross-Platform Nature

With PHP, various operating systems are not a limitation but rather another promising opportunity. That is because PHP is compatible with all platforms (from Windows, Unix, and Linux to macOS), most servers (Apache, Microsoft IIS, Netscape, iPlanet, Caudium, Xitami, and Tornado), and a wide array of databases (MySQL, MongoDB, PostgreSQL, etc.)


3. Flexibility in Each Step

It is not a secret that flexibility is pivotal to a programming language because functionality can be modified anytime during the course of development. In this regard, PHP has undoubtedly succeeded as it allows making changes to the existing code whenever it is needed. 


The Drawbacks of PHP

1. Open-Source Programming Language 

Returning to the basics, open-source code is usually free to edit. In particular, there are no guarantees that other people will not misuse your ASCII text file for their own (not always good) purposes. All in all, it poses a noteworthy security danger for your PHP-based solution. 


2. Weak Frameworks

While most frameworks enable the greater performance of your web development solution, PHP frameworks are associated with poor behavior compared to other scripting languages. As a result, the functionality and overall performance of your PHP-powered app may suffer. 


3. It Is not Highly Modular

To put it simply, it is challenging to utilize PHP for the development of large apps. It can be extremely problematic to maintain complex projects with this programming language. In addition to this, PHP cannot support a vast bunch of apps.







Node.js vs. PHP Performance from the Perspectives of (A)Synchronicity, Modules, Code, and Hosting


As we have already clarified the fundamental advantages & disadvantages of Node.js and PHP, it is time to introduce a brief comparison of PHP vs. Node.js performance. 






Synchronous programming process (time-consuming development)

Asynchronous programming process (fast development)


PEAR (reusable components), Composer (dependency management), third-party modules(should be installed additionally)

Bundled NPM (easier development process) 





Compatible with most hosting providers

Requires a virtual server






Summing Up: Which Is Better, Node.js vs. PHP?


After all is said and done, it is time to make a choice — Node.js vs. PHP. On the one hand, PHP is a powerful programming language with a long-term history behind its title. It provides a vast suite of opportunities in terms of development, especially when it comes to hosting or compatibility. On the other hand, Node.js is a robust runtime environment of a new generation. It is associated with fast performance and easy-to-learn techniques. After all, PHP vs. Node.js?


Unfortunately, there is no specific method to identify whether you should choose Node.js or PHP. Yet, please do not jump to conclusions because we do have a valuable piece of advice to help you. Instead of estimating which technology outshines the other, just try to map out the basic requirements of your solution so that it would be easier to choose the technology that fits these unique needs. Hopefully, we have managed to provide you with all the necessary knowledge about Node vs. PHP performance, features, and allied characteristics, so you can easily decide what you need.


Do you still have any questions about PHP vs. Node.js, or the differences between other innovative technologies? At SolidBrain, our talented tech experts have answers to all your requests. Just submit the contact form below and stay tuned for our awe-inspiring tech insights.




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