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Node.js vs PHP: A Side-by-Side Comparison

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Published on May 17

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Node.js and PHP are two fundamental web technologies that are frequently used in web development projects. Both have made contributions to server-side programming, and Node.js may be used for both client-side and server-side development.

PHP has been serving developers for over three decades, and it today runs 78% of the internet. Node.js is a relatively new technology that is rapidly growing in popularity due to its full-stack development capabilities.

There’s only one huge question: Should you use the new, powerful, and fast Node.js or the aged but still trustworthy and productive PHP for your next project?

In this blog, we’ll dig deep into both Node.js and PHP, analyzing all of its features, abilities, and benefits.

Let’s get started!

What Is Node.js?

Surprisingly, numerous web sites refer to Node.js as a framework of the JavaScript programming language (JS), which undoubtedly confuses both current and future users. So, to be clear, Node.js is not a programming language or a JavaScript framework.

Node.js is more akin to a server-side programming environment where you can curl JavaScript. If Node.js is Ironman, then Node is the suit, and JavaScript is the guy inside.

Node.js is a cross-platform, open source, single-threaded runtime environment for developing quick and scalable server-side and networking applications. It uses the Google V8 JavaScript runtime engine and has an event-driven, non-blocking I/O design. As a result, it’s an effective and perfect tool for developing real-time applications.

Node.js is also written in the C and C++ programming languages, in addition to JavaScript. This is because low-level C is one of the most efficient programming languages for creating operating systems, database engines, and all other system-related programs.

C++, on the other hand, has certain characteristics that enable Node.js to interface with the operating system in order to establish an internal connection directly with the server, which is impossible for a client-side programming language like JavaScript.

As a result, it interacts with C++ to control certain computer features, resulting in Node.js, a super-efficient server-side and client-side development environment.


Why Use Node.js?

According to StackOverflow’s 2021 Developer Survey, 36.19 percent of professional developers used Node.js for heavy work in the previous year/2021, and the figure is expected to rise in the next year/2022. This is due to the fact that Node.js provides a wide range of capabilities such as:

  • Community support:  As an open source project, Node.js receives global user support and contributions to improve and grow the platform. As a result, the community is always growing and giving more aid and resources to both beginners and pros.
  • Vast Ecosystem:  There are many open source Node.js packages available to help you with your projects. Notably, the NPM ecosystem provides access to over 1 million open source Node.js packages.
  • Fast and Scalable:  It results in a lot of scalability in applications. Because Node.js is single-threaded, it can manage a large number of concurrent connections with ease. Similarly, non-blocking thread execution speeds up and improves the efficiency of Node.js.
  • Simplicity:  Node.js is a straightforward language to learn. If you’re new to web programming, this is an excellent place to start. With a plethora of tutorials and a large user community, you can get started quickly.
  • IoT Protocol:  Node.js does not need a large amount of server-side memory and resources. As a consequence, software developers may use IoT development to create concurrent relationships across several devices. Furthermore, Node.js supports the Message Queuing Telemetry Transport (MQTT) protocol, which is commonly used by IoT programs. As a result, integrating independent and third-party devices at the backend level becomes easy.
  • Powerful backend connection:  Node.js is written in C and C++, which results in a direct and strong connection to the server.
  • Non-blocking code:  It’s one of the strongest arguments for using node.js as your server. Node.js is essentially event-driven, with callbacks being used extensively. As a result, it allows applications to halt or sleep while other requests are being processed.
    Furthermore, node.js libraries and the core API provide non-blocking calls, allowing developers to create high-performance applications. Furthermore, these applications use I/O delay time to meet additional demands.
  • Full stack JS: Node.js allows you to code in Javascript on both the client and server sides, resulting in a strong frontend and backend development combo. It’s perhaps the most major advantage of node.js. Similarly, it outnumbers the limits of using two resource teams while saving a significant amount of resources for overall project development.


Who Uses Node.js?

Node.js has played an important role for various industry leaders since its release in 2009. Node.js is being used by businesses of all sizes, from startups to Fortune 500 corporations.

Let’s get to know some industry heavyweights who use Node.js:

  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Netflix
  • Spotify
  • eBay
  • PayPal
  • Uber
  • Walmart
  • Trello


Pros and Cons of Node.js

Because of its frontend and backend development skills, as well as its cross-platform capabilities, Node.js is currently one of the most extensively used software development tools.

Pros of Node.js

Let’s go through all of the benefits of utilizing Node.js:

  • Shorten Time-to-Market: Because Node.js is full-stack, lightweight, and speedy, you can reduce overall development time. Aside from that, your team has access to a plethora of Node.js libraries, ready-to-use applications, and assets via GitHub. It will cut down on development time and effort significantly. As a result, your time to market is more likely to be reduced.
  • Cross platform functionality: Developers may use NW.js and Electron together to develop real-time cross-platform apps without having to write separate code for each platform. As a result, you shouldn’t be concerned if your development team lacks a thorough grasp of Objective-C and C#; Node.js can build native apps without them. In addition, Google products may be a great help to developers when it comes to coding and debugging.
  • JSON support: Backend technologies such as PHP and Ruby on Rails communicate in JSON format; Node.js achieves the same without converting between binary models and instead utilizes JavaScript. As a result, developing RESTful APIs for NoSQL databases such as MongoDB becomes trivial. Additionally, the javaScript environment facilitates data transmission connection with data transfer standards, enhancing efficiency.
  • Scalability: Node.js cluster modules distribute load over several CPU cores, making it easier to accomplish desired outcomes with fewer modules without running out of RAM. Furthermore, Node.js has a non-blocking event-loop design, which allows for good scalability and allows the server to execute requests in real time. Furthermore, Node.js allocates apps to numerous teams and allows you to design and delegate tasks at the same time. As a consequence, you get a high-performance framework while requiring fewer resources.
  • Google support: Node.js is a frontend and backend programming tool built on Google’s V8 JavaScript engine. Furthermore, the Google V8 engine enables Node.js to run many JavaScript scripts in the frontend at the same time. As a result, Node.js makes it straightforward to discover issues in both the front end and the backend.


Node.js is listed by Google as one of the fastest runtime system engines. Furthermore, Google Cloud provides JavaScript developers with tools for developing cloud-native apps. SDKs, in-IDE assistance, and native runtime support for Cloud Run, Cloud Functions, and GKE may help you create apps quicker. Furthermore, Google Cloud can run your application from beginning to end.

Cons of Node.js

Let’s go over all of the cons of utilizing Node.js:

  • Callback hell:  Because of its asynchronous nature, JavaScript mainly relies on callbacks. As a result, a function is allocated to do the jobs sequentially from a large queue. Each background queued job with separate callbacks generates a large callback known as “callback hell.” It immediately decreases the code’s quality, and because one callback is nested within another, callbacks at several layers create a difficult-to-code condition.
  • Unable to process heavy computation: Node.js does not currently allow multi-threaded programming. Nonetheless, it can handle far more complex applications than Ruby, while it is not designed to conduct long-running calculations. Similarly, multi-threaded computations might reduce performance. As a result, Node.js is best suited for single-threaded sophisticated systems; otherwise, it wastes processing power and time.
  • Unstable API: The Node.js Application Programming Interface (API) is constantly changing and evolving. Furthermore, with each new API release, various backward-incompatible changes compel developers to modify their access code on a frequent basis to accommodate the newest version of the Node.js API.
A screenshot of an example of a Node.js callback in source code.

-Node.js callback hell. (Image source: Altexsoft)

What Is PHP? 

PHP is an short form for Hypertext Preprocessor, which was originally an abbreviation for Personal Home Pages. PHP is a server-side scripting language that is object-oriented and open source. It is mostly used for web development.

PHP is mostly used to build web servers. Nonetheless, it may be performed both in the browser and via the command line. If you do not want your code output to be displayed in the browser, you may do so in the terminal.

PHP employs the Zend Engine, which is the most extensively used implementation in daily use. However, Facebook created many PHP implementations, including parrot, HipHop Virtual Machine (HPVM), and JPHP.


A PHP workflow showing a web browser connecting to web servers.

-PHP architecture (image source: PHPTutorial)

PHP 7.6 or 8.0 should be used if you want dramatically enhanced performance, speed, and security. 

Why Use PHP?

According to the 2021 Developer Survey from StackOverflow, more over 22% of professional developers utilized PHP for heavy programming last year. Many online gurus expected that PHP would die out, yet it has weathered the test of time. A sizable number of users continue to rely on PHP and its good features, which include:

  • Web compatibility: Most online technologies, from cloud services to seamless HTML integration, are compatible with PHP. Similarly, PHP is installed by default on all hosting providers. PHP’s adaptability and flexibility are comparable to other programming languages and may be used in a variety of application development stacks.
  • Server-side scripting language: PHP is now the most used server-side programming language. Scripts are interpreted on the server rather than the client (like JavaScript). Furthermore, it personalizes the interface for each user and expands the possibilities beyond HTML. It can also create PDF, GIF, JPEG, and PNG files in addition to HTML.
  • Cross-platform: PHP is compatible with the majority of major operating systems, including Linux, Windows, and macOS. Similarly, PHP works with all major web servers, including Nginx, OpenBSD, and Apache. PHP is also supported by various cloud systems, including Microsoft Azure and Amazon AWS.
  • Connects all databases: PHP is a flexible programming language. Almost all databases, including MySQL, PostgreSQL, MS SQL, db2, Oracle Database, and MongoDB, are supported by PHP. As a result, developers have more leeway in determining the best-suited databases for the application under development.
  • HTML-friendly: Anyone who is familiar with HTML may readily transition to PHP. PHP and HTML are interchangeable within a page. PHP may be inserted either within or outside of HTML. While PHP provides functionality to your site, the primary design is still HTML.

Who Uses PHP?

PHP essentially owns the internet. PHP powers more than 78 percent of websites, thus its popularity in the development industry is undeniable. Similarly, it remains a critical technology for some of the world’s top technological businesses.

Let’s have a look at some of the biggest PHP users:

  1. Facebook
  2. WordPress
  3. Wikipedia
  4. Tumblr
  5. Slack
  6. Etsy
  7. Mailchimp
  8. DailyMotion
  9. Flickr
  10. Spotify

Pros and Cons of PHP

Pros of PHP


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