Is PHP better than JavaScript

PHP vs. Node.js - a comparison

When is PHP suitable and when do you choose Node.js?

For a while, Node.js was highly regarded as a newcomer among development platforms. The platform for server-side web applications, which was presented in its first version in May 2009, came in to eliminate problems and deficiencies that PHP brought with it at that time. Especially when it comes to performance, Node.js quickly overtook the top dog PHP.

But Node.js has by no means replaced PHP, because it is still an indispensable part of web development and is even enjoying growing popularity thanks to PHP frameworks such as Laravel. The current PHP version 7.2.4 was only released in March 2018. Node.js also presented a current version with 8.11, but it has generally become quieter around the development platform that was once taken to replace PHP.

We take a look at Node.js and PHP, highlighting advantages and useful use cases.

PHP and Node.js an overview

Even if both platforms, PHP and Node.js, are suitable for applications of any complexity, they basically follow different concepts and use different architectures. When choosing one of the two development platforms for developing a web application, it is crucial to know the respective advantages, but also their limits.

Of course, Node.js and PHP in general are two equally popular web development tools. PHP is a server-side scripting language that has been used on the web since 1994. Rasmus Lerdorf created one of the groundbreaking languages ​​of the Web 1.0 era. Even today, PHP is an indispensable part of the web. Content management systems (CMS) such as WordPress, TYPO3, Drupal or Joomla and the millions of websites operated with these systems cannot do without PHP. In contrast to PHP, Node.js is not a language, but a Runtime Environment (RTE), a runtime environment that uses JavaScript to develop server-side web applications. In addition, it is still a real youngster among the development platforms. It was only published in 2009 and since then has adequately demonstrated the strength of JavaScript for creating event-based, data-driven and I / O (input / output) applications on the web.

A quick comparison between PHP and Node.js

A traditional server application, as it can also be implemented with PHP, starts a separate connection for each call. As a result, large applications that generate a large number of calls establish a large number of connections. If the maximum number of connections between server and client has been reached, every further call is put on hold and is only processed when the server can establish a new connection.

Node.js opposes an event-based, “single threaded” approach. This means that several thousand inquiries can be processed in parallel over one connection. To do this, it is essential that individual requests do not block the connection while you are waiting for a response from the server. This architecture results in much faster communication between client and server.

Some more details about Node.js

Node.js is a software platform for developing server-side network services. Well-known projects that rely on Node.js include the blogging software Ghost, the project management tool Trello and the WebOS operating system, which sees itself as the successor to the legendary PalmOS, once the most popular operating system for handheld computers and organizers. Node.js requires the JavaScript runtime environment V8 for operation, which was specially developed by Google for the popular Chrome browser. This guarantees a very resource-saving architecture that qualifies Node.js especially for the operation of a web server.

Ryan Dahl, the developer of Node.js, released the first stable version on May 27, 2009. He developed Node.js out of dissatisfaction with the possibilities offered by JavaScript at the time. Originally only designed for operation on Linux and MacOS, the newer versions can, however, run on servers with Unix operating systems as well as on Windows servers. The basic functionality of Node.js has been mapped with JavaScript since the first version, which can be expanded by a large number of different modules. The current package management of Node.js knows about 400,000 of these modules.

Advantages of Node.js

One of the outstanding features of Node.js is the JavaScript-based event-driven architecture. In server operation, this has the advantage of using less main memory than other architectures.

Fast server-side solutions

Node.js adopts the JavaScript "event-loop" to create non-blocking I / O applications that conveniently serve simultaneous events. With the standard available asynchronous processing within JavaScript, highly scalable, server-side solutions can be implemented. The efficient use of the CPU and the main memory is maximized and more simultaneous requests can be processed than with conventional multi-thread servers.

One language along the entire stack

Frequently used frameworks such as Ember, React and Angular or, most recently, our preferred Vue.js are written in JavaScript. If Node.js is now used on the server side, you can use all the advantages of a uniform script language throughout the entire application development process. The same language in the back and front end simplifies the maintenance of the application and also the coordination within the development team.


Node.js has very few strict dependencies, rules and guidelines and thus grants a high degree of flexibility in application development. There are no strict conventions, so that the appropriate architecture, design structures, modules and features can be freely selected for the development.

Benefits of PHP

Not only the technology should be decisive when choosing the suitable platform, but also experience and utility. PHP has an extensive ecosystem and an extremely active developer community, whose expertise continues to help improve PHP.

The web socket protocol has enabled NGINX servers to be supported since 2011. Event loops, callbacks and non-blocking inputs and outputs (non-blocking I / Os) are successful attempts to significantly improve the performance of PHP-supported platforms and to equalize the speed advantage of Node.js. Most recently, the more recent versions of PHP have made significant progress with the relevant performance parameters.

Extensive code base

PHP has an extensive code base. This includes widely used content management systems (WordPress, Joomla, Drupal) and web frameworks (Laravel, Symfony) that enable fast and secure application development. In addition, there are numerous open source solutions written in PHP and an extremely strong developer community behind them.


PHP also scores with compatibility. It runs on the most popular web servers (Apache, Nginx) and also on every platform (Linux, Windows). The code only has to be written once and can then be implemented in any environment without any problems. In addition, extensive hosting support is offered for PHP, even in the low-pressure segment, so that the integration and rollout of PHP applications is simplified. In contrast to Node.js, SSH access, a console and a Linux environment are not required.

Made for the web

In contrast to Java and other commonly used programming languages, PHP was specifically designed for server-side web applications. PHP comes with all of the necessary functionalities to manage HTML, server and database (MySQL) by default. With the server-side availability of PHP, there is no need to process JavaScript in the browser, because all pages can easily be generated and rendered on the server.

PHP or Node.js - Considerations When Choosing

Thanks to its asynchronous and event-based architecture, Node.js is particularly suitable for so-called Real Time Applications (RTA) such as messenger applications or applications that are used for live collaboration. Because here many simultaneous requests are processed and data is constantly being sent back and forth between server and client. The “publish-subscribe” architecture of RTAs can also be easily implemented with Node.js using web sockets and server-side events, and the client view updates accordingly quickly. This also makes Node.js a good choice for applications that process IoT (Internet of Things) data or single-page applications (SPA) that offer flexible, dynamic and client-side functionalities.

PHP is always a good choice for websites, blog systems, landing pages or web portals and many individual browser-based web applications. PHP also offers significantly more flexibility in terms of hosting support if the customer only needs one instead of a full virtual instance Can provide shared hosting.

The decisive factor for choosing between PHP and Node.js is, above all, the type of application to be created and what other framework conditions are set for the development.