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Node.js vs PHP: An Honest Comparison (2022) (general)

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7 months ago


IYKYK, and even if you don’t know, Node.js and PHP are two of the significant backend technologies that drive web applications. Although PHP is an older friend, and so it is given that it must have a larger community and major projects in its back pocket.

However, this large PHP community have started noticing some lack of relevant and upgraded projects. 

And unsurprisingly, this is exactly where node.js shines—developing a strong user base for projects that are meant for present-day applications.

In spite of the fact that both the technologies were launched at different times and in different technological environments, there are some noticeable similarities between them.

For example, both are regarded as the most successful and strongest alternatives for backend web applications, and they both have a large and supportive community of developers.

Node.js vs PHP…………….

Doesn't it already seem like a classic movie plot? 

An electrifying battle between two long-term friends who have separated their ways. Most often, these clashes begin when one friend shows interest in stuff that had always been the other friend's unspoken domain.

You can think of it as fast & furious, wink!

Moreover, in our version of the programming language, Node.js swirls the pal flick into a grudge match, i.e., PHP and JavaScript, two buddies who once ruled cyberspace together but now fight out for the mind share of the developers.

In the past, the partnership was straightforward. JavaScript is used to handle minor details in the browser, and PHP is used to manage all the server-side tasks. It was a blissful union that supported a crucial part of the internet.

Then comes the twist in the story, some canny kid discovers that he can run JavaScript on the server. And suddenly, there was no need to make use of PHP to develop the next generation of tech stacks. It was JavaScript everywhere. And it even became the mantra for some.

The boom in node.js is proof that JavaScript is winning. Meanwhile, PHP slipped from third place to fourth overall, ranking-wise, and this was mostly because of heavily marked moments and product rollouts.

Hype can fade, but the software will live on for decades. 40 percent of the page that we view begin with PHP in one or another form. This is because PHP continues to regenerate.

Of course, the ending of the movie hasn't been decided yet.

There are programmers that hoot about the simplicity and youthfulness of Node.js along with the purity of Javascript. 

And there are some who are happy with the deep code base and stability of PHP. 

Will javascript tumble its dear old friend to achieve domination?

Will the elder bud push back the server-side upstart?

The movie has just started; order a big batch of popcorn and sit back. 

Node.js vs PHP

What is Node.js?

Node.js is a Javascript runtime framework. Node.js provides applications with high performance and stability using the V8 JS engine. This framework also offers access to a group of asynchronous I/O that make applications more perceptive.

Node.js simplifies software development for billions of coders because they can develop both the server and client-side of the application by only using the JavaScript language.

What is PHP?

PHP is the massive Node.js alternative and is seen as one of the best backend languages in the world. According to a survey, 79 percent of websites use PHP for backend development, and only 1.4 percent use Node.js, the Javascript runtime environment.

Since PHP is a general-purpose backend technology, it is used for web development. The PHP language has a large number of frameworks like Laravel and Symfony that are open-source and can be used by everyone.

Node.js vs PHP: Detailed Comparison


If the semantics were easy and well engineered, you would be able to perform more with less code.



Apparently, Node.js requires more lines of code to perform the same function as PHP. Fortunately, you don’t have to remember the semantics of different languages while coding because the whole development environment is programmed in JavaScript. 

So, it is true that Node.js requires relatively long lines of code, but it operates successfully with one language.

PHP has been in the market for a while and has prospered remarkably over the years.

It may seem that PHP requires fewer lines of code to perform a function, and thus it is easier.

But, in such a case, you will have to be fluent in how operators and generators perform on Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP itself. This combination is referred to as LAMP.

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In a discreet manner, both languages can be easily understood. It would be easy for a novice developer to get proficient in either of these languages.

Whatever the case, Node.js can be easily executed regardless of its longer codes, all thanks to its setup of just one programming language. 

So, if coding is the problem, then Node.js is the winner.

Server-side Coding

Server-side coding focuses on the productive implementation of functions that would eventually constitute the UI. It is one of the important features as it signifies the user experience, data utilized on the client’s device, and page loading speeds of an app.



The major benefit of this development environment is that you can bring in all the logic of the backend code for the client-side code.

This way, it becomes easy to use the features on both the client-side and server-side. Plus, Node.js transfers all the workload from the client-side server. 

So, Node.js can be an ideal use case for the audience with a smartphone with decent processing power. 

PHP was developed to make dynamic web pages. 

Thus, various features that you might need for the UX elements of the web pages are already in-built.

Above that, PHP is based on HTML code created for each web page.

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Both Node.js and PHP have become valuable due to their use-cases. If you have a project that demands a static website and if your target audience uses low-powered devices, PHP will be just what you need.

But, if your project includes dynamic websites with a dynamic UI, then you should go with Node.js


This feature refers to the execution speed innate in both technologies. High-speed implementation means a swift development process and a cost-effective project.



Node.js is one of the few asynchronous development environments. It is the major differentiator and gives an edge to Node.js over others.

Being asynchronous means it drastically reduces the downtime for the web apps and offers a seamless user experience.

Like the majority of languages and technologies, PHP operates on synchronicity.

It means each and every function and module is implemented in the code-specified order. Also, if one function is not implemented, the subsequent one will not start until the first one is completed.

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All thanks to the asynchronous execution of Node.js, it is no doubt a clear winner here owing to its good speedy performance.


PHP vs Node.js performance is another benchmark of how a code is written in Node.js or PHP and their performance on KPIs like page-loads and seamlessness. Any high-performing technology means good results for your product performance.



The asynchronous feature of Node.js with the JavaScript V8 engine provides Node.js with remarkable performance in addition to quick startup time. 

Node.js has an order-independent model that is also referred to as concurrency. 

PHP was developed in an earlier timeframe, and it is evident in the way it has page-load time efficiency. 

It blocks an entire process till it’s been completely calculated. This also means it has zero scope for concurrency. 

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Both technologies use just-in-time compilation. Moreover, in PHP vs Node.js performance, if high performance is on your priority list, turn all your hands towards Node.js.


It focuses on the minute details of your project as the most commonly used code is provided with functions, libraries, and APIs. The more substantial the framework is, the less redundant code you have to write.



Node.js frameworks like Meteor, Derby, Express, and Sails have seen a huge expansion in their libraries in a relatively short time.

These frameworks can boost productivity by reducing development time. 

Since 1995, PHP has had a very rich library of frameworks, each with its own niche. 

There are development agencies that mainly focus on forms of PHP frameworks like Laravel, CakePHP, Codelgniter, and Phalcon.

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No doubt, the list of PHP frameworks is long, so there are more nuances in choosing a technology that performs better. Besides this, many PHP frameworks have one common problem, that is, mixed content and code.

Node.js was developed at a time when demarcating code between modules became the norm, so consistency is managed across most of its framework by keeping the code organized.

Therefore, Node.js will be a better choice if your next project requires massive use of frameworks.


Another criterion in Node.js vs PHP is the database. It is to examine how technology can connect with the database, along with the type of database. 



Node.js has evolved with the arrival of NoSQL (Not Only SQL).

Node.js works smoothly with NoSQL databases like MongoDB and CouchDB.

PHP is the older technology and is designed to work with relational and conventional databases like MySQL and MariaDB. 

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If you are planning to develop a scalable web application that will eventually pull data from conventional, relational, or NoSQL databases, then in such a case, Node.js is what suits you the best.


The expertise of the community decides what type of update is required in frameworks and libraries under each technology. It is obvious that your programmers' team will not be able to write code for each feature from the very beginning. 

Thus, using tested libraries will reduce the development time and will increase productivity. 



The majority of the Node.js projects are registered on the registry. 

Node.js is new, and so its community is small as compared to PHP.

PHP has been around for a long time, so its community is also very large. 

But the new projects developed by this community are interesting as compared to Node.js.

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The projects in Node.js are fewer in number as compared to PHP, but it's also true that their newer projects are way more relevant. However, given the existing project in PHP and the one coming for Node.js, it’s a complete tie.

Node.js vs PHP: The Verdict

One question that ought to come up after the detailed comparison we have seen between PHP vs Node.js is, which technology is better.

Is Node.js a great alternative to PHP?

The answer is that it all depends on your choice, project, and industry. 

So let’s frame the question correctly. 

When should I use Node.js vs PHP?

Sum Up!

With so many backend technologies, it is difficult to choose the correct one that can complement your project and enrich your tech stack.

There is no standard procedure to check if Node.js is better than PHP or vice versa. However, to evaluate which technology outshines the other, it would be best to first map out the requirements of your project and then select the technology that fits the best. 

If it’s still unclear when to use Node.js vs PHP, reach out to Extern Labs to get an answer to your tech-related query.

Our experts at Extern Labs are pros, and they are always excited to share their experiences with our next client.


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