First of all, let's define what this article is about and for whom it is intended. Obviously, if you are already an experienced web developer, then it can be useful to you unless someone asks you for advice, and you just send him the link, instead of wasting time on long explanations. It's another matter if you, as a programmer, are only at the beginning of your professional way and are just pondering which specialization you should choose. Then you will find here a short and well-packed comparison of two popular and promising programming languages that are equally used in mobile app development.
But primarily, this article is addressed to managers and business owners who are solving the strategic task of the right choice of tech partner to launch a new project.
So similar and so different
The history of the development of Node.js and PHP surprisingly reminds the reflection of the same entity in a mirror.
PHP originated as a back-end language for working with the server-side of web projects. However, it turned out that the scope of its application can be expanded almost indefinitely with the help of additional tools. The most famous web framework that allowed PHP to move from back-end to front-end is WordPress. PHP is so popular among web developers today that 80% of all websites that constitute the entire World Wide Web use PHP to support their back-end. At the same time, the web interface of 40% of the world's web resources uses WordPress.
Today, almost all leading companies, such as Qarea involved in Node.js development, detailed here: https://qarea.com/hire-developers/nodejs and actively use this solution as an independent platform for creating websites, web applications, and mobile app development.
Given the limited space of this article, we will not delve into the statistical differences in the use of these two languages. Let's just note that even though Node.js accounts for only about 2% of the world's Internet resources today, the prospects of this solution have already been assessed by such recognized trend-makers as Netflix or LinkedIn.
Pros and Cons
- The widest prevalence of PHP. This means that you can always find highly qualified specialists working with this scripting language. In the United States, the average annual salary for such a programmer is about $80,000, but the European and East Asian markets offer much more moderate prices.
- PHP is one of the most stable solutions in its field. A colossal community of experts, an incredible amount of specialized literature, and constantly emerging plugins and applets that expand the already vast capabilities of both PHP itself and web frameworks based on it — all this has led PHP into the undoubted leader.
- Versatility and ease of installation. The widespread use of PHP has led to the fact that today there is practically no server platform that would not be able to work with this programming language and solutions based on it. PHP works with the vast majority of known databases. And popular frameworks allow you to quickly and almost free of charge deploy sites on any hosting.
- PHP architecture implies the sequential execution of the tasks listed in the code. This means that until one request-response-execute-acknowledge cycle completes, a PHP-based program or script will not move on to the next line of command.
- Connecting NoSQL databases to PHP-based projects may turn out pretty complicated. This is not to say that PHP does not know how to work with such databases as CouchDB or MongoDB at all, but their conjunction will require additional resources.
- Node.js's multitasking expands its usability. If you are going to develop a web application designed to quickly perform multiple parallel tasks, Node.js is the best solution.
- Node.js architecture is not the best solution for working with multimedia. However, the fact that Netflix is using this solution indicates that the problem is not insurmountable. It just requires a more complex approach.
- The relatively low prevalence of Node.js means that today significantly fewer servers support products based on it.
So what should you choose?
The final answer depends on what tasks your product has to perform. If your work is not related to NoSQL databases or high-speed multitasking, PHP remains the best choice today.