Node.js vs PHP: Which one you should choose for a better career?

For years, web developers have used PHP as their server-side language of choice to build applications and websites. It has a huge support system, deep code base, and could be used in conjunction with other languages like Javascript to create fast, stunning applications. However, within a short space of time, Javascript has evolved from being a language used specifically for effects and validation to becoming a serious contender for PHP’s top spot as a back-end language. So, which one is a better bet for your career? Node.js vs PHP, let’s take a look.

Node.js vs PHP

So, how does this affect the current batch of developers and would-be professionals? Do you choose the language that powers WordPress, Facebook, and Drupal or do you shift to the new trend? Which one offers you a better chance at a successful career? To answer these questions, let’s start by understanding how PHP and Node.js (Javascript’s run-time environment) stack up against each other.

But first, a small introduction of Node.js –

Scaling and load on the server

Preferred language: Node.js

Node.js is built on asynchronous and event-driven structure. As a result, there can be more concurrent connections to front-end with Node.js than with PHP. In effect, it has much better scaling than PHP and the fact that its real-time connections don’t add further load to the server makes it a great server-side language.

Existing repository of frameworks

Preferred language: PHP

Being the older of the two, PHP has a wide variety of development frameworks available. These frameworks use the MVC (model, view, and compiler) pattern and each is preferred to varying degree and use. Some of the popular examples are Laravel, Symfony, Zend, Yii, etc.

While Node.js too has many such frameworks (Express, Hapi, Sails.js, etc.), it lacks the maturity that PHP frameworks have, due to age and community support.

Community

Preferred language: PHP

Whether it’s WordPress or core PHP, there’s no dearth of developer support for this language. The community has thousands of developers working voluntarily to provide updates and support for any and every programming dead-end you might face. Alternatively, Node.js is yet to find the same kind of support and it’s likely to take years before it reaches the similar community size and support that PHP developers enjoy.

Starting up

Preferred language: PHP

PHP developers enjoy a lesser number of hassles when it comes to writing code. Most accomplished developers only need an editor to start writing, with no need for compilers, JAR files, or deployment. The files can be saved after each change and tested in the browser in almost real-time basis. The ease of starting up, however, is much complex for Node.js when compared to PHP.

Loading time

Preferred language: PHP

In spite of having a shorter syntax, Node.js is currently being outrun by PHP 7. The language executes rapidly and seamlessly whether it’s running multi-thread arrays or numerous simple commands. However, those using older versions of PHP, like PHP 5 and below, will find Node.js to be faster.

Syntax

Preferred language: Node.js

Even though it might take a bit of a time to start coding while working with Node.js, it does provide a shorter syntax which helps developers code faster and with lesser issues. Apart from that, developers can use a variety of linting tools to make sure they don’t commit syntactical errors.

Modern features

Preferred language: Node.js

Node.js is the currently trending server-scripting language of choice. It can add a plethora of modern features to any website or application, which PHP is still trying to catch up to. Alternatively, if you’re using WordPress, the plugins do not always have the latest features and can misbehave with your site. As a result, you might need to invest in a serious amount of coding time to bring them up to date with the current PHP coding conventions.

Node.js Jobs vs PHP Jobs

node.js vs php jobs

PHP has been the traditional server-side scripting language of choice for quite some time now. As a result, the vast majority of the websites and web-based applications currently online run on PHP. One of the core reasons for its widespread use and popularity is the ease of use and familiarity offered by WordPress. The CMS (content management system) makes it extremely easy to start up a website at almost no cost.

Consequently, enterprises and small businesses alike use PHP in some form or other. One of the glaring examples is Facebook, which uses a static form of PHP for its website. Since the number of companies and businesses using PHP, are still quite a lot, and PHP Jobs are quite widespread.

In comparison, Node.js offers a window into the future. It’s being regularly updated and more and more websites and enterprises are taking to it. It’s the new cool kid on the block and while Node.js jobs aren’t as commonplace as PHP jobs, they are growing at a fast pace.

Check out all the Node.js Jobs at CutShort here: Node.js Jobs

Check out all the PHP jobs at CutShort here: PHP Jobs

How to learn PHP and Node.js?

There are quite a few ways you can learn PHP or Node.js. You can start by taking classes at your local university or sign up for some online paid courses. Alternatively, you can also learn at your own pace, using free online courses on PHP and Node.js.

While there are some courses on YouTube which are somewhat unstructured, other sites like Coursera, Edx, and Udacity have structured and well-managed courses.

Here’s an example of a PHP beginner’s course on YouTube –

Here’s a course from the University of Michigan on Coursera that teaches Building Web Applications in PHP. It’ll help you gain an understanding of using XAMP stack, coding in PHP, and even provide an introduction to PHP.

If you want to learn Node.js, you can head on to University of Michigan’s JavaScript, jQuery, and JSON. This will help you learn JavaScript and work by using jQuery and JSON. After that, go through Hong Kong University of Science and Technology’s Server-side Development with NodeJS, Express, and MongoDB which will finally familiarize you with the framework needed to work in Node.js.

For getting started with Node.js refer to this video:

Conclusion

PHP and Node.js both have their pros and cons. While one represents the trustworthy old guard, the other represents a fresh upstart with much promise. Going by the current use of technology, PHP still remains the base focus. As such, it’s best if you start your career with PHP as the core skill set and then slowly branch out to Node.js. It’s enough to know JavaScript if you want to deal with Node.js. Since most web developers use both PHP and JavaScript, the transition to a brighter future can be seamless.

 

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