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PHP vs Node.js Smackdown: Right of Reply

The gloves are off: an arm wrestle of the editors

In SitePoint's recent PHP vs Node.js Smackdown, Craig Buckler pitted these development disciplines against each other over a series of ten challenges, to determine which is the overall winner.

As Craig notes in the article, these comparisons are always somewhat controversial. As a fun followup, we asked Bruno Škvorc (SitePoint's PHP editor) and James Hibbard (one of SitePoint's JavaScript editors) to provide a commentary on each of the rounds.

Here's their blow-by-blow assessment …

Round 1: Getting Started

Round 1's challenge was to see how quickly you can build a “Hello World” web page in each language. This included the time taken to set up a server environment.

In Craig's estimation, PHP won the round, partly because it's "conceptually simpler" and "less daunting to new developers".


PHP wins in "getting started" purely because more hosts have made it so easy to get started. It's a matter of adoption rather than anything else. If more hosts bypassed the need to use the command line with Node and went straight to file uploads and a simple "reload app" button in a control panel, they would be equal. The actual syntax of getting something to display on screen, however, is much simpler in PHP — especially to those new to programming.


When developing locally, I don't see a huge difference between the two. To run a PHP script in your browser, you need to have some kind of server stack installed; to run a Node script, you need to have installed Node, and preferably a web framework such as express. However, as Craig says, PHP is conceptually simpler. Node's barrier to entry is higher. No debate there.

Round 2: Help and Support

Round 2 looked at how easy it is to get help and support with each language. PHP wins this round, mainly because of its longevity.


Bruno kept silent on this one.


I agree with this. Node.js is a younger technology, so currently, there is less help available. This will, however, become less and less of a consideration as Node matures.

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