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PHP vs. JavaScript: A Thorough Comparison

Comparing PHP vs JavaScript

In the PHP vs. JavaScript discussion, it is important to start by identifying that JavaScript is mostly a frontend language, while PHP is strictly backend.

It is not fair to compare one language for backend with another for frontend development. However, ever since the release of Node.js, JavaScript became capable of serving both client-side and server-side purposes. Therefore, it becomes possible to draw some conclusions for people considering which language to learn.


PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor

Now, PHP vs. JavaScript discussion introduces PHP which is dominating the server-side development. Both PHP and JavaScript are scripting languages, meaning that they provide a script containing instructions to be interpreted at runtime. For instance, PHP is a fully backend language, meaning that its scripts will be interpreted on the server. On the other hand, JavaScript scripts can be interpreted both on the browser and on the server.

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What is PHP used for? Web development with PHP includes such actions as managing cookies, collecting information from webpages, and turning static websites dynamic. Sounds similar to JavaScript? Because it is.

Logo of PHP vs Javascript

Creating PHP dynamic websites is one of the uses of this scripting language. Sometimes it might be enough to combine HTML and CSS for creating static websites that rarely change. However, PHP can give that extra dynamic effect. However, the dynamic elements can be achieved by JavaScript’s Node.js as well. Therefore, it becomes a dilemma: which scripting language is more suitable?

Another important aspect of what is PHP used for is creating PHP dynamic websites with the MySQL system. PHP works with a number of databases, but the most popular is MySQL. How does this work? Well, you can use PHP to connect to a database and present content on HTML pages.

Usually, there are two steps of learning PHP:

  • Learning the programming concepts of the language, syntax and other features.
  • Learning to work with a framework that will greatly increase your chances of building successful projects. For instance, the Laravel framework is one of the best and most popular frameworks for PHP web development.


PHP vs Javascript logo

JavaScript is a scripting language, highly involved in web development and turning static websites dynamic. You can add JavaScript code directly into your HTML document within the <script> tags. Another option is creating a separate .js file and referencing this external file in your HTML document.

What is JavaScript used for? JavaScript web development capabilities let websites perform actions such as updating certain parts of a page without reloading the whole website, showing pop-up messages or introducing animations in 2D or 3D graphics. Overall, the main influence is on client-side development, but JavaScript is now capable of performing actions on the server-side as well.

Node.js is an environment for running JavaScript code on the server. It is the main contender when it comes to discussing PHP vs. JavaScript. Then, browsers download results and present them in web applications. JavaScript web development on the server-side (Node.js) includes Google 8V JavaScript engine, a single-threaded non-blocking event loop, and a low-level I/O API.

Because of the event loop, the Node.js provides more efficient management of requests. For instance, while the file system reads a file, the Node.js works on other requests. After the system reads a file, it sends it to the browser. In other words, while Node.js waits for one job to finish, it jumps to another one.

Web Development: PHP vs. JavaScript

Comparing the PHP vs. JavaScript uses can be grounded on the basis of backend or frontend web development. In the frontend perspective, JavaScript executes on the browser right after HTML and CSS appear on a website.

This tactic makes sure that the main structure and appearance are ready before JavaScript script runs. Additionally, JavaScript assures that the client-side presents new content inside the browser (making the website dynamic in the frontend sense). PHP is not an option for frontend development. Therefore, that leaves you with JavaScript.


The biggest difference between JavaScript and PHP is the fact that PHP is strictly a server-side language, while JavaScript can be used for full-scale development. However, let’s take a look at some other differences when it comes to JavaScript vs. PHP:

  • One advantage of using PHP instead of JavaScript is that PHP can communicate with databases such as Oracle or MySQL.
  • While both JavaScript and PHP are interpreted scripting languages, the way of interpretation differs. All popular browsers have built-in JavaScript interpreters. On the other hand, PHP needs to be installed (the installation is simple) when used on the server-side.
  • Even though you have experience in using JavaScript for frontend, it does not mean that you will be immediately ready to use Node.js. You need to learn about callback functions, blocking, and setting up the Node.js to work.
  • Developers indicate that using PHP is easier than Node.js. One of the examples is that Node.js usually requires more lines of code.
  • Another difference in PHP vs. JavaScript is that PHP performs statements synchronously, meaning that it waits until one statement ends to begin another. JavaScript does the opposite: it multitasks.

Comparing syntax rules and popularity: JavaScript versus PHP

Is PHP easier than JavaScript? This aspect depends on your level of programming and several arguments:

  • You might want to use JavaScript for developing frontend and backend with the same language.
  • If you have studied Java in the past, mastering PHP will be easier.
  • Nevertheless, specialists label PHP as more mature, meaning that there are more resources to help you learn (examples of code, advises on solving bugs and other glitches).
  • PHP is a powerful language and its programming concepts are easy to grasp for beginners.
  • Node.js is not extremely difficult for beginners, but it definitely has more unique features that beginners will need to adjust. After all, JavaScript as a language is more complicated than PHP. Therefore, learning Node.js also becomes more difficult.

man resting

  • Frameworks of PHP such as Laravel are still widely used in web development despite the fact that Node.js has become more popular over the years. PHP remains the main language for backend web development.
  • Salaries of PHP developers are one of the lowest in the programming world. Why? Because there are many PHP programmers in the business. Therefore, the hunt for the job might become more heated.
  • There are many online services to use instead of turning to PHP developers. If you want to start a blog, you will simply create a WordPress account instead of seeking help from developers. However, PHP really shines when it comes to building original projects that cannot be created from a template.
  • Node.js is not capable of managing CPU-intensive apps due to the fact that it is event-based and single-threaded.

Comparing the performance of Node.js and PHP

Before the release of PHP 7, it might have been easy to say that Node.js wins the performance question in the discussion of PHP vs. JavaScript. However, PHP 7 is created on the PHPNG engine which leads to 2x faster performance and 50% better memory consumption (when compared to PHP 5.6).

Node.js is still faster than PHP when there is no need to process data in real-time. Therefore, when you need to create chats, games, videos or big data streams, you might want to choose PHP.

jQuery vs. PHP

jQuery vs. PHP is an interesting question because jQuery is not even a separate programming language. It is a library (or an application programming interface) filled with additional functions for JavaScript.


Using jQuery saves time for JavaScript developers as they do not have to write code themselves. Additionally, raw JavaScript is heavier than jQuery. Remember that the jQuery library provides code for frontend development only.

Therefore, jQuery and PHP have very little in common. For instance, if you are a PHP programmer, you won’t consider using jQuery (since this library does not offer PHP code).

Angular.js vs. PHP

First of all, Angular.js is another framework of JavaScript. Therefore, PHP is a programming language, while Angular.js is merely a library for making the development of single-page applications easier.

The single-page application refers to an application that dynamically updates pages without reloading the entire new pages from a server. For instance, dynamic websites do not reload when you click on buttons like categories or other additional information.

PHP and JavaScript together

It might seem unfair to state that PHP is better than JavaScript, or that you should definitely learn JavaScript before PHP. In fact, the best option is to master them both instead of finding the winner in PHP vs. JavaScript battle.

PHP and JavaScript together refer to the idea that you use Node.js as a complement to the PHP. For instance, PHP can create complex logic, dealing with databases or other high-load tasks. On the same project, you might Node.js for managing big data flows and creating a better user interface.

You can use a combination of languages for your project to make it dynamic. It is a common practice to use AJAX to update certain parts of pages according to the users’ input without reloading them fully.

Let’s say you have a username input box and you monitor users’ activities in it by using JavaScript. Once visitors type in their user information, JavaScript sends the inputted information to the PHP script and waits for the response. The server sends an answer by indicating whether such a username exists on the server or not.

The scenario above is one of the most common ways of using PHP and JavaScript together.


We have provided you with a thorough comparison of PHP vs. JavaScript. Even though PHP is easier to learn, it is capable of producing full-fledged websites. On the other end, we have JavaScript which is more complicated but is one of the most popular languages around.

For frontend development, you will definitely choose JavaScript as PHP is only for server-side development. However, when it comes to choosing between JavaScript vs. PHP in terms of Node.js, the discussion becomes more complicated.

PHP might be slower than Node.js, but the user community of PHP is larger, meaning that there are more resources and tutorials to learn from. Additionally, PHP offers many frameworks like Laravel, Symfony, Zend and others that make web development even more efficient. While Node.js also offers many frameworks and resources, the support system is not that mature.

The final note on this topic is that PHP is the main programming language for backend web development. We suggest using PHP and JavaScript together for the best results and easiest management.

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Recent User Reviews

Javascript ftw

More flexible, more features, more popular - javascript simply wins


What is Node.js?

for kids

For kids, probably both of these languages are too hard - I suggest taking some fun programming games instead of diving straight into programming languages.


From my point of view, learning javascript takes a lot longer than PHP. Once you learn javascript, everything else is a joke.


if we're talking about web development, Javascript is clearly the better choice.

I prefer


Not sure

Both seems pretty hard for me tbh


What's the difference between PHP and JavaScript?

While PHP is easier to learn, for front-end development it's better to choose JavaScript, as PHP is only for server-side development. Another difference is that JavaScript can communicate with databases such as Oracle or MySQL while PHP can't and that makes work a lot more complicated with PHP.

What is JQuery?

Worth to notice that JQuery is not a separate programming language. It's rather a library which is filled with additional functions for JavaScript, for example using JQuery saves time while using JavaScript as programmers do not have to write the code themselves.

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