JavaScript Vs PHP : How are they different?

POSTED ON : March 25th, 2019

technologies is clear for many developersEarlier, the answer to the difference between the two languages: PHP Vs JavaScript was easy to figure out, as JavaScript is a client-side scripting language and PHP is a server side script. In combination, they make fully dynamic web pages that we love and know about. Nevertheless, with the advent of Node.js technology, that allowed JavaScript to be used for server side scripting, JavaScript-powered applications are popping up. It made the question of choosing between these two technologies more critical. Let’s explore the key differences and similarities between these two languages. And, we will also try to understand which should be chosen between JavaScript vs PHP for web development.

What is JavaScript?

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In addition with the CSS and HTML, JavaScript is one of the three fundamental technologies of the web. Used by majority of websites across the world, JavaScript is a lightweight and feature-rich client-side scripting language which typically runs in the web browsers to make web pages dynamic and interactive. Nowadays, JavaScript is also rapidly evolving as a server-side language due to the introduction of Nodejs, AngularJS and React. Being a versatile programming language, it was specifically designed to create interactive web interfaces that make websites look prettier and alive. In essence, we can say it renders static HTML web pages in dynamic fashion.

What is PHP?

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PHP stands for Hypertext Preprocessor which is a general purpose language that quickly became an important server-side language. It empowers developers to create dynamically executed web pages. PHP has many outstanding features and specific functions that enable the developers to build feature-rich web pages. This language enables the web developers to write dynamically generated web pages easily and quickly. PHP is also a good language to build database-driven sites.


JavaScript Vs PHP: Major points of similarities

Both the languages are different in many aspects, but there are some points that bind them together which are as follows:

Interpreted language: Both JavaScript and PHP are interpreted languages or they are known as scripting languages. It means the code written in either of the languages can be run ‘as-is’ in their corresponding run-time environments (i.e. server for PHP and web browser for JavaScript). Scripting languages are considered to be much easier to use and faster in productivity as compared to the compiled languages. Being scripting languages, PHP and JavaScript are a great headstart for a beginner and veteran programmer.

Powerful combination: Together both these technologies power a large number of websites, PHP for server side programming and JavaScript for client side programming. Using both these technologies, powerful and dynamic websites are built. They are like peanut butter and jelly – PHP for back end and JavaScript for front end. Together they provide a vast codebase of frameworks, libraries and community support available for these languages. Think any idea and you will surely find someone, somewhere would have developed the idea.

PHP Vs JavaScript: Key differences

The difference between these two technologies is clear for many developers as PHP is a popular server side script and JavaScript is the king of front end web development. Keeping this thing in mind, we have spread some light on some of the difference between node.js (JavaScript’s foothold in server-scripting) and PHP which are as follows:


Conceptually, it is easy to deal with PHP code than NodeJS. In course of setting up a server, what you need with PHP is a “.php” file that contains some code written between <?php ?> tags then enter the URL in the address bar of your browser and that’s it. The code you put between those tags can be as simple as <?php echo ‘Hello World!’; ?> and the code will work. In the background, a web server installed with PHP will be able to execute the statement, interpret the file and render the web page in your browser. However, setting up server with node.js, though not difficult but requires a several lines of codes along with the understanding how callback and closure functions work.

Runtime environments

Both of the languages have different runtime environments and for a reason JavaScript is closely tied with the client side scripting while PHP is utilized for server side programming. While any of them can be easily integrated with HTML code, both of them require different interpreters to execute their code. PHP has a simple method for installing and using on the server and it’s powered by Zend engine. After its introduction, NodeJS proved to be a game changer because it allowed JavaScript to be used for server-side scripting as well. However, before the advent of node.js, JavaScript was largely considered a front end development technology.

Reusability and customization

Customization and reusability are also two important factors that determine whether a programming language is terrible or convenient to use. PHP gets the edge here as it’s slightly simpler to use. Plus, the open source features of the language empowers people to do a lot of things they want to do with this language.


JSON stands for JavaScript Object Notation which is a lightweight data format and has almost similar syntax to JavaScript Object definitions. Due to this it gives an edge to the technologies powered by Node.js and JavaScript when working with JSON. PHP can be used with JSON, however, it’s more situational.


Like most server-side scripting languages, PHP utilizes multi-threaded, blocking I/O to perform multiple tasks in parallel. However, JavaScript employ a different approach, it uses tricks (event loop+Node clustering) to create a non-blocking I/O, event driven execution model that utilizes one main thread of execution. Through the HHVM project that was released by Facebook, PHP has been successful in finding a way to achieve asynchronous processing.

When to choose JavaScript or PHP?

Despite the introduction of Node.js technology the answer to the question is JavaScript for front end development and PHP for server-side programming. However, if you are in the midst of choosing between a back end technologies then following are the points to be worth considering:

You should pick PHP as back end language when your project include:

  • Solution stacks such as LAMP (PHP, MySQL, Apache, Linux)
  • Servers such as Sybase, PostreSQL, SQL, MariaDB, MySQL, Oracle etc.
  • CMS like Joomla, Drupal, WordPress etc.

You should consider JS when the project includes:

  • Server technologies such as Express.js, Node.js, MongoDB etc.
  • Dynamic single page applications (SPAs).
  • Solutions stacks such as MEAN (AngularJS, MongoDB, ExressJS etc.)
  • Front end technologies such as Ember.js, jQuery, ReactJS, AngularJS, Backbone.js etc.

PHP Vs JavaScript: A brief comparison

Comparison basis between PHP vs JavaScript JavaScript PHP
Database JavaScript cannot directly use MySQL. You need to connect with MySQL through Node.js. PHP commonly uses MySQL as database and can work easily with this database.
Execution JavaScript is able to handle only local tasks that are specific to client. PHP is a server side language and the key objective of this technology is to produce HTML code that can be read by a browser.
Availability of code JavaScript code can be viewed even after the output is executed by the interpreter. PHP code is available when it is interpreted by the server.
Concurrency It’s single threaded and event-driven. As a result its every task runs concurrently and never blocks. Being multi-thread, it blocks I/O due to concurrency of different tasks.
Integration with external code Code written in JavaScript can be combined with technologies like Ajax, HTML, and XML. PHP can only be combined with HTML code.



The advancements in the web development is picking up the pace day by day with the advent of various technologies. PHP and JavaScript are two of the most important and popular languages used for developing dynamic websites. Instead of comparing PHP vs JavaScript, you can also harness the potential of both these technologies to build creative and dynamic websites. You can hire PHP developer to build a cutting-edge back-end for your site and hire JavaScript developer to build an exclusive front end, in conjunction both these technologies work like the magic.

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