What Is the Future of PHP? Will Node.js Be Replacing It in The Near Future?

What Is the Future of PHP? Will Node.js Be Replacing It in The Near Future?

I simply could not resist this cliché: with a new year just around the corner I, too, jumped on the trend of... making predictions. Or maybe simply “fueling” a present dilemma with even more questions for the future to come! What's the future of PHP in 2018? Does PHP still have a future? Will Node.js be... killing PHP? Or maybe it will simply outshine it gradually? 

Or is this nothing but an “apples vs oranges” or a “VR taking over AR” type of nonsense debate? 

One thing's for sure: revolutionary Node.js has been rapidly “seducing” a whole lot of developers lately. And PHP will need to compete with that kind of “rock star fame”.

But now, let me try to answer the initial question: 

What is the future of PHP, in the context of this rivalry with an ever-expanding, constantly improving Node.js?

But How Did This PHP vs Node.js Contest for Supremacy Even Started?

At the beginning there was a clear delimitation of... roles (or better put “forces”) between the “all mighty” PHP and the “newby” Node.js:

  • the first would handle all the server-side tasks between port 80 and MySQL
  • while the latter would manage small details on the browser only

And so... “peace” used to rule over the internet.

This until one day JavaScript's own power to carry out server-side tasks was... unleashed! And so, PHP lost its exclusivity on developing server tasks.

And competition for supremacy began, with both PHP and Node.js struggling to “seduce” web developers with their latest improvements:

  1. PHP won them over with its new compiler
  2. while Node.js dazzled them away with a wide range of frameworks to choose from: Angular, Meteor, Express...

PHP in The Spotlight

PHP (still) holds its supremacy as a programming language for web development!

And it looks like it won't lose it too soon, judging by the fact that it powers the world's most popular software (Drupal, WordPress... and pretty much any major CMS) and some of the highest trafficked sites, too (Facebook...).

And if these big names don't convince you, let's talk... numbers:

over 80% of all websites are PHP-powered  

8 Features That Secure the Long-Term Future of PHP

1. Short(er) Development Time

With PHP you get to... keep it minimal and thus to speed up your coding process.

Practically it won't get bogged down by:

  • deployments
  • compilers
  • preprocessors
  • JAR files

Your PHP “toolkit” includes nothing more than your editor of choice and some PHP files in a directory. That's all!

The lighter the toolbox, the faster you'll be coding!

2. Separation of presentation and logic 

3. A jam-packed PHP code “database” at hand

How could the long-term future of PHP not be secured when, as a developer, you have a huge database of PHP plugins and open source PHP code at your disposal?

Think Drupal's own database, then think Joomla's, Wordpress's.

You have PHP code right at hand to just... “grab”, configure to your liking and use for “fueling” your own web project with!

4. It enables you to write code, within content, in no time

Take this scenario here:

You're creating content, right on your website and... suddenly... it strikes you: an if-then statement would make it look so much more appealing! Or maybe injecting in some key data from your database!

What do you do then? You simply open up your PHP tags and... write the code that will take that piece of content from OK to... perfect!

5. It ships with organized and reusable code

6. It's conveniently... simple 

And its simplicity looks like this:

basic functions (for juggling numbers and strings) + a couple of variables

The basic essentials that you need for simply moving data from port 80 to the database (and back).

And why should it be “stuffed” with features and functionalities when a modern database can easily take a great deal of the burden off its shoulders?

7.  PHP + MySQL: A Cohabitation That You Can Leverage

PHP was built to seamlessly integrate with MySQL (and, implicitly, with all the other popular SQL databases) from the ground up.

And this definitely makes a strong advantage which secures the long-term future of PHP: it empowers developers to switch their codes with nothing more than a few changes made to their queries!

8. It enables you to deliver data in... pure HTML

All this “hype” created around the convenience of using the very same language both in the browser and on the server shouldn't make you overlook your web project's specific needs!

What if there's no need for you to use a language at all on the browser?

What if you could simply deliver data in pure HTML?

Then you're in luck! For PHP's optimized precisely for shipping data in an HTML format! 

This way, you won't unnecessarily overload the browser with JavaScript, since you can use pure HTML instead and handle everything on the server side.

Hence, you won't be burdening browsers on mobile devices, which otherwise would strive to load heavy JavaScript and deal with dozens of web service calls.

Node.js in The Spotlight

(Still) A revolutionary web technology (a platform, as compared to PHP, which is a programming language) used for developing web applications.

And here we're talking about:

  • real-time
  • highly scalable 
  • powerful

… web apps.

A fast-growing web technology used mainly for full stack (back-end and front-end), for building the next generation type of web systems with!

Why Node.js? 9 Good Reasons for “Betting on” It 

1. It Enables You to Easily Reconfigure It and Extend It 

JavaScript's modern syntax and rich feature set (out of which the closures are some of the most useful ones) empower you to easily adapt it to your growing needs.

And a great example —  that could give a possible answer to your “Is Node.js a replacement for PHP?” question — is that it enables you to create powerful libraries nice and easy (jQurey libraries, for instance).

2. It “Speaks” JSON

Just think about the moments of “hair-pulling” frustration and the resources of time you'd be taking out of the picture!

Node.js speaks JSON, the main language for interacting with modern NoSQL databases! Therefore, you'll practically have one single syntax used on the:

  1. browser 
  2. the web server
  3. you database

Simplicity and convenience at its best!

Note: needless to add that if it's an SQL database that your app will need to interact with, Node.js ships with the proper libraries to enhance this interaction!

3. It's Conveniently Light and Ideally Scalable

Not to mention surprisingly (for me, at least, it continues to be a major surprise) fast when it comes to writing code.

Basically, you get to write it either on your PC or straight in your browser and voila! You're good to go.

4. It Removes The Need to Use Multiple Languages

Since it unifies the app development process, you won't need to juggle with various different languages anymore.

5. It's Built to Deliver Data and Data Only

And in a mobile-dominated world, this Node.js feature might just be strong enough to “threaten” the future of PHP on a long-term!

And it becomes particularly powerful if it's a slick browser-side web app, a data-rich one, that you need to build.

Just think about it:

  1. service calls are lighter than “chubby” HTML calls 
  2. and Node.js is built to deliver data and data only, via web services
  3. the only thing that will get transferred and rendered, once JavaScript code is in the browser cache, is... data 

A significant performance boost indeed!

6. It's Lightning Fast

You're being “spoiled” with a robust core designed to... take a heavy burden off your shoulders.

Once you've written your Node.js code (I know, I know, writing JavaScript isn't really a breeze), it will be ready to... inject super speed into your app!

7. It Ships With Built-In Mobile App Development Support 

Another feature that, well, might risk making the future of PHP in 2018 less... bright.

8. It “Spoils” You With a Rich Up to Date Plugins Collection

And by “up to date” I mean:

  1. Node.js plugins that have modern features (as compared to the years old, “dusty” open source PHP files available out there)
  2. … and which are built by developers that fully understand modern architecture approaches

9. And It Also “Spoils” You With a Wide Range of Language Options

Since plenty of the most popular languages can get cross-compiled so that they run in JavaScript.

In this respect, allow me to list just a few: Haskell, Java, Pascal, C#, BASIC, Pascal.

The END! I know that I haven't come up with a clear and definite answer to your questions and dilemmas regarding the future of PHP and whether Node.js stands any chance to replace it anytime soon. 

But, it wasn't my intention in the first place, anyway. I only wanted to empower you with even more relevant information regarding the two technologies and the fierce competition between them so you can come up with your own forecast for 2018.

Let's see what the future will bring!