PHP v/s ASP.Net: Untangling the Threads of Web Development

PHP v/s ASP.Net: Untangling the Threads of Web Development

A lot has been said and done while comparing PHP with ASP.NET for web application development and taking a call as to which platform to use, especially while developing web platforms.  Most of the comparisons made online are biased as authors put their thoughts around their preferred platform. Moreover, with timely upgrades and improvements done to both PHP and ASP.net development platforms, the comparison becomes obsolete.

In this blog we will see how these two platforms fare against each other in the present day. However, before moving into the comparison, let’s have a quick run through these platforms.

What is PHP?

PHP is a versatile programming language. Basically a server-side scripting language, PHP has been designed for web development purpose. However, it is also used for general programming like C# and other languages. The difference is here is that PHP is not an Object oriented programming language.

In any case, there are not much use cases where PHP is not used for web development but for any other programming need.

What is ASP.net?

ASP.NET is a web development framework for building web pages and web sites with HTML, CSS, JavaScript and server side scripting. Developed by Microsoft, it is anopen-source server-side web application framework designed for web development to produce dynamic web pages, applications and services

Which is better- PHP or ASP.net?

Apples to Oranges- At the onset of our analysis, we would like to stress upon the fact that in order to compare two things, we must ensure that both are similar. However, there is a widespread misconception treating PHP and ASP.NET web development similar.

They are not apple to apple in similarity. PHP is a programming language. ASP.NET is NOT a programming language. The language used for ASP.NET web development is generally C#.

PHP is a programming language, ASP.NET is a web framework.

However, as both of them serve a common purpose and are often looked up for comparison, we would carry out this analysis from an objective point of view.

While comparing the two platforms and making a choice, it is very important that the selection is made basis some objectives you have in your mind. You need to prioritise your requirements and then make a weighted comparison to reach a final conclusion. In this blog, we will focus on analyzing both these platforms along the following criteria:

Speed/Performance

Scalability and Maintenance

Cost of Deployment

Support

Time to deployment

1.         Speed/ Language Performance

For the experienced, yes, PHP is faster at the core level- especially while developing games. However, programming language speed matters while developing websites like a Yahoo or Google where enormous processing is needed.

Core language speed might not be relevant at times, esp. when the hardware speed is drastically advanced. Most web application speeds are dependent on the hardware and the programming language speed is hardly relevant.

Convinced? Well, if you are not convinced then consider this argument.

If language performance speed matters, then developers should look at Assembly language (being low level language it is faster). However, lengthy lines for basic operations time intensive app development on Assembly framework makes it less viable.

To prove the point further, let’s take some use cases in view:

Case in Point 1: The web application needs to access the database for queries and then sends the result to the web server and finally to the browser.

In this case the programming language is just communicating and interfacing with the database server and web server. Hence, here the speed of the programming language is irrelevant to the delivery/ performance of the web application. In fact, the performance here is dependent on the database server, web server, client’s web browser / computer and bandwidth.

Case in Point 2: The web application wants to access the file system to locate an image and send the output image to the web server. Here, it is the Operating System which has the onus of communicating with the programming language in conjunction with the file system. Again, the speed of the programming language is pretty much redundant here.

Case in Point 3:  Performance changes with the number of loops on which the program is run. C# is a faster programming language than PHP. While ASP.NET is usually written over C#, it gives ASP.NET web developers a superior edge if the programming language needs to run a 2,000,000 loop execution of a calculation. However, most loop executions of a calculation would be in 100s and not 2,000,000s. So programming language speed again becomes redundant in such a case.

Apart from the above cases, the execution and performance of any web application is mostly a function of the ability of the developer to optimize the code, quality of optimized SQL queries and knowledge of the functions required to achieve the objectives of the web application.

We firmly believe that language is not the determinant to speed, it is how the code is written and architecture that drives performance (An example can be parallel programming and threading).

2.       Scalability and Ease of Maintenance

In this case, PHP and ASP.NET web development do not show stark differences. Rather both these aspects, i.e., scalability and maintenance are hardly dependent on the platform and are a function of the developer’s experience, programming framework used, best practices followed and degree of adherence to programming standards and guidelines.

3.       Cost of Deployment

PHP and related database and web offerings like MySQL server, Apache server, and Linux OS come at no cost- They are all open source and absolutely free to use. Even the upgrades are available at zero cost.  There are no associated licensing costs for standby server, multiple servers for load balancing or server clustering.

At the other end of the spectrum, ASP.net and IIS come free only if you purchase Windows OS. This comes at an additional attached licensing cost for a Microsoft Windows Server, Microsoft SQL Server and future upgrades which may substantially  with increased popularity and traffic, calling for the need to run the site on multiple servers / load balancing, server clustering or hot standby. Recently Microsoft confirmed that now ASP.NET web developers can implement their .NET applications over Linux servers, this is just at initial stage, not many developers are deploying ASP.NET apps over Linux at this moment, we need to wait and watch how compatible ASP.NET web developers can utilise Linux resources.

4.         Support/ Community & Resources

The PHP community of developers is bigger than ASP.NET developers.  This is primarily due to PHP being open source, bringing in a pool of dedicated and friendly developers working round the clock to suggest improvements and updates, and provide support for the platform. Guidance through forums is available 24×7, free of cost. Predefined libraries and functions make it easier to develop compact codes quickly. On the other hand, ASP.net relies on a limited number of Microsoft developers for making improvements and updates.

However, the entire community is spread out among all of the PHP web frameworks. Compared with this, the ASP.NET web developers are all backing MVC and WebAPI instead of everyone going out trying to build their own web framework like the PHP community.

5.         Time to Deploy

ASP.NET takes more development time compared with PHP. This is primarily due to two reasons- One, more lines of code is required to be written to accomplish the same set of complex features and functionality with ASP.NET compared to PHP. Second, PHP does not require additional steps during a change in the functionality as PHP is interpreted at the server itself. On the other hand, ASP.NET has to be compiled every time a modification is made to the base code.

Some functionality level differences

PHP web developers rely on various different editors whereas ASP.NET web programmers rely on Microsoft Visual Studio for web app development. (Many ASP.NET developers love and swear by the Microsoft Visual Studio. The editors used by PHP web developers include use text editors such as VI, VIM, and Notepad ++. As the PHP web developers are well versed and familiar with open source environment and hand coding, they can better utilise advanced and independent editors like VI and VIM to gain more control and flexibility and accomplish complex programming in a fast, efficient and independent way.

PHP is platform independent; it can run on any platform, namely Unix, Mac OS X, Linux and Windows. On the other hand ASP.net is built to run only on Windows platform, In a recent press release Microsoft confirmed that they now support ASP.NET based applications on Linux servers. Source

In all, PHP seems to be more popular than ASP.NET.  Of late, new and improved versions of popular Linux distributions such as Red Hat, Ubuntu, CentOS and Fedora have outperformed expectations around their ease of installation and deployment, user friendly, simple yet comprehensive GUI. This makes the configuration and setting up of a Linux server easy and quick. Compared with this the Microsoft server has under performed on usability.

In all, we conclude that PHP is a better platform compared with ASP.NET due to its simple user interface, compact code, greater community support, quick to deploy functionality and reasonably low costs.

At Aalpha, we have a team of expert professionals who have years of experience in delivering custom PHP development projects for clients across industries over the past many years. We have partnered with our clients to deliver cutting edge solutions to help them multiply their revenues by delivering enhanced customer experience.

Stuti Dhruv

About The Author

My name is Stuti Dhruv & I am senior consultant at Aalpha, primarily working on pre sales, consulting with clients on latest technology trends.