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PHP and MySQL versus Node.JS and MongoDB- Which one to pick

By Editorial Team on 2018-02-11

There are two forms of database coding used by web designers and database programmers: SQL and NoSQL. Also, there are two popular ways for connecting a website to database to fetch the data: PHP with MySQL and Node.JS with MongoDB. Although the said two methods achieve the same goal, they use very different approaches in storing, fetching, and parsing data. This article reviews them in depth.

When developing back-end services, it is important to choose both a server and a database that fits your needs well. Often times these servers and databases come packages together in application stacks. The most common are LAMP (Linux Apache MySQL PHP) and MEAN (MongoDB ExpressJS AngularJS NodeJS). These two stacks are vastly different in the kinds of applications they can handle as well as how their data is stored. In this article, we will cover the pros and cons of both of these stacks and help you figure out which one is better suited for your application.

The LAMP stack comprises of a software bundle of 4 different technologies: the Linux operating system, the Apache HTTP server, the MySQL relational database management system and the PHP programming languages. This stack can also be ported to MacOS (MAMP) and Windows (WAMP). The key difference between the LAMP stack and the MEAN stack is that the LAMP stack uses an already established HTTP server that utilizes CGI scripting for programming. CGI scripting, usually done in PHP, with the Apache HTTP server allows developers to write PHP code to handle HTTP requests and access a database. CGI scripts are run by the web server when an incoming request is received and serves some content. This is different from how Node.JS developers develop their web services as they are expected to generate the HTTP server themselves and handle requests through native JavaScript rather than a high-level CGI scripting language. This grants Node.JS users more access to requests made to the server and also allows them to manage information across requests much more easily. However, while the lower-level access with Node.JS enables more functionality on your server, it also requires more error handling on the developer’s side, including the ability to mitigate network security issues.

The other key difference between these two stacks is the type of databases they use to store their data. MySQL is a relational database management system, meaning it stores data in tables that can have relationships with other tables. This means a developer can have one dedicated table to user information and another dedicated table to user content and make relations between them to more easily query the data. Relational databases force the data to be structured, which make it less error prone to query but more time-consuming to retrieve information. MongoDB is an example of a nonrelational database system. Data is stored in a nonstructured way, making it more error prone to querying but with quicker retrieval times. However, as long as an abstract data structure is followed in the coding of the server, the advantages of MySQL can be ported to MongoDB with much faster performance.

Both of these stacks have their advantages but when choosing one it is important to remember their features. MySQL and PHP are often useful for blog style websites with Wordpress and Drupal to help manage content. Node.JS and MongoDB are more useful for high-performance web APIs that require quick retrieval of information and constant updates to data. Each technology has its own learning curve and resources for both can be easily found online due to their immense popularity.

Programming Languages and Resources for Web Developers
Here are a brief summary of coding languages and resources for web designers. HTML, CSS (or HTML5 & CSS3) PHP, MySQL, JavaScript (or JS frameworks like jQuery, Angular, React, Node, or Express) or MongoDB, Apache, Ruby on Rails, and Linux are related to web programming. The most  popular content management systems that use PHP  & MySQL are  Wordpress, Joomla, and Drupal. Also, obtaining the following PHP and database certifications are highly rewarding for all custom web developers: Zend Framework 2, Zend Certified PHP Engineer, Oracle Database 11g Administration and Oracle Database 12c SQL Fundamentals. For those interested in learning more about web design and development, here are a list of step-by-step training guide articles: i- Become CMS specialist, ii- Become front-end specialist, iii- Become expert SQL developer, iv- Become expert PHP developer

JS coding is well suited for those interested in pursuing a career in web design and development; however, other options are mobile App design and development, system admin and software engineering. It is advisable to consult with an IT career counselor to understand what career options best fits your skills. For instance, if you want to be a software engineer, learning HTML and CSS might not fit the bill. Here is an excellent article for learning more on coding and technology career roadmap. Once you know what career path you wish to pursue, you can make a plan on what, when, and how to learn. There are lots of online resources for learning coding and technology in general. For teenagers and high school students, High School Technology Services offers variety of hands-on training. For adults and professionals, Coding Bootcamps and DC Web Makers Companies offer basic to advance project-based programming and technology classes.

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