PHP and ASP.net

Ever since Microsoft has come up with ASP.net, there has been a widespread debate among programmers as to whether it is any better than the existing open source programming language of PHP.

If we were to make a search on the Internet on how loyalists of both PHP and ASP.net are doing almost everything by biting each other’s heads off, We will realize how hot this debate actually is. The major contention is that Microsoft products are generally considered to be superior to other products, but then there are programmers that have been using PHP since ages and never once has it let them down. While there is acclaim for ASP.net being more robust and speedier, PHP fans maintain that PHP has much better support and a very easy to understand language.

PHP Strong Points:

  1. Once again PHP is Free and that is a major advantage and often the decider between which language should be used. Microsoft has expensive licensing costs which are handed back to the user via more expensive hosting costs. Dedicated servers with our own MS SQL database from Microsoft is rare for smaller sites due to the cost involved.
  2. Ease of learning. PHP is a straight forward scripting language, there is not a great deal of learning required before we can start programming with this language. PHP.net does a lot to help for this, it is the single, most convenient API and reference guide and in my opinion better than any other for any other language that is available. ASP.NET on the other hand requires basic programming fundamentals, and an understanding of object oriented principles which may be beyond the causal coder.
  3. PHP is a very fast and efficient implementation of a programming language. It doesn’t nearly use as much memory or execution time as ASP.NET, while this may not be noticable to many websites, for people pushing the limits of their website, it is a major consideration.
  4. One argument I hear a lot of ASP.NET developers raise is that there is a great IDE to develop the software on, Visual Studio.NET. While I have to agree that it is great, it does once again come with a price. Similar alternatives for the PHP language, such as Zend Studio are just as good and come at a tenth of the price.
  5. PHP runs on APACHE which has a great security track record and is open source. However IIS, the platform for ASP.NET has in the past been plagued with problems and security concerns. Regardless of whether people are just attacking it because it’s Microsoft, the flaw to be exposed is still there.
    ASP.NET Strong Points:# ASP.NET has something called the Common Language Runtime(CLR), and without going into too much detail, We can use a variety of different languages to program in, and when built they will all compile to the same code at that level. This means that we can use languages such as C#, Visual Basic.NET, Java.NET and we can even get implementations in PHP. This aids transition and helps other developers already learned in the lore of a certain language quickly pick up.
  6. This isn’t necessarily a positive but as ASP.NET is a commercial framework, bigger companies have more faith and trust in the software, and quite often a great deal of support can be gained because of this.
  7. .NET is a modern framework that has been designed from scratch. Thus meaning that the architecture, design and implementation of the languages involved are up to date and using modern principles. For example, C# is a fully object oriented language and builds on all the correct rules of programming. Regardless of the fact it may indeed take longer to program this way, it is cleaner, and logically it makes more sense and in the long run leads to less mistakes due to it’s strong typing.
  8. Exception/Event Based Error handling is a definite positive for ASP.NET. With the use of try catch blocks (although expensive) allow more sophisticated error handling. Whilst error handling in PHP is possible, there is no built in standardised way to achieve this.
  9. ASP.NET allows what is known as Code Behind Sheets. This effectively separates the logic from the design and allows us to create classes for each of our pages, leading to easier maintenance and clean code. This is possible in PHP but is certainly not a built in or standard feature as such.So the main question is, which one would I pick? Really, it’s not that simple, it’s usually more a question of which one is the best for the job in hand, or even more likely the project we have to work on has already been started in one language by our employers and which we must continue in.

If it was entirely a personal opinion, I would pick the cheaper option PHP, if however there were no costs I would pick ASP.NET.As the debate between PHP and ASP.net rages on, it is important to make a frank comparison between the two languages, so that other developers who are not so strong in their opinions are not caught in the argument between the two. Here are some of the important points that distinguish the two programming languages from each other:-  (For the uninitiated, PHP stands for Hypertext Preprocessor and ASP.net stand for Active Server Pages. It helps to put things into better perspective!)

  • PHP is a relatively simpler language to use than ASP.net. Initially, PHP was written in the C programming language to replace a set of scripts in Perl. That is the reason why coding in PHP remains simple even today. Many developers find themselves to be more at ease with the user-friendly nature of PHP when it comes to coding. However, critics also count this advantage of PHP as a disadvantage. Some of them maintain that the language of PHP has not been updated much, and hence it is still quite archaic and even, somewhat cumbersome for coding. ASP.net, which is a relatively new development, has a lot of options when it comes to languages. Here, we can use languages such as C#, J#, C++ and VB.net. Hence, when it comes to sheer choice, ASP.net has better to offer. But PHP is no less, since it can do its task quite well, even with its minimum language tools.
  • PHP is has much better support for the database management system, MySQL. In fact, the very popular blogging platform, WordPress uses the formidable combination of PHP coding on MySQL for its content management system, which includes about hundreds of thousands of blog posts every single day. Another very popular and frequently updated service that uses the combination of PHP and MySQL is Wikipedia. ASP.net can also support MySQL, but PHP is unanimously hailed, by the masses and classes alike, for its great support for this database management system.
  • People who use both PHP and ASP.net also maintain their opinion that PHP is better for embedded support with another database management system, viz. SQLite. SQLite is described as a relational database management system and since it is contained in a C programming library, PHP can provide better support to it.
  • PHP has also a very good support for object oriented programming, on which whole scripting languages are being built nowadays. ASP.net also provides very capable support to OOP.
  • When it comes to support, PHP wins over ASP.net. The main reason for this is that PHP is open source. Hence, the support can come freely from all over the world. In most cases, PHP fixes are made instantly. Being open source also ensures that there are very few snags in PHP. While, ASP.net could take a while to make fixes. That is because it is owned by Microsoft, and it is the development team of Microsoft that will need to respond to the support query. That could take more time than the worldwide open source support that PHP is able to get. Most PHP supports can be instantly found online by doing a simple search on the Internet. Some of the providers of support for PHP are Zend, NuSphere and ThinkPHP.
  • PHP can use the command line to perform many everyday activities. Some of the things that the PHP command line is useful for is for manipulating across many files and for putting files into multiple directories at once. These are just some of the important features that PHP’s command line is used for.
  • PHP is an open source programming language, which means it is free for anyone to use. Programmers can develop PHP applications virtually at no cost, because PHP is free to use. ASP.net is not free too, but its extensions are available for free on Windows platforms, upwards of 98. Hence, ASP.net is available to Windows users when they buy it. That puts a bit of restriction in its use.
  • ASP.net is compiled into memory in binary code. So, when ASP.net is used for coding, it is evident that it takes much longer time to process since the codes need to be retrieved from memory. However, PHP is not compiled into memory like ASP.net is. It is interpreted at runtime. That is the reason why PHP coding leads to better speed and even efficiency. However, it must be said that both PHP and ASP.net can run at supreme speeds and efficiency when they are coded expertly.
  • Talking about hosting charges, both PHP and ASP.net are quite cheap to host. If We do a good deal of shopping online, We will also be able to find hosting for as little as $4. While there are several pricier hosting services out there, their charges are higher for both PHP and ASP.net. Hence, it can be said that both PHP and ASP.net are at par with each other on the hosting charges.
  • Since PHP is older, there are many people who claim that it is much more secure than ASP.net where coding is concerned. ASP.net is much new, and the security options may not be fully in place yet. However, many programmers will pooh-pooh at this point, because they maintain that security in coding does not depend on the language that is used, but in the way that the coding is done by the coder. Even so, there is a lot of talk on the Internet about PHP coded sites being more difficult to hack into than those done with ASP.net.

Hence, there is a lot to debate on about the worthiness of PHP over ASP.net or vice-versa. There is probably no end to it, and there never shall be. The problem mainly is that both of them are good in their own place, but people who have been staunchly using PHP for several years now – some of them for more than a decade – would certainly not like to go in for the new ASP.net. The price to be paid is quite high, i.e. learning a whole new syntax and getting used to it. That is more the reason why PHP is still so popular.

But, to ASP.net’s credit it must be said that it is much more dynamic, even if the mere use of different languages are concerned. While PHP is still stuck to its scripting language days, ASP.net has broken new grounds by entering into new languages, and even developing some of its own. However, a new shadow is looming large on these language-programming tools – the coming of the WYSIWYG editors such as Dreamweaver, which are making coding a very simple task to do for even the lay computer user..

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