What To Choose Between PHP And ASP.NET

There is a battle of the heavyweights going on over the internet, as whether PHP is a better language compared to ASP.NET. As the battle between PHP and ASP.Net rages on, it is important to make a blunt comparison between the two languages, so that other developers with not so strong opinions are not caught in this battle between the two. Both of these languages are used in large web based applications. Some successful websites like Facebook, Google, and Twitter etc, also use these languages. So there should not be any doubt on the ability of any of these two programming languages.

About PHP

PHP stands for Hypertext Preprocessor. It originated as a scripting tool that quickly made its way over the internet as being the most used language, thanks to its simplicity, ease of learning and a larger developer community. According to an estimate, PHP is installed on over 244 million websites with server support from virtually all major hosts. The best part of PHP is that it’s free and boasts a number of frameworks which simplifies web development.

The chart below shows the most popular PHP versions:



ASP.Net was developed by Microsoft to provide developers with an scripting tool for easy building of web pages and web applications. It is a replacement to ASP (Active Server Pages), another platform developed by Microsoft. ASP.Net code can be written using any .Net supported language, which makes it especially popular among .NET developers. On an early stage, IE web browser helped Microsoft increase the popularity of ASP.Net.

The chart below shows the most popular ASP.NET versions:



PHP and ASP.NET are two programming languages with plethora of distinctions and vocal proponents. However, when we dig deeper and take a holistic view, a lot of differences come up. I have compiled them and tried to reach to a conclusion based on my own opinion.

  • Scalability

    ASP.NET and PHP both are highly scalable. Considering that Facebook and Google, two of the most high traffic generating websites are built on PHP, while MySpace and MSN, two more heavyweights of the internet, are built on ASP.Net. This shows that both ASP.Net and PHP are highly scalable, and it totally depends upon the skills of the programmers and how well they scale the application according to their needs. Web Application scalability and ease of maintenance primarily depends on:

    • Programmer’s experience
    • Using the best programming practices
    • Using a stable programming framework
    • Following every programming guidelines and standards
    According to me both are highly scaleable languages and we can say that it is a tie on this factor.
    • Performance and speed

    For most web applications, performance is a function of the interaction between the script, the database and the server. Most of the PHP based web applications use LAMP stack, an acronym for “Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP” which is extremely popular for web development, and has been optimized broadly for performance improvement.

    The most used database with ASP.NET is Microsoft SQL Server, although MySQL can also be used with it. The performance characteristics between an ASP.NET+MSSQL and a PHP+MySQL stack are very small with PHP+MySQL edging out ASP.NET+MSSQL. Another factor affecting this performance is the Operating System OS and filesystem used on the server. Most internet stats indicates that Linux and ext4 file system have better performance than Windows and the NTFS filesystem. Thus, a PHP application running on a Linux web host will outrun a similar ASP.NET application running on a Windows host. PHP takes the lead on this one.

  • Cost

    PHP, MySQL server, Apache server, PostgreSQL server and Linux OS are all free, and when an upgrade is released, they can also be downloaded for free. In addition to being free, there is also no additional licensing cost for having another server as a backup, or for running multiple servers for clustering and load balancing.

    LAMP is also much more popular among hosting companies, and because of this popularity the monthly costs of hosting is lower for it as compared to Windows hosting.

    Alternatively, ASP.net and IIS are free but you have to purchase Windows OS for it. Moreover there is a considerable licensing cost for a Microsoft Windows Server, Microsoft SQL Server and their future upgrades. For example, Microsoft Server 2012 R2 Standard - 64-bit costs around $1042 and Microsoft SQL Server 2014 Standard Edition For Small Business costs around $3,226. This sets you back by a few thousand dollars, rather than PHP, which is totally free. PHP is an easy winner on this one.

  • Support and Resources

    LAMP being an open source, have a very large support from the community which includes dedicated and friendly developers around the world trying to continuously make improvements and updates, for the platform. Plus, there are much more support resources and developers accessible for PHP and LAMP platforms.

    The reason for using the word "friendly," is because Open Source developers who are contributing to the Open Source community are doing so just to help the community and not for financial gain. If you seek any help with a functionality challenge, just post a question on a PHP forum and you will receive useful information from friendly contributors.

    On the other hand, ASP.net relies on a limited number of developers at Microsoft for making the improvements and updates. Additionally, there are far less support contributors available to solve ASP.net challenges/questions.

    PHP being open source and having a back from a huge community, also wins on this one.

  • Editors and Tools Availability

    Both PHP & MySQL are editor independent, and developers can use a large number of editors available.

    ASP.Net is also backed by most IDEs, however, most ASP.net users rely heavily on Microsoft Visual Studio editor to develop their .NET Applications. Microsoft Visual Studio is one of the most powerful and flexible IDEs around, even though it is not free. Thus, you have to spend some bucks, to find that it edges out a bit over most of the PHP editor/IDE.

    PHP developers tend to use text editors such as phpDesigner VIM, Notepad++, Sublime Text which are some of the advanced and independent editors. The ones mastering those editors to their fullest capabilities can perform very complex programming tasks, in a very fast, dynamic and independent way. When the need for integrating with other platforms arises, PHP developers have an upper hand because of their comfort level with the open source environment and with the usage of these editors.

  • Ease of learning

    PHP easily wins at this one. ASP.NET is usually written in C# (C ‘Sharp’) that is built on C, which is difficult to learn for most beginners. The syntax is sophisticated and arduous to read, even for experienced developers. People who are new to programming will find ASP.Net hard to grasp.

    PHP, on the other hand, is very easy to take up and most competent developers consider PHP coders as rookies.

    You just need to learn a few simple lines of code and start messing around with WordPress themes almost right away.

  • Popular sites language usage comparison


  • Popularity

    The popularity chart below from w3techs shows a clear winner for the most used server side programming language for different servers.


    For a more precise comparison of the servers, please see the below chart from netcraft which shows market share of active sites for different servers.



You can find a lot about the worthiness of PHP over ASP.NET to debate on, and probably there won’t be an end to this fight. The problem mainly is that both of them are good in their own place, but people who have been staunchly using PHP for many years now, some of them for more than a decade, would certainly not like to go for the new ASP.net. The price to be paid is quite high and learning a whole new syntax and getting used to it are some of the reasons why PHP is still so popular.

Unless you are already familiar with the .NET framework or want to stick to Microsoft technologies, there is no distinguishable need to use ASP.NET over PHP. PHP can do everything that ASP.NET can, and it can do it for free.

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