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ASP.NET vs PHP for Enterprise Applications

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PHP open source and ASP.NET have been major contributors to web development for many years now and continue to be used for their flexibility and other strengths in the programming arena.

In our experience as knowledgeable website development agency, we are often asked by clients whether we feel they should move forward with an ASP.NET or a PHP based solution for their project.

ASP.NET was designed as an enterprise wide solution platform

In response to this question there are a few points that we like to make clear to clients who ask for our opinion.  But before we get started in our exploration of these two powerful platforms, it’s important to understand that PHP was originally built as a platform for building Personal Home Pages.

PHP was designed to be a web language, more than an enterprise wide solution platform. ASP.NET was designed as a platform for enterprise wide solutions and therefore was built for scalability and to be robust.

One is open source and the other is from Microsoft

First of all we mention the fact that ASP.NET is produced by Microsoft and PHP is an open source product. Quite often the client hasn’t got a lot to say about that. After all, it’s not really as important as what the difference are between them when it comes to areas such as:

  • Security
  • Features
  • Whether it’s possible to extend
  • Average development time
  • Frameworks
  • Cost

PHP is available as an open source product and therefore does not come with the background support that ASP.NET is provided with. The latter not only has Microsoft user support available with it, but also potentially a more structured developer culture that we can expect so see associated with MS products.

Regarding the first three points. They are actually remarkably similar in performance of them. Similar results are possible with either platform. Good security is down to the work of the programmer, they need to ensure that the application is secured well and safe.

The big differences between ASP.NET and PHP

The big differences lie more within these areas:

Microsoft ASP.NET is equipped with just several frameworks just as PHP open source is.  The big difference lie in the requirement in question. On a case to case basis, we feel, one framework is better suited to a project than the other. We have the experience to be able to advise on this

Scalability works better in ASP.NET in our experience with smaller projects working better in PHP. In fact PHP is good for start-up solutions whereas ASP.NET has industrial strength with many different features. If you’re looking for flexibility and scalability then go with ASP.NET.

With regards to average development time, it is sometimes more advantageous to use PHP. Very small projects can often be created faster on this platform as it’s easier to find web hosts and development machines are so very easy to set up.

Which programming knowledge does a company have access to?

One of our main considerations is whether a client wants to work with one type of technology stack vs another. They may have already invested in in-house programmers who have more knowledge and experience of one over the other.

In some cases, our clients prefer the stability that going with Microsoft offers. They will be able to gain support, look forward to upgrades and more if they go with ASP.NET. Some clients will prefer the idea of a product that is open source.

Our clients may well have Linux servers already set up what they want to use to their full capacity.  Of course, open source comes with little overheads in terms of cost due to it being free.

However, if our clients don’t know which they prefer, or come to the conclusion that it really doesn’t matter, then we will choose for them based on what we feel they will gain the most overall value from. We may even look forward to what else they may need in the future, and make the decision based on what makes sense.

A couple of our developers even have the viewpoint that it’s not so much a matter of ASP.NET vs PHP as more a case of PHP vs C# when it comes to programming. Now that C# has had optional parameters added in its version 4.0, then the advantage that PHP had over it is now defunct.  It’s possible to perform dynamically typed variables, which of course keeps the abilities of the language very flexible.

What about cost?

When it comes to cost, we feel that PHP is first over the line. Although it’s possible to run ASP.NET on Mono on a Linux server, it will not be without issues. However, Webforms (one of the frameworks of ASP.NET) can be run on SQL Compact and SQL Server.  Although we do sometimes use Webforms, we find that there is more control using ASP.NET.

Summary

In our opinion PHP is perfect for starter solutions, but if you are representing a large enterprise and are looking for a solution that is robust and capable to being scalable then we would recommend ASP.NET to you. We are fans of both as they both have their virtues. However, we would guide you based on what the future is for your project.

Which one do you prefer and why?

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