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Why use PHP and MySQL?

We as business persons evaluate technology based on its merits, not on what software vendors claim. We look at the nuts and bolts of the technology and what it can and can’t do. This article should not be construed as PHP bashing, it is far from that. What it does is debunk several PHP myths and shows that ASP.net can do what PHP does and then some. If PHP could do what we needed, we would of course use it. However ASP.net does what we need and therefore we use it.

I have been polling website owners as to why they prefer PHP or ASP.net hosting. Most of the answers that I have been getting are: PHP hosting is cheaper, PHP programming tools are free, PHP is more secure, and PHP is faster.

PHP IS FREE

Being that it is Open Source you can develop PHP applications for free. You can say the same thing for ASP.net. The ASP.net extensions are free for every operating system Microsoft produces from Windows 98 on up. Microsoft provides a free ASP.net editor called Visual Web Developer 2005 Express Edition available as a free download on http://www.asp.net/. You can also download ‘starter kits’ to use with the free developer environment that Microsoft provides, there are some very good starter kits to help you get started developing on ASP.net. The free starter kits include: Small Business Site (portal) kit, DotNetNuke Portal, Personal Website, PayPal store starter kit, Club Website, Job Listings Site, Media Library, Time Tracker, and Classifieds Website starter kit. The starter kits are ready to run and you can use the free developer environment to further enhance them. Not only does Microsoft provide a free development environment that is very similar to its older brother Visual Studio 2005, they also provide free development environments for C#, Visual Basic, C++ and J#. You can even download SQL Server 2005 Express for free to develop database applications. Click here to visit the Visual Studio Express website. All FREE.

Score: PHP 1 – ASP.net 1

SUPPORT

PHP is user supported open source, however it can take time for updates and fixes to be released. ASP.net one central support for the product, timely updates, extensive documentation, and software development kits (SDK’s) available for every version of ASP.net. Granted that publically available PHP applications typically get fixed more quickly, often within days, the language itself still takes time to be updated. It depends on the development team for the most part with either language how fast an application gets ‘fixed’.

Score: PHP 0 – ASP.net 1

LANGUAGE AND DEVELOPMENT

The PHP language is archaic and many times cryptic; the language itself hasn’t been updated any more than PERL has. With ASP.net you have several choices for the development languages being used. You have VB.net, C#, J#, C++, and more. These languages are far easier to use than PHP and C# in particular is not only highly regarded for its elegance but is one of few languages to meet international information technology standards. All of the ASP.net languages can be compiled and run under the same ASP.net extensions without any modification. Choose your language and go. Each new version of ASP.net adds new features and libraries that can be used free of charge. The languages and ASP.net extensions are constantly being enhanced and new features that help developers are being added with each version. Best of all Microsoft is footing the bill for all of the development, documentation and support.

You can run applications developed for ASP.net 1.1 on 2.0 with little or no issues at all. You don’t even need to recompile, just change the extensions version in IIS, restart IIS and you are running on the newer version of ASP.net. Have you tried running your PHP 3 or 4 applications on PHP 5 lately? You will be busy rewriting much of your code to get the older versions of your application to run on PHP 5.

Score: PHP 0 – ASP.net 1

SECURITY

Many people lay claim that PHP is more secure than IIS/ASP.net. Are you aware that IIS 6 has been around for more than three years has never has had one single critical security vulnerability (as of May 2006)? There are many studies published that support this, and they aren’t written by Microsoft. In version of PHP prior to 5.2.2 (Announced Friday may 4, 2007) there were 11 security vulnerabilities announced at scunia.com for PHP 4.4.x and 5.2.x. Scunia shows 4965 PHP vulnerabilities (all versions), 400 Apache vulnerabilities (all versions) compared to only 46 for IIS (all versions) and 14 for ASP.net (all versions). Scunia is a security advisory company that also offers security information and tools. They are quite impartial and only report what they and others find.

PHP does have a good security model; however security is only as good as the programmer’s skill that writes the application. Same thing for ASP.net, however ASP.net does provide quite a few built-in security features that help developers write secure code right out of the box. Inherently ASP.net does allow you to write secure code without having to be a security guru.

Score: PHP 0 – ASP.net 1

SPEED AND EFFICIENCY

Granted PHP is fast, so is ASP.net. However, while ASP.net is compiled and loaded into memory as intermediate binary code, PHP is always interpreted at run-time. Both when properly written can be blazingly fast and scalable.

Score: PHP 1 – ASP.net 1

HOSTING COSTS

I have researched quite extensible and have found ASP.net hosting to be on par with PHP hosting. I shopped around for on both ASP.net and PHP and you can get decent hosting regardless of the language. I did find several expensive hosts, however their pricing was high for both PHP and ASP.net. Prices for either ranged from $3.95 on up.

Score: PHP 1 – ASP.net 1

FINAL SCORE: PHP 3 – ASP.net 6

I have come to the conclusion and for the most part the myths of the PHP vs. ASP.net are more personal opinions of a users preferred language more so than PHP being superior to ASP.net and vice versa. Each has its virtues. I do think though that ASP.net has an ‘edge’ because much of what you can do is built-in. This reduces code writing because you can draw from the ASP.net libraries that are already installed on the system rather than having to search for publically available libraries, or worse yet, reinvent the wheel each time you add functionality to an application. If you are an entrenched PHP user, I challenge you to give ASP.net a try. I believe you will find that overall it’s as good as or better than you imagined. I try not to lock myself into one technology, if I have a need to use something other than ASP.net I will. The point is that you use what you have need for, not because everyone tells you the language is superior, or better, or whatever. Don’t put down what you haven’t tried.

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