A Short Introduction to Scripting Languages
Scripting languages are used to create dynamic content on HTML web pages. The advantage of having dynamic content is the ability to design an interesting environment in which to showcase data. Scripts can be written for any purpose. Often times, they can be used to enhance aesthetics or build functionality. Scripting languages serve the purpose of creating a web page people will enjoy visiting.
ASP (Active Server Pages) and PHP (PHP Hypertext Preprocessor) are both powerful programming languages in their own right. Each have a different set of advantages and disadvantages, however they are both equally capable. Mostly programmers have their own preferences depending on which platform they are more comfortable working with. That being said, there are fundamental differences, which are explored further in this article.
ASP is a Microsoft technology and was designed specifically to run on IIS (Internet Information Services), a vital component of Windows. Initially ASP could only run on Windows platforms, but that has changed to include other web servers that are configured to support ASP. However, since ASP is associated so closely with Microsoft, there are a number of programmers who avoid using it because there is an aura of inflexibility.
PHP on the other hand, was meant to be a cross-platform language right from the beginning. It forms part of the popular open-source programming architecture known as LAMP (Linux-Apache-MySQL-PHP).
Language and Syntax
Many programmers wax lyrical about the benefits of C or C++ programming languages, citing the syntax and form as reasons why all other languages fall short. For these individuals, PHP is the better option, as the syntax closely resembles a combination of C and C++. It is true to a certain extent. PHP tends to have sleeker code compared to ASP.
ASP on the other hand, mimics the coding structures of Visual Basic. Visual Basic is another Microsoft product that is widely considered to have awkward programming constructs. The code tends to be bloated and inefficient, as there are a lot of structures that could have been defined better.
PHP wins this particular round hands down, as the programming language is completely free of charge. It was created with an open source licence, and the code is truly free. In fact, using PHP is so malleable, it has undergone many revisions to suit the needs of particular programmers. Issues with the functionality are resolved quickly because the idea is to have an optimal coding platform.
ASP, being a Microsoft product, is far from free. The programming language requires that it be registered before use. Additionally, ASP needs a number of external components to operate optimally. None of these components are free of charge and each of them needs to be registered and bought separately.
It is unlikely that anyone would choose a paid solution over an equally good freeware solution, unless there were other mitigating factors.
ASP is primarily used with MS-SQL, which is a Microsoft database program. The problem with MS-SQL is that it is not a universally used database, since there are a number of freeware solutions available. Functionality therefore, becomes limited. Later versions of ASP can be configured to other databases, but the technology works best with MS-SQL. There is also a cost factor associated with MS-SQL, as the component is not free for use.
PHP can be configured for use on any database that is commercially licensed or available as freeware. Most commonly, it is partnered with MySQL, a prolific database that has become popular because of its range of functions, ease of use, and the fact that it is open source.
ASP requires a complicated process to compile the code. There are numerous stages where the code is compiled and translated, and sent back and forth in a dizzyingly inefficient manner. While this may not be a large consideration for smaller websites, ones with huge traffic volumes will suffer considerably.
PHP is translated very quickly on the server, and the resultant code that is sent to the client machine is pure HTML. As a matter of fact, simple PHP pages load as fast as their HTML counterparts, making PHP an attractive option.
Most seasoned programmers opt for PHP because of the resemblance to C and C++. Also, PHP is completely open source.
ASP on the other hand, works extremely well within a Windows environment and with Windows components. Newer versions with expanded compatibility are also emerging, so the mindset that only PHP can be used with Linux and Unix distributions is slowly fading.
On the whole, PHP and ASP are both good programming languages for dynamic scripting in web pages. It is important to consider all factors, like cost and availability of software, before making a decision. This concludes are list of differences between ASP and PHP.