Short disclaimer. The question itself may lead to some confusion. To answer this properly, we have to define Node.js, since there are versatile stocks of technologies that come under the name. Hereby, we are talking about the Express + Apollo server on Node.js runtime.
Beginner/junior developer’s perspective
The Internet has been filled with plenty of comparisons, yet the facts are often messed up and the pros and cons change dramatically from author to author. Some would say Node.js is faster (it depends), while others would argue that not a single serious project is built on Node.js (not true). This war has lasted for years, and the most common debaters are junior developers who strive to protect their first big choice as well as marketers who are targeting sales.
The thing is, Laravel and Node.js are both advanced tools and have their own set of unique unparalleled features and limitations. Both are open-source, free, and intended to ease and standardize web development.
Laravel is a web framework based on PHP. Launched in 2011, it was met with passion. PHP developers have been expecting some out-of-the-box solution to save hours of coding with minutes of built-in modules adjusting. A dedicated and constantly growing community of PHP users is reviewing documentation, building custom packages, and extending functionality.
The ecosystem is huge and well organized. The learning environment is great – you could hardly find a better learning website than Laracasts.
Node.js is rocking real-time multi-user applications. It uses push technology over web sockets. After years and years of the response-request paradigm, the feature feels like a superpower!
These are tools and they both work fine. Sometimes, Node.js is faster, and sometimes Laravel is smoother. It mostly depends on the developer’s professional background and rarely on the project itself. Try both to find yours.
There are two strict use cases though.
- Node.js is a better choice for real-time web applications.
- Node.js is the only choice among these two for serverless projects, since Laravel cannot be run serverless.
Product owner’s perspective
The battle of the frameworks began years ago due to humans’ nature and marketing. While both have pros and cons, most of the comparisons are far-fetched and based on the personal preferences of the authors. Let us argue a few ubiquitous statements.
Node.js' environment is faster to run. Yes, but while the initial adjustment of Laravel takes more time, more built-in packages save time later.
When it comes to real-time data updates, always choose Node.js. If the project is all about real-time, like chats and streaming, then yes, Node.js is the choice. If you need a single support chat, for instance, Laravel is also capable of running real-time via extra modules.
You cannot run Node.js on virtual hosting, but it is possible with some effort on Laravel. Yes, but should you, really? Dedicated servers are way more customisable and better for performance optimisation.
- Assess your team’s expertise. What technologies is your team keen on? What technology are they most experienced at?
- Do not hesitate to share a long-term road map. Let your people understand what the product development scenarios are so they could make more informed decisions.
- Keep an eye on the extension. If the project rocks, you will have to think about hiring new people someday. Ask your recruiters about the situation on the workforce market and which engineers are more available at the moment.