Plain Text Reading and Processing with NodeJS, Ruby, and PHP

Hello coders!

There was a time when I wondered, which one has better performance, NodeJS, Ruby, or PHP? And I decided to make a little test. I didn’t think this test would conclude overall performance, but specifically for this context, I would know which one was the best. The test were divided into 3 phases, they were: preparation, result, and conclusion. I hope my little research here will help you in your development. And for your information, this test is using NodeJS (0.8.9), Ruby (2.0.0p0), and PHP (5.4.17).


The first step was creating a dummy file text. I made a simple plain text formed by repeated lorem ipsum text. The file contains around 77000 lines and the size is almost 47 megabytes. I thought it was pretty much adequate for the test. Anyway, if you want to use the file, you can download it here:

Let’s write a very simple code, I started it with NodeJS code.

var fs = require('fs'),

fs.readFile('lipsum.txt', 'utf8', function(err, data) {
  fs_starttime =;

  if (err) {
    return console.log(err);

  var start_time =,
      splitted = data.split(' '),
      words = [],
      end_time, elapsed, fs_endtime, fs_elapsed;

  console.log('Total words: ' + splitted.length);
  fs_endtime =;
  fs_elapsed = fs_endtime - fs_starttime;
  console.log('Counting time: ' + fs_elapsed);
  for(var i=0; i<splitted.length; i++) {
    var key = splitted[i].toLowerCase();
    words[key] = words[key] + 1 || 1;

  end_time =;
  elapsed = end_time - start_time;
  console.log('Elapsed time: ' + elapsed);

Next, I wrote Ruby code.

reader ='lipsum.txt')
fs_starttime =
start_time =
data = reader.split(' ')
puts 'Words count: ' + data.size.to_s
fs_endtime =
fs_elapsed = fs_endtime - fs_starttime
puts 'Counting time: ' + fs_elapsed.to_s
words =
(0).upto(data.size) do |idx|
  words[data[idx]] = (words[data[idx]].nil?) ? 1 : words[data[idx]] + 1
end_time =
elapsed = end_time - start_time
puts 'Elapsed time: ' + elapsed.to_s

And the last one, I wrote PHP code.

ini_set('memory_limit', '-1');
$file = file_get_contents('lipsum.txt');

$fs_starttime = microtime(true);
$start_time = microtime(true);
$words = explode(' ', $file);
echo 'Words count: ' . count($words) . PHP_EOL;
$fs_endtime = microtime(true);
$fs_elapsed = $fs_endtime - $fs_starttime;
echo 'Counting time: ' . $fs_elapsed . PHP_EOL;
$uwords = array();
for($i=0;$i<count($words);$i++) {
  $key = $words[$i];
  $uwords[$key] = (isset($uwords[$key])) ? $uwords[$key] + 1 : 1;
$end_time = microtime(true);
$elapsed = $end_time - $start_time;
echo 'Elapsed time: ' . $elapsed . PHP_EOL;

I had made my preparation, the next step was to see the result.


For each code, I executed it 3 times. I intended to see, whether it was a stable result or not. So, let’s see the result of NodeJS code.

NodeJS File Reading and Performance Result
NodeJS File Reading and Performance Result

From the 3 program executions, NodeJS performance, in average, was 2.992 sec.

Now, let’s see the result of Ruby code execution.

Ruby File Reading and Performance Result
Ruby File Reading and Performance Result

From the written code, Ruby detected in total 6,879,744 words. Based on the detected words, Ruby code needed, in average, 4.954 sec to read and processed the file.

This is the result of PHP code execution.

PHP File Reading and Performance Result
PHP File Reading and Performance Result

The word dectected by PHP was the same with NodeJS. But, the performance was significantly different. PHP needed, in average, 6.129 sec to read and processed the file.


As you can see, from the results above, NodeJS has the best performance!

I actually have heard about this from many people but this is the first time I see the real proof. It’s pretty fast and I believe it could be very helpful for you in developing a well performed web application. But, you need to remember this line:

Node.js is a platform built on Chrome’s JavaScript runtime for easily building fast, scalable network applications. Node.js uses an event-driven, non-blocking I/O model that makes it lightweight and efficient, perfect for data-intensive real-time applications that run across distributed devices. – taken from NodeJS website

That means, NodeJS is actually built to solve network scaling problem, not for handling high computation program. Any application built with NodeJS is a single thread application, so if you have a heavy computation or blocking program, it will significantly decrease NodeJS actual capability. But, if you insist on developing a large application with heavy computation, I suggest you use message passing platform like RabbitMQ.

Well, that’s it for today. I hope you enjoy it. Thanks for reading, guys!


2 thoughts on “Plain Text Reading and Processing with NodeJS, Ruby, and PHP

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