Over the last few years, Node.js moved to back-end development, too. Developers want to use the same tech stack for the entire web project without having to learn a new language for server-side development. Node.js is a tool that adapts JS functionality and syntax to the backend.
What is Node.js?
What do you need to get started?
To start working with Node.js, you need to install the runtime environment itself, Node Package Modules, integrated development environment, and frameworks.
- Node.js files: start by downloading the latest version of the environment for Windows or macOS. NPM comes in the package — you will need it to install additional functionality and get access to new modules. To learn more about installation, take a look at the official guide.
- Official documentation: if you are unfamiliar with language’s syntax and functionality, take a look at the official library. Here, you’ll find guides to simple tasks (like typing “Hello World”) and a detailed overview of basic and additional functionality.
- IDEs that support Node.js: most code editors work well with Node.js, but the best ones are WebStorm, Atom, and VS Code.
- Node.js frameworks: they offer templates, libraries, automation features, display interfaces that make development easier. Best Node.js frameworks on the market are Meteor, Express.js, Koa.js, but there are more.
The main advantage of using Node.js is that it’s a language designed with backend development in mind. Unlike general-purpose languages (Java, Python, etc), its functionality is not overly complex, because the runtime environment doesn’t aim to cover many niches simultaneously.
Let’s take a look at other Node.js advantages, specifically for web app development.
What Are the Advantages of Node.js?
Lately, companies have been actively switching from their backend tech stacks to Node.js. LinkedIn chose Node.js over Ruby on Rails because it handled increasing workload better and helped reduce the number of servers in 10 times. PayPal and Netflix did a similar thing, only they had an intention to change their architecture to microservices. Let’s see why your company might want to consider using Node.js in a web project.
Powerful tech stack for web development
Along with popularity, Node.js also inherited the main JS advantages:
- fast performance and data processing;
- highly reusable code;
- the code is easy to learn, write, read, and maintain;
- huge resource library, thousands of free guides, and an active community.
On top of that, it’s a part of a popular MEAN tech stack (the combination of MongoDB, Express.js, Angular, and Node.js — four tools that handle all crucial aspects of web app development).
If you have JS developers in your team, it will be easier for them to learn JS-based Node than an entirely new language. On top of that, the front-end and back-end codebase will be very similar, easy to read, and maintain — because they are both JS-based.
A fast environment for microservice development
There’s another reason why Node.js became popular so quickly. The environment suits well the concept of microservice development (spilling monolith functionality into dozens or hundreds of smaller services).
Microservices need to communicate with each other quickly — and Node.js is one of the fastest tools in data processing. Among the main benefits of Node.js for web application development are its non-blocking algorithms.
Node.js processes several requests at a time without waiting for the first one to be finalized. Dozens of microservices can send messages to each other, and they will be received and answered simultaneously.
Scalable web app development
Node.js was built with the scalability in mind — its name actually says it. The environment allows multiple nodes to run simultaneously, and communicate with each other. Here’s why Node.js scalability is superior to other web backend development solutions.
- Node.js has a cluster module that is responsible for load balancing for every running CPU core. This is one of many Node js module benefits: you can run multiple nodes at a time, and the environment will automatically balance the workload.
- Node.js allows horizontal partitioning: you can split your app into a number of instances. You show different versions of the app to various users, based on their age, interests, location, language, etc. This increases personalization and decreases workload. Node achieves this with child processes — operations that quickly communicate with each other and share the same origin.
On top of that, Node’s non-blocking request-processing system contributes to high speed, letting apps process thousands of requests.
Control flow features
Many developers see asynchronous nature as one of the advantages and disadvantages of Node js. In Node, whenever the function is executed, the code automatically sends a callback. As the number of functions grows, so does the number of callbacks — and you end up in a situation known as the callback hell.
However, Node.js offers a way out. You can use frameworks that will map functions and sort through callbacks. Frameworks will connect similar functions automatically — so you can find a necessary feature by search or in a folder. Then, there’s no need to scroll through callbacks.
Powerful data processing
A backend development language or, in Node’s case, runtime environment, should be capable of processing thousands of requests simultaneously. Node.js is an example of an efficient data-handling tool — here’s why:
- Most languages use synchronous processing — requests are placed in a line where they wait to be processed one by one. Node.js refused this traditional system and adopted an asynchronous structure — next requests are processed together with the first one. No process blocks another one.
- Event-based programming. There are two approaches to software development — linear and event-based. A linear tool executes algorithms in a sequence regardless of users’ actions. The event-based model doesn’t have a defined output order, but the app reacts to the user’s inputs (triggers). There are no useless background operations, only prompt reaction to website visitors’ needs.
PayPal reported that after the company migrated its services from Java to Node.js, the response time decreased by 35%. Now the programme processes more user requests and does it faster.
Rich additional functionality from Node Package Manager
When you download the runtime environment, you automatically get access to NPM, one of the strongest advantages of Node js. It’s a free marketplace for Node.js packages where you can find additional functionality and ready-to-use code libraries. According to official statistics, more than 100,000 new packages are uploaded every week.
As an open-source runtime environment, Node.js has one of the most active communities out there. Developers share their tools, modules, frameworks, packages — all for free.
Node.js community is incredibly active on GitHub, StackOverflow, Reddit. Developers even create group chats on Slack and Gitter that everyone can join. Members of the community review each other’s code, share reusable fragments, suggest frameworks, and answer all Node-related questions. It’s an excellent environment for growth, learning, and innovation.
Big corporations attest to Node.js
To help the technology grow, Joyent, the company that initially supported Node.js, created the Node.js Foundation, now united with JS Foundation, which all companies are free to join to help the tool grow. As for now, the list of foundation members includes Microsoft, IBM, Medium, PayPal, Trello, and others.
This is one of the benefits of using Node js — it’s one of the few open-source projects that doesn’t limit itself to community resources only. Node.js has access to multiple corporate resources that contribute to its fast growth.
Node.js Development Services with TechMagic
Our team knows how to choose the best JS modules and frameworks for a particular web app concept. If you’d like to develop a web app or transfer an existing one to Node.js — contact us. We will get back to you with our case studies and practical insights.