Datics AI - Why Node.js?

Why Node.js?

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29 min read

Are you looking to explore what Node.js is? Or maybe you are preparing for some Node.js interview questions and want to polish up on your literature. Regardless of your reason, you can to the right source to read and understand why Node.js is the right platform to choose for JavaScript. Let us take a look at what Node.js is and why it has increasingly become the most popular platform to use. 

What is Node.js? 

Since its release in 2009, the popularity of Node J.S has continued to grow. Simply defined Node.js is an open-source, cross-platform JavaScript runtime environment. It is a JavaScript framework that lets developers test and debug their code in a virtual domain. Since it is cross-platform and open-source, Node.js can be accessed in two ways. 

Being open-source means that developers can edit the Node.js code to their liking or to everyone’s liking. Being cross-platform means that Node.js is available to developers regardless of their operating system. 

History and development 

Ryan Dahl wrote Node.js in 2009. Its initial release was only supported by Mac OSX and Linux. Node.js had its further development and maintenance done under Dahl and went on to get sponsored by Joyent. 

A package manager, called npm, was introduced for the Node.js environment in January 2010. The purpose of this was to make it easier for programmers to share the source code of Node.js. It was specifically designed to simplify the installation, uninstallation, and updating of various packages. 

Node.js was first supported and released for Windows in July 2011 by Microsoft and Joyent who implemented a native Windows version of Node.js in June 2011. 

Io.js was created by Fedor Indutny as a fork of Node.js in December 2014. It was planned to keep io.js up to date with the Google V8 JavaScript engine’s latest releases. 

The Node.js and io.js communities vowed to work together under the Node.js Foundation by February 2015. By May 2022, Node.js 18.2.0 was released. 

What is it used for?

Node.js is best suited for the following: 

  • Real-time web applications
  • Streaming applications
  • Messaging apps
  • Chat programs
  • Social media apps
  • Virtual Emulators
  • Multiplayer games
  • Collaboration tools
  • API

A number of companies have successfully adopted the use of Node.js. These prominent companies include the likes of LinkedIn, Netflix, Uber, PayPal, NASA, eBay, Walmart, and Mozilla.

Keep reading to find out more about why Node.js is so advantageous to use.

Advantages of Node.js

Node J.S is easy to learn 

There are no steep learning curves associated with learning Node.js. Once the basics of JavaScript and Object-Oriented Programming are mastered, it is easy to start Node.Js. 

Most front-end developers have a great grasp of JavaScript since it is one of the most popular programming languages. Consequently, it is easier for them to learn Node.Js and start using it at the backend which helps consume less time to work with.

Scalability 

Using Node.Js, applications can be scaled in a horizontal manner by adding additional nodes to the existing system. Vertical scaling is also achieved by extra resources to the single nodes. Hence, Node.js provides better scalability than other JavaScript servers.

Node.Js scalability is a prime reason why it is ideal for startups that plan to grow exponentially. Considering startups use apps to develop fast and lightweight systems with an amazing real-time response, open to be scaled up later, Node.Js provides the option to add more modules to the existing ones with the passage of time. 

The scalability of Node.Js is achieved by load balancing and the capability of handling a huge number of concurrent connections. Furthermore, Node.Js-based apps also support vertical and horizontal scaling, both. 

Node.js is well equipped to tackle microservices architecture. Microservices architecture is beneficial for projects that are to be scaled and grown in the future. Another point worth noting is that when a separate microservice is to be created, it can then be scaled separately from all of the other parts. 

High Performance & Time Saving 

The JavaScript code is interpreted by Node.js through Google’s V8 JavaScript engine. This engine directly compiles the JavaScript code directly into the machine code. Consequently, the code is implemented in an easier, faster, and more efficient manner. The run time environment further enhances the speed of the code execution as well. 

Node.js is highly recommended for startups as time-saving is of utmost importance to them. Normally, startups work at being able to reiterate ideas fast, test them, then finally deploy and deliver as fast as possible. Node.js helps make the time-to-market cycle shorter. 

The first thing that is important to note is that the technology used is lightweight and ends up massively reducing the application development time while achieving the same functionality at the same time getting a startup from the idea to the product in an instance. Additionally, dead simple deployments can help get startups immediate feedback from the production environment. 

An Active Community

There is an active and engaging community of Node.js which consists of developers who are constantly contributing support via feedback for the continuous improvement and development of Node.js. This thriving community saves us the time and effort of reinventing the wheel as they have provided and produced numerous tools and instruments that help accelerate the development speed. 

Node Package Manager, or NPM, is Node’s package ecosystem. It is the fastest growing and largest software registry in the world. It helps provide you with more value by saving time and efforts applied by providing numerous reusable templates and libraries that can be incorporated into one’s code. Furthermore, it must be noted that there is a module for practically anything that one can imagine in the NPM ecosystem. 

These groups of developers are actually supported by JavaScript programmers. These programmers are making and providing ready-made and easy solutions and codes on GitHub. It is expected that developers will continue to take this initiative for times to come. 

Keeps Things Simple

As is with the nature of startups, they multitask while facing numerous challenges. In order to be efficient, it would be ideal that the process is as simple as possible. The benefit that they enjoy with Node.js is that they have the access to share one language, both on the server and the client-side requiring no necessary switch between the front-end and back-end. 

To elaborate this further, applications written in languages different from Node.js require more files for front-end and back-end utilization. With Node.js, the code between the front-end and back-end parts of the application can be shared and reused, which speeds up the development process. To put this simply, there is one code, one deployment, for everything in one place. 

This is of immense help during the initial stages of product development at startups as there can be simply one team of full-stack developers for both sides, front-end, and back-end, which cut costs on labor.

MVP Development 

It is important to be ready before a product takes off; limited budgets and rigid timeframes make it important to evaluate the marketability of a product’s idea by employing the least amount of investment, effort, and resources to ensure that the product itself is well-received before investing additional resources on deployment. 

With Node.js, an MVP (minimum viable product) can quickly be developed. MVP is a piece of software with enough features to ensure that the product goes to market and satisfies the first customers. It must be noted that MVP is a rudimentary stage on the road to complete development. 

Robust Technology Stack 

Using Node.js for backend development automatically gives the benefits of full-stack Javascript development, which includes:

  • Code reuse and sharing 
  • Performance and speed
  • Free Tools
  • Knowledge sharing within teams
  • Overall efficiency and developer productivity 

 As a result of these benefits, teams involved are much more flexible, development is less time-consuming, and fast and reliable software is achieved as a result. JavaScript-trained developers can program the server sides with minimum effort. Since the language is the same on both sides, the code can be reused on both the back-end and front-end. This is achieved by wrapping the code into modules and then creating new levels of abstraction.

Contrary to popular belief, a full-stack developer is not restricted to the traditional MEAN (MongoDB, Express.js, AngularJS, Node.js) stack. Only Node.js is necessary in this case. The rest of the technologies involved within this stack are not compulsory to have and can be substituted with other tools providing similar functionality.

Disadvantages of Node.js

There are some downsides to Node.js which are discussed below. 

API (Application Programming Interface) Is Not Stable

One of the main obstacles developers encounter with regard to the API (Application Programming Interface) is that it keeps changing frequently. In other words, it does not remain stable. 

New API can have numerous backwards-incompatible changes. Consequently, developers have to adjust by making changes in the code bases in order to match the compatibility with the latest version of the Node.js API.

Node.js Does Not Have a Strong Library Support System 

There is a robust and ill-equipped library system in comparison to other programming languages. Consequently, users have no option but to take support of a common library for the execution of tasks such as ORM (Object-Relational Mapping), EML parsing, etc. 

Ultimately, it gets very difficult for developers to implement common programming tasks using Node.js.

To summarize, Node.js may have some disadvantages but the pros far outweigh the cons. Since its inception, Node.js has continued to gain popularity and with such a dedicated community of developers, further improvements and refinements are bound to continue.

To check out more tech articles by Datics, click here.

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