Everything You Need To Know About Node.js

With Node.js, JavaScript has embraced the server. Node.js has gained a lot of popularity with coders everywhere using it to create real-time web APIs and build a new matrix of interoperability across the Internet. Even so, Node.js is not a JavaScript framework. What exactly is this tool finding its way into Web applications, microcontrollers, operating systems wrappers, and robots? At its core, Node.js is a stripped-down, highly customizable server engine, but outside of this, you have to set it up for it to do anything. Node.js is an event-based platform, and everything which happens is a reaction to an event. In other words, it processes in a loop, ready to accept and respond to requests. This loop, known as the event loop, is the "runtime" part and this is what keeps a Node.js application running.

Until the advent of Node.js, we have been using an impassive request-response paradigm. With Node.js, we eventually have web applications with real-time, two-way connections. Communications can’t start from the client side if you want to make the Web truly responsive. Instead, servers need to be equipped with the ability to push data to clients, and this should happen only when there is data to push. If they’re constantly pushing data, it’ll be an equally tedious process. This is where Node.js proves useful. Node.js runs JavaScript by taking advantage of Google’s fast JavaScript engine designed for Chrome, V8, which allows Node.js to create a runtime environment which in turn pushes JavaScript from the server end to the client side quickly. Instead of working overtime to make sense of it as bytecode, V8 translates JavaScript into native machine language, giving Node.js its agility.

Secondly, human communication doesn't follow a set of rules like a programming language. For instance, I don't have to reply to your text before you send me another. It's nonlinear and chaotic. Node.js has embraced this same asynchronous method. It uses the Event Loop to ensure data is simply transmitted when it exists and isn’t constantly being queried for, a lot like a holding cell for communication. Here, while the Event Loop is taking care of asynchronous tasks, Node.js can let go of the heavy lifting and continue running the program as usual. This makes Node.js great at idling when there’s nothing to do, instead of constantly querying for more information. The speed, along with asynchronous programming, are the twin powerhouses that make Node.js so responsive.

Advantages

  • It helps with concurrent request handling. Due to its asynchronous non-blocking way of handling code execution, even though Node.js runs on a single thread with event looping, it can handle more requests than, for example, Apache HTTP server. Here, the API calls do not wait and block the other calls. It can handle more than one request at a time.

  • Since it uses Google Chrome’s V8 JavaScript Engine, it makes the javascript code execution very fast.

  • Thanks to the event mechanism of Node.js it allows you to write highly scalable networked apps.

  • The Node Package Manager handles the installation and updating of reusable modules from the online collection, along with the version and dependency management of reusable modules. NPM works a lot like Ruby Gems.

  • Big names in the industry like LinkedIn, Yahoo and Microsoft use Node.js. So, in a way, it's been battle tested, and there are always the benefits you gain from the growing community of NodeJS & Javascript developers.

  • You get to code in the same language, both on the server side and on the front end. We're all used to using multiple programming languages in most of our projects. Even so, managing code in the same language on the server-side and the front-end can save you a lot of time when it comes to debugging.

  • Without using up much memory, real time communication is managed by the event loop. This way developers can spend more time working on the functionality of the app rather than worry about the app getting clogged with too many queries.

  • Node.js is well instrumented for production usage, meaning it comes equipped with tools to help you bring your application to complete production readiness and performance.

Disadvantages

  • Node.js being single-threaded means one does not need to care about the problems of synchronizing between threads or shared mutable state. However, it also means unlike preemptive concurrency, the programmers themselves have to decide how to deal with concurrency, the default being no concurrency at all.

  • All of it is asynchronous by default, which means you are likely to end up using tons of nested callbacks. Of course, this is a JavaScript issue, not a Node.js one, and there are ways of avoiding this problem.

  • Most of the core libraries are pretty much stable, and you can trust them to do the right thing. But the ecosystem itself is still somewhat immature. It's also difficult to assess the quality of a particular module since there's a lack of features for ensuring the quality of code from JavaScript itself.

  • It doesn't work well with CPU-intensive tasks. Node.js is suited more for I/O stuff, like the web server.

  • Lack of libraries. Since JavaScript hasn't yet enjoyed years of popularity on the server side, things like these are either still in the works or brand-new and relatively untested.

Conclusion

Where Node shines is in building fast, scalable network applications. It's easy to get started, and it's built well enough to handle modern Web complexities. Node.js is a runtime system that could very well work for you if you're building your next generation Web site, especially APIs for mobile and Web integration, or if you are creating something new which relies on underlying services itself.

Nevertheless, each technology comes with its own pros and cons. Node.js isn’t perfect for every project, but it's great for many web solutions.

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