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Node.js who? Overview

Node.js is a popular JavaScript runtime environment used both in web and mobile application development. The environment is a cross-platform, open-source and highly effective solution, ranked as the most widely used non-language tool in the 2020 Stack Overflow’s Developer Survey. The idea behind the creation of Node.js was to bring into the world a tool allowing two-way connectivity between the client and server, breaking the mold of the stateless request-response paradigm. Node.js is a game-changer, enabling developers to use JavaScript both client-side and server-side. 

Benefits of Node.js include its light weight, scalability and the potential of full-stack JavaScript. Released in 2009, the JavaScript runtime is built on Chrome’s V8 JavaScript engine and allows incorporating code written in other languages. Constant growth of libraries supports the development of powerful apps – Express, Passport, Sequelize, Mongoose, and countless others supplement the Node.js environment for efficient creation of applications. 

Node.js node.js web development

Where to use Node.js

Node.js is a favored choice for website development and back-end API’s, handling extensive datasets in real-time. Node’s NPM, the world’s largest package manager for JavaScript, also enables efficient mobile app development using the environment. Global enterprises and startups alike use Node.js in developing scalable, fully functional applications. 

Real-time chats

Real-time, multi-user applications are the place to shine for Node.js. Here’s where the environment puts to use the core qualities – speed, the ability to handle high-traffic, single-thread event loop, and asynchronous processing. Asynchronous I/O methods allow processing high traffic, resulting in real-time, efficient communication. The environment handles concurrent connections and assures fluidity on the user’s side. 

Real-time collaboration tools

When it comes to serving a number of users who not only communicate but also cooperate on a common task, Node.js is again cleared for duty. Handling extensive I/O requests and actions happening simultaneously (editing, commenting, uploading files) is backed by WebSockets protocol and Event API. Processing various actions in real-time with immediate updates and ensuring event-driven, non-blocking architecture made Node.js a solution fit to meet the server-side needs of Trello, the widely known online collaborative application. 

Games

Coupling Node.js with the Socket.IO library brings out the best results. While the environment contains the back-end side of the game, including the game’s logic taking place on the server, Socket.IO ensures a real-time web browser-server communication channel. Node.js works best in games requiring high responsiveness, while most point-and-click games won’t fully unleash its potential. As a non-blocking, event-driven solution, Node is suitable for browser-based games. 

Streaming services

The Native Stream API and a built-in interface of readable and writable streams make Node.js the go-to solution for streaming services. Streams in Node.js are a data-handling method used to sequentially process input/output. Contrary to the traditional methods, the program handles data pieces one by one, enabling less memory consumption. Since apps built with Node.js don’t require storing temporary data, the downloading process is steady and efficient.

Streams enable reading extensive files, without using up the devices’ memory space. The textbook example of Node.js powered streaming is YouTube, where users watch videos composed of smaller data bits, processed continuously by the app. Additionally, streams contribute to code composability. Using streams facilitates connecting components with a common result in mind, made possible through data piping between code pieces.

Highly scalable applications

Fast, lightweight and good at handling a constantly growing stream of requests, Node.js is a solution to app scaling challenges. Even being single-threaded and not suitable for CPU-consuming applications, Node handles scaling admirably. Not only does it utilize to the fullest the available CPU power of the machine by using the cluster module, but it also comes with an adequate strategy. Cloning and splitting the application results in more “hands on deck” to handle workload segments, while decomposing breaks the application down into multiple apps with dedicated databases. 

Web development/Complex Single Page Applications

Combining Node.js environment with the Express framework and suitable packages brings out a number of benefits for web developers. Solving nearly all possible problems covers configuration of web app settings, integration with view-generating engines, creating request processing functions for various HTTP methods, and routing to various URLs. 

Node.js helped change web applications development by transitioning from the previously typical web response paradigm. For 20 years of stateless request-response paradigm, the client initiated communication. With Node, web apps can exchange data freely in real-time, two-way communication with databases or other external services. 

Microservices

Microservices, or the microservice architecture, is an approach in providing services to clients. Instead of building one, extensive service, the distributed computing architecture offers a collection of bundled small services. Switching from monoliths to microservices helps to build and expand products by optimized scaling, ensuring compatibility and conducting processes independently in each of the services. 

With its non-blocking event-driven I/O, Node.js speeds up development for low CPU applications, e.g. database queries. Node.js features like a lower memory footprint, a simple initial code setup and easy configuration make it a popular choice for microservices. One of the scaling possibilities, decomposing, is particularly useful in microservices and when implemented right, can be beneficial to the project. 

Is Node.js the bee’s knees in web development solutions?

The above fields are shining examples of how Node.js streamlines the development of various demanding projects. Node.js grew to be one of the most popular solutions among developers, used in extremely high-traffic websites and quickly growing applications. Its JavaScript origin allows for sharing pieces of code among built elements, both front and back end. Faster loading time, processing large amounts of requests simultaneously to keep up with the pace of dynamically growing products, are some reasons why the world’s biggest service providers like Uber, PayPal and Netflix chose Node.js to improve their applications. 

The revolutionary “JavaScript everywhere” approach following Node’s appearance is a milestone in creating robust applications armed to bring value to the business. Despite not being free from some challenges and already having newly emerging technologies nipping at its heels, Node.js presents more advantages than disadvantages in its favor in developing real-time, relatively easy deployable applications handling vast amounts of data. 

Authors
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Jowita Kessler
Content Marketing Specialist
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