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Node.js in Web Development: What Makes It a Great Tool

Sergey Labzov / 04.02.2019117

You have probably heard of Node.js even if you are not in web development at all - that’s how popular this thing is.

In a nutshell, Node.js is an open source, the cross-platform runtime environment for developing server-side and networking applications. Node.js applications are written in JavaScript and can be run within the Node.js runtime on OS X, Microsoft Windows, and Linux.

Where to Use Node.js

Owing much to its real-time nature allowing both the client and server to initiate communication and exchange data, Node.js can be used in a multitude of ways and applications, the most popular of which are listed below.

  • Data Streaming

That’s where it all started! Considering the fact that HTTP requests are essentially data streams, you can really simply some of the otherwise complicated processes - e.g., encoding audio/video files in real-time, where Node.js can process the files on the go as they are being uploaded.

  • Chats

Arguably, the most obvious application that can benefit from running it with Node.js - a match made in heaven. You’ve got multiple devices and users, heavy traffic, and loads of data coming all across them - all are tasks perfectly suited for Node.js capabilities.

  • Monitoring Application

Tracking your visitors’ interactions with your website in real-time and gathering the stats for later analysis - how cool can that be? Node.js allows you to do just that - creating system dashboards for collecting and managing real-time user data.

  • Server-Side Web Apps

Somewhat unconventional use of Node.js indeed - yet, it still may work just fine if you add Express.js to the mix thus creating a server-side web application that’s robust and stable.

Key Features of Node.js

Too many to list - that’s why we’re going to focus on the ones that really make the difference.

  • It’s Fast

Code execution has never been done faster - mainly due to the fact that Node.js was built on V8, a JavaScript execution engine originally planned for Google Chrome but then open-sourced by Google themselves in 2008.

This engine helps to compile the source code directly to native machine code thus avoiding the unnecessary procedure of interpreting it in real-time.

  • It’s Event-Driven and Asynchronous

All Node.js APIs are asynchronous (non-blocking). If your server runs on Node.js, it never has to wait for API to return the data or block the calls, which makes it ideal for real-time applications. Once it’s finished executing a call, it runs a callback or sends a notification using the Events mechanism to get a response from the previous API call.

  • It Handles Large Volumes of Data Easily

With applications that run on Node.js, it takes less time to process files when uploading them - mainly due to the fact that these applications output data in chunks.

Single Thread Event Loop

The main advantage of this fact is that you can make your server potential highly scalable as opposed to regular, limited-thread approach offered by Apache. You simply don’t have to waste any time or resources on waiting for I/O requests to return.

Pros and Cons of Node.js

Here’s what makes Node.js a great tool for developers.

  1. Easy to learn. If you’re new to Node.js, creating a chat will serve as a great way to learn your ways around this tool.
  2. Full-stack JavaScript. Using Node.js for backend development gives you all the pros of full-stack development.
  3. Runs fast (which your clients and visitors will certainly appreciate)
  4. Scalable. Works great for microservices due to its lightweight technology.
  5. That’s it for the good stuff. What about the drawbacks? There are a few. Node.js is by no means perfect and does have some flaws you should know about.
  6. Not suited for heavy-computing apps. Due to the single-threaded environment of Node.js, the event loop can be blocked in some cases by some resource-demanding calculation, which in turn may cause slow down the website.
  7. Node.js API is not stable. It is often subject to change due to its open-source nature and certain parts are, shall we say, less reliable than others.
  8. Takes more development time. Not all JavaScript developers are automatically Node.js developers, which makes it difficult to find an experienced, qualified Node.js engineer - that’s not to mention the fact that creating a web app in PHP is generally faster.

Node.js vs. PHP: Which One Is Better For Your App?

As always, it all depends on the application you’re working on and the goals you’d like to achieve with it.

For real-time applications that must handle a lot of requests at a time, Node.js would seem like a better option. The same holds true for applications with flexible, dynamic, and rich client-side functionality.

On the other hand, when you need to build a reliable, CPU-intensive app within a limited time and on a tight budget, PHP might be a better solution.

 

Conclusion

Despite all of its flaws and imperfections, Node.js is still remains one of the more interesting technologies in use today. It has come a long way from a neat concept to one of the most popular platforms used for web applications, services, and desktop apps.

The proof is out there - major brands and companies like PayPal, Netflix, GoDaddy, SAP, Walmart, and Microsoft all use Node.js in their products.

If you’re looking for a solid team of Node.js developers able to build a quality web app on Node.js, look no further than Zwebra Web Studio Inc. Our profound experience with this tool, passion for programming and expertise in the area will help you to achieve your business goals and create an enjoyable user experience for your visitors.

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