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5 Reasons To Choose NodeJS

Jarett Martin

This article explores 5 reasons to choose NodeJS for your backend applications with comparison to some top competitors.

posted in NodeJS on February 2, 2021 by Jarett Martin


5 Reasons To Choose NodeJS

Jarett Martin by Jarett Martin

Node, or Node.JS, is a runtime environment for JavaScript containing everything that you need to execute a JavaScript program on a computer, or server, instead of in a browser. Node is an incredibly popular development framework for applications with both back-end and front-end components.

Yet what makes Node so popular? Why should you choose to use Node over other programming languages and dev frameworks? This article will define Node, explore some of its use cases, and cover five reasons you should select Node as your development framework of choice.

What is Node?

 Node is open-source and cross-platform, and because of it JavaScript can do just about anything that other scripting languages like Java, Python, or Go can do. Node is a popular choice for a wide variety of applications, services, and tasks like: 

  • Managing APIs
  • File System I/O
  • Database Communication
  • Communicating with other APIs
  • Real-time data handling

Node easily communicates with other APIs in the same environment, so it’s well-suited to handling inter-service communication in a microservice architecture. Almost any app that handles data in real-time (like streaming services) can benefit from Node, thanks to its event-driven nature. Beyond these reasons, there are many features that make Node one of the most popular choices for software architects, which we will explore below.

5 Reasons To Choose Node

There are five compelling reasons to choose Node as your development environment. These reasons are:

  1. Language Sharing Across The Stack
  2. Rapid Development
  3. Node Package Manager
  4. Single-Threaded Event Loop Architecture
  5. Native Support In AWS

1. Language Sharing Across The Stack

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JavaScript and TypeScript are prolific all throughout the web and front-end technologies. A great reason to choose Node is that it enables the use of JavaScript for back-end development, and as a result, it becomes quite easy to match backend functions to front-end functions. 

You can often share real code between both client and server applications while using Node, but even if this isn’t possible you’ll still be able to use JavaScript for both sides of the development process, enabling better communication between back-end and front-end teams. This also has the advantage of making full-stack development easier and more accessible, negating the need to find an engineer competent in multiple programming languages who can operate in a rapidly changing production environment.

JavaScript is dynamically typed, and while many Node developers prefer to work with JavaScript, those who prefer static typing can make use of TypeScript. Node enables you to use either option you prefer, letting you customize your working environment to meet your particular needs.

Finally, one benefit of using Node is that JSON is a JavaScript native object structure. JSON is the backbone for most HTTP communication, and whereas most other backend languages need special libraries to parse JSON, Node can do it out of the box.

Competitor Comparison:

Languages/Frameworks

Criteria: Language Sharing Across Stack

NodeJS

PASS - Javascript dominates the front end webspace.

Go

FAIL - Not applicable

Java

FAIL - JSP and Swing heavily outdated.

Python

FAIL - Not widely used, or just compiles Javascript.

Ruby On Rails

FAIL - Not applicable

ASP.Net

NEUTRAL - Support for windows apps, but not very applicable to modern development.

2. Rapid Development

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Another reason to choose Node is that it makes both starting development and continuing development quick and easy, letting you hit the ground running and maintain your momentum throughout development. 

Node can make the process of starting development quick, especially when it comes to microservice architectures. Node servers can be started with very little effort, and a basic, “Hello World” API can be up and running in under a minute. Thanks to how easy it is to create an API in Node, Node is also an excellent choice for developers creating microservice environments, as they link many APIs together. Overall, Node is an excellent choice for prototyping solutions and architectures as it makes experimentation fast and straightforward. 

Once you are deeper into the development cycle, you can switch back and forth between dynamically typing and static typing as needed, giving you control over how individual components of your system are designed. Node allows you to use as many libraries as you need, which you can create yourself or download and use through the Node Package Manager.

Competitor Comparison:

Languages/Frameworks

Criteria: Rapid Development

NodeJS

PASS - New machines can serve a Node.JS server in under a minute.

Go

NEUTRAL - Can be written efficiently but has fewer open-source libraries to support agile development.

Java

NEUTRAL - Spring Boot has made development quicker, but still heavy on system resources.

Python

PASS - Frameworks like Django and Flask make setup of dev environments quick.

Ruby On Rails

PASS - Though managing a Ruby environment can be challenging, development is typically fast one set up.

ASP.Net

NEUTRAL - Takes a long time to compile and configure, but moves smoothly once set up.

3. The Node Package Manager

npm

One of the best reasons to choose Node to develop your apps is the Node Package Manager (NPM). NPM lets you download packages of code created by other developers and use them in your own projects. This negates the need to write code from scratch for every application you build, saving you time since you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Node is home to the largest software library registry in the world, so before starting a project it’s a good idea to see what is already available through NPM. 

NPM makes managing application dependencies easy, installing not just the code that comprises a library but all the dependencies for that library. 

Another benefit of using NPM is that you can script infrastructure-related tasks with JSON files.

Package.json scripts allow you to automate aspects of DevOPS/IAC tasks. You can set up code to compile, publish your code, and build local environments using these scripts.

Competitor Comparison:

Languages/Frameworks

Criteria: Package Manager

NodeJS

PASS - NPM is integrated and necessary. Use of open-source is encouraged.

Go

FAIL - No centralized repository for source modules, can also be difficult to import modules.

Java

PASS - Though a little tricky to manage within environments, Maven has a solid repository of libraries to use.

Python

PASS - Pypi has recently made Python libraries visible via browser.

Ruby On Rails

FAIL - Dependency management can be extremely cumbersome, Use of a virtual machine is recommended.

ASP.Net

NEUTRAL - Versatile, allowing almost anything to be done, but no single avenue for dependency management.

4. A Single-Threaded Event Loop Architecture (Concurrency)

 

loop

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Most other web development frameworks make use of a multi-threaded request-response architecture. An excellent reason to choose Node is that it makes use of a single-threaded event loop architecture to handle concurrency. This style of event handling favors microservice architectures.

A multi-threaded request-response system only has a certain number of threads to work with, and when more requests come in than available threads the requests will have to wait until threads are freed up.

In contrast, a single-threaded event loop architecture uses single threads and queues. Single-threaded event loops take items from a queue and runs them through an event loop, determining if the requests are I/O operations. If the requests are Blocking IO requests then they are picked up by a thread. Otherwise, the requests can be handled while IO requests are being carried out. This event loop structure enables requests to be handled much more efficiently.

Node’s Single-threaded event loop architecture eliminates the need for thread management or the management of connections/pools. It’s also highly resource-efficient, using a fraction of the memory used by typical event processing systems. For these reasons, Node’s event architecture is used by some of the most high traffic sites on the web, including Twitter, Zillow, the BBC, and Discord.

Competitor Comparison:

Languages/Frameworks

Criteria: Concurrency

NodeJS

PASS - completely hands-off, concurrency is a core tenant of Node JS.

Go

NEUTRAL - Concurrency is one of the pillars of Go, but it can be a big investment to do it right.

Java

FAIL - Concurrency must be planned and managed with great care.

Python

FAIL - Different code styles and use of threading needed for async. activity.

Ruby On Rails

PASS - Abstracts away much of the complexity, requiring far less focus on thread management.

ASP.Net

NEUTRAL - Thread management is required, but code is typically clean thanks to keyword use.

5. Native Support In AWS


 

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The final reason to choose Node for as your development framework is that AWS has native support for Node and Javascript. All web applications need a host, and Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the most popular hosting platform around, comprising 32% of the cloud market. Node is natively supported by AWS and tightly integrated with the platform. 

Amazon has an in-browser Integrated Development Environment (IDE) called Cloud9 that allows the user to write and edit code directly from their browser. This is one of the lowest barriers of entry for a scalable microservice and it is compatible with Node.

Not only is JavaScript available for use with AWS tools like its dedicated Cloud9 IDE, but Node can make use of both Amazon’s Internet-of-Things (IoT) SDK and the AWS Cloud Development Kit for JavaScript. The SDK also supports TypeScript if desired by the Node user.

Competitor Comparison:

Languages/Frameworks

Criteria: Native AWS Support

NodeJS

PASS - Hosting language support and browser IDE support.

Go

PASS - Hosting language support and browser IDE support.

Java

NEUTRAL - Limited browser IDE support. Hosting language support.

Python

PASS - Hosting language support and browser IDE support.

Ruby On Rails

PASS - Hosting language support and browser IDE support.

ASP.Net

FAIL - Very little browser IDE support, limited hosting support.







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