TECHNICAL

What Is Node.js & Why To Use It For Web Development?

Nadya Bakhur

Researcher, Content Writer

What Is Node.js?

A brief introduction to Node technology: discover how Node.js helps JavaScript to take over the world. 

Imagine:

  1. You’ve written a simple browser app, like a text parser or a mortgage calculator. Since everything was in the browser, you immediately wrote everything in JavaScript. The software works and is useful;
  2. Over time, you develop the project and work out new features. One day you face the issue of transferring the program to a powerful server. For example, you decide to add integration with Telegram to your software, and for this, you need a server;
  3. In a normal situation, you would have to choose some server language and write your software again – for example, in Python or PHP. But thanks to Node.js, you can copy-paste existing code, rewriting only I/O, and your program will continue to conquer the world.

Ladies and gentlemen, that is what Node.js is.

What Does Web Development With Node.js Look Like?

Node.js is a system that executes JavaScript separately from your browser. We can say that this is a standalone environment for executing JavaScript.

Node.js can be installed on a server (just like Python) and your code can be executed on it, giving the result of execution to users. On it, you can make separate applications using additional frameworks.

Before the advent of Node.js, applications that were written in the JavaScript programming language could only be run in a browser. Using Node.js allows you to write in JavaScript not only in the browser but also on the server.

Node.js was developed by Ryan Dahl, an American software engineer, in 2009. It runs on the V8 engine, which translates JavaScript into machine code. In simple terms, Node.js is a C++ application that takes JavaScript as input and executes it. To interact with I/O devices on a computer, the platform provides its own interface in C ++. Thus, the platform turns the specialized JavaScript scripting language into a general-purpose language, so any computer program can be written with Node.js usage. Node.js allows you to use a single JavaScript language for writing code both on the client side (Front-end) and on the server side (Back-end). These Node.js features are important for developing real-time event-based applications.

The framework is used by front-end developers, back-end developers, and others. It allows you to write a program for different operating systems: Linux, OS X, and Windows can be used to create an API. Node.js is also used to develop cross-platform applications: for example, a task list that should work on different platforms, synchronize data in real-time and send it to a mobile device. Node.js is used to create services with a constant exchange of information with the user: social networks, online games, chats, project collaboration systems, online text editors, etc.

How does a regular web server work?

There used to be this problem:

  1. On the page, for example, you need to show the user’s avatar and nickname.
  2. To do this, the server requested the database to get this information from there.
  3. Until the base responds, the server cannot do anything – it patiently waits.
  4. The server is waiting.
  5. When a response comes from the database with a picture and a nickname, the server comes to life again, continues loading the page, and at the very end asks the database for a background image for the site.
  6. The server is waiting.
  7. The page also does not work yet, because it did not load completely. Half of the scripts don’t work either because they wait for the page to fully load. Everyone is waiting for the base to respond.
  8. For each such request, resources are needed to keep the connection with the database.
  9. If there are many such requests, the resources on the server quickly run out, and then the site starts to slow down for everyone at once.
  10. The server starts to be blunt and sometimes falls out with an error. Pages fall, and users freak out and go to another site.

How the server works on Node.js

  1. On the page, for example, you need to show the user’s avatar and nickname.
  2. To do this, the server requests the database to get this information from there, and it continues to form the page further.
  3. Until the avatar arrived, the server had already done the rest and discovered that a background image was needed.
  4. The server requests a picture, and at this time it receives an avatar from the previous request. Once the avatar has arrived, the server inserts it in the right place. While he was doing this, a background image came.
  5. All materials are in place, you can show the page to the user. The page loads faster because the build happened in parallel.

Why else do you need Node.js development?

In addition to web Node applications, this language is used to create any services where a constant exchange of information with the user is needed:

  • chats,
  • social networks,
  • project collaboration systems
  • online text editors.

Recently, the use of Node.js for the “Internet of Things” – smart kettles, scales and other household appliances – is gaining great popularity. This is where Node.js helps manage these fixtures and make servers that can process many requests at the same time.

Related: App Development Cost Breakdown: How Much Does It Cost to Design an App

What Are The Benefits of Node.js?

  • High speed. JavaScript code that runs in Node.js can be several times faster than code written in languages ​​like Ruby or Python. Node.js uses the asynchronous programming model. The model allows you to continue processing other tasks without waiting for the completion of the data transfer. When an I/O operation needs to be performed, such as accessing a file system or a database, Node.js does not block the main thread waiting for the results. The platform initiates its execution and continues to perform other tasks until the results of the previous operation are received.
  • Versatility and flexibility. Node.js runs code that is written in JavaScript. This means that front-end developers who already use JavaScript in the browser can write both client-side and server-side code in a familiar programming language without having to learn the tool from scratch. In Node.js, you can quickly migrate to new ECMAScript standards as they are implemented. New language features become available as soon as you install a version of Node.js that supports them.
  • A large number of modules and libraries. Another advantage of Node.js is that its ecosystem is growing rapidly thanks to the NPM package manager. It contains over 500,000 open-source modules and libraries that are freely available. There are also new ones all the time.
  • Working on the Chrome V8 engine. Node.js runs on Google’s V8 JavaScript engine. V8 is an open-source JavaScript engine with a BSD license. It is used in Chromium-based browsers. This means that Node.js uses the work of thousands of engineers. The engine is written in C++ and has open-source code and advanced libraries.

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Why Use Node.js: Inspiring Success Stories

Node.js Application Examples

According to Stack Overflow, Node.js is the absolute leader in the world of technology, occupying 50.4% of the market. Why did it become so popular?

According to the latest Node.js report, this technology has a significant impact on businesses: it provides a 68% increase in developer productivity, a 48% increase in application performance, and a 13% increase in customer experience.

Given the long list of Node.js benefits above, it’s easy to believe that some of the biggest companies using Node.js apps include NASA, Netflix, and eBay. Below, we’ll overview which companies have already switched to Node.js web apps and how it turned out for them.

Netflix

Netflix is ​​the largest streaming content and video provider with 93 million users worldwide. Its path to modern success began in 2015 when Java as a back-end technology could no longer keep up with such a rapidly growing user base. The back-end development was not keeping up with the front-end, which increased load times. It was impossible to implement a custom UI design, which reduced the quality of the customer experience. In addition, it took too long to build Java, so the development and deployment processes were inefficiently slow.

Benefits for Netflix:

  • After switching to Node.js technology, the startup time decreased by 70%. The Netflix interface used to take up to ten seconds to load, but now it takes only a second;
  • Node.js has made it easy to integrate microservices and break down a huge block of information into a detailed interface;
  • The transition from Node.js backend to frontend has been greatly accelerated as the Node.js framework is based on JavaScript.

NASA

NASA is one of the most famous organizations in the world. NASA decided to create a new Node.js project after a near-fatal incident. The cause of the incident was a long access time due to insufficient data storage between multiple points. NASA developers felt it was important to move the data to a cloud database to reduce access time. In addition, most NASA applications were written in JavaScript.

Benefits for NASA:

  • Access time was reduced by 300%, allowing users to get information in seconds rather than hours;
  • NASA has successfully migrated old databases to the cloud and made them accessible via API;
  • Node.js has reduced the database process from 28 steps to just seven, making research much easier.

Trello

Trello is a project management tool used in many industries and countries. A platform like this requires instant, real-time updates without delay, which is why Trello has become one of the companies using a backend with Node.js. Trello needs to juggle multiple real-time server connections to keep updates flowing smoothly and on time.

Benefits for Trello:

  • Trello is an extremely lightweight single-page Node.js application;
  • Thanks to Node.js, Trello can handle updates with zero delays;
  • The Node.js architecture has reduced development and prototyping costs.

LinkedIn

Another company using a web app with Node.js is LinkedIn, the largest social platform for business and employment. Its popularity continues to grow, and the user base is more than 467 million from more than 200 countries. After switching from Ruby on Rails to Node.js, the company created an application that runs ten times faster than the old version. The decision was made due to the synchronization of the Ruby application, which led to an increase in load time, especially when the amount of traffic increased.

Benefits for LinkedIn:

  • The entire architecture of LinkedIn was created in JavaScript, which simplified the handling of client-server interactions;
  • The number of servers was reduced from thirty to three, which doubled the traffic throughput.

eBay

Another example of a Node.js application is eBay. With 183 million users, eBay is the largest marketplace providing C2C and B2C online sales services. In the past, the eBay application ran in Java, resulting in long loading times and poor performance. Since eBay is a platform with a huge amount of traffic, it needed a technology that would speed up development so that it could keep up with changes in the front end.

Benefits for eBay:

  • eBay has created microservices with Node.js that run in real-time and do not overload the infrastructure.
  • Node.js provided scalability, speed and scalability.

Groupon

Groupon is the largest marketplace for coupons, discounts, and great deals. It has a base of more than 40 million users. When Groupon reached 200 million downloads in 2019, it ran into scalability issues. It was then that the company turned its attention to Node.js and conducted the world’s largest deployment of a product on Node.js.

Benefits for Groupon:

  • The deployment of Node.js provided high scalability, which made it possible to implement the uninterrupted operation of 3400 backend services;
  • Download speed doubled;
  • Node.js has made it easier and faster to migrate to another platform.

Medium

Medium is a well-known online publishing platform with 85 million users using Node.js. After hitting 7.5 million posts in 2016, the Medium team felt the need to manage big data without overburdening their servers. In addition, the company had to meet the ever-increasing requirements of text editors for publishing posts.

Benefits for Medium:

  • Even pages with large images and bulky content load in 2.7 seconds.
  • Node.js has improved the user experience and accelerated deployment times.

Conclusion

If you’re still not convinced that Node.js is the technology of the future, we’ll list other major players using it in their work: Google, Yahoo, Mozilla, Microsoft, and many more.One day, this emerging technology will take over the market and become the best framework for every company, from startups to large companies. If you have an idea for a product, then consider using Node.js. And our experienced developers will gladly help you – just fill in the form on our website and start benefiting your business.