Case in point, Node.js.
What is Node JS?
NodeJS saw the light of day in 2009. In a nutshell, it was presented as a step away from JS running in the browser to JS running on a machine as a stand-alone application. LinkedIn was one of the first companies that took an interest in this technology. Companies like Uber, Netflix, eBay followed suit a few years later. However, broad adoption only started several years ago.
What is Node js is used for? It's a popular platform for building full-blown Node.js web applications, hybrid applications, REST APIs, desktop programs, and even IoT solutions.
Using Node.js for server-side programming has both benefits and downsides. To understand whether this technology suits your project, we shall discuss both sides. So, let's start with its strengths.
What are Node js advantages?
- Dynamic tech stack
- It's a widely adopted language
- Extensive library and tools
- Efficiency due to the use of a single language
- High speed and performance
As such, using Node.js, your team builds reliable software at remarkable speed. Whatever technologies your front-end team uses, they can handle the server-side with Node.js and enjoy code reuse benefits.
- High speed and event-based model
Node.js relies on an event-based model. It assumes updating data in real time, which is critical for messaging programs, online games, and video chats. Using the same language on the front-end and back-end is the best way to achieve fast synchronization.
Finally, Node.js offers non-blocking I/O systems that let process concurrent requests at the same time. When the requests are lined up, they are processed efficiently and without any delays. Conversely to asynchronous request handling (which is a major benefit of Node.js), synchronous processing handles request one by one. It means that a request cannot be handled if there is another one in the process. Nodejs's asynchronous processing allows handling requests without blocking the thread.
Node.js is well-suited for working with a microservices architecture. This type of architecture allows you to break down an application into separate modules with specific functions so you can easily integrate new elements into your app. This type of architecture enables high levels of flexibility and paves the way for scalability in the future.
Read also: Microservices vs. Monolithic: Which Architecture Suits Best for Your Project
Building Node js server side has helped many companies achieve remarkable microservice transformation. Paypal and Netflix are probably the best examples.
Node.js review: PayPal switched to microservices using Node.js. What started as an experiment back in 2013, has brought amazing results:
- The Node.js app was built 2 times faster
- They used fewer engineers
- The code was significantly reduced
- Performance exceeded the boldest expectations: A single core Node app could handle double rps as the five core Java app.
- Response time went down 35%
- Microservices allowed to roll out new features at an impressive speed
- Scaling with Node.js on a global scale lets several teams smoothly work on the same project
Netflix Reduced its 40 Mins Startup Time With Node
Netflix used to be a sizeable monolithic app with slow builds that didn't let the team innovate quickly. Using two different languages on client- and server-side, the team had to write everything twice. They made a strategic decision to simplify the stack and break down the monolith, and Node.js played a crucial role in this. That resulted in increasing engineer productivity.
- Vast tools
A large toolbox that includes a variety of frameworks and tools is another reason to choose Node.js. Node.js package manager, npm, is why many developers out there love Node.js. Npm offers more than 800K tools (and counting) suitable for a wide variety of cases. Name any web application these days, and it will have npm modules. That's how popular Node.js is.
What are the shortcomings of Node.js?
- Decreased performance during complex computation tasks
As we have mentioned before, Node.js is single-threaded and event-driven, and that is why it isn't suited for heavy computational tasks. Receiving a massive computational task, it uses the CPU power to the fullest to handle that task, leaving other tasks running in a queue. That means slowing down the entire thread of events, which impedes the interface. "Worker threads" have been introduced to remedy this problem, but this solution isn't absolutely effective at handling CPU-related computational tasks.
- Callback hell puts code quality at risk
Node.js is reliant on callbacks due to its asynchronous approach. Typically, this function works after executing a task. If multiple tasks are running in the background, each having a callback, it might cause callback hell, an unwieldy number of nested “if” statements or functions. It impedes performance and lowers the quality of code.
- Lack of library support
While the npm library seems rich, the quality of many packages leaves much to be desired. Lots of them don't have proper documentation. Since it's an open source system, professional monitoring here is scant, so many packages don't meet the coding standards. The good news is that Joyent supervises the key Node.js technologies.
- Shortage of developers
Node.js is not a one-size-fits-all solution, but it's a good solution for creating fast and scalable web applications with less engineering effort. Our NCube specialists have vast experience in front-end, back-end and full-stack development, not only using Node.js but also a wealth of other technologies. Please send us a message below, and our experts will help you find developers for the tech stack of your choice.