When you are developing a new app, the first step is to choose the right framework for the backend development of your mobile or web app. It is essential to select a framework that can provide you with all the features and functionalities that your app requires.
There are some common and general-purpose frameworks like React Native, Django, Laravel, Cordova, and Ionic, which many companies use. In addition, some frameworks are specific to certain languages like Node.js, Java, and Swift.
Business owners, software project owners, managers, and developers need to be aware of these different backend options to choose one best suited for their project needs. Afterall, this decision can make or break your project.
So why does Node.js stand out as the favorite when it comes to backend development for web and mobile apps organizations, businesses, and entrepreneurs worldwide?
Read on to understand the basics of Node.js and it relates to the backend for web or mobile app development.
What is Node.js?
Ryan Dahl developed the initial version in 2009, and the first stable release was made in May 2010. Node has been downloaded more than 100 million times, and it powers more than half of the websites on the internet today.
How Does Node.js Work?
The backbone of how Node.js works is simple: use non-blocking, event-driven I/O to stay lightweight and efficient against data-intensive real-time applications that work on various devices.
Now, that doesn’t sound very easy to understand.
So, in other words, the Node handles many concurrent connections without blocking the main thread, typically referred to as the event loop. This allows Node.js to scale up and process thousands of requests at once quickly. So what you need to bear in mind is that Node.js isn’t ideal for CPU-intensive performances. You’ll lose all its advantages when you use it for heavy computation.
One of the primary topics essential during the Node.js discussion is the in-built support for NPM-enabled package management. This is a default tool that accompanies every Node.js installation. The idea behind NPM modules can be likened to Ruby Gems. It’s a set of publicly accessible, reusable elements, accessible via easy installation through an online resource, dependency, and version management.
You can obtain the complete list of packaged modules on the npm website or via the automatically installed npm CLI tool. Everyone has full access to the module ecosystem, and publishing to the npm repository is open to everyone.
Among the current most helpful npm modules are:
- Connect – This is a Node.js HTTP server framework with plugs designed for high-performance and serving as the foundation for express.
- Express – Simply called Express is a web development framework based on Node.js inspired by Sinatra. It’s the golden standard for the vast majority of Node.js apps in circulation today.
- MongoDB and mongojs – These are MongoDB wrappers for Node.js that offer an API aimed at MongoDB object databases.
- Hapi – A framework focused on configurations for creating web and services applications that are relatively modular and convenient for use.
- Socket.io – This is the server-side component of two of the most widely used WebSockets currently in existence.
- Pug (previously Jade) – A well-known templating engine that was influenced by HAML and is included in Express.js by default.
The list of valuable packages is inexhaustible and readily available to all.
Advantages of Node.js For App Backend
It’s no surprise that Node.js is the most popular backend language in the world, according to a 2018 survey by Stack Overflow, with 46% of respondents saying it was their favorite language for development in 2018.
1. Scalable Web App Development
Node.js has become one of the most popular platforms for building scalable web applications in recent years. It has become a favorite among developers because of its speed, efficiency, and scalability. In addition, with Node.js, you can have multiple nodes running simultaneously and interacting, resulting in a superior web backend development solution.
2. V8 Engine
3. High Performance
4. Control Flow Features
Node.js also made a mark among backend developers of mobile and web apps due to its asynchronous nature. After every function, the code issues an automatic callback. However, with the increase of functions, the callbacks also increase in a process called callback hell. Fortunately, the control flow features offered by Node.js provide a solution by enabling the mapping out of functions and sorting of callbacks.
5. Powerful Data Processing
This backend development language is able to handle thousands of processing requests at once. Therefore, as a data-handling tool, Node.js provides a perfect choice in terms of efficiency. Furthermore, unlike many other backend development frameworks that are only capable of synchronous processing of requests in a one-by-one manner, Node.js emerges superior with simultaneous data processing abilities.
Why The Shift Towards Node.js
Per the hackerrank report, Node.js has taken first place among other frameworks. Furthermore, the Node.js Foundation has compiled the most compelling reasons why this framework and environment can serve enterprises of all sizes and kinds on the Node.js Foundations Case Studies page.
Now, it’s run through some of the leading factors contributing to the sudden and continuous rise in popularity of Node.js.
2. Ultra Lightweight
Every application running on Nodejs uses a fundamental event-driven architecture. This means every function occurs on it, irrespective of the operation. This series of procedures is termed an asynchronous callback. This property distinguishes Node.js since it efficiently runs single-threaded applications, unlike other web technologies, which spawn new threads per client requests.
3. Easy to Maintain And Modify
Conventional web apps are increasing in flexibility and adaptability over time to meet the market’s changing requirements. Consequently, the older applications tend to look outdated without new and frequent updates. Thanks to Node.js, developers can create several small applications rather than develop a small-sized web application. This way, tweaking and adding functionalities isn’t a big problem.
4. Super Fast
Thanks to the magical event loop of Node.js, it is lightning fast. Moreover, the speed of processing functions and callbacks gives Node.js an upper hand in terms of operation speed and how it executes tasks and client requests.
Where Node.js Can Prove Instrumental
Given these advantages and benefits of choosing Node.js for backend processing, here are the various instances it can help new and seasoned developers the most.
Server-side Web/Mobile Application
Node.js alongside Express.js can help build impressive web applications on the server side. However, even though this request-response paradigm is popular, it’s not the most standard use-case of Node.js. You can find different cases made for and against this approach. Below are some facts to keep in mind:
- Crawlers get a fully-rendered HTML response, a more SEO-friendly alternative than a WebSocket app or Single Page Application executed on Node.js.
- As soon as the app runs into CPU-intensive computation, the responsiveness of Node.js gets blocked. So in these cases, a threaded platform presents a better option. On the other hand, scaling out the computation is another worthy approach.
- Combining Node.js and a relational database is still no walk in the park. Instead, you can save yourself a lot of trouble and choose other environments such as Django, Rails, or ASP.Net MVC.
Instances Where You Shouldn’t Use Node.js
When it comes to exploiting relational databases such as MySQL, PostgreSQL, and Microsoft SQL Server, there is a clear preference for Ruby on Rails, especially when comparing it to Node.js and Express.js.
Previously, Node.js relational database tools were in their infancy. Rails, however, comes out of the box with data access configuration as well as DB schema migration assistance tools and extra Gems (catch the pun?). Moreover, Data Mapper or Active Record data access layer configurations are established and validated in Rails and its peer frameworks.
However, things are no longer this way. Bookshelf, TypeORM, and Sequelize have all advanced to the point where they are now mature ORM solutions. So in case you want to produce SQL from GraphQL queries, there are a lot more options at your disposal since Node.js isn’t the most appropriate in this instance.
Demanding Server-side Processing/Computation
With regards to highly demanding computing, Node.js isn’t the ideal option. Hence, you will need to look elsewhere if you’re looking to create a Fibonacci computation server. Generally speaking, you lose all the non-blocking I/O and event-driven benefits when it comes to operations that task the CPU. That’s due to the fact that the active thread will block incoming requests, assuming you are attempting to implement your computations on the same instance of Node that’s engaging requests.
Nevertheless, you need to offload all intensive processing to background processes developed in the right environment to handle that type of operation. By doing so, you have them interact through a message queue server such as RabbitMQ, whether you’re using clustering or not.
Even if you initially perform your background processing on the same server, this approach presents the possibility of immensely high scalability. Furthermore, with the need to set up the arrays of front-facing web servers, the various background processing services might be readily shared to independent worker servers.
Of course, you could use the same strategy on other platforms as well, but with Node.js, you get the high res/sec throughput we discussed earlier because each request is a minor task that can be processed fast and effectively.
Node.js is the backend developer’s favorite because of its scale and asynchronous nature. Indeed, it has a lot of benefits for backend developers. First, it comes with a robust set of features, including HTTP, WebSocket, streams, and more. With these features, Node.js offers better scalability than other backend languages such as PHP or Python. But remember, you can best enjoy all these benefits provided you’re using it in a scenario that doesn’t require massive CPU or blocking resources.
Given its popularity, finding reliable, experienced, and affordable developer talent can prove tricky, so contact ISHIR today for excellence you can trust.