Golang vs Node.js Comparison: Performance, Speed, Scalability and Other

Before we start our comparison of Node.js vs Golang, let’s get our terminology right. Node.js is a runtime, or environment, for JavaScript code execution, while Golang is a programming language. However, both are used for backend development where Node.js creates an environment for JavaScript to be executed server-side, and Golang is suitable for writing code executable server-side, so the comparison is quite legitimate.

Node.js has been around for some time already. It was initially developed as a platform for executing JavaScript code. JavaScript is primarily designed for client-side scripting where scripts execute directly in the browser without any communication with the server. With Node.js, scripts written in JavaScript can be run by the server to generate dynamic web pages with content created before the page is sent to the browser. Node.js became a true revolution in web application programming, as it enabled writing both frontend and backend in the same language.

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Golang, or just Go, is a product of Google and is relatively young – it was first released in 2007. As most of the innovations in the IT universe, Go was the result of developers being unhappy with the existing solutions. They set out to create a language which would combine the advantages of other programming languages in hope of achieving better performance. The core structure of Go is built on the basic principles of C and Python. C is a compiled language in which the source code is translated into computer-readable code by the so-called compilers – special software converting the code into instructions which the computer is able to perform. Such approach produces high-performance and secure applications, however, requires some additional complicated programming. On the other hand, interpreted languages, such as Python, convert source code into machine-readable format during runtime which, generally, eases the programming process but may affect the performance.

Nodejs vs Golang Comparison of Key Features

Go, although using compilation, features easiness of programming similar to that of an interpreted language. So, at first sight, Go may appear a perfect solution for application programming. The fact that it is getting increasingly popular among developers speaks for it, too, however, Node.js does not seem to be losing ground because it also has certain advantages. We will compare the characteristics of Go vs those of Node.js to see in which situations each of them can be a better choice.

 

Node.js

Golang

PerformanceMediumExcellent
ScalabilityMediumEasy
ConcurrencyPoorExcellent
Error handlingMediumDifficult
Developers’ toolsExcellentPoor
Learning curveEasyDifficult
Availability of developersExcellentPoor
 

Let’s look closer at each of these criteria.

Performance

Node.js is based on JavaScript, an interpreted language, which renders it generally slower than most of the compiled languages. And indeed, in this respect Go beats it by far, as one of the goals its developers tried to achieve was better performance.

However, if truth be told, such comparison of Node.js vs Golang is fair in terms of raw performance – the CPU performance with no other load. Here Golang is definitely the winner, although, in real life performance both Node.js and Go can show similar satisfactory results, as the overall performance of the server may be affected by other factors.

Scalability and Concurrency

Node.js is single-threaded, which means that the execution instructions are performed in sequence. And this may be its Achilles’ heel when it comes to large applications requiring massive scaling with a lot of parallel processes executed at the same time. JavaScript allows some concurrency with event callbacks, however, they are not too effective.

Go, in its turn, is much better suited for scalability due to its coroutines which it calls “goroutines”. Goroutines allow multiple threads to be performed simultaneously with parallel tasks executed easily and reliably. So, in this round of Go vs. Node.js, Go is definitely the winner.

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For this easy and convenient scalability, Go became the language of choice for Docker and Dropbox who recognized the options Go offered for building large applications with considerable scaling capacity.

Error Handling

In terms of error handling, Golang requires explicit error checking with the program flowing in a regular way and error codes returned afterward. This approach may seem difficult, however, it ensures better consistency and a more reliable application in the end.

Node.js uses the throw/catch mechanism with errors “caught” immediately upon occurrence. This is a more traditional error handling technique which many developers are quite familiar with. At the same time, the application consistency may be somewhat suboptimal.

Developers’ Tools

With JavaScript being as popular as it is, you will find tools for all sorts of applications. There are hundreds of libraries, thousands of tutorials, dozens of platforms. The huge JavaScript community has been contributing for years to create a reliable environment for all kinds of development tasks.

Go, on the other hand, is young and not so popular yet. Its community is nowhere near that of JavaScript and, therefore, its knowledge base may seem poor by comparison. So, if you are embarking on the journey towards mastering Go, be prepared for a lot of research and manual configuration.

Learning Curve

JavaScript is one of the most popular programming languages in the developers’ world. So, if you are familiar with JavaScript, learning Node.js will be a piece of cake. Even if you are new to JavaScript, there are hundreds of educational resources, both online and offline. And, of course, the vast JavaScript community is always there to share expertise and offer assistance.

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With Go, you will still be learning a new language with its specific processes, rules, and concepts. And, keeping in mind its relatively scarce resources, be prepared for some hard individual study.

And remember that Golang is a language for backend development. For front-end there will be, most probably, JavaScript again. Although Go has developed a native compiler, gopherjs, converting Go into JavaScript to allow executing Go code in the browser, and this is another proof of the fact that in the realm of front-end development JavaScript is second to none.

Availability of Developers

The availability of educational resources directly determines the number of developers working with Node.js or Golang. For a project, it is much easier to find developers familiar with Node.js and form a team of professionals of all required levels. With Go, putting together an efficient team may be a challenge.

The 2017 Developer Survey by StackOverflow confirms that JavaScript remains the most popular programming language chosen by 61.2% of the developers while Go holds the modest 4.2%. However, the same survey ranks Go among five most loved programming languages, that is, the languages in which the developers work now and would like to continue working in future. In this category Go leaves JavaScript far behind.

nodejs-vs-golang-comparison-stats

 

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[Image source: Stackoverflow]

Conclusion

Having compared Golang vs Node.js from different points of view, we can hardly say that one is definitely better than the other, as both have their strong points and drawbacks. From the performance aspect, Golang performance seems more reliable than Node.js performance, but you should start with considering the size of the project, its structure, and type of the development process that matches your business goals best.

At DA-14 we mainly go with Node for building both simple software solutions and complex real-time web apps with numerous concurrent connections. Our Nodejs developers feel snug creating social media apps, messaging tools, complex CPU applications, MVPs, APIs, and so on. Thus we recommend opting for the language that your team feels more comfortable with or that it knows best.

All in all, Node.js remains popular and widely used in backend development, its supporters are numerous and this means that in the nearest future, at least, Node.js is going to keep its ground firmly. On the other hand, Golang, an evolution of the existing platforms, highly innovative and simultaneously reliable and consistent, is a close runner-up with rather bright prospects. 

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