Python vs Node.js: Which is Better for Your Project

Selection of the programming language for a project is one of the primary issues each project should resolve before starting. The programming language determines many crucial flows and procedures in project development, so, it is important to make the right choice.

Choosing a language for backend development is equally important, as you will be using it to create your server-side applications. The server-side software is not visible to the end users but it is the engine making your application run.

When you think about backend development, Python and Node.js are the first things that come to your mind. While Python is a programming language, Node.js is an environment allowing JavaScript code to run on the server side and not in a browser. It is based on Chrome’s V8 Engine, which runs on Google Chrome. Node was a sort of a quantum leap, as it is the first environment allowing to use JavaScript both on the client side and on the server side. Without Node.js, frontend and backend used different languages, which could cause certain compatibility issues.

node-python-compare-business

So, Node.js vs Python comparison actually boils down to comparing Python and JavaScript on the backend. This is going to be a clash of titans, as both have been around for quite some time, both have earned solid reputations in the developers’ community, both have thousands of devoted supporters. We can even speak of a Python or JavaScript culture and folklore – there is even the Zen of Python and the JavaScript Garden. Python philosophy is that “There should be one – and preferably only one – obvious way to do it”, while JavaScript proudly boasts that “Any application that can be written in JavaScript will eventually be written in JavaScript” (the so-called Atwood’s Law).

Detailed comparison of Node vs Python

Therefore, in our attempt to compare Python vs Node.js, we will not try to prove that one of them is better than the other. On the contrary, we will show the advantages of both to see in which cases one of them can perform more optimally than the other.

  • Performance

The main thing we want from a programming tool is performance. Performance defines the speed of your application response which directly depends on how fast your code is executed. If we compare the performance of Python vs that of Node.js, we will immediately see that Node is significantly faster. This great performance is largely due to Node.js being based on Chrome’s V8 which is a very fast and powerful engine. For this reason, Node.js speed vs that of Python is far greater which makes it a much better choice for real-time applications, for example, those involving chat functionality.

Also, Python does not perform optimally in memory-intensive applications. So, it should not be a preferred solution for developing applications using heavy 3D graphics.

  • Scalability and Concurrency

Another important aspect which needs to be taken into account in planning backend development is scalability. Scalability is the ability of an application to serve the increasing number of requests with no compromise in performance. This ability is essential in content-heavy applications as well as in those serving multiple new users, both through desktop and mobile interfaces.

The programming language also has its influence on the application scalability. Node.js creates a single-thread asynchronous architecture with I/O operations completed outside the thread and, therefore, not blocking it. This feature guarantees smooth Node.js scalability within simple web apps, however, development of complex applications with a lot of concurrent processes requires in-depth knowledge, attention, and careful engineering research.

Python, in its turn, does not support asynchronous programming by default, but it supports coroutines with which asynchronous processing can be easily achieved. So, even if its architecture may seem not as scalable as that of Nodejs, Python has the tools with which necessary scalability can be reached.

  • Error Handling

Easiness and transparency of error handling can also be a critical issue while choosing a programming language. Both Node.js and Python deal well with throwing and catching exceptions, that is, errors occurring during code execution. Though, the general notion is that handling exceptions in Python is easier and takes less time to debug and fix errors.

node-python-compare-business-project

  • Learning Curve

As we have mentioned already, Node.js is an environment for running JavaScript code. So, if you know JavaScript, you should have little problem with Node as it speaks the same language.

However, if you know neither of them and decide which one to learn, learning Python may be easier for its cleaner syntax and more compact code. Python requires fewer lines of code than Node.js to reach the same result. Besides, Python has been around for more than 25 years and has accumulated extensive documentation, so you will not find its knowledge base insufficient.

Both Node.js and Python have huge communities, so you can always rely on peer support whichever language you choose. And for project managers, there will be no problem putting together a developers’ team of either Node.js or Python professionals.

The 2017 Developer Survey by StackOverflow showed that in the “Most Wanted” category where the responding developers included the languages and technologies they were not working with but wanted to, both Node.js and Python hold the top rank in the “Technology” and “Language” rating, respectively:

nodejs-python-comparison-technologies

[Image source: Stack Overflow]

nodejs-python-comparison-programming-languages

[Image source: Stack Overflow]

Advantages of Node.js and Python

Let’s summarize the benefits of Python and Node.js to see in which aspects one is stronger than the other:

 

Node.js

Python

PerformanceExcellentGood
ScalabilityGoodGood
Error handlingGoodGood
Learning curveEasyEasy
Availability of developersExcellentExcellent

Python and Node.js: When to Use

Now that we have briefly seen the strong points of both technologies, we can conclude why we should use Node.js or Python for certain applications. The advantages of both can determine the areas which they will truly shine in.

Node.js, for its superb performance and speed, is a perfect solution for applications featuring real-time messaging or chatting, as well as for heavy-load applications, content management solutions, multi vendor marketplaces, e-commerce and other applications largely depending on the speed of processing.

Python, featuring consistency, stability, and easiness of use, is often the language of choice for scientific applications, big data solutions, and government projects.

Node.js Use Cases and Example Startups:

  • LinkedIn, a large social network for professionals is based on Node.js which reliably serves its ever-increasing load of messages and connections
  • As we noted before, Node.js the first platform which enabled using the same programming language for front end and back end. This revolutionary achievement did not go unnoticed by the Mozilla browser which chose Node.js for the possibility of writing both client-side and server-side code in the same language. According to Mozilla’s executives, this approach consolidated the team and made development easier
  • eBay, a global e-commerce platform for C2C and B2B online sales, has appreciated the speed of Node.js and its ability to handle multiple requests simultaneously in real-time.

node-python-compare-business-project-development

Python Use Cases and Example Startups:

  • United Space Alliance, the company NASA contracted to support their shuttle program, chose Python for the development of software requested by NASA. They were convinced by Python’s reliable out-of-the-box performance, easiness of the language itself and its ability to serve complex programs with massive data processing. However, NASA itself chose Node for building an “end-to-end system for data on the full lifecycle of spacesuits”
  • Industrial Light and Magic, a George Lucas company for creating special effects, switched to Python in its production pipeline for its outstanding batch processing abilities. ILM processes thousands of frames per day, and Python proved to be a good fit for the task
  • Frequentis, a global provider of solutions for air traffic management, public safety and transport, uses Python in its Tower and Airport Tools monitoring airport weather conditions and controlling navigation instruments. In Python, they appreciated its consistent error handling mechanisms, extensive standard libraries with reusable components and the straightforward syntax allowing fast development and, ultimately, reducing the time-to-market of the end product.

Conclusion

We started this little research stating that we were not going to prove that Node.js is better than Python or vice versa. Indeed, both have their advantages which determine their areas of application. Both Nodejs and Python have rightfully earned their place in the software development world. The choice of the main technology for a project depends on multiple factors – application type, industry sector, performance requirements, developers experience, and so on. Both Node.js and Python will ensure reliable, consistent and effective solutions with the right approach. Make a smart choice, and your backend will always be a solid foundation of your web application.

↑ Go up

Similar post