Top 7 Advantages of Using Node.js For Web Applications

JavaScript is justly called the most popular programming language several years in a row, as it is a common software development technology among both startups and well-established enterprises. Initially employed for front-end development, it has quickly become one of the major tools for back-end and even cross-platform mobile app development.

Recently, server-side platforms have generated a lot of buzz, offering benefits in performance, faster development, and other perks. The selection of the right programming platform should be based on multiple factors including scalability, speed, learning curve, support, community, and some other. By any definition, Node.js is at the top of the list and it is no wonder that most startups give a distinct preference for it.

But first things first.

What is Node.js?

People often say “Node js programming language”, though it is not a language itself, or framework or library. It is a cross-platform runtime environment built on V8, high-performance open-source JavaScript engine. To ensure excellent performance, Node applies event-driven, non-blocking I/O paradigm. Its package ecosystem, npm (Node Package Manager), is the largest software registry in the world.

Node project was introduced in 2009 by Ryan Dahl during the European JavaScript Conference and instantly seen as “the most exciting single piece of software in the current JavaScript universe”.

What is Node js good for?

The answer mainly depends on your business goals. If you are up to building a real-time or streaming web application with multiple concurrent connections (messaging apps, social media, multiplayer games, virtual terminal emulators, etc.) you'll definitely benefit from Node capabilities, especially in terms of efficient performance and easier development processes. It can become a shrewd choice for API development, with its ability to handle multiple requests and scale smoothly.

Considering various examples and corporate experience it may serve well as the basis for MVPs (minimum viable products), as well as for heavy CPU applications. Though, in the latter case, it'll require more attention and thorough engineering study.

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When to use Node js?

There are multiple reasons to use Node js for a startup or next enterprise project. We believe that it is well suited for event-driven web applications that require a stable connection from the server to user and back. We are talking about interactive games, instant message and chat programs, collaboration tools, and so on. With the use of Node.js and “long-polling” technique or, it is possible not just to build a solution that forwards updates to a consumer on-the-fly, but also don't overload the server, eliminating the need to maintain separate threads for every open connection.

It's worth mentioning that Node also fits well in those cases when you re-use a lot of code across the server-client gap. On the top of that, if you have a small team of JavaScript developers and you aren't looking to hire developers for backend development only, Node js will work well. Lingua Franca on the overall stack.

Why use Node.js?

Considering the long list of companies using Node.js, it still hasn't reached its full potential. However, let's take a look at well-known experiences and operational benefits from using Node js.

  • One of the biggest e-commerce businesses, Groupon, replaced their Ruby on Rails, Java (Europe) and PHP stacks (South America), with a mix of Node.js, Java, and Ruby for back-end services. Such decision was reasoned by the shallow learning curve, ability to re-use earlier written elements of code and better scaling.
  • Data company, Skycatch, employs Node “everywhere you can think of” and benefits from easier scaling and language consistency.
  • Node turned out to be a perfect fit for a retail enterprise, Lowe's, due to its asynchronous model and option to call various services at one time.

“Node.js really opened some eyes to the potential here to think differently than we've ever been able to in the past six years.” – Rick Adam, manager of the application portfolio, Lowe's Digital.

  • Dow Jones first used Node in production back in 2011 and it delivered all the expectations, providing efficient app performance and improving the development time dramatically.
  • Nodejs proved to be a powerful tool and facilitated the processes at Uber. Now all the systems and databases are written in it.
  • GoDaddy used .NET stack for the back-end and JavaScript for the front-end, but back in 2013, they started to move to Node.

“Node allows you to easily build applications with high confidence in build quality. Unit testing is easier. Integration testing is easier. REST is easier. Deployments are easier.” – Stephen Comissio, Senior Software Engineer.

  • PayPal shifted away from obsolete mindset and architecture, and adopted an open source model, moving to JavaScript and Node.js in particular. The last-named provided teams with the capability to modularize the structure and deliver faster. 

«Node.js and an all JavaScript development stack helped PayPal bring efficiencies in engineering and helped rethink and reboot product, design and operational thinking.» – Sameera Rao, Sr. Manager, Business Products Engineering, PayPal.

  • In order to bring some innovation and to keep pace with the business, Netflix switched its backend from Java to Nodejs. The idea of “language consistency” also had a critical impact on the decision, as frontend already ran on JavaScript.

«You can go from 0 to 60 with Node really fast, so you can get something going really quickly.» – Kim Trott, Director of UI Platform Engineering, Netflix.

The list of companies can go on and on. Among other Node users are Walmart, NASA, Fusion Marketing, LinkedIn, Yahoo, Bustle, eBay, Capital One and many others. 

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Advantages of using Node js for a startup

Considering the above-mentioned use cases, let's sum up and highlight the top seven advantages of Node.js for startups:

  • It requires a low learning curve

If you opt for Node.js, you can benefit from the ease of sharing one and the same language both on server and client sides. It removes the necessity to switch between back-end and front-end and requires fewer developers to maintain the server, as you can have one team for both sides.

Leveraging Node js for web applications companies experience all the benefits of full-stack development, such as enhanced productivity, ability to share or reuse the code, as well as a smooth exchange of knowledge within the team. What is more, such overall JavaScript applications require less code and fewer files, compared to those ones, with different languages on the backend and frontend. As a corollary to this, startups can reduce the amount of code, scale back the number of involved risks, and gain the engineering speed.

  • It boosts the development speed

For most startups, entry into the market is a lengthy process with a great number of tests, while this is where Node.js can assist in many ways.

The technology itself is lightweight and comes with multiple tools to accelerate the development speed. Npm registry offers various libraries and helpful solutions to create more value with less effort. Reusable templates, in turn, make it possible to reduce the size of your application and cut down a number of bugs, making the time-to-market cycle shorter. Language consistency on the server and client sides makes data timing handier and less time-consuming.

  • It is scalable

Node js scalability is one of the core benefits for those startups that are looking to grow. Being a lean technology tool, it fits well for microservices architecture, which in turn ensures better flexibility. With Node js programming language the app logic is broken into smaller modules, thus developers can easily add more modules to the existing ones, instead of integrating new features with the large monolithic core.

These days, companies often opt for Node while developing and launching microservices solutions and most of them also employ related technologies, namely Docker (containers). Walmart and GoDaddy can serve as good examples of such architectural approach. On the top of that, Node apps support vertical, as well as horizontal scaling.

  • It ensures reduced response time

Following single-threaded event loop model, the Node.js platform is able to handle more concurrent user requests easily, without creating more threads and so employing fewer resources. It offers a non-blocking asynchronous architecture that enables startups to create real-time apps with enhanced responsiveness and nimble performance.  

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  • It is mobile friendly

In startups where development speed, response time, productivity, competitive edge, and relevance are serious concerns, Node.js proves to be helpful. This technology shows off its efficiency and adaptability while handling the growing volume of mobile traffic, distributing the load and so preserving the server from crashing. Finally, Node.js developers can build necessary features of responsive sites much faster.

  • It comes with rich ecosystem

Npm is a default Node package manager that also works as a huge database for free JavaScript tools, contributed by the community. Currently, there are over 475,000 packages available in the registry and over 11,000 new tools are published weekly.

Such great variety of open-source tools expands the huge potential of Nodejs, reducing the overall development cost and app's time-to-market.

  • It has a solid community support

Node.js foundation was introduced back in 2015 with the mission to handle the development and production of the Node.js project. Such leading companies as Microsoft, IBM, SAP, Fidelity, and some others have joined it as founding members. Currently, the community counts over a thousand of individual contributors and the technology is used by over 300 hundred startups and well-established companies. Such background makes it a mature and well-tested tool that won't be neglected anytime soon.

Takeaways: the core features of Node js

Considering all Node JS advantages and disadvantages, to keep it short:

  • Prompt code execution
  • Single threaded, but extremely scalable
  • Asynchronous and event-driven
  • Supported by widely-recognized businesses  
  • It is really efficient
  • Reusable code
  • It is particularly popular

Taking into account such Node js benefits as smooth data streaming and excellent audio/video broadcasting it becomes a technology of choice for travel startups and even enterprise-level software solutions. It is also important to go with the technology that you or your team knows best. Choosing a tech stack, make your priorities and goals clear and decide what benefits each can add to your business. 
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