Why use Node.js for Application Development?

March 10, 2023 • 169 Views • 14 min read

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Tetiana Stoyko

CTO & Co-Founder

When it comes to software application development, the variety of possible technologies, which can be used for this purpose may shock. Planning your future application, choosing the correct tech stack, and finding developers are some of the most terrifying and chaotic processes you will have to face during software development, or, to be more precise, even before it.

Thus, to make your life a bit easier, we propose considering one of the possible software development solutions, which can help you develop a great real-time application with high-performance results. Yet, this is only one of the possible cases for Node.js. Before discussing all the potential benefits and drawbacks of Node.js, let’s briefly talk about the technology itself.

Node.js Development Solution Explained

Node.js is a popular runtime environment, designed and used specifically for the development of server-side applications, based on JavaScript. Actually, it is commonly referred to as a framework, which is not quite correct. While frameworks are basically full-fledged solutions, designed to give the developers all possible development tools, the runtime environment is an infrastructure, that supports code execution and allows communication with the OS. Yet, it is a JS-based software product, which means it can be easily combined with a wide range of other JavaScript solutions like frameworks and libraries. So, potentially, the functionality of the Node.js development solution is not actually limited.

Node is also based on the V8 engine, another JS solution, created by Google. This engine is probably one of the most effective on the market. In other words, V8 gives Node a chance to deal with numerous processes and huge amounts of data in a very fast and efficient way. This is why applications, based on this technology are usually showing high-performance results. So why use Node.js for application development?

Why Use Node.js for Application Development?

Node is a great flexible solution, which can be used in multiple circumstances, it can be combined with C++ addons, and has a great asynchronous even loop feature for I/O operations, which highly boosts the overall efficiency and productivity of an app.

Node.js pros and cons (1).jpg

So, the first thing, that comes to mind is to use Node in software applications, which have to deal with lots of data. For instance, it could be real-time chat applications, APIs for object-oriented databases, apps with intense I/O operations, etc. Also, apps, which have to deal with big data will definitely win from such adoption.

The List of the Best Node.js Features

It is using JavaScipt programming language, which is itself a great benefit, that allows the combination with multiple other software development technologies and instruments due to its popularity. However, Node.js can also use both JavaScript and C++ additionally, thanks to Google’s V8 engine. As a result, the list of potential Node.js use cases becomes even bigger.

Additionally, it proposes an asynchronous event loop for I/O operations, which boosts performance. To add some more, Node.js microservices architecture is a great way to develop a scalable and complex application.

Eventually, all the foregoing best Node.js features are simply the key advantages of this technology, yet they are only a smart part of the proposed solutions. So, instead of a superficial examination of the Node.js technology itself, let’s deepen into these critical features to better understand why they are so important.

Asynchronous Event Loops for IO Operations

The event loop is one of the best Node.js features that enables it to handle asynchronous calls efficiently. In simple terms, the event loop is a mechanism that allows Node.js to execute non-blocking I/O operations with the asynchronous method and respond to them in a timely and efficient manner. So Node.js is well-suited for making asynchronous requests to APIs for several reasons:

  • Node.js uses a single-threaded model to execute JavaScript code, but it uses asynchronous I/O operations to handle requests in a non-blocking way.
  • When a request is received, Node.js puts it into a queue and moves on to the next request without waiting for the first request to complete.
  • The event loop continuously monitors the queue for new requests and processes each request in turn.
  • When an asynchronous operation completes, such as reading data from a file or sending a request to an external API, the Node.js feature adds the corresponding callback function to a separate queue.
  • The event loop then processes the callback queue in turn, executing each callback function when it is reached in the queue. Async event loops give a chance for Node.js to deal with numerous requests without affecting the main thread. As a result, the system shows more responsive and effective outcomes.
  • Callbacks: Node.js uses callbacks. These are the functions, to be executed after an asynchronous operation completes. This allows Node.js to continue processing other requests while waiting for the API response to be returned.

Example: Let’s imagine you are developing a REST API using a Node.js development solution, a very popular case so it should be easy to imagine, isn’t it? With asynchronous I/O, the REST API can respond quickly to requests, reducing latency and improving the user experience.

Asynchronous I/O enables Node.js to use system resources more efficiently, as it can handle multiple requests with a single thread. This makes it a highly efficient choice for REST APIs, as it can handle a large number of requests without requiring significant hardware resources.

In conclusion, Node.js is a sweet spot for REST API, providing the best user experience as it’s fast and cost-low.

Node.js Microservices Solution

Node.js is a popular choice for microservices architecture because of its lightweight and scalable nature. Here are some reasons why Node.js is a good fit for microservices:

  • Lightweight: Node.js is a lightweight runtime that uses a non-blocking I/O model, which allows it to handle a large number of requests without consuming too many resources. This makes it a good choice for Node.js microservices, which typically involve a large number of small services that need to communicate with each other.
  • Scalable: The event-driven architecture and I/O operations, based on a non-blocking method result in great scalable network applications on Node.js. In other words, it makes Node a perfect solution for creating microservices architecture, which can be easily scaled in both ways, depending on the product owner’s requirements.
  • JavaScript: Node.js is based on JavaScript, which is a popular programming language that is easy to learn and widely used. This makes it easier for development teams to build Node.js microservices and allows for greater collaboration between front-end and back-end developers.

However, we have also to admit, that Node is incapable of developing microservices itself, due to the fact, that it is not a standalone framework. Instead, for developing microservices architecture, developers commonly use Nest. It is a popular Node.js framework that provides a number of features that are useful for building microservices. Here are some of the best Node.js features:

  • Modular architecture: Nest uses a modular architecture that makes it easy to build and maintain microservices. For instance, software engineers can develop each module independently. As a result, it allows better control, flexibility, and maintenance capabilities.
  • Dependency injection: Nest supports dependency injection, which makes code management and reuse easier across various modules. This can help decrease duplication of code and improve overall code quality.
  • Built-in testing tools: Additionally, Nest proposes a number of various built-in testing tools, which can help to make the app development more efficient and help during the testing stage.
  • Support for multiple protocols: Nest supports a variety of protocols, including HTTP, WebSockets, and gRPC, which makes it easier to build microservices that can communicate with each other using different protocols. Also, it supports a lot of popular message brokers like Kafka, RabbitMQ, and MQTT.

To sum up, Node.js services are a good choice for microservices architecture because of their lightweight and scalable nature, and Nest provides a number of features that make it easier to build and maintain Node.js microservices, such as modular architecture, dependency injection, built-in testing tools, and support for multiple protocols.

For a better illustration, we propose you check our building microservices infrastructure case.

Coding in JavaScript and C++

NodeJS is a great tool, which allows the development of efficient server-side rendering applications. We have already mentioned one of the reasons why Node.js is so flexible. The fact, that it is built on top of the Google V8 JavaScript engine, which is written in C++ means, that Node can easily interact with C++.

Using C++ addons in Node.js provides several benefits, including the ability to make intensive, parallel, and high-accuracy calculations. C++ is a compiled language, which means that it can execute more quickly and efficiently than JavaScript in certain situations.

In addition to performance benefits, using C++ addons in Node.js development solution also allows developers to integrate third-party libraries written in C/C++. This can save a significant amount of development time and effort, as developers can leverage existing libraries and code to build their applications.

Node.js also provides a number of built-in modules and APIs that allow developers to do pretty much everything they want with the runtime. For example, the built-in HTTP module allows developers to create web servers, while the File System (fs) module allows developers to read and write files. In addition, there are thousands of open-source Node.js features and modules available through the Node Package Manager (npm), which helps software engineers to add even more functionality to their applications.

Example:

The best example of using C++ addons is high-performance applications that require heavy computation or large-scale data processing, such as scientific computing, artificial intelligence, and big data analysis. By using C++ addons in Node.js, developers can leverage the performance benefits of C++ while still taking advantage of the high-level abstractions and ease of use provided by Node.js.

Summary

So, we have already figured out the answer to the question: “why use node.js for application development?” Yet, in order to be objective, we also have to name at least some of the reasons why not to choose it over the alternatives. Or, to rephrase it, when it is better not to use Node.js.

So, while Node.js features can be used in multiple cases, there are at least a few applications, which won’t benefit from node.js development solutions. Frankly, the list is not as big or impressive, yet some apps with hard server-side processing may not be the best use case for Node, especially in combination with relational databases.

Summing up all the above, we can say that Node.js is a great choice in numerous cases. The only possible drawback may be related to the SSR-oriented applications, and those that highly rely on SQL databases. Therefore, it is better to consider some case studies, before making the final decision on whether to adopt such a technology.

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FAQ

What are some popular Node.js frameworks?

There are plenty of various frameworks, which can collaborate with Node.js. Among the most popular solutions, we can name:

  • Express.js
  • Koa.js
  • Hapi.js
  • Sails.js
  • Meteor.js

What kind of applications can be built using Node.js?

Is Node.js suitable for large-scale applications?

What are the advantages of using Node.js for real-time applications?

How does Node.js compare to alternative backend technologies like PHP and Ruby on Rails?

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