What is Node.js? Where, When & How To Use It?

What is Node.js? Where, When & How To Use It
What is Node.js? Where, When & How To Use It

Introduction

A “JavaScript everywhere” paradigm that unifies web application development around a common programming language rather than separate languages for server-side and client-side scripts, is what Node.js provides a user. Let’s dig into more of its details.

What is Node.js?

Node.js is a JavaScript runtime environment that uses a “non-blocking” approach to serving requests to achieve low latency and high throughput. To put it another way, it does not waste time or resources waiting for I/O requests to complete.

Read about the Best Security Practices For Node.js Web Applications

Why to use Node.js?

In the conventional approach to building web servers, the server creates a new thread of execution or even forks a new process for each incoming request or link to handle the request and submit a response. This makes perfect sense in theory, but in reality, it adds a significant amount of overhead.

Even though spawning threads uses less memory and CPU than forking processes, it can still be inefficient. When a device is heavily loaded, it can waste valuable cycles on thread scheduling and context switching, which adds latency and limits scalability and throughput.

It is on the other hand, takes a different approach. 

To manage connections, it uses a single-threaded event loop that is registered with the framework, and each new connection triggers a JavaScript callback feature. The callback function can handle non-blocking I/O requests and, if necessary, spawn threads from a pool to perform blocking or CPU-intensive operations.

 Most competitive architectures that scale with threads, such as Apache HTTP Server, the various Java application servers, IIS and ASP.NET, and Ruby on Rails, need less memory to manage more connections than Node’s approach to scaling with callback functions.

In addition to servers, Node.js has proven to be very useful for desktop applications.JavaScript isn’t the only language that can be used in its applications. Any language that transpired to JavaScript, such as TypeScript and CoffeeScript, can be used. The Google Chrome V8 JavaScript engine is built into Node.js, and it supports ECMAScript 2015 (ES6) syntax without the use of an ES6-to-ES5 transpiler like Babel.

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Features of Node.js

The following are some of the main features that make it the software architect’s first choice.

1. Asynchronous and Event-Driven: The Node.js library’s APIs are all asynchronous, or non-blocking. It basically means that a Node.js-based server never waits for data from an API. After calling an API, the server moves on to the next one, and a notification system in it is called Events assists the server in receiving a response from the previous API request.

2. Quick: Node.js library is very quick in code execution since it is based on Google Chrome’s V8 JavaScript Engine.

3. Single-Threaded but Highly Scalable: It uses a single-threaded model of event looping, making it highly scalable. In contrast to conventional servers, which generate small threads to handle requests, the event mechanism allows the server to react in a non-blocking manner and makes it highly scalable.

When compared to conventional servers like Apache HTTP Server, Node.js uses a single-threaded programme that can handle a much greater number of requests.

4. No Buffering: No data is ever buffered in its programme. The data is output in chunks by these applications.

Companies using Node.js

Companies like eBay, General Electric, GoDaddy, Microsoft, PayPal, Uber, Wikipins, Yahoo!, and Yammer use the language.

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Where to Use Node.js?

  • I/O bound Applications
  • Applications involving Data Streaming
  • Data-Intensive Real-time Applications (DIRT)
  • JSON APIs based Applications
  • Single Page Applications

NPM: The Node Package Manager

When talking about Node.js, one feature that should not be overlooked is built-in support for package management through NPM, a tool that comes installed with any of its installations by default. NPM modules are similar to Ruby Gems in that they are a set of publicly accessible, interchangeable components that can be installed easily through an online repository and have version and dependency management.

The NPM registry is the largest software registry in the world, with over 1.2 million packages of free, reusable Node.js code. It’s worth noting that most NPM packages (basically directories or NPM registry objects containing a programme listed in a package.json file) have several modules (programmes that you load with require statements). It’s quick to mix up the two words, but they have different meanings in this sense and shouldn’t be used interchangeably.

Some of the widely used NPM modules are:

  • Express: Express.js (or simply Express) is a Sinatra-inspired Node.js web development platform that is the de-facto standard for the majority of its applications today.
  • Hapi: It is a configuration-centric framework for developing web and services applications that is very flexible and easy to use.
  • Connect: It is a Node.js HTTP server application that provides a series of high-performance “plugins” known as middleware. It also acts as the basis for Express.
  • socket.io and sockjs: They are server-side components of the two most common WebSockets components available today.
  • pug (formerly Jade): A popular templating engine based on HAML and included by default in Express.js.
  • MongoDB and MongoJs: MongoDB wrappers for Node.js that provide an API for MongoDB object databases.
  • Lodash (underscore, lazy.js): The JavaScript utility belt. Underscore started the game, but was eventually defeated by one of its two rivals, owing to superior performance and modular implementation.
  • forever: Perhaps the most widely used utility for ensuring that a node script runs indefinitely. In the event of an unforeseen failure, it keeps your Node.js process running in development.
  • bluebird: A Promises/A+ implementation with a lot of features and a lot of efficiencies. – A date library for JavaScript that parses, validates, manipulates, and formats dates.
  • moment: JavaScript date library that allows you to parse, validate, manipulate, and format dates.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is node JS and why use it?

It is a run-time environment for JavaScript on the server. It includes Google’s V8 engine, libuv for cross-platform compatibility, and a core library, all of which are open-source.

Apart from being good at what it does, it is well-known for its large, active, open-source, JavaScript-based ecosystem. It also doesn’t appear to cause big compatibility issues between versions.

What exactly is node JS?

It is a JavaScript runtime environment that uses a “non-blocking” approach to serving requests to achieve low latency and high throughput.

Is Node JS frontend or backend?

Node. js can be used in both the frontend and backend of applications and websites thereby helping the developers to start working on their application or product quickly.

Is Node JS a programming language?

While it is not a programming language, it does allow developers to use JavaScript, which is a programming language for creating web applications. This method is mostly used by programmers who write Server-Side scripts in JavaScript.

Key Takeaways

Using JavaScript and a series of “modules” that handle different core functionalities, enables the development of Web servers and networking resources.

File system I/O, networking (DNS, HTTP, TCP, TLS/SSL, or UDP), binary data (buffers), cryptographic features, data streams, and other key functions are all supported by modules. Modules in it use an API designed to make writing server applications easier.

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By Ranjul Arumadi