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Why use Node.js in 2021? Pros & Cons

Borys Palka f3091b20dd

28/07/2021 |

13 min read

Borys Palka

Node.js, an open-source runtime environment, is among the most popular programming tools in 2021 and is used for server-side and network app development. Neither a framework nor a library, designed to be used in both front-end and back-end applications, it supports JavaScript code-writers and testers.


Table of contents: 

  1. What is Node.js?
  2. Why use Node.js: pros & cons
  3. Using Node.js apps (in business)
  4. When NOT to use Node.js
  5. Why use Node.js in 2021?

What is Node.js?

Prior to the advent of Node.js, JavaScript was utilized mostly in front-end programming. Now, it can be successfully used as a full-stack language, excellent for building frameworks as fast as the environment itself. 

Node.js is a cross-platform runtime environment for developing server-side and networking applications. It is written in C, C++, and Javascript and is based on Chrome's V8 JavaScript engine, allowing developers to write JavaScript on both the client and the server sides. It is estimated that the Node.js web server technology is currently used by over 30 million websites (around 1,4% to 2,2% of websites globally), including such big names as Uber, eBay, General Electric, GoDaddy, Microsoft, PayPal, Wikipins, Yahoo, Walmart, and Netflix.

The features and benefits of Node.js make the development process straightforward. Node.js has an event-driven, non-blocking I/O paradigm, making it ideal for data-intensive, real-time applications that operate across dispersed devices. As a result of operating a single-threaded event-based loop, Node.js performs only one operation at a time – despite receiving many requests from different users. Thus, it can efficiently manage concurrent client requests and has good performance (non-blocking calls simply begin the action; the response is delivered later; in the meantime, additional client requests can be processed). 

Node.js is simple to learn, and because it doesn't have a learning curve, you may skip learning JavaScript and Object-Oriented programming altogether. Think about it as another server, similar to Apache, IIS, TOM, and so on. However, unlike other servers, Node does not support PHP,.NET or JAVA – JavaScript is executed on the server-side. 

It makes use of JSON and offers an API for using HTTP, DNS, and TCP, etc. to create conventional servers. Plus, the back-end of a project may be easily enhanced with the use of Node. js-based frameworks like Express,, and Meteor.js. This allows you to tweak and modify Node.js to meet your project needs. 

Why use Node.js: pros & cons

As the grass seems always greener on the other side, it’s always best to talk not only about the perks of the tool but also mention its key drawbacks. Let’s compare the pros and cons of Node.js, then we can talk about its actual use in your project. 


Advantages of Node.js

1. Extremely scalable

Node.js is well-suited to respond to numerous concurrent requests at the same time. Node.js was the rock that allowed developers to use JS for both back-end and front-end development. Unlike other web backend development options, it allows several nodes to run in parallel and communicate with each other, then a cluster module balances loads to distribute requests among servers evenly. In addition, its event-loop system enables the server to respond to the most pressing requests. Plus, the Node.js child processes are fast and share the same origin by interacting with one other.

2. Microservice friendly

Node.js is a simple framework that is a well-recognized solution for microservice architecture among developers. Not only do they have the ability to grow their Node.js application horizontally by adding more nodes to the existing system, but they can also scale it vertically by adding resources to individual nodes. Thanks to that, as the new microservices are added, it gets easier to build on top of the old ones. Or tailor apps to user interest, age, geography, language, and other parameters, resulting in more efficiency and more customization. Therefore, it serves as a perfect base for developing sophisticated corporate applications with better scalability.

3. JavaScript V8 engine

Node.js's popularity is attributed to its ability to provide incredible performance in a time of a large quantity of data processing. Node.js web app development tool makes it possible to write code directly in machine code, which simplifies and speeds up the implementation process. Node.js uses Google V8's JavaScript engine to run JavaScript code, which is immediately compiled into machine code. In other words, the Node.js framework's backend technology and runtime environment gave support to non-blocking I/O operations and made the code execute faster. 

4. Node.js is module-based

Every aspect of Node.js is performed using separate modules that correlate to a certain function. You may choose to use a different module for networking, I/O file systems, and data buffering. Editing one aspect of the program is as simple as accessing the appropriate module and tweaking that code. A good option for servers with sophisticated functionality when you use a single project. You may choose a certain developer to be in charge of each module. This gives you the capacity to scale and better controls the process.

5. Automation

Automate repetitive tasks, update shared data, and schedule activities in a framework. Developing a web application is a breeze when you have a giant collection of interface and functionality templates readily available. Specifying needs is all you need to do, and the framework will take care of the rest. Even though it will be less advanced, the product will be similar enough to fool some newer designers.

6. A single-threaded request management system

A thread typically consumes an additional 2MB of data, in addition to the resources needed to link threads. Node.js uses a single thread to execute more than ten thousand requests at a time - taking the burden of extra loading off your shoulders. The processed data is considerably lighter than it would be with other languages since the number of threads is limited. The flow is more smooth as well. Thanks to that, Node.js may be used to construct a wide variety of web projects, including single-page applications, microservices, chat rooms, online games, APIs, and data streaming programs.

7. Database support

Node.js has an advantageous single-thread architecture, which makes it ideal for processing input-output (I/O) data. When you're done, you'll have a basic and lightweight server that responds to certain URL requests by sending backfiles. Node.js supports relational and NoSQL databases, as well as any other database formats. However, it is helpful to utilize MongoDB first. JSON objects help make it easier to implement JavaScript-based backends like Node.js. 

8. Full support

The Node.js community is both active and ever-contributive and is working toward Node growth and advancement. According to Stackoverflow, almost 51.4% of professional developers utilize Nodejs for frameworks, libraries, and tools. Over 700,000 built-in features and modules are available in NPM (Node.js Package Manager). And, due to its “make your own rules” open-source approach, it is believed that we will see an even more prosperous and robust ecosystem in the future. As a result, Node.js developers can rely on their tools being supported for a long time.

9. Good for testing

The Node.js ecosystem, with its rich array of third-party packages, provides the capability to test and debug with competence. Node.js applications that utilize different automated testing tools/frameworks, including Lab, Code, Jasmine, and AVA, will all benefit from a robust testing environment. Moreover, you may utilize testing libraries like Chai, Mocha, and Jest to ensure that your consumers have a flawless, error-free experience.

10. No learning curve (easy to adjust)

Node.js developers may write both frontend and backend code in JavaScript, thanks to Full-Stack Privilege. The seamless deployment of programs is made possible by this software, and the learning curve is also shortened. Let’s top that with the fact that developers have the freedom to write as they want since Node.js lets them construct things from scratch with fewer limitations.


Limitations of Node.js

1. Ineffective management of excessive CPU use

Node.js works for light to moderate computation (CPU-intensive programs are not recommended.) Furthermore, it is less efficient at doing large calculations since it does not enable multi-threaded programming. In short, the major advantage of the language would become a big disadvantage and lead to a drastic slowdown in end-product performance.

2. Quality issues: inconsistent API 

Due to its non-opinionated nature, Node.js tools are prone to structural problems, as some of them aren't coded to very high standards yet. Because the API is always in flux, it is a burden for developers, who must regularly alter their current code to maintain compatibility as well as for beginners who could have trouble creating apps from ground zero. As a result, a decrease in productivity may occur.

3. Asynchronous nature

The difficulty of maintaining it is caused by the fact that it is asynchronous, making apps laborious to maintain and confusing to comprehend. 

4. Poor key typing

Node.js enables you to write JavaScript without a web browser on the server. It has weaker typing constraints and may execute implicit type conversion at runtime, which might lead to surprising results.

Using Node.js apps (in business)

Node.js allows for several concurrent requests to be served concurrently, ensuring rapid response times. It is thus excellent for client-side web application development. Node.js may be used as your server technology, allowing you to increase productivity by enabling developers to utilize the same language on both the front end and back end. For single-page apps, we may employ JavaScript runtime environments more commonly than any other back-end technology. A cross-functional and more efficient development team allows for cheaper development expenses.

You may reuse your code between the front- and back-end portions of your application, which will help speed up the development process and market release time. Node.js is a common choice for online application development, as it is the primary motivation for web developers. Node.js's popularity is surging, thus the extensive resource library that exists is only becoming larger.

Node.js is a great solution for contemporary apps that must handle huge volumes of data and that require minimal latency. Node.js-based real-time applications are known as such systems. The web app backend may be launched using JavaScript with the help of a runtime environment. It’s a valuable tool for use in e-commerce since it allows you to create a unique thread for each request, as well as ensure optimal speed. This is the ideal option for apps that process significant amounts of data in real-time and operate across several devices. Node.js applications offer higher speed thanks to two primary reasons: the ability to multitask and the usage of the V8 JavaScript engine.

Node.js is an open-source platform that supports full-stack development using an event-based application development approach. The option of Node.js, though it has other platforms to compete with, is a popular and quick method for developing real-time web applications with a wide community of Node.js developers and a wealth of Node.js talent. Node.js also has performance advantages and other aspects worth knowing about for web apps.

Choose Node.js If you want to build:

  • a single-page application that performs well
  • a web application that provides a stream of material
  • applications that can quickly process the information on the Web
  • a multi-user web application that is life
  • online games hosted on web browsers

When NOT to use Node.js 

There are specific scenarios where web server technology, which is otherwise flexible and revolutionary, is unsuited. Let’s take a closer look at three scenarios that do not work well with this JavaScript runtime environment. 

1. Applications that require powerful processors

Heavy-duty apps are the first thing that springs to mind when designing an app. Node.js uses an event-based, non-blocking I/O model, making use of a single CPU, which consequently blocks all incoming requests while the CPU is processing. Heavy CPU workloads will cause incoming requests to stall and negate the usage of Node.js's biggest advantages. The event loop included in the connections does not provide good CPU distribution for large queries, therefore performance suffers.

2. Server-side applications supported by a relational database

Rails' toolbox for relational database development is much more robust and efficient than the one from Datastax, making it a superior choice for development.

3. CRUD (or HTML) applications for simple data entry

While Node.js may be an option for other purposes, using it for CRUD apps is a poor choice because it uses the same API as the server. The popular SQL operations of creating, reading, updating, and deleting are commonly performed by CRUD applications. Node.js will be a tiny bit more scalable, but don't assume your traffic will increase just because Node.js is used. Thus, usage scenarios of this sort, where data is delivered directly from the server and a separate API is unnecessary, make Node.js unneeded. In scenarios like these, you can utilize the Ruby framework since it handles CRUD operations well.

Why use Node.js in 2021?

Node.js's most powerful skill is enabling scalable network applications that can manage numerous connections at once. If conventional web-serving methods necessitate the creation of a new thread for each connection, Node.js can handle all connections with a single thread. 

Node.js is frequently used for projects that require JavaScript to be utilized actively on both the front and back end. Already, it provides insight into the core goal of Node.js as it applies to web development projects. Node.js is suitable for building web-based components for several types of projects – these are the most frequent ones.

In short, Node.js is suggested to write event-driven, non-blocking servers. Not only that, but you may utilize its developmental benefits to swiftly create a minimal viable product to put on the market to evaluate.

Still, despite being widely applicable, Node.js is not a one-size-fits-all framework. It's tailored to the demands of a few precise endeavors. Node.js was not conceived to address the “computing power scaling” issue. However, it was established to address the I/O scaling issue. So, for all non-CPU-intensive applications, Node.js is the finest available technology.

If you want to use Node.js for constructing your piece of software, you should reevaluate your selection if you need to use a threading model. You should also keep in mind that there are poor-quality packages in npm that are free to utilize in your Node.js application. Node.js will never be "the ideal option" for use scenarios in which blocking the event loop is a problem (take asynchronous parsing XML, for instance)

Node.js is a good choice if you already have experience with JavaScript and OOP concepts. Most web developers, who are already experts in JavaScript and object-oriented programming, don't need to acquire additional knowledge to get comfortable with it. To boot, Node.js offers a bridge to the development of the front and back end. Communication problems and knowledge gaps are reduced with this consequence. Because teams are only responsible for one codebase and one deployment, they may focus on one project at a time.

Rated: 5.0 / 1 opinions
Borys Palka f3091b20dd

Borys Palka

In theory, a medical physicist with a love for coding. In practice, a front-end developer who was absorbed by web technologies like they were Kirchhoff's perfect black body. He got his first job as a software developer in 2017 (with Angular2 and Typescript). With constant acceleration, he has moved to the event horizon of the “black hole” of IT. After being totally absorbed, he’s reached the excited state when he wants to radiate his passion and knowledge. A bit of a geek with a wide spectrum of interests from martial arts, through pixel art, to the game industry.

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