problems Node.js solves

Businesses around the world are ditching their PHP, Python, even Java and .net applications in favor of JavaScript. What was a few years ago a frontend technology to make websites more interactive is now making way for full-scale application powering businesses around the world.

The credit goes to Node, which gives backend capabilities to JavaScript like reading/writing local files or making an HTTP request to an API, bringing it in the same class of traditional scripting languages as Python, PHP, Ruby, etc. However, unlike traditional scripting languages, Node.js uses an event-driven, non-blocking I/O model. This model addresses many problems associated with scripting languages like Python and Java.

1. Limited Scalability

Digital products can have unexpected demand curves. A ticket-booking website attracts many more booking requests on weekends. To cater to these spikes in demand, web applications build with traditional scripting languages have to make a trade-off between powerful infrastructures or a poor user experience. An application built in Spring and Java has blocking I/O model. It will allocate one thread to each booking request. Due to architectural reasons, each request will occupy system memory during the course of booking.

In response to peak in amount of requests made, the applications may stop processing new requests when the system memory will max out. System upgrade is a costly affair. Even if you’re running the application on an EC2 instance, Amazon, for that matter any cloud vendor, will reflect those upgrades in your monthly bills, which doesn’t make business sense if you encounter occasional spikes. However, you don’t want your customer at the receiving end either. The trade-off is a tad tardy.

Node.js because of its single-threaded model can process thousands of requests in its event queue without requiring a system upgrade. Node.js will process ten thousand or five requests with the same efficiency because of its non-blocking model. The system will never max out since there was only one thread to begin with.

2. Multiple Technologies

A typical application in LAMP stack requires four teams to work on four different technologies. You need MySQL developers and PHP developers at the time of development and then server and system admins at the time of deployment. In addition, you require a team of software testers and, of course, a lead to manage the project and the teams.

mean vs lamp

Businesses hate working on multiple technologies with separate teams and the added cost to company. Node.js brings backend development under the realm of JavaScript with full HTTP and local file access. JavaScript is already a powerful frontend technology that together with HTML and CSS power 99% of web applications.

Moreover, frontend JavaScript frameworks like Vue.js and Angular make way for excellent single page applications.

MongoDB is a robust NoSQL document database management system that stores JSON documents. Paraphrasing Lord of the Rings, together MEAN stack holds a great future for business looking for that one web technology to rule them all.

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3. Rigid Team Roles

Developers working on a traditional web development stack like LAMP have deep frustration against their rigid roles. You can’t expect your friendly web developer to contribute codes to scary-looking folks writing backend code in PHP on Laravel. Not to mention, he may write a couple of PHP codes but Laravel is a different beast altogether. These gaps between frontend and backend team can widen enough at the time of deployment to break your application. Then you have to invest a substantial amount of time filling them. The face-off with those scary folks won’t be a pleasant experience for our friendly, neighboring web developer. Who hasn’t been a part of those blame games at the end of conference halls?

Businesses dedicated to JavaScript and Node.js development don’t have to go through the same dilemma. Web developers know enough of JavaScript to disrupt the poker faces of Node.js developers working on the backend. This would lead to better collaboration between the teams at frontend and backend side. The result would be tightly integrated web applications that are easy to deploy and fix.

Developers would love the idea that they poke their nose over the working whereabouts of other teams working on the project.

4. Inadequate Ecosystem

A consistent complaint developers make is the lack of ecosystem to extend the functionality of the core library they are working on. That is seldom a problem with Node thanks to Node package manager or npm. npm registry lists over 400000 packages, making it the biggest single language code repository on Earth. Developers can be certain, as they are sure to find a package for (almost!) everything.

npm started as a way to download and manage dependencies of Node.js packages, but it has since become a tool used also in frontend JavaScript.

A large ecosystem not only makes development easier for developers but also reduces time to develop your products, so lesser time to market and better edge over competitors probably working on a similar application in Java or PHP.

5. Platform Dependency

Even the most platform independent languages have a couple of APIs specific to the underlying operating system. Node.js is basically Chrome’s V8 JavaScript engine working outside the Google’s web browser. Google Chrome works on almost every device in existence and it has little to do with the operating system. The platform agnostic nature of Node makes it a perfect platform to develop truly portable applications.

So when you migrate the Node application from a Linux to Unix server, expect the Node code to work without many edits, if at all.

Node.js makes perfect business sense

Node makes more business sense than any other web technology ever. However, that doesn’t mean Node is apt for every sort of applications. For example, if you’re developing an application to run on blockchain that will be impetus to complicated calculations, Node non-blocking architecture can be a huge miss. No web technology comes under “one size fits all” terminology.

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