How Node.JS can Simplify App Development

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Javascript has evolved so much over the past several years that it is now one of the most complete programming languages; used across a variety of contexts. In its initial avatar, javascript was only used to make web pages more interactive and most programmers just dabbled in it before moving to more interesting backend languages. Then javascript saw the introduction of more complexity in the form of jQuery, Prototype, etc. But javascript really transformed into one of the most important programming languages of our time when Node.js came along in 2009.

Node.js has seen a lot of traction since it was first released and is now the backend language of choice for many global tech giants including the likes PaypalUber, and Netflix. Node.js an open-source Javascript network that can be used to build both web applications and native apps. Therefore, Node.js enables front-end developers to execute code on the server-side which results in faster development cycles and makes Node.js a fast and scalable way to write scripts. 

Here are some major reasons that have contributed to Node.js’ increasing popularity over the last decade.

Collaboration

Being an open-source framework and a cross-platform Javascript runtime environment, Node.js has a large and thriving open-source community. NPM (Node Package Manager) is the default package manager for Node.js and is used by more than 11 million javascript developers across the world. It has a number of outstanding modules that are very well-documented. Besides, Github, Stack Overflow, and even Reddit all have excellent Node.js communities that help newbies resolve doubts and work on more complex problems. One of the biggest advantages of Node.js is that it isn’t a completely new language and is a native successor of javascript. The javascript community itself has been around for a while and has had time to mature.

Time to market

Last year, 6140 apps were released every day on Google Play Store alone. In such a hyper-competitive environment, getting to market early can be the difference between becoming the market leader or just another me-too product. There are a number of reasons why Node.js is able to reduce the development cycle so drastically.
Firstly, Node.js uses the non-blocking I/O model which makes it very lightweight and efficient. NPM’s numerous libraries make it easier to build apps with much less effort. Node.js also has a number of reusable templates that can cut down on both the application size and the number of bugs. Finally, with Node.js, javascript is the only language used both on the front end and the back end. Therefore, a web app framework created via Node.js supports the same codebase for both the client and the server. Since most developers already have some knowledge of javascript, the learning curve with Node.js is much shorter. Plus, the language consistency makes it easier to manage the data timing. All of this results in a much shorter time-to-market cycle. This is especially useful in a startup environment where resources are limited and one developer can multi-task.

Operating costs

Node.js apps need much lesser computing to power to host than systems that are built with other languages like Java. For instance, one installation of Java needs about 64GB RAM and 32 cores. In contrast, 32 instances of a Node.js app can be run on the same resources. When it comes to cloud-based technology, Java servers usually have a much larger provision for compute resources since there is often a huge variance in resource usage. Node.js, on the other hand, is much better suited to cloud-based technology, and it’s actually possible to have a one-to-one relationship between servers and compute resources. Finally, Node apps require far fewer developers than Java projects. All these factors together result in lower operating and maintenance costs.

Ecosystem

Node.js is supported by a very rich ecosystem which is responsible for lower costs and shorter development cycles. Node.js is supported by multiple open-source tools which in turn are supported by NPM’s vast database. According to modulecounts.com, NPM is the largest package ecosystem with over 300000 packages and 300 new packages being added every day. The NPM registry is replete with tools, libraries and solutions that make programming in Node.js much faster and more pleasurable.

Modular design

15 years ago, when Java was the preferred backend language, most applications were built as large, monolithic structures. Today, most experts agree that a modular, microservices-based architecture is a much better way to go. Node.js’ entire ecosystem is designed in a way that enables modular design. NPM has a number of outstanding modules, each of which serves a different purpose. Plus, each module can be shared across applications and teams which makes it much easier to collaborate.

Real-time applications

A real-time application functions within a time frame that a user deems to be immediate or current. Gaming, community storage, VOIP, and chat apps are all examples of real-time applications. Node.js enables developers to write javascript on both the client and the server side. This makes it easier to transfer data between the server and the client, thus enabling the synchronization that is so important in real-time applications. Plus, real-time applications often have to handle a large number of real-time users for which they need an event-based and non-blocking driven server. Node.js is great for such programs.
Node.js also has a module called Socket.io that handles constant communication between the client and the server, allowing the server to push real-time updates to clients.

Game-changing apps developed with NodeJS

In recent years, many tech startups that later went on to become unicorns, have used Node.js in several projects. Here are some examples.

Netflix

Netflix adopted Node.js with the to improve performance and user experience, while also reducing costs and build time. Today, the company uses just 25% of the Amazon EC2 cloud instances on Node vis-a-vis Java resulting in lower infrastructure costs. Besides, with lower latency rates and reduction of load time by 70%, Netflix also managed to dramatically improve their user experience.

Paypal

Paypal made the shift from Java to Node.js about 5 years ago. They now hire mainly full-stack developers who can build an amazing user interface and then also build the application backing it. As an experiment, Paypal also had two teams parallelly develop the same app; one using Node.js and the other Java. The Node.js team consisted of 2 developers while the Java team had 20. Even so, the Node team finished the project in 2 months while the Java team took well over 8 months. As far as performance was concerned, the Node.js app handled twice the number of requests per second and shortened response time by 35%.

Medium

As the world’s foremost publishing platform, Medium has managed to differentiate itself in a competitive market. Using Node.js for its web and app servers allows Medium to transfer code between client and server side. As a result, their deployment times have reduced by up to 15 minutes and their app servers are capable of deploying 10 times a day.

Uber

Uber is a terrific example of an app that has been built on Node.js from scratch. Given the dramatic growth Uber has seen in the last decade, scalability of the app was critical and this is where Node.js scored hands down. Uber uses Node.js because of its ability to process large amounts of data reliably and it’s capacity to deploy code quickly. It also helps that Node.js has a strong open-source community that ensures it’s constantly improving.

eBay

eBay is another established startup that has moved to Node.js with amazing outcomes. Some of the factors that encouraged eBay to adopt Node.js include speed and simplicity,  improved performance, scalability, greater transparency and control, single-threading, handling of I/O-bound operations and non-blocking I/O.

In a world where time-to-market is a key differentiator, Node.js emerges as a clear winner. It doesn’t hurt that the language comes with a host of other advantages; including lower operating costs, modular design, and a robust community. With many tech giants shifting to Node.js, the language is the top choice for most development teams today. If you want to use Node.js in your projects but don’t have the in-house expertise, reach out to our team of Node.js experts at Santex today.

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