12 Reasons Why You Should Use Node.js

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Will Eizlini
Person next to a laptop, databases and Node.js logo

So you’re creating a new product from scratch, or finally getting started on that startup that has been on the backburner for a long time. You’ve been germinating ideas in your mind for months or years, and you’ve finally decided to pull the trigger. 

As a starting point, you’re doing your cautious and smart architectural assessment and want to find the right balance between cutting edge and established tech. You want to find solutions that are initially cost-friendly but will grow with you as your team and your product do. 

You’re considering Node.js as one of your options… 

Will it support all the technologies I need? Can we develop a back-end quickly with Node.js? Will I be able to assemble a team quickly? How far can it take us? Is it still relevant and used in the start-up world? 

Put plainly, you’re wondering if Node.js is still a good choice for your back-end in 2022. The answer is yes – it’s more relevant than ever. Node.js has often been a popular choice for both startups and well-known giants such as NetFlix, Medium, GoDaddy and LinkedIn. That alone is a good reason to go with Node.js, but there are many more. Here are 12 reasons why you should consider going with Node.js for your next software project.

JavaScript is a very common programming language. According to Statistica, it was the most popular programming language last year, with nearly 65 percent of respondents stating that they used JavaScript in 2021. 

Node.js is simply a subset of JavaScript that uses a different engine than the one used in a browser, resulting in a variant with access to objects and libraries better suited for server-side programming, such as modules that handle HTTP requests, and filesystem I/O libs. However, the basic core language stays the same.

Programmers who have already worked with JavaScript for client-side programming don’t have to learn a whole new language. Instead, they just adapt what they know for the server-side environment.

Ultimately its popularity means that JavaScript and Node.js are not likely to vanish anytime soon, so you won’t be stuck trying to find programmers to join the team. 

#2 Node.js Has a Great Package Management System and Ecosystem

The Node Package Manager (npm) allows you to use libraries that are designed to be used in a Node.js project as well as for front-end client-side projects. It would be no exaggeration to say that npm is one of the main reasons why so many people develop in JavaScript.

The npm module ecosystem has been around for more than ten years. With its first release in 2010, early Node Package Manager projects were messy with unpredictable results, and creating builds of packaged code was a complex orchestration of a variety of package managers and runners. 

Fast forward to the present, npm is now a mature tool that accompanies you through all the phases of app development. After cloning a repository you have a bunch of scripts you can create and run to install, start a development server, test the code, and finally build your production-ready code by running those commands. We take it for granted now. 

This makes it a breeze for a group of developers working on operating systems to be able to download the source code for your Node.js project and install reliable dependencies that are precisely the same versions on all machines that work for their OS, whether they’re running Linux, macOS, or Windows.

You’ll also find most of the SDKs you would need for the 3rd party tools that you like to use, such as Amazon AWS SDK, Google APIs, and Auth0 to name a few. 

With so many well maintained official and unofficial libraries, it’s easy to find an SDK or a REST API wrapper for services you’ve come to rely on.

#3 An Excellent Ecosystem of Node.js Frameworks

If you’re building a server, you may want to use some pre-existing frameworks designed to help rapidly deploy REST APIs or MVC-style sites. 

Node.js has a vast community of developers that have built some complete frameworks that handle everything (kitchen sink frameworks) as well as simple and lean frameworks. 

Whether you are looking for a complete or a small framework, Node.js has a wide variety of tools available via Node Package manager. This ecosystem is changing all the time, so it’s worth your time to check and see if the framework you’ve chosen is right for you.

#4 Node.JS Supports All the Major Databases and Lots of Great ORMS

If you have an existing database, chances are that a connector exists for you to be able to use it with Node.js. If you are creating a new database, you have a lot of choices. 

Node.js supports the main traditional web SQL databases, such as MySQL, MS Sql, PostgreSQL, SQLite, and Oracle, so it’s easy to port over existing code.

Node.js and noSQL databases also go hand in hand, the most popular being MongoDB. MongoDB databases are designed to handle data in document format, which is a tree with branches and leaves. They arose from within the Node.js ecosystem precisely because nested tree structures are often used to store app states on the server. Its format is JSON, which is the most common way to send and receive HTTP request information between client and server. 

Since JSON is native to JavaScript, Node.js is the best development environment for these types of databases.

Node.js also has a few very good ORM abstraction layers. Notable ORMs are TypeORM and Sequelize for SQL databases and Mongoose for MongoDB.

#5 Node.js Is Great for Rapid Prototyping

In the initial phases of development for a project, we are often building demos to get funding and move on to the next level.

Node.js is ideal for rapid prototyping because it is open source, and runs on all laptops. There’s no need, in the initial phase of development, to invest in a server or cloud computing account; you don’t even need a special container such as a Docker image: There’s no need to run a virtual server on your laptop. 

With Node.js, you can install your server framework with a simple command line, and have a simple back-end up and running in a day, then you can build a front-end just as quickly and run both using npm start. 

Perfect for creating a rapid prototype when meeting investors to get seed capital.

#6 Great Choice for Interoperability With Client-Side JavaScript

If you are building a web application in either Angular or React, or if you are building a mobile app using React Native, the front end is being developed in JavaScript, so it makes sense to use a Node.js back-end.

The main advantages are that both the front end and the backend natively understand JSON; there’s no need to map another language’s object model to JSON. Use MongoDB and then all three layers, data, business logic and UI all communicate using the same data structures.

But in addition, if you are using models that represent your data structures on the back-end you can often simply use the same base code on the front end as well, you won’t need to rewrite or translate these object definitions or classes from a different server language into JavaScript. 

#7 Node.js Scales Well

Let’s take a quick moment to dig into Node.js a little bit and talk about what it’s known for: A Node.js server is single threaded and uses an event loop. What does this mean and why does this scale well?

Web servers such as Apache or IIS are multithreaded. By design, they require more than one thread to run more than one simultaneous HTTP request. The problem arises when there are shared resources that block the execution between threads, or when the pool of threads is exhausted and a request must wait until one is available. Suddenly the server is overloaded and requests lag.

Node.js was designed as an experiment in using a single thread to avoid the blocking of resources but uses an event loop and queue to handle the execution of the code. The idea was that it is simply more efficient. But why does its event loop make it more efficient?

What makes Node.js so efficient is that it forces you to write asynchronous code: The asynchronous nature of the code is the fundamental structure of Node.js core, and this is what allows all of the code you write to be dispatched within the event loop.

Why is this important? Because a single thread for each request does not scale well. An event loop, on the other hand, can efficiently handle multiple requests with fewer resources because we are not limited by the availability of threads, but by the scheduling of a series of asynchronous non-blocking tasks. 

The first popular vocation of Node.js was the server-side implementation of sockets, which may involve thousands of persistent connections, but are mostly dormant, sending usually relatively small payloads. to provide push notifications to web and mobile apps. That’s a perfect scenario to handle on the Node.js event loop because a persistent request in Node does not tie up any resources.

This means Node.js is better at handling busy moments without needing to fire up additional servers to handle the load. Of course, there are limits to a server, but starting with a technology that scales well will save you money.

#8 Node.JS Is Great for Generating Code

Programmers are lazy. It’s true! I am one. We hate doing boring repetitive tasks. That’s why we invented computers in the first place! 

Inevitably, though, we find ourselves often writing variations of the same code over and over again. A good example of this is writing CRUD endpoints in an API, or creating, for example, models with validators for forms that use those same endpoints.

Wouldn’t it be better to simply load a bunch of JSON Schema models or parse Describe SQL queries that represent our database in a script and then use these to generate API endpoints, or generate corresponding code to be used on the front end?

Generated code is less error-prone, and Node.js is a great way to write generated code.

With the Node Package Manager (npm), it’s easy to write scripts that are triggered when the code is installed or when the development server is started. We can even run a listener that will watch a directory and respond to changes (such as a new model, or a modified one) by generating new code or updating it.

#9 Support for TypeScript and ES6+ Programming

JavaScript ultimately is an object-based, loosely typed language, which can be off-putting to developers who prefer working with statically typed languages. Some of the best features in various IDEs such as code hints work very well precisely because the code explicitly tells you what type a function will return and what types it expects for its arguments.

This is why TypeScript was created: to provide a meaningful way of type checking the code when it is built, but to also make the code, or libraries of code, easier to use by developers.

Node.js can be written in TypeScript. It can also be alternately written in virtually any form of JavaScript that the Babel transpiler understands. 

While Node.js is always evolving to use new language features of the also evolving ES standards, with transpilers you can use new experimental language features that you like today, without worrying about its compatibility with the current version of Node.js. 

# 10 Node.js Apps Have Great Build Tools Available

Building JavaScript? Sure, c#, .NET, java, and c/c++ are all languages that have to be compiled, but JavaScript?

It wasn’t common practice to use bundlers until browserify hit the scene in 2013. The idea of building JavaScript into bundles was distinctly a front-end development tool to help improve load times by reducing individual http requests and to allow for node.js modules to be used in the browser, which had no way of importing JavaScript modules at the time. 

Build tools save development time by automatically building and updating live development servers as your code changes even back-end code. These are important tools for bundling and minifying code for speedy and small production builds.

Build tools are common now, and there is a rich ecosystem both for front-end and back-end projects. They translate the various dialects TypeScript, Dart, CoffeeScript, and various Babel advanced ES6+ plugins directly into a common JavaScript supported by most environments for both the front-end and the back-end. In addition, type checking is orchestrated by the build tools. 

#11 Node.js has Lots of Good Testing Frameworks

Node.js servers are easy to test. There are a variety of Node.js testing libraries, some written specifically for Node.js such as Mocha, and some, like Jest, which were originally developed for use with front-end React development. 

These are a few that are commonly used. Combining these testing frameworks with npm and its built-in testing scripts makes unit and integration testing a breeze to set up for Node.js projects.

#12 Node.js Apps Are Easy to Deploy

Node.js servers are typically set up with a git repository that can pull the latest release branch and execute the npm install commands to fetch all the dependencies, then the code is built in the server container and started automatically. 

It’s nothing more complicated than cloning the code from your GitHub or another repository to your local machine and running npm’s install, build, and start commands. 

Node.js servers are typically deployed on cloud services, such as AWS or Google Cloud, But there are also cheaper or free server-size containers that one can use.

For initial prototype development, Heroku has been a favorite for deployment because of its simplicity and its command-line tools that make deploying the app a simple command. There are other free services that are detailed in this article.

So whether you’re in the initial fundraising and cost-conscious prototyping phase of your project, or you are at a point where you are looking for a modular cloud system that will allow you to deploy more vms for surges in traffic. Node.js is a good choice. 

Things to Watch Out For with Node.js

Don’t Use Node.js for Computationally Heavy Back-End Servers

Node.js is very fast. From a perspective of simultaneous connections, it may rank as one of the fastest server-side languages. But don’t use Node.js for applications that require a great deal of CPU power for computations, such as running complex analytics. Node.js chokes in those scenarios. It excels in data serving scenarios. 

Do Use Node.js for Simple Server-Side Data Fetching/Networking Applications 

You might be asking yourself, but what about databases and files — don’t they create a performance hit? They will certainly, but opening and reading files and doing database queries are processes in Node.js that happen on other threads. Node.js itself runs on a single thread as a server, but when accessing databases or the filesystem, it will wait for the processes to complete and run its completion callbacks. During this time, Node.js can handle other requests and not compromise in speed.

Make Sure You Choose Packages That Are Well Maintained

Be careful of which packages you use. Choose packages that are well maintained, and have a large number of downloads per week. Avoid ones that have few users or little or no community involvement. Consider your project well and what the risks are for using certain packages. Many packages may depend on others. 

Conclusion

If you are leaning towards Node.js, and you don’t have computation-heavy requirements like intense analytics, then Node.js is a great choice. It’s open source, easy to code and deploy for prototyping when you seek investors, and easy to scale when your business booms.

Its popularity means thousands of open source tools, frameworks, projects, and boilerplate code can be found for use in your node.js project. That means you don’t have to reinvent the wheel; just pick and choose what’s best for you.

Node.js is a mature, solid choice today and the popularity of JavaScript and Node.js continues to grow in all ways, and that’s a good thing because you want your choice of technology to last a long time; you don’t want to find yourself in 5 or 10  years struggling to find Node.js developers who know how to program in the language and frameworks you’ve chosen. 

Finally, Node.js is going to be around for a long time, and that makes it a safe choice for the longevity of your app.


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