In this article, you’ll learn what Node.js development is and what it’s used for. We will explain why Node.js is among leading tools in the technology stack of PayPal, LinkedIn, Uber, etc., and tell you how it helped NASA deal with the safety issues.
What Is Node.js?
Why Use Node.js?For three years in a row (2017-2019), Node.js has been the most used developer tool, and it tends to keep this title in the future. According to the StackOverflow survey of 2019, the biggest rivals of Node.js among the overall list of different-purpose technologies are .NET and .NET Core frameworks produced by Microsoft. The list of technologies changes every year, but none of them has yet outranked Node.js (which rate is typically around 50%).
What Is Node.js Good for?
Developers use Node.js as a web server. To do so, they use the built-in HTTP module to create the Node HTTP server that provides a continuous connection with the browser. This makes it efficient for running business logic; it processes the incoming requests, directs the response to the client, validates input data, connects to databases that fetch and store data, etc.
With Node, it’s easy to switch from traditional monolithic architecture to the microservice one, which ensures better stability and reliability of an app. It is especially efficient in building real-time applications, for instance:
- Streaming services;
- Real-time dashboards;
- Chats/instant messaging apps;
- Social media apps;
- Multiplayer browser games;
- IoT systems.
Node.js applications are fast, lightweight, and scalable. Yet, Node may work slowly when it comes to CPU-intensive operations and tedious computations. To fix this imperfection, more complicated computing operations are delegated to other services (micro applications) that work as a part of the big system.
6 Most Prominent Node.js Use Cases
Node is the right choice for startups, middle-sized businesses, and large companies working in various niches. Many reputable companies like eBay or Netflix use Node as a dominant technology in their stack. Other businesses choose to switch to Node.js from other server-side programming languages to increase app productivity. Among numerous Node usage experiences, we’ve highlighted six most remarkable of them to help you understand how companies improve their apps using this technology.
1. Payment systems: PayPal
The PayPal developers made a meaningful contribution to Node.js exploration. At the very beginning, the PayPal team was using Java to build the app. Two months after development was started, the company decided to adopt Node.js and assigned two developers from the Java team to create the same app using Node.js. Four months later, both Java and Node apps had the same functionalities considering that the Node development started later. As a result, the company proved the prevalence of Node.js over Java by speed and performance:
- the Node application was built twice faster with fewer developers in a team;
- the Node developers used by 33% fewer code strings;
- the ready Node.js app contained 40% fewer files;
- the Node app processed twice more requests per second compared to the Java app;
- the average app response time decreased by 35%.
2. Big Data processing: NASA
During one of the spacewalks, the water separator inside the suit of an astronaut Luca Parmitano malfunctioned and filled his helmet. He was almost breathless the moment his partner saved him. After that, NASA needed to fix a major safety problem and find a way to collect data on the full lifecycle of the spacesuits.
Since it was a government project, the team had to keep time and money resources low. As a solution, the NASA software engineers used Node.js and paired it with Docker. With these technologies, they implemented a microservice architecture to move large amounts of data on spacesuits from three separate databases to the cloud database. They also reduced 28-stage data processing to 7 stages thanks to the new end-to-end system built with Node.
3. Social media: LinkedIn
LinkedIn switched from Ruby on Rails to Node.js back-end development to make its mobile version highly performant and scalable. The problem with Ruby on Rails was that it couldn’t handle a large number of micro connections typical for mobile web apps. The adoption of the Node.js server-side part reduced the number of instances on each physical machine from 15 to 4. This allowed the LinkedIn app to handle twice the bigger traffic load and keep the fast performance of the application.
4. Streaming services: Netflix
5. Ridesharing services: Uber
The main goal for the Uber company was to ensure the reliable unstoppable work of its application that handles multiple supply notifications and demand requests at high speeds. The database keeps data on the nearest active drivers and continuously updates as they move about the city. So, when a passenger searches for a ride, Node enables a quick matchmaking process.
6. Online shopping: eBay
The eBay team was open to experiments, so it adopted Node when the technology was young but promising. Java architecture was using too many resources than expected, so the company made a transition to Node. Now, this is one of the dominant technologies of the eBay stack. With Node, the company achieved quick and stable real-time connection with the server and enabled eBay-specific services in its first “Talk” project.
Benefits of Node.js
In 2018, the Node.js Foundation presented a comprehensive user survey on this technology and showed in numbers how it helps businesses and developers. The foundation highlights an increase in developer productivity by 68%, improved developer satisfaction by 65%, reduced costs by 58%, and better app performance by 50%.
However, this isn’t a full list of benefits, so we want to specify some more advantages of Node.js:
A wide array of uses. Node.js allows developers to write utility scripts, web programs, desktop applications, synchronous cross-platform apps, IoT systems, servers, APIs, etc. It is especially efficient for creating apps that are highly responsive to user actions, including social networks, chat tools, collaborative software products, and others.
Fast app performance. Node.js transforms the way of executing operations in a single thread. It ensures fast app performance due to its event-driven architecture (EDA). The concepts of the event loop and non-blocking input/output allow processing thousands of simultaneous requests coming from the client-side without interruptions or delays.
Scalable applications. Node is a good solution for scaling apps both horizontally and vertically. It provides easy access to cloud computing services like AWS that connect to additional virtual machines to handle bigger traffic loads. Node.js helps to build a microservice architecture in which one specific block serves for one specific function. This architecture allows keeping the entire app stable in case some part of it fails or needs changes.
The extensive number of packages. Besides its rich standard library, Node.js offers programmers a useful Node Package Manager (NPM). The NPM is a global software registry offering around 500,000 open-source packages that allow programmers to accomplish specific programming tasks.
Node’s event-driven architecture also allows accomplishing tasks in a single thread faster. Many use cases have shown that companies, such as NASA or Netflix, pair Node API with other technologies to handle specific tasks. An extensive set of NPM packages makes it possible for a developer to execute almost any operation. If a programmer needs to implement some new feature with Node, they will likely have all they need to do it because of the powerful JS and Node.js community.
Our team has high expertise in Node.js full-stack development and turn your idea into a highly responsive and scalable solution. In case you want to use Node.js for your application, contact us for assistance.