If we talk about any application then the part with which the user is interacting is basically the frontend of our website whereas there are many things which happen in the background or in the backend of our website. Basically there are three parts of any application, one is Frontend with which the users are interacting, then comes to the backend server and backend database. For backend servers we can use NodeJS, Java, Python, etc. and for backend databases we use relational or non-relational databases.
Now let us first know what NodeJS is.
In 2009, NodeJs was developed by a guy called Ryan Dahla and the current version of NodeJs is v16.9.0.
What is Node.js?
Now that we know what is Node, let's look at why it is so prevalent in web development.
Why Do We Use NodeJs?
There are many reasons for which we prefer using NodeJs for the server side of our application, some of them are discussed in the following:
- NodeJs is built on Google Chrome’s V8 engine, and for this reason its execution time is very fast and it runs very quickly.
- There are more than 50,000 bundles available in the Node Package Manager and for that reason developers can import any of the packages any time according to their needed functionality for which a lot of time is saved.
- As NodeJs do not need to wait for an API to return data , so for building real time and data intensive web applications, it is very useful. It is totally asynchronous in nature that means it is totally non-blocking.
- The loading time for an audio or video is reduced by NodeJs because there is better synchronization of the code between the client and server for having the same code base.
Features of NodeJs
Now let us discuss on some of the features of NodeJs:
- Asynchronous in Nature and Event driven: The servers made with the NodeJs never waits for the from an API. Without waiting for the data from the API, it directly moves to the next API. So all the APIs of NodeJS are totally non-blocking in nature. In order to receive and track all the responses of the previous API requests, it follows an event driven mechanism. Hence we can say that all the NodeJs API are non-blocking in nature.
- Single Threaded Architecture: With event looping, a single threaded architecture is followed by NodeJs and for this architecture makes NodeJs more scalable. In contrast to other servers, limited threads are created by them for processing the requests. Whereas for the event driven mechanism, the NodeJS servers reply in a non-blocking or an asynchronous manner and for this reason NodeJS becomes more scalable. If we compare NodeJs with other traditional servers like Apache HTTP servers, then we can say NodeJs handles a larger number of requests. A single threaded program is followed by NodeJS and this allows NodeJs to process a huge amount of requests.
- Scalable: Nowadays, scalable software is demanded by most of the companies. One of the most pressing concerns in Software Development is addressed by NodeJs and that is scalability. Concurrent requests can be handled very efficiently using NodeJs. A cluster module is used by NodeJs for managing the load balancing for all the active CPU cores. The most appealing feature of NodeJs is that it can partition the applications horizontally and this partition procedure is mainly achieved by it due to the use of child processes. Using this feature, the distinct app versions are provided to the different target audiences and also for customization it allows them for catering to the client preferences.
- Compatibility on the cross platforms: Different types of systems like Windows, UNIX, LINUX, MacOS and other mobile devices can use NodeJs. For generating a self-sufficient execution, it can be paired with any appropriate package.
- Fast Data Streaming: The processing time of the data that have been transmitted to different streams takes a long time. Whereas for processing the data, NodeJs takes a very short amount of time and it does it at a very fast rate. NodeJs saves a lot of time because the files are processed and uploaded simultaneously by NodeJs. So as a result, the overall speed of data and video streaming is improved by NodeJs.
- No Buffering : The data is never buffered in NodeJs application.
Now that we established what is Node, let’s dig into its architecture. Node.js operates on a single-thread, allowing it to handle thousands of simultaneous event loops. Here’s a diagram, provided by Sinform.com, that best illustrates Node.js architecture.
Parts of Node.js
Fig: Parts of Node.js
Now, let's go through each part of Node.js to get a better understanding of the server-side platform as a whole.
Fig: Include a module in Node.js
Node.js has many modules that provide the basic functionality needed for a web application. Some of them are mentioned in this table:
Fig: Node.js modules table
Fig: Node.js console
Node.js is built-on on the concept of single-threaded programming. Cluster is a module that allows multi-threading by creating child processes that share the same server port and run simultaneously.
A cluster can be added to an application in the following way:
Fig: Add cluster in Node.js
Global objects in Node.js are available in all modules. These objects are functions, modules, strings, etc. Some Node.js global objects are mentioned in the table below:
Fig: Global objects table
Node.js applications experience four types of errors.
Fig: Node.js errors
Errors in Node.js are handled through exceptions. For example, let's handle the error that would occur when we divide a number by zero. This error would crash the Node.js application, so we should handle this error to continue with the normal execution of the application.
Fig: Node.js error handling
Streams are the objects that let you read data or write data continuously. There are four types of streams:
- Readable: These are the types of streams from which data can be read
- Writable: These are the types of streams to which data can be written
- Duplex: These are both readable and writable streams
- Transform: Streams that can manipulate the data while it is being read or written
Buffer is a module that allows the handling of streams that contain only binary data. An empty buffer of length '10' can be created by this method:
Fig: Node.js buffer
The domain module intercepts errors that remain unhandled. Two methods are used for intercepting these errors:
- Internal Binding: Error emitter executes its code inside the run method
- External Binding: Error emitter is explicitly added to a domain via its add method
DNS module is used to connect to a DNS server and perform name resolution by using the following method:
Fig: DNS resolve
DNS module is also used for performing name resolution without a network communication by using the following method:
Fig: DNS lookup
Fig: Node.js debugger
Now that we are familiar with the main parts of Node.js let's go ahead and learn about the Node.js Express framework.
Node.js Express Framework
Express is a flexible Node.js web application framework that provides a wide set of features to develop both web and mobile applications. It's a layer built on the top of the Node.js that helps manage a server and routes.
Now look at some of the core features of the Express framework:
- Used for designing single-page, multi-page, and hybrid web applications
- Allows developers to set up middlewares for responding to HTTP Requests
- Defines a routing table that is used to perform different actions based on the HTTP method and URL
- Allows dynamic rendering of HTML Pages based on passing arguments to templates
Now look at an example of a simple "Hello World" program developed using the Express framework to gain a better understanding of this framework.
Fig: Node.js Express framework, "Hello World."
- var express: Importing Express framework into our Node.js application
- app.get(): Callback function with parameters ‘request’ and ‘response’
- The request object: It represents the HTTP request and has properties for the request query string, parameters, body, HTTP headers, etc.
- The response object: It represents the HTTP response that an Express app sends when it gets an HTTP request.
- The application will listen to the defined port, which in this case is "8081," and variables "host" and "port" will contain the address and the port, respectively.
- console.log: This is to show the address and port in the command prompt or terminal.
Having learned about the Express framework, let's now move on to the use cases of Node.js.
Who Uses NodeJs?
Well in 2022 , there are 15+ popular companies who are using NodeJs .
Companies like NASA, Trello, Netflix, PayPal, LinkedIn, Walmart, Uber, Twitter, Yahoo, eBay, GoDaddy etc are using NodeJs.
Node.js Use Cases
Fig: Node.js use cases
Netflix, the world's leading online entertainment network with more than 167 million users, is one of many top companies trusting Node.js for their servers. The reasons why the company chose to use Node.js include:
- Application scalability
- Data-intensive application
Walmart is the world's largest company by revenue, with US$ 559 billion in 2020, according to Forbes. Walmart chose Node.js because of the following attributes:
- Asynchronous I/O
- Efficient handling of concurrent requests
Uber is a U.S.-based, multinational ride-hailing company offering services that include peer-to-peer ridesharing, ride service hailing, and food delivery. The reasons why the company chose to use Node.js include:
- Asynchronous I/O
- Quick iterations
- Active open-source community
NASA, an independent agency of the United States Federal Government, is responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aerospace and aeronautics research. NASA chose to use Node.js for the following reasons:
- Reduced access times
- Ability to handle data-intensive tasks
- Capability to keep the server active 24/7
PayPal is a U.S.-based company operating a global online payment system that supports online money transfers, that is serving as an electronic alternative to traditional paper methods like checks and money orders. PayPal chose to use Node.js for the following reasons:
- Extremely fast build times
- Fewer lines of code
- Ability to handle large amounts of data
Medium is a popular online publishing platform developed by Evan Williams and launched in August 2012. The reasons why the company chose to use Node.js include the following:
- Data-driven applications
- Ability to run A/B tests
- Simple server maintenance
NPM: Node Package Manager
NPM is a popular Node.js package library and the jewel in the crown of the Node.js community. It has millions of downloadable libraries, organized according to specific requirements, and is the largest software registry in the world. NPM is free. These libraries are growing fast to this very day, and they strengthen the Node.js community.
When Can We Use NodeJS?
When very few CPU cycles are used by the server side code. When the non-blocking operations are done by us and that does not have heavy jobs or heavy algorithms that consume a lot of CPU cycles.
Now let us know when not to use NodeJs:
- NodeJS is a very CPU heavy application , when it comes to heavy computation, NodeJS is not the best option in hand. Other than NodeJs, there are plenty of better solutions available for CPU intensive applications.
Using a single CPU, an event based non blocking I/O model is leveraged by NodeJS and for that reason the incoming request will be actually blocked by all the intense CPU processing activity.
- When using NodeJs with basic crud or HTML application there is no need for high hopes . Though NodeJs will make it more scalable, there is no need for expecting a traffic flood only because the application is powered by NodeJs. So when the data is provided straightforwardly by, by the server and specially where there is no need to have a separate API, in this case there is no need for using NodeJs.
- For Relational database access type of projects, using NodeJs is not an efficient idea at all. In comparison with the other framework’s tool boxes, the relational database tools of NodeJs are not that robust, reliable and easy to work with.
Let us now go through the installation procedure of NodeJs.
So for the installation of NodeJs, we need to follow a very straightforward process. This can be done by the installer package available at the official website of NodeJs.
- So for the first step, the installer from the official NodeJs website needs to be downloaded.
- Then the installer needs to be run.
- Then the simple installer steps need to be followed properly. The license agreement needs to be agreed and then click the next button.
- Then your system or machine needs a restart. That’s it, we are done with the NodeJs installation.
So far, we have got a good idea on NodeJs and when we have realized we should use it for our server side application.
Understanding the Popularity of Node.js
Node.js has attracted the attention of businesses and organizations from all sectors. This is hardly a surprise, considering its versatility and strong community support. As you can see from the earlier-mentioned use cases, there are some pretty big players that use Node.js, organizations and businesses like NASA, Uber, PayPal, and Netflix.
Check out the industry trends below to get more insights into Node.js’s popularity.
- There were 98.9 million NodeSource Node.js Library downloads in 2020, according to Node Source.
- The use of Node.js in production has increased dramatically since its release in 2010.
- Node.js developers receive better salary options than other web technology developers. The average salary of a Node.js developer in India is ₹900,000 per year, and the average salary of a Node.js developer in the United States is $115,000 per year!
With adopters such as Netflix, Paypal, and other tech companies, Node.js has seen an exponential increase in its use in web development.
Get Ahead of the Curve and Master Node.js Today
As we know, these days along with data structure and algorithms , our development skill is also very important to crack the tech giants . Ultimately they are going to see how our development skill is and how’s our knowledge about this tech industry. A techie should always be closely conversant with all the technologies which are being used in this tech industry.
If you are looking to enhance your development skills further, we would recommend you check Simplilearn’s Post Graduate Program in Full Stack Web Development. This course can help you hone the relevant skills and make you job-ready.
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