Node.js is open-source and completely free, used by thousands of developers around the world. It brings plenty of advantages to the table, making it a better choice than other server-side platforms like Java or PHP.
What is Node.js?
Now that we know what is Node, let's look at why it is so prevalent in web development.
Node.js has become the de facto tool for developing server-side and network applications. Here is why:
- Node Package Manager (NPM): Node Package Manager has more than 50,000 bundles, so whatever functionality is required for an application can be easily imported from NPM.
- Node.js uses asynchronous programming: All APIs of Node.js library are asynchronous (i.e., non-blocking), so a Node.js-based server does not wait for the API to return data. The server calls the API, and in the event that no data is returned, the server moves to the next API the Events module of Node.js helps the server get a response from the previous API call. This also helps with the speed of Node.js.
- No buffering: Node.js dramatically reduces the processing time while uploading audio and video files. Node.js applications never buffer data and simply output the data in chunks.
- Single-threaded: Node.js makes use of a single-threaded model with event looping. As a result, it can provide service to a much larger number of requests than traditional servers like Apache HTTP Server.
- Highly scalable: Node.js server responds in a non-blocking way, making it highly scalable in contrast with traditional servers, which create limited threads to handle requests.
These reasons more than justify the popularity of the Node.js platform and why it is being adopted by a large number of organizations and businesses. Now, let's familiarize ourselves with the different parts of Node.js.
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.
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.
What is Node Used For?
Here’s a sample of ways that today’s organizations use Node.js:
- Backend for social media networking
- Chat application
- Data streaming
- IoT application
- Single-page 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
Now that you know the basics of Node.js, you may be wondering how you can obtain the skills necessary to take advantage of its rising popularity. Fortunately, there are some great options for learning this exciting and practical skill set at your own pace. Simplilearn's Node.js Certification training course will give you a great foundation in this popular platform, combining live, instructor-led training, self-paced tutorials, and hands-on projects to help you become career-ready upon completion. Get started today and seize your future!