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Advantages and Disadvantages of Node.js

JavaScript is perhaps the most highly regarded of the different programming languages out there, and in terms of client-side programming languages, there are few tools that are peers to JavaScript. In terms of web development, it is clear that JavaScript has a very important role. That said, JavaScript is not just content to stay on one side. There are server-side programming languages as well, and JavaScript is now heading in this area. Thanks to Node.js, this shift has been facilitated with great ease and it is important to learn all about Node.js, how it works, and the advantages and disadvantages of it.

The first question needing to be answered is what exactly Node.js is. The simplistic answer is Node.js functions as a Javascript run-time environment that allows JavaScript coding to be executed in a server-side environment. This is an open source platform as well which increases flexibility to get things done. Whether you click here to find free Node.js hosting or keep reading to learn more, what you’ll find is that Node.js does have many fans and it has detractors as well. Understand that Node.js is not a type of framework, it also does not have a relationship with .NET, PHP, or JAVA. This makes Node.js a different way to work with server-side programming.

Table of Contents

The Benefits of Node.js

There are several different benefits of Node.js. Using this particular variant of server-side programming will help you develop a variety of web applications with greater ease. This system offers a variety of tools making a programmer’s life easier. Here are some of the biggest benefits from Node.js.

Easily Scalable

Scaling your applications is actually pretty easy with Node.js. Whether it is horizontal or vertical, you can scale however you would like. There is also an option of adding different resources to the single nodes as you vertically scale your applications. This makes Node.js a better option than the other servers using JavaScript.

Quick Learning Curve

Because JavaScript is as popular as it is, using Node.js makes sense. This is a programming language deriving from JavaScript. Therefore, if you have experience using JavaScript for front-end applications, you will have an easy time learning Node.js for your back-end applications. The ease of learning means that you won’t spend too much time getting up to speed and everything will be more efficient as you are able to work in a familiar environment.

Single Programming Language

When it comes to writing the applications on the server-side, Node.js allows you to use JavaScript to do so. This is the most common programming language so it makes sense that if you use Node.js you will feel great comfort. Thanks to using the same JavaScript language, you can do things on the front end and the back end without having to change languages, making your work more efficient. The simplicity of this also works because when you develop web applications using Node.js, you are creating applications that work in web browsers because nearly every browser supports JavaScript.

High Performance

As with anything you do, you want things to perform well, and with Node.js, you get some excellent performance, but it is important to dig in to how this is made possible. The reason why Node.js works so well is because it reads JavaScript code through Google’s V8 JavaScript engine. The reason why this engine matters is because it complies the JavaScript right into the machine code. What that means it the code is implemented quicker and with greater efficacy. Furthermore, the speed of the code’s execution is that much faster because the runtime environment is supported by non-blocking I/O operations.

Negatives of Node.js

Node.js is like anything else – there are parts to it that work great but there are other things that you should be aware of which may not be so optimal. These issues with Node.js are ones you should be aware of when making your decision about using it.

API Instability

A big negative for Node.js is most developers deal with the API changing often and the lack of stability that comes with those changes. Many new API appearances feature a lack of backwards compatibility, and that means you will have to do more work than you would like just to engineer the solutions needed to work with the API. The bottom line is that Node.js needs to be more consistent with its API and API updates and this system will quickly become ubiquitous.

Lack of Library Support

Compared to other programming languages, JavaScript lacks a library system that is robust when it is contrasted with the other programming languages out there. What ends up happening is things like ORM, database operations, or parsing XML end up using the common library to do the jobs. How does that affect developers? Well, it is really simple – the developers end up having a more difficult time than usual implementing all of these programming tasks and more when using Node.js. It is also notable that because Node.js is based on JavaScript, so the weaknesses that JavaScript has are also weaknesses of Node.js. The library system is emblematic of these issues with Node.js.

Asynchronous Model

The key with having applications be scalable is using an asynchronous programming model, but developers will notice this method is a bit more difficult than linear blocking I/O programming. Right there, anything that is more difficult requires more of a time investment as well. Besides being more difficult, there is a clunky feel associated as well. Programmers will depend on nested calls, and this makes using Node.js a bit more difficult.

Conclusion

The reality is Node.js has more advantages than disadvantages, and what is notable about the disadvantages is that they all appear to be relatively fixable. Because Node.js uses JavaScript, this makes it a good system for back-end development because programmers are familiar and comfortable with it. Furthermore, there are more businesses using Node.js, and that in and of itself makes it a great system for back-end programmers to use.

unsplash-logoMarkus Spiske

Author

Hugo Di Francesco

Co-author of "Professional JavaScript" with Packt. He runs the Code with Hugo website helping over 100,000 developers every month and holds an MEng in Mathematical Computation from University College London (UCL). He has used JavaScript extensively to create scalable and performant platforms at companies such as Canon and Elsevier.

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