Node.js has been in the limelight for over a decade and utilizing Node.js as backend is much more common than making use of it in the frontend of applications. A 2018 Node.js User Survey Report indicated that while 37% of Node.js users are focused primarily on the back-end, and 39% - on full-stack development, only 14% use it first and foremost for front-end purposes.
What’s more, over two-thirds (66.8%) of programmers who already use it want to continue doing so in the future, making Node.js one of the technologies that are the most „loved” in this category. Microsoft, PayPal, Netflix, eBay, General Electric, and Yahoo! are all where we can find Node’s trace. Another Node.js backend example? NASA, Netflix, Uber, Twitter, Trello, PayPal, LinkedIn, and Groupon are also on the list.
Table of contents:
1. Node.js as backend – when and why develop with it
Building highly scalable applications, even data-heavy ones, is one of the major use cases of Node.js. In particular, this event-driven environment based on a non-blocking I/O model is perfect for developing real-time solutions, being famous for quick client-server interactions, no latency, and push capabilities. Online gaming and single-page applications are also often in the mix.
In general, many of the backend use cases of Node.js include web applications that have to do with things like multiple concurrent requests, heavy client-side rendering, and frequent shuffling of data.
What companies that take advantage of Node.js may gain by utilizing it are, among others, scalability, transparency, improved user experience, decreased number of servers needed, immense connectivity, increased traffic capacity and loading speed, reduced response time, and decreased loading time, and thus lowered expenses.
The 2018 Node.js User Survey Report indicated that for many users, Node.js entails a positive business impact. As much as 68% said it increased developer productivity, 62% that it improved developer satisfaction, 56% that it reduced development costs and 48% that it increased application performance. As for the latter, it was the case of eBay who switched to Node.js from Java due to its „long startup times and poor performance”.
2. Node.js backend: pros and cons
Those two-way connections between server and client are one thing, and the fact that they are event-driven is another. For this reason, Node.js is a perfect solution for those who want to develop things like real-time collaboration tools, and real-time chat applications as well as streaming web apps and microservices architecture.
Node.js is simply known for being very fast – not only in terms of the development process but also data processing. Another Node’s advantage is the ease of learning it. Interestingly, about half of programmers utilizing Node.js praise this feature, and this is the case of 50% of those who use it primarily for backend purposes. As for those who focus on front-end development, 42% say that it was easy to learn Node.js. A strong community and huge Node.js ecosystem certainly facilitate it.
As for the downsides, some of the developers emphasize the fact that although Node.js gives programmers a lot of freedom in terms of decision-making, this also entails greater responsibility and the risk of choosing the wrong path. Moreover, building a massive web server as well as debugging may be somewhat demanding with Node. Specifically, this platform is ideal for I/O-bound work but not really for CPU-intensive tasks. In other words, it is fast when the work associated with each request is small in terms of processor time needed to handle it.
3. Node.js as backend wrapped up
And how would you comment on that? What are your experiences with Node.js as backend? To you, what are the challenges of developing with it? What kind of projects or content type is it best suited to? Can you spot any significant limitations of using it?