What is Node.js?
Node.js can be used to run a background daemon, build software or execute a program from a terminal. Although the terms “front end” and “back end” are primarily used to refer to website development, the terminology can be applied to Node.js, which functions outside of a web browser, to describe either client-side or server-side processes respectively.
With this understanding, it can be noted that Node.js is neither a specific front-end nor back-end environment. Instead, it can be used almost anywhere, aside from a browser, to perform both front-end and back-end functions. For instance, Node.js is able to smoothly perform back-end functions such as requesting a database, while also frequently used for front-end purposes like creating command utilities and building processes.
Why is Node.js Popular?
Node.js was explicitly invented to provide an event-driven, non-blocking input/output (I/O) model to allow for more efficient processing. To break it down, I/O refers to communication between various systems. For instance, another information system might make a request, known as an “input,” the response to which would be an “output.” Blocking occurs when other systems are halted to deal with I/O. Non-blocking, on the other hand, allows for other processes to continue working, increasing speed considerably.
In Node.js, I/O is performed asynchronously, allowing for many connections to be handled concurrently. Basically, no function in Node.js directly performs I/O, so blocking does not happen. No blocking makes Node.js a great choice to support scalable systems that can expand to meet increasingly demanding workloads.
In simpler terms, Node.js is popular to use for many reasons, including the following:
- It can process multiple requests without blocking to slow things down.
- It is capable of supporting complex programming, allowing it to grow with a user’s needs.
Node.js versus Thread-Based Networking
As mentioned above, Node.js is built to be fast and scalable through the use of an asynchronous, non-blocking I/O model. In contrast, most programming is created using a concurrency model that relies on threading. Threads exist as subsets of processes and are the smallest units of coded instructions. Thread-based programs can be single-threading or multi-threading, depending on whether or not they can handle multiple threads at the same time.
Thread-based networking is challenging to work with and can be very inefficient. Although Node.js is technically considered single-threading, it is prevented from blocking by its asynchronous programming, whereas multi-threading programs will block while an operation is occurring. Simply put, unlike multi-threading programs, the event loop in Node.js will continue running while the I/O is processing.
Node.js programming is completed using modules for various functions. Although it would be possible to code in one index, creating modules allows for an organized, more easily debugged code. Because each module is contained in its own space, there is less chance it will pollute the functions of other modules.
Creating content in modules serves to keep functions within the programming as streamlined as possible. Making coding even simpler for programmers, Node.js comes with built-in modules to help avoid and solve coding problems. Additionally, since Node.js is open-sourced, there is an extensive library of codes that can be easily accessed, allowing coders to write, share and swap codes that perform different functions.
Why Use Node.js
Node.js shines for use in I/O applications that require speed, scalability and concurrent connections. These applications include game apps, real-time apps, video and audio streaming, live chats, stock exchange software and collaboration tools.
Some popular programs built with Node.js include Netflix, PayPal, Trello, Linkedin, Yahoo and eBay. Through the use of Node.js, these tech giants have reduced startup time, increased performance, provided instant updates, upgraded to mobile service and improved speeds.