What Is Node.js Used for in 2024?

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Node.js has emerged as a game-changing technology in web development, enabling developers to use the same programming language for both the front and back ends. Since its very introduction, Node has gained immense popularity and transformed the way server-side applications are developed.

The popularity of JavaScript apps has been skyrocketing recently, with Node.js fueling the surge. The language itself is at the top of popularity charts, and Node.js development companies experience high demand. Node packages are growing faster than PHP, Java, Python, and Ruby altogether. This rapid expansion underscores the increasing prominence and can say a lot about the Node.js community. And we can also say it from our experience: Node.js development services from ELITEX are more popular than ever before.

What exactly is Node.js?

Node.js is a free-of-charge, open-source, cross-platform runtime environment that uses modern JavaScript code on the server side. Designed to create scalable applications, Node.js is built on Google Chrome’s V8 JavaScript engine, allowing developers to create server-side and network apps. One of the main advantages of Node is its high versatility and cross-platform compatibility (it can actually run on various platforms such as Windows, Mac OS X, Unix, Linux, etc.). 

Unlike many other technologies, Node JS is well-scalable, as it relies on the non-blocking I/O model. In fact, it is JavaScript plus a bunch of C/C++ features that use a concurrency model based on an event loop. Node.js runtime provides a robust set of libraries and frameworks, simplifying the development of scalable and high-performance apps and making it a popular choice for building web servers, APIs, real-time applications, and microservices. 

What is Node.js?

What is Node.js used for?

Being a JavaScript runtime environment, Node JS helps in the execution of JavaScript code on the server side during the development of real-time network applications.

As of today, the area of usage for JavaScript has significantly expanded, so Node.JS frameworks are often used for the following tasks:

  • Server-side web development, where Node.js provides a scalable environment for building web applications, handling HTTP requests, and managing real-time communication with clients through frameworks like Express.js, Koa.js, or Hapi.js;
  • API development (application programming interfaces) primarily by using Express.js or Nest.js;
  • Real-time applications such as chats, collaboration tools, gaming servers, and streaming platforms. The event-driven programming with the ability to handle concurrent connections makes it ideal for running multiple client interactions simultaneously;
  • Microservices architectures can be quickly built with Node.js due to their lightweight nature. It is suitable for making independent modular services that can work together to form a larger application.
  • Command-line tools and scripts for automating tasks, data processing, and system administration;
  • Internet of Things (IoT), including data processing, sensor readings, and communication between devices;
  • Serverless applications (AWS, Google Cloud, and Azure support Node.js);
  • Machine learning utilities and applications by leveraging the power of libraries like TensorFlow.js.
  • Blockchain and decentralized applications (DApps) with frameworks like Web3.js.

What Node.js offers: most important features

There are several compelling reasons why developers choose Node.js as their preferred coding runtime environment:

Main features of Node.js

Asynchronous and non-blocking nature

Node.js is built on an event-driven, non-blocking I/O model, which means that it can handle multiple requests at the same time without blocking other operations. This feature enables highly scalable and efficient applications, making Node a well-suited tool for real-time applications and scenarios with a large number of concurrent connections.

Full-stack development

What Node.js is used for is, first of all, web development. Node allows web developers to use JavaScript for both back-end and front-end development, offering a unified language, eliminating the need for context switching between different programming languages, and promoting code reusability. Comparing Python vs. Node.js, it’s a big advantage of Node.

High performance

The underlying V8 engine provides excellent performance and optimization. Node.js applications are able to handle a high volume of incoming requests with lower response times. 

Reduced development time

A combination of features like lightweight architecture, an extensive package ecosystem, and the ability to reuse JavaScript skills allows devs to write code quickly, accelerating the development cycle and reducing time-to-market for applications.

One of the largest ecosystems, NPM, and community

Node.js benefits from the vast and robust system of NPM (Node Package Manager). This extensive package registry for open-source libraries and modules offers a wide range of pre-built solutions that are easy to integrate with existing Node.js applications. Members of the Node.js community, together with an abundance of frameworks and open-source libraries, make it so popular.

Microservices architecture

Node is well-suited for building a microservices environment, where an application is divided into smaller independent parts (services) that communicate with each other. It’s probably the best choice for building logging in microservices and microservices-based applications.

How to create a Node app: a step-by-step introduction

First of all, we need to answer the question of what is a Node.js runtime environment. Basically, Node allows the execution of JavaScript code outside of web browsers, opening up a range of possibilities for creating various applications. In case you are familiar with JavaScript itself, you do not learn an entire programming language to leverage Node.js. 

Most of the front-end JS functionality, like objects, functions, and methods, is available in Node. Besides, a vast ecosystem of frameworks and libraries offering ready-made solutions and functionality accelerates Node.js development. However, some peculiarities of Node.js may seem unusual even for experienced JS developers, so let’s also check the specificity of Node and some of its pitfalls.

How to build your first Node.js app?

Setting up Node.js

You can download and install Node.js from the official website. You will have free access to the Node.js runtime and npm after the installation.

Initialize a new project

Open the terminal or command prompt and navigate to the directory where you can create your Node.js app. Use “npm init” to initialize a new application project. After the generation of the “package.json” file, you should identify the dependencies for your app and, later, search for the required packages on the npm website. For instance, if you need an Express framework, you can easily install it by running “npm install express.” Create a JavaScript Node file as the entry point for the application.

Blocking operations

While Node.js excels in handling asynchronous operations, many developers can fall into the trap of writing blocking code that hinders performance. Avoid long-running or CPU-intensive tasks that can block the event loop and impact the app’s responsiveness.

Memory leaks

The architecture of event-driven programming relies heavily on callback and event listeners. Careless management of these can lead to memory leaks, where unused resources are not properly released. Be mindful of cleaning up event listeners and ensuring efficient memory usage to avoid performance degradation.

Callback hell

Asynchronous code often involves nested callbacks, leading to callback hell or the pyramid of doom. Consider using suitable approaches like Promises, async/await, or libraries like async.js or Bluebird to manage asynchronous control flow and avoid overly complex and unreadable code. When working with Promises or async/await, be cautious of unhandled promise rejections.

Security considerations

Node, like any server-side technology, requires additional attention to security. Take precautions to prevent common vulnerabilities, validate user input, enforce secure communication, and implement access controls.

Node.js app development

App development on Node.js offers a wide range of frameworks, libraries, and practices tailored to different types of applications. And most of them are best suited for specific situations. Here are some examples:

Frameworks and tools associated with Node.js development

Web applications:

  • Express.js: a minimal and flexible web application framework with robust touring and middleware capabilities;
  • Koa.js: a lightweight framework known for its simplicity, built-in modules, and easiness of use;
  • Nest.js: a scalable and opinionated framework that follows Angular’s architectural patterns, ideal for developing large-scale enterprise-level solutions.

Mobile applications:

  • React Native: a popular JavaScript framework for full-stack development. It is a suitable tool to build cross-platform mobile apps.

Real-time applications:

  • Socket.io: Node.js-based framework enables bidirectional communication between the server and clients, making it suitable for building real-time apps, such as chatting apps, collaboration tools, and real-time dashboards;
  • Sails.js: a full-featured MVC framework with built-in support for real-time functionality, making it a great choice for software requiring real-time updates;

Back-end API services:

  • Restigy: a lightweight framework specifically designed for building fast and scalable RESTful APIs;
  • Fastify: a high-performance web framework is known for its efficiency, making it ideal for building APIs and microservices.

Single-page applications (SPAs):

  • Next.js: a robust framework for server-rendered React applications, providing benefits for complex single-page applications such as server-side tendering, automatic code splitting, and simplified deployment;
  • Nuxt.js: a framework similar to the previous one but designed explicitly for Vue.js applications, offering SPA-focused features.
What is Node.js, image 5

More about Node.js architecture

Almost all coders are familiar with the main JavaScript features, so they can quickly switch to it from other languages, especially when it comes to front-end developers. Unlike other web technologies, Node.js uses an event-driven architecture and runs on a single thread, which is very lightweight. 

Node.js is also compatible with IDEs like Visual Studio and Eclipse and supports simple code editors like Sublime Text and Notepad++. Another thing to add about the Node.js structure is its CommonJS module system, allowing developers to organize their code into modules and share functionality across different application parts. 

In addition, Node JS is supported by a document-based model database (objects like JSON), unlike traditional SQL databases that implement relational models. It is convenient to use, as it can be hosted anywhere on cloud-based hosting providers and web servers like Amazon, Microsoft, Google, etc.

Use cases for Node.js technology

However, real cases always work better. Let’s find out what is Node.js used for in practice. Here are a few examples of actual companies that use JavaScript combined with Node.js and the reasons behind their choice:

PayPal

PayPal, one of the most popular payment systems, relies on Node.js for the server side of their application and APIs. Previously, PayPal used Java as the primary language; however, they switched to Node.js for several reasons: rapid development that requires almost twice fewer people, written in third fewer lines of code, and constructed with almost 40% fewer files.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn, the professional networking platform, also leverages Node.js for their back-end operations. Node.js aids LinkedIn in handling real-time updates, messaging, and notifications, enabling seamless collaboration and smooth communication. The non-blocking I/O and event-driven architecture provide the scalability and performance needs for enterprise-size LinkedIn’s scale.

Uber

The ride-sharing platform incorporates Node.js in its technology stack. Node.js is widely used for real-time data processing and dispatch systems. The Node’s structure allows Uber to handle a massive number of concurrent requests, update ride statuses in real time, and optimize driver allocation and tracking.

Netflix

Netflix, one of the renowned streaming platforms, employs Node.js for various purposes. Previously, C++ was used as a leading programming language for back-end development; however, now, the company has decided to switch to Node in order to increase the performance of the platform by leveraging the module structure of Node.js. It allows the company to process a high volume of concurrent connections, deliver personalized content, and provide real-time updates for millions of users.

Trello

A popular project management and collaboration tool is built using Node.js. You can even try integrating their official Node-based APIs by yourself; check the official website.

NASA

The United States space agency employs Node.js mainly for data-intensive applications and real-time monitoring systems. Node.js allows NASA to process and analyze vast arrays of data collected from space missions, as well as deliver real-time updates and alerts.

How to hire Node.js developers

Hiring a top-notch talent pool for an IT project has long been challenging for most companies. Whether a startup or an experienced tech business, most face specific issues when hiring Node JS developers.

If you intend to hire Node.js developers for dynamic app development, you might not find the right Node.js developer onsite. You may stick to the idea of hiring a freelance Node.js programmer, but there will be no guarantees of code quality and dedication. Here are a couple of essentials to pay attention to before hiring a Node.js developer. 

Make a list of essential Node.js interview questions that you are going to ask your candidates: 

  1. Try looking into expertise first: experience in years and projects. 
  2. As Node.js is based on JavaScript, pay close attention to overall JS skills. While knowledge of Node.js frameworks like Express, Sails, or other backend frameworks and languages is really lovely to have, you can also check the knowledge of frontend technologies, such as React, Angular, HTML, and CSS. Strong expertise in Databases (e.g., MongoDB) and cloud infrastructure (e.g., AWS) also presents a decisive advantage in the CV.
  3. Observe the response time and communication manners. 
  4. Discover how flexible the candidates are. 
  5. Pay attention to their pricing and transparency, as well as their soft skills. 

Hire our Node.js developers

With immense expertise in Node.js development, ELITEX Node.js developers for hire can create a product of any complexity for you. With collective knowledge of international projects, we focus on boosting the growth of each and every client by finding an approach tailored to their business goals. 

Are you looking for tech experts who will become more than just a vendor? Contact ELITEX.

Why ELITEX?

Final thoughts

Node.js is a widely used technology in modern web development for a multitude of purposes. It serves as a robust base for building scalable and high-performance applications, particularly those requiring real-time updates, data-intensive operations, and handling a large number of concurrent requests. Node is commonly employed in the development of web and mobile apps, APIs and microservices, real-time collaboration tools and social media, streaming platforms, and even in areas like IoT and machine learning.

The event-driven, non-blocking I/O architecture efficiently handles asynchronous operations, enabling the creation of responsive and interactive applications. Its extensive ecosystem of modules, a vast array of frameworks, and the possibility to find a standard library for almost any purpose make Node.js a go-to choice for modern application development.

What is Node.js , image 7

FAQs

What is Node.js?

Node.js is a runtime environment allowing the execution of JavaScript code outside of a web browser, enabling developers to build server-side applications using JS.

What is Node.js used for?

Node is used for developing server-side applications, mainly classic web applications requiring real-time interactions, data-intensive operations, and handling a large number of concurrent connections. Although it is not that popular in these spheres, it can also be used for developing mobile apps, machine learning, blockchain apps, IoT, etc.

Is Node.js a programming language?

Well, it is not a programming language strictly. Node.js is a runtime environment allowing developers to use JS code outside the browser.

Does Node.js require high development skills?

Node does not necessarily require exceptionally high development skills, but a good knowledge of JavaScript and asynchronous programming concepts is crucial.

What is Node.js good for in mobile development?

Node is beneficial in mobile development for building backend services and APIs that support mobile applications.

What is the Node.js framework?

Node.js itself isn’t a “traditional framework,” but it has one of the largest ecosystems of useful frameworks like Express, Koa, Nest, Next, and others, compared to other most popular programming languages.

Does Node.js support database integrations?

Yes, Node.js supports database integrations. Node.js libraries like Mongoose and Sequelize facilitate connections to various databases.

Does Node.js have built-in support for unit testing?

Unfortunately, Node.js doesn’t have built-in support tools for testing. However, you can use testing frameworks and libraries like Mocha, Jest, and Jasmine.

What are some of the most popular Node.js libraries and frameworks?

The most popular frameworks with ready-made solutions and functionality for building web applications involve Express, Next, Socket, Passport, Sequelize, and Axios.

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