Reasons to use NodeJS for developing your backend systems

2020-12-04 21:00:00 +07:00 by Mark Smith

There are a lot of programming languages to choose from when it comes to writing server-side code. What makes NodeJS a good choice for this task? Whether you are embarking on a new project or extending an existing one, it’s a very relevant question. In this post I’m going to cover the main reasons for choosing NodeJS for your backend application.

Javascript the programming language runs in two main environments:

When programmers talk about server-side javascript they call it NodeJS, and when they write a NodeJS application they are actually writing javascript code. NodeJS is more than just the language though, it’s a whole environment (called a runtime) that, among other things, can execute javascript code, but it also provides a way for the code to access hardware like the storage and the network adapters.

The NodeJS runtime achieves this using an architecture that is optimised for creating network applications. This architecture is called the event loop.

The event loop looks very much like a collection of queues. As the code runs, anytime something has to happen asynchronously, i.e. that will take a while to complete, the code to be run on completion, called a callback, is placed in a queue, so that the remaining code to be run can continue executing without blocking.

Asynchronous tasks would be for example writing to storage or making an API call across the internet. The event loop architecture makes it possible for the NodeJS runtime to be single threaded, and we say it’s event driven because the data input/output (I/O) from the hardware doesn’t block the code. Instead of blocking, events are triggered once the result of the I/O operation is ready.

This means that NodeJS is particularly good for applications that operate over a network, because it can handle many simultaneous requests very easily.

That’s the big architectural advantage that NodeJS offers, but there are quite a few other reasons to build your backend using NodeJS.

Here is a summary:

It’s also worth reading the nodejs website about page for more details.

Companies such as Netflix, PayPal, Trellio, LinkedIn, Uber, eBay, Groupon, NASA, Mozilla, Twitter and Walmart are examples of big tech organisations that run significant amounts of their infrastructure on NodeJS. More details here and here.

NodeJS makes it possible to build extremely robust network applications quickly and at low cost, that are then easier and cheaper to refactor, extend and maintain.

This post is part the choosing your web development stack series.

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