The Pros And Cons Of Using Node.js

2016-03-11 by Aaliya Choudhry

At present, JavaScript is the much more popular than other client-side programming languages. As a cross-platform runtime environment, Node.js enables developers to run JavaScript on the web servers. But Node.js is different from other commonly used JavaScript frameworks. It interprets the JavaScript code throughGoogle's V8 JavaScript engine.

Also, most basic modules of the open source runtime environment are written in JavaScript. So the web developers can use Node.js to use JavaScript for developing both frontend and backend of web applications. However, it is also important for the web developers to understand the major advantages and disadvantages of Node.js.

Advantages of Using Node.js

Use a Single Programming Language: As noted earlier, Node.js enables developers to write server-side applications in JavaScript. So the developers can use the runtime environment to write both front-end and back-end of a web application in JavaScript, without using any server-side programming language. As JavaScript is supported by each web browser and server, it becomes easier for businesses to deploy their web applications more effectively.

Easy to Scale: The developers have option to scale the Node.js applications in both vertical and horizontal manners. They can scale the application horizontally by adding extra nodes to the existing system. Likewise, they also have option to add more resources to individual nodes while scaling the Node.js application vertically. These options make Node.js more scalable than other JavaScript frameworks available in the market.

Delivers Improved Performance: Node.js executed JavaScript code through Google's V8 JavaScript engine. The engine compiled the code written in JavaScript into machine code directly. So the code is executed in a faster and more efficient way. Also, the runtime environment increases the code execution speed significantly by supporting non-blocking I/O operations.

Supports Caching: The open source runtime environment further supports caching of individual modules. Each time a module is requested for the first time, it is cached in application memory. Hence, the application can load the cached modules quickly without requiring the module code to be re-executed. The caching feature enables the application to load web pages and respond to user requests more quickly.

Supports Commonly Used Tools: While using Node.js, the developers have option to take advantage of several commonly used tools. For instance, they can test the source code of Node.js application repeatedly using Jasmin and similar JavaScript unit testing frameworks. Likewise, they can specify and install project dependencies more efficiently by taking advantage of a robust package manager like npm. Also, they have option to use grunt as an efficient task runner for the project.

Highly Extensible: In addition to supporting several commonly used web development tools, Node.js is also highly extensible. Its open source nature further makes it easier for programmers to customize and extend Node.js according to their specific needs. Also, they can use JSON to facilitate data exchange between the web server and the client. Despite being lightweight, Node.js comes with built-in APIs for developing HTTP, TCP, DNS and similar servers.

Facilitates Real-Time Application Development: Node.js is used widely by JavaScript developers for building real-time and multi-user applications like games and chats. The runtime environment manages many concurrent connections efficiently. Similarly, it takes care of multi-user requirements through event loop. It further uses websockets simplify and speedup bidirectional communication between the web server and the client. As the websockets run on TCP, the overhead on HTTP remain unchanged.

Disadvantages of Using Node.js

Lack of Robust Libraries: Unlike other modern programming languages, JavaScript lacks a strong standard library. The users also do not have any option to avail common libraries for image processing, object-relational mapping (ORM), database operations, and XML parsing. Many developers even find the available JavaScript to be unstable and inadequate. Hence developers often find it difficult to accomplish common programming tasks while using Node.js.

Unstable Application Programming Interface (API): Many programmers complain that Node.js API keeps changing at frequent intervals. Sometimes the new API comes with a number of backwards-incompatible changes. The backwards-incompatible changes make it essential for programmers to make changes to the existing code base to make it compatible with the latest version of Node.js API.

Asynchronous Programming Model: To enhance scalability, Node.js requires programmers to adopt an asynchronous programming approach. Many developers find the asynchronous programming model to be more complicated than linear blocking I/O programming. Also, the model makes the code look messy and compels coders to rely on nested callbacks.

Not Suitable for Large and Complex Web Applications: At present, Node.js does not support both multi-threaded programming. So it queues the incoming requests and executes them sequentially at the time of processing long running tasks. The process increases the time required by an application to respond to user requests. Likewise, many programmers find it difficult to use the runtime environment for computational intensive tasks.

On the whole, the developers can take advantage of the features of Node.js to write a variety of server-side and networking applications and real-time Web APIs in JavaScript. But it is also important for users to keep in mind major shortcomings of the open source runtime environment to take advantage of its features effectively.

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Aaliya Choudhry

Aaliya Choudhry

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Aaliyah Choudhry is a JavaScript developer based out of Kolkata. She is born and brought up in the city of joy and loves everything about her city. She is an avid writer and loves to explore the world through her writing. During her free time, she loves to watch television and listening to old Bengali music. She enjoys cooking new cuisines for her family. You can follow her tweets at @AliyahChoudhry

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