What Is Node.js and How Can It Help Your Business?

Node.js is an incredibly important piece of the enterprise development puzzle. If your business doesn't already work with Node.js and JavaScript, you're missing out.
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What is Node.js

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Let’s get this out of the way upfront. Node.js is an open-source JavaScript runtime environment that enables JavaScript code to be executed outside of a web browser.

There’s a lot to unpack there. Let’s do just that. First, we’ll answer the question, “What is Node.js?” and then we’ll discuss how this runtime environment can help your business.

 

A Bit of History

Thirteen years after the first server-side JavaScript environment (LiveWire Pro Web) was released, Ryan Dahl created Node.js.  JavaScript already had a runtime environment, so why would it need another? Why was this even necessary?

Dahl held a number of criticisms for LiveWire Pro Web. One of the biggest issues had to do with the Apache webserver (which was most often used by LiveWire Pro Web). Back in those early days, Apache had trouble handling a large number of concurrent connections and the wide-spread use of sequential programming could lead to blocking an entire process or required multiple execution stacks. 

To overcome this problem, Dahl combined Google’s V8 Javascript engine, an event loop, and a low-level I/O API. This combination operates on a single-threaded, event-based loop that ensures all executions are non-blocking. That was 2009. In January 2010, the npm package manager for Node.js was introduced. The following year, an official build of Node.js was released for Windows.

But what does Node.js actually do? With this runtime, developers can write command-line tools and scripts to produce dynamic web page content before a page is actually sent to the web browser. In other words, web page content is generated on the server-side, so it doesn’t require the web browser to handle that part of the process. 

Since its creation, Node.js has been downloaded over a billion times. That fact alone should tell you how important this runtime has become over the years. 

 

The Advantages of node.js

Node.js offers quite a lot of advantages and has become crucial for a number of modern, agile technologies. Let’s take a look at some of the advantages. 

 

Node.js is scalable

This might be one of the most important advantages of Node.js. With the Node.js runtime, developers can scale both horizontally and vertically. Wait. What? What’s horizontal and vertical scaling? Let’s define.

  • Vertical scaling (aka “scaling up”) is adding more resources to a server without changing code.
  • Horizontal scaling (aka “scaling out”) is adding more machines to a network to share processing and memory workloads. 

Because scaling is built into the very core of Node.js, it has no problem with either method. You can add extra resources to the hardware or more hardware to the network and Node.js won’t flinch.

 

Node.js is easy to learn

Consider this: JavaScript is one of the most popular programming languages on the planet. Because of that widespread usage, developers already have a solid understanding of the very fundamentals of Node.js. In fact, since you’re already writing JavaScript code, the hard part is over, and learning Node.js is a no-brainer. And once you can work with both, you are able to code for both the server- and client-side of things.

 

NPM is awesome

NPM is the Node Package Manager. This tool makes it easy for developers to install tools from a vast repository, making their tasks considerably easier. With the help of npm, your productivity will skyrocket.

 

The microservice champ

If you’re looking to develop microservices, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better tool for the job than Node.js. For those that don’t know, microservices make it possible to break the traditional monolithic approach to designing an app into smaller, lightweight pieces. These individual services are distributed to a cluster, which then makes them available to your business (and clients/users).

 

Node.js is fast

Node.js uses Google’s V8 JavaScript engine, which compiles JavaScript directly into machine code. Because of this, the code isn’t just easier to implement, it executes incredibly fast. Combine this with the non-blocking nature of Node.js and you’ll have applications and services that execute with a speed you’re not used to.

 

How Can Node Help Your Business?

If you read through the advantages section, you probably already have a good idea of how Node.js can help your business. It scales well, it’s fast, and makes the developer’s job really easy. That all translates to your business enjoying a much-improved platform and bottom line.

And who doesn’t like the sound of that?

Aside from the obvious, how else can Node help your business? Consider this: your company probably has a lot of development projects. Some of those projects might have started out small, but eventually grew exponentially, until they became massive undertakings. That’s more common than you might think. And as that project continues to grow, adding to it becomes an incredible challenge. 

However, if that project was approached in a very Node.js-like way, no matter how large it became, it would still be simple to manage. Why? Microservices. No matter how massive that project becomes, it’s still a collection of small services that can be modified without breaking the whole. For any enterprise-level business, the idea of downtime equates to lost revenue. When dealing with microservices, your downtime is reduced.

Again, who doesn’t like the sound of that?

Finally, the combination of JavaScript and Node.js means your business employs full-stack developers who can have both frontend and backend skills and won’t have to learn any additional languages (to a point).

 

Conclusion

Node.js is an incredibly important piece of the enterprise development puzzle. If your business doesn’t already work with Node.js and JavaScript, you’re missing out. It’s time you hired a team of full-stack developers to take your web offerings to the next level. Contact BairesDev and we’ll put together the perfect team to make this happen for you.

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