What Is Node.js and Why You Should Use It

What Is Node.js and Why You Should Use It

Table of Contents

Frontend development forms the interactive interface of any application, where users engage with its features. In contrast, the backend operates behind the scenes, managing data and processes. Applications are typically divided into three parts: frontend, backend server, and backend database. Backend servers, usually integrated in the web application architecture handle processing, while relational or non-relational databases manage backend data.

When a client initiates a request from the application’s front end, the request travels to the server. Here, the server performs various validations and computations to process the client’s request before sending back a response.

Understanding Node.js

NodeJS, a popular JavaScript framework, executes computations efficiently. NodeJS serves as an open-source, cross-platform app development framework in the runtime environment, enabling server-side application execution. It’s particularly adept at handling I/O intensive tasks, making it ideal for video streaming platforms, online chat applications, and more. Both established tech giants and burgeoning startups leverage NodeJS for their applications.

Node.js is specifically tailored for server-side programming, finding its niche in non-blocking, event-driven servers—making it ideal for traditional websites and backend API services. Originally conceived with a focus on real-time, push-based architectures, its core foundation lies in Google Chrome’s V8 JavaScript engine, which powers various browsers.

In essence, Node.js enables the consolidation of entire sites through a unified ‘stack,’ simplifying development and maintenance allowing developers to channel their efforts toward meeting the project’s business objectives efficiently.

We can learn more about it from history till now in the following breakdown:

Unveiling the History of Node.js

Ryan Dahl pioneered NodeJS in 2009, and its latest version stands at v16.9.0. This framework continues to evolve, catering to the dynamic needs of modern web development, and remains a popular choice for powering diverse applications.

Back in the early 2000s, servers grappled with the challenge of managing high-volume concurrent connections, often resulting in codes that either blocked entire processes or necessitated the use of multiple stacks. These hurdles significantly limited businesses’ capacity to craft versatile products capable of meeting the demands of a high-volume user base.

To tackle this, Ryan Dahl emerged as the visionary behind Node.js. His creation aimed to empower developers by enabling the use of JavaScript for server-side scripting, thereby unifying the landscape of web development services under a singular programming language.

Initially, the release of Node.js offered support solely for Linux and Mac OS X operating systems. Dahl spearheaded its development and maintenance initially, later receiving sponsorship from Joyent, a notable software and services company.

The evolution of Node.js continued with significant milestones. In January 2010, the introduction of a dedicated package manager streamlined the process for programmers to publish, share, and manage source code of Node.js packages, simplifying installation, uninstallation, and updates.

In a significant move in 2019, the Node.js Foundation merged with the JS Foundation, consolidating their efforts to form the OpenJS Foundation, and fostering collaboration and cohesion within the JavaScript development community.

Advantages of Embracing Node.js

Node.js has found its place among both large-scale enterprises and budding startups. Industry giants like Amazon, Netflix, eBay, Reddit, and Paypal use NodeJs. While an impressive 43% of developers employing Node.js in 2023 use it specifically for enterprise applications.

Users commonly attribute words like ‘fast,’ ‘simple,’ ‘easy,’ ‘powerful,’ and ‘flexible’ to Node.js. Although it might not fit every project, these qualities contribute to its popularity across diverse businesses, appealing to both fledgling startups and established global corporations. Some advantages you should know about using NodeJs:

  1. Modularity with Modules: Node.js utilizes modules that adhere to JavaScript libraries, facilitating the inclusion of functions within applications through the ‘require()’ function. This modular approach enhances code organization and reusability.
  2. Efficient Console Debugging: The console module provides robust debugging functionalities similar to traditional JavaScript consoles, the identification, and rectification of errors by printing messages to stdout and stderr.
  3. Scaling Capabilities with Cluster: Leveraging the Cluster module enables multi-threading within Node.js, allowing the creation of child processes that share the same server port, thereby enhancing scalability and performance.
  4. Accessible Global Objects: Node.js offers globally accessible objects like functions, modules, and strings, streamlining their availability across all modules and facilitating ease of use.
  5. Effective Error Handling: Node.js employs exception-based error handling, enabling developers to manage and handle various types of errors encountered within applications, ensuring smoother execution.
  6. Streamlined Data Handling with Streams: Streams, including readable, writable, duplex, and transform streams, facilitate continuous data reading and writing, offering efficiency and versatility in data manipulation.
  7. Binary Data Management with Buffer: The Buffer module allows for efficient handling of streams containing binary data, offering methods to create and manipulate buffers, essential for binary data processing.
  8. Error Interception and Management with Domain: The Domain module intercepts and manages unhandled errors, providing methods for error emitter execution and explicit error addition to domains, ensuring robust error handling.
  9. Efficient DNS Operations: The DNS module simplifies connectivity to DNS servers, enabling name resolution both with and without network communication and enhancing network-related operations.
  10. Simplified Debugging with Debugger: Node.js incorporates a debugging utility accessible through a built-in client, facilitating code inspection and debugging, albeit with a straightforward feature set, contributing to code maintenance.

Each of these features in Node.js contributes to its appeal by offering developers a powerful and versatile toolkit for building scalable, efficient, and maintainable applications.

Key Features of NodeJs

  • Ease of Use: Node.js offers a beginner-friendly environment with extensive tutorials and a vibrant community, making it easily accessible for web development novices.
  • Scalability: Despite being single-threaded, Node.js boasts remarkable scalability, adeptly handling numerous simultaneous connections with high throughput, ensuring robust performance.
  • Speed: Its non-blocking thread execution enhances efficiency, elevating Node.js’s speed, and delivering swift and responsive performance.
  • Abundant Packages: With a repository housing over a million open-source packages in the NPM ecosystem, Node.js offers a vast array of tools that simplify development tasks, enhancing productivity.
  • Robust Backend: Node.js, constructed using C and C++, incorporates networking support, rendering it both swift and resilient, ensuring a strong backend foundation for applications.
  • Cross-Platform Compatibility: Its cross-platform support enables the creation of various applications, including SaaS websites, and desktop, and mobile apps, leveraging Node.js’s versatility across different platforms.
  • Maintainability: Leveraging JavaScript as a unified language for both frontend and backend operations streamlines development and maintenance, making Node.js an attractive choice for developers seeking ease in managing the entire application stack.

The Architecture of Node.js

Node.js operates on the foundation of the “Single Threaded Event Loop” architecture, distinct from the mechanisms seen in languages like Java.

In traditional multi-threaded models, multiple clients send requests, each processed by dedicated threads from a defined thread pool. However, Node.js diverges from this approach:

  1. Limited Thread Pool: Node.js maintains a constrained thread pool to cater to incoming requests.
  2. Request Queue: Upon arrival, incoming requests are queued up by Node.js.
  3. The Event Loop: At the heart of Node.js, the single-threaded event loop perpetually awaits requests.
  4. Request Processing: As requests arrive, the event loop assesses if they involve blocking I/O operations. If not, it directly handles and responds to the request.
  5. Worker Threads: For requests necessitating blocking operations, Node.js assigns threads from its internal pool, known as the worker group, to process them. These internal threads are limited.
  6. Non-Blocking Nature: Once blocking tasks are executed, the event loop manages their return to the queue, sustaining Node.js’s non-blocking essence.

Node.js’s efficient utilization of fewer threads translates to optimized resource consumption and quicker task execution. While languages like Java excel in handling data-intensive operations with their multi-threaded approach, Node.js stands out as the preferred choice for real-time applications due to its streamlined single-threaded architecture.

Specialized Functionality in Node.js

Node.js stands as a dominant, versatile, and robust server-side technology, earning the top spot among backend developers.

Its widespread adoption by leading platforms like PayPal, LinkedIn, and Netflix solidifies Node.js as a promising technology, with each new release reinforcing its potential for the future.

The preference for Node.js is evident in its use for constructing high-traffic websites and real-time applications, exemplified by platforms like LinkedIn, where its efficiency shines.

What are Globals in Node Js?

Global objects in Node.js, including functions, modules, strings, etc., are accessible across all modules. These objects are globally available, facilitating their use without the need for explicit importing. 

Working with Modules in Node.js

NPM Commands and Package Management:

When initiating a new application, NPM generates a package.json file, housing details of all installed NPM packages, versions, dependencies, and customized scripts. NPM offers an array of commands such as publish, audit, run, and more, accessible via the ‘npm help’ command for usage guidance.

Timers Module in Node.js:

The Timers module in Node.js encompasses functions for executing code blocks or functions after defined intervals. This module, being global, doesn’t necessitate the ‘require()’ method for importation. Key functions within this module include:

Scheduling Timers: 

Functions like setImmediate(), setInterval(), and setTimeout() enable the execution of code after specific time intervals.

Canceling Timers: Methods such as clearImmediate(), clearInterval(), and clearTimeout() facilitate the cancellation of scheduled timers.


‘setImmediate()’ schedules immediate execution of a callback after I/O event callbacks. Queued callbacks are executed following the event loop iteration, maintaining the order of creation. Nested immediate timers won’t trigger until the subsequent event loop iteration.

‘setInterval()’ repeatedly executes a callback after a specified time interval in milliseconds.

How does Node.js work?

The internal functioning of Node.js is fascinating. In contrast to traditional web-serving methods that create a new thread for each connection, consuming system RAM and eventually hitting RAM limits, Node.js operates on a single thread, utilizing non-blocking I/O calls. This unique approach allows Node.js to manage tens of thousands of concurrent connections within the event loop. Node.js bypasses limitations, achieving superior scalability.

To mitigate exceptions, errors are passed back as callback parameters instead of being thrown outright. However, tools like Forever and external monitoring tools don’t address the recovery of the current user session state.

Node.js: Frontend, Backend, or Both?

Node.js isn’t restricted to just backend development—it’s versatile enough to be used in both frontend and backend capacities. The misconception that Node.js is solely a backend framework doesn’t hold. Its event-driven, non-blocking nature, which makes it a popular choice for building flexible and scalable backends, also extends its benefits to front-end development.

Selecting Node.js for Future-Proof Development

Node.js developers rank among the top 10 most sought-after jobs globally by Forbes, evident in its widespread adoption with 98.9 million NodeSource Node.js Library downloads in 2020. Since its 2010 release, there’s been a substantial surge in its production usage. Its association with JavaScript, the leading language per the 2020 Stack Overflow survey, contributes significantly to Node.js’s popularity, facilitating seamless adoption for developers.

Wrapping Up: Node.js in Summary

Node.js is a favored programming environment ideal for high-scale applications handling numerous concurrent requests. Moreover, Node.js features the largest open-source package repository—NPM—with over a million packages, enhancing its robustness.