Is Node.js Right For You?

Overview, Benefits & Case Studies

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What Is Node.js?

Node.js is a runtime environment that allows developers to execute JavaScript on a computer rather than exclusively in a browser. It was created by the originators of JavaScript and introduced by Ryan Dahl in 2009, primarily to enable the building of standalone applications.

Generally speaking, developers use Node.js to achieve two purposes: to create utilities like Grunt and Yeoman that assist with build automation, and to build web servers (or web applications). Node.js is based on a module system which incorporates discrete units of functionality and programs can call on specific modules without impacting other modules.

Node.js also has a HTTP component, meaning that it’s possible to execute server-side applications using JavaScript, and works in concert with the V8 runtime engine, Google’s JavaScript compiler. V8 is a fast compiler and consistently ranks highly in speed tests.

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Developers can also take advantage of frameworks (Express.js, Meteor, Sales.js) along with a large number of utility applications and a sizable public modules library

For most companies, it has proven a cost-effective and easy-to-use solution for building numerous different types of software, including microservice architecture, streaming apps, SaaS, data-processing tools, and more.

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What are the benefits of Node.js?

Node.js is a very popular runtime environment and has been used by many companies to build apps that need to handle concurrent requests and intensive client-side rendering.
Here are some of the main benefits:


Easy to learn

Because most developers are already familiar with JavaScript, learning how to use Node.js tends to be straightforward. It’s usually very easy for teams already familiar with JavaScript and front-end development to build apps in Node.js. This cross-application of skills means that companies don’t need to hire new employees or invest in costly training programs.


Suitable for data-intensive applications

Node.js is particularly suitable for data-intensive applications that are built on distributed systems because of its speed and scalability. By operating on a single thread and leveraging non-blocking calls and event queuing, Node.js can handle a large number of concurrent connections.


Node.js can be used to develop highly-scalable apps

Because of its event-driven architecture and asynchronous non-blocking input/output processing, Node.js can be used to develop highly-scalable apps. Node.js uses Google’s V8 engine, which offers a very high level of speed and performance, to compile code.


Allow for streamlined application development.

Developers have access to the Node Package Manager (npm), a library of modules that allow for streamlined application development. Because the Node.js community is so active, there are literally hundreds of thousands of packages that can be used, which can dramatically cut down on development time.


Enables full-stack development in one language

Node.js enables full-stack development in one language, which can be very cost-effective in the long-term. Because Node.js is extensible, it’s also easy to extend functionality in existing apps.

Who is Using Node.js?

Node.js is a popular solution. Hundreds of well-known companies use it to power their software infrastructures. What’s more, learning how to use Node.js is relatively straightforward, and programmers can take advantage of a number of tools to streamline and speed up the development process.
Here’s a quick overview of some of the biggest companies currently leveraging Node.js:

Prior to shifting to Node.js from Ruby on Rails, Groupon has significant problems with deployment speed. In 2013, Groupon engineer Sean McCullough said, “To change one color throughout the entire webpage, that was estimated to take three months to do.” Despite some initial hiccups, Groupon’s entire platform is now built on Node.js. It can serve much higher levels of traffic with a lower page load time. 

GoDaddy’s Senior Software Engineer, Stephen Commisso, said that by utilizing microservices and Node.js, it’s possible to cut down on resource consumption by 90%. Since fully moving over to Node.js in 2013, Godaddy has found it much easier to build, test, and deploy applications. During one of its SuperBowl ads, the company was able to handle 100,000 requests per second without any downtime. 

Paypal saw a 35% decrease in response time after moving over to JavaScript and Node.js from Java. This transition has allowed Paypal to rely more heavily on full-stack engineers, overcoming many of the problems that arose from the disconnect between browser and server application development. 

By unifying two previously-disparate parts of its coding team, PayPal has become much more agile in dealing with user needs and complaints as they relate to all aspects of its tech stack. 

Walmart relies on Node.js to power its distributed microservices architecture. Node.js enables Walmart to deal with large amounts of traffic, especially on buying holidays like Black Friday. In the past, user experience had been detrimentally affected by its legacy system. 

Thinking of Using Node.js? Get in Touch

Are you thinking about using Node.js in your company? We’ve worked with dozens of companies to build high-performance, scalable tech infrastructure. Whether you’re thinking about transitioning from your current programming language or looking for help with an important project, we can help. Get in touch today for a chat.

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