What is node.js

Node.js is a very potent JavaScript-based open-source environment used to create single-page apps, video streaming websites, online messaging apps, and numerous other I/O-demanding web projects. It was created using Google Chrome's JavaScript V8 Engine and is employed by both well-known enterprises and brand-new startups (Netflix, Paypal, NASA, and Walmart, to name a few). Numerous developers utilize Node.js since it is open-source and totally free. It is a better alternative than other server-side platforms like Java or PHP since it offers a number of benefits. This article will provide an overview of the key foundations of this JavaScript-based framework whether you're unfamiliar with Node.js or are just brushing up on its core ideas. The fundamentals of Node.js, its applications, its components, the Node.js Express framework, use cases, and market trends are covered in the article that follows.

Introduction to node.js

For executing web apps beyond the client's browser, Node.js is a free, cross-platform runtime environment and library.

Althogh it was first created with real-time, PUSH based architectures in consideration, it is utilized for server-side programming and is generally employed for non-blocking, event-driven servers, including conventional web pages and back-end API operations. Each browser has a unique JS engine and node implementation. Js is based on the V8 JavaScript engine included in Google Chrome.

Simply put, this suggests that complete sites can be executed with the help of a uniform "stack," which streamlines development and upkeep and frees you up to concentrate on achieving the project's business objectives.

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A brief history of node.js

Ryan Dahl invented Node.js in 2009. Dahl had earlier questioned the limited options provided by well-known web servers and widespread coding techniques.

 At the time, servers had problems processing a high volume of simultaneous connections, and codes either halted the entire process or signalled the need for multiple stacks. Each one of these issues made it challenging for businesses to develop flexible products that engaged with and met the requirements of a broad range of users.

As a result, Dahl developed Node.js, which unifies the creation of online applications around a single programming language and gives developers the ability for using JavaScript for server-side scripting.

 Just Linux and Mac OS X were supported in Node.js' original release. Dahl initially oversaw its development and management, and later the software and services firm Joyent provided funding.

 A Node.js package manager was developed in January 2010 to make it simpler for developers to publish and distribute the source code of Node.js packages and to install, remove, and update them.

Node.js now supports additional operating systems than before due to a partnership between Microsoft and Joyent that saw the creation of a native Windows version in 2011. This gave developers more opportunities than before.

Since that time, an unbiased Node.js Foundation has been established to unite developers. In order to create the OpenJS Foundation, the JS Foundation and the Node.js Foundation merged in 2019.

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 What is Node.js used for?

Node.js is primarily and widely used in real-time web apps using push technologies rather than WebSockets. After decades of stateless-web based on the stateless request-response paradigm, we now have online applications with real-time, two-sided connections, where both the client and server can commence connection, enabling them to openly exchange information. Compare this with the traditional web response paradigm, where the connection is always started by the client. Furthermore, everything relies on the open web stack (HTML, CSS, and JS) operating on the standard port 80.

Node.js is far used in the following:

  • Chat applications
  • Video streaming applications
  • Browser games
  • IoT applications
  • Complex SPAs

How node.js work

While processing the request, Node.js takes requests from clients and generates responses. They are managed by a single thread in node.js. Node.js uses the idea of threads to manage requests or I/O activities. A thread is a set of operations that the server must carry out. In order to deliver the info to numerous clients, it functions concurrently on the server. Without halting it for a single request, it may manage several requests in a single thread.

Node.js necessarily revolves around two major concepts”

  1. Asynchronous
  2. Non-blocking I/O

Let us understand each one of them one by one.

Non-blocking I/O:

Functioning with several requests without finding the need to block the thread for a single request is referred to as non-blocking I/O. In essence, I/O engages with external entities like databases and files. Due to the fact that a single thread cannot perform CPU-intensive tasks like math and graphics rendering, Node.js is not used for these tasks.

Asynchronous:

Running a callback function is mostly what asynchronous is all about. A callback function will be executed as soon as the other server or database responds. Node.js has an event-driven architecture, thus callback functions are invoked as quickly as the task is completed. The single thread doesn't really deal with the request; rather, it forwards it to a different machine, which deals with it and makes it available for future requests.

Node.js architecture

The way Node.js works is what appeals to developers. Node.js performs all processing functions on a single thread, unlike the majority of competing runtime environments, which use multi-threaded processing frameworks.

Every server in multi-threaded processing configurations has a finite thread pool that it can utilize. In order to handle processing each request as it comes in, a server draws a thread from the pool and allocates it to that request. This indicates that one action is carried out at a time because the processing is synchronous and sequential.

Node.js operates in a unique way. Now let us look at each phase it goes through:

  1. Node.js operates in a unique way. Now let us look at each phase it goes through:
  2. As requests come in, Node.js adds them to a queue.
  3. Now the "Event loop," a single-threaded component, comes into play. This event loop waits for requests continually.
  4. The loop receives each request from the queue and evaluates if blocking input/output (I/O) action is required. Or else, it processes the request and responds.
  5. If the request necessitates blocking action, the event loop chooses a thread from the underlying thread pool to handle it. Rarely are internal threads accessible. These auxiliary threads are collectively referred to as the worker group.
  6. The event loop keeps track of blocking requests after the blocking action is finished and sends them to the queue. It continues to be non-blocking in this manner.

Fewer threads are needed with Node.js, which accelerates task execution and uses less memory and resources. Hence, given our goals, this single-threaded design does the same thing as multi-threaded architecture. When handling data-intensive tasks, it makes a lot more sense to use multi-threaded languages like Java. Node.js, on the contrary, makes sense for apps that are used in the physical world.

Features of Node.js

Now that we have gathered an in-depth understanding of what Node.js is, how it works, and its architecture, let us look at some of its features and see how it stands apart.

1. Asynchronous and Event Driven: A PHP web server cannot take more requests until it opens the requested file and returns its data. Because Node.js is asynchronous, requests can be processed independently from one another, increasing throughput and reliability. Non-blocking code execution is the name of the design pattern in question.

2. Very Fast: Node.js becomes even more responsive, fast, and efficient with the help of non-blocking thread execution. Being built on Google Chrome's V8 JavaScript Engine is also an added advantage.

3. Single Threaded but Highly Scalable: It provides a huge amount of application flexibility. Node.js can effectively manage strong links at once because it is single-threaded. By doing this, the performance cost of thread context switching is removed, and issues caused by poor thread synchronization—which can be very difficult to fix—are also stopped.

4. No Buffering: The Stream module, an abstracted interface for dealing with data streams that makes it simple to design objects that conform to the stream interface, ensures that Node.js apps never buffer any data.

5. License: The MIT license governs the release of Node.js.

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Pros of node.js

In this section, we will throw light on what benefits Node.js have for us.

Node.js provides a scalable environment

One of the main benefits of Node.js is that programmers find it simple to scale apps both horizontally and vertically. By adding further nodes to the current system, the apps could be scaled horizontally.

Simple to Learn

Considering JavaScript ranks among the most widely used programming languages, the majority of front-end professionals are proficient in it.

They find it much simpler to begin using Node.js on the backend. Node.js is simpler to learn and uses minimal time when working with it.

Node.js is employed as a single programming language

Developers have the option of developing server-side JavaScript apps thanks to Node.js. Because of this, Node.js developers may use a runtime environment to compose JavaScript code for both the front-end and the back-end of a web app.

Additionally, they are not required to employ any additional server-side programming languages. Because practically all web browsers accommodate JavaScript, it also facilitates the deployment of online apps.

Provides High Performance

As was previously noted, Node.js uses Google's V8 JavaScript engine to analyze the JavaScript code. The JavaScript code is easily transformed into machine code by this engine. This allows efficient code implementation simpler and quicker.

Because it provides non-blocking I/O operations, the runtime environment also improves the efficiency of executing the code.

Huge Community Support

Node.js is fortunate to have a sizable and engaged developer community that consistently contributes to its advancement and enhancement.

In addition, the JavaScript coders who offer readily available and simple solutions and scripts in GitHub are a great help to the developer communities. 

Cons of node.js

We have understood how Node.js can be beneficial, but does it also come with some limitations? Let us find out.

API Instability

One of the biggest issues that the majority of programmers confront is that the Application Programming Interface (API) is always changing and is not reliable.

A fresh API may occasionally arrive with a number of modifications that are not backward compatible. As a consequence, the programmers are compelled to modify the publicly accessible code bases in order to make them compatible with the most recent Node.js API release.

Asynchronous Programming Model

Adopting the asynchronous programming model is a requirement if you wish to increase the app scalability.

 In contrast to linear blocking I/O programming, several programmers could regard this programming approach to be more challenging.

 An additional drawback of asynchronous programming is that it forces developers to rely on nested calls and leads to cumbersome codes.

Lacks a robust library support system

When compared to other programming languages, JavaScript's library system is not as developed or as powerful.

 As a consequence, individuals are compelled to use generic libraries in order to complete operations like Object-Relational Mapping (ORM), image processing, managing database transactions, and XML parsing, among others.

 This makes it challenging for the programmers to even perform the typical Node.js programming operations.

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Conclusion

The number of large businesses that have used Node.js in recent years has increased significantly. Examples include Netflix, Paypal, and Uber. The prominence of Node.js amongst software engineers suggests that it will keep evolving at a similar rate even further.The incredibly flexible JavaScript run-time environment Node.js allows JavaScript code to be executed independently of a browser.The use cases for Node.js are as varied as the programmers who appreciate working with it, ranging from real-time chat apps that profit from its asynchronous, event-driven behavior to numerous embedded systems and internet-centric gadgets.It's hardly surprising that so many application development firms have employed Node.js for web development and are continuing to do so given the many benefits it offers. How has your experience with Node.js been so far? Let us know in the comments section.

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Amani
Amani
Research Analyst
As a content writer at HKR trainings, I deliver content on various technologies. I hold my graduation degree in Information technology. I am passionate about helping people understand technology-related content through my easily digestible content. My writings include Data Science, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Python, Salesforce, Servicenow and etc.

Owing to its single-threaded architecture, Node. js is typically used for non-blocking, event-driven servers. Although it was created with real-time, push-based designs in consideration, it is utilized for conventional web pages and back-end API functions. 

Developers frequently presume that Node.js is solely used to create servers and is, therefore, a backend framework. This is untrue; Node.js can be used at both the front and backend.

You must keep in mind that NodeJS is not a programming language or a framework. The majority of folks are perplexed and think it's a computer language or framework. It is actually an open-source and cross-platform runtime environment called that allows JavaScript code to be executed outside of a browser. 

No. Node.js is a technique to execute JavaScript independently of a graphical browser, to put it simply. It also functions as a runtime environment, containing a number of standard libraries in addition to the JavaScript interpreter/JIT compiler.

A lot of popular companies have been using Node.js, some of which are LinkedIn, PayPal, NASA, eBay, Trello, Medium, and more.

Node js is written in C, C++,JavaScript.