What is Node JS and What are its Advantages and Disadvantages?
While deciding on a project outlay and the planning the outcome, a CTO and the Project Manager will have quite a few things in their collective minds. One of the foremost points that they would have to consider is the technology that is going to be used. It is a vital cog in the wheel since much depends on it. The entire timeline and budget and future upgradations are all tech-intensive discussions and hence it becomes imperative for the leadership team to ponder over it. Given the rapid strides technology has made, there are many options available. However, on framework that has led the way for some time and is on top of the popularity pecking order is node JS. In this article we will have a sneak peek into what it is and the pros and cons of the framework.
What is node JS?
It performs its task on a single thread event-based loop which helps in making all the executions non-blocking. Node JS has found a wide range of applications across industries and most major domains. There are plenty of reasons for that which we would try to fathom in a while. But first let us have a look at some of the important features of Node JS.
Features of Node JS
In combination with its non-blocking architecture, Node JS allows multi-threaded apps to work efficiently. Non-blocking would mean that all functions are handled different threads. It is ideally delegated to the event loop. It is handled by the Node JS run-time. A feature which makes Node JS popular is its ability to support forking multiple process.
This is an asynchronous equivalence of a function. The call back function is called at the completion of said task.
Being a single thread application, Node JS can still support concurrency due to the concept of call back and event. Node JS uses events heavily and that is the reason why it is faster than the other web application frameworks. At the starting of the servers, all that Node JS does is that it initiates its variables, declares the functions and waits for the said event to occur. Being an event driven program, the main loop listens for the events, and when one is found or detected, tiggers a call back. The function that acts as the one which listens to the event is called an Observer.
Node JS is indeed one of the most popular programs that developers use to create web applications. It comes with a host of features and advantages that have enthralled its users for some time now. However, like all things it does have a few disadvantages too. Let us have a look at both the advantages and disadvantages that Node JS presents to enthusiasts and experts of programming.
High Performance for Real time Applications
One of the banes of software programming is that tools are not suitable for building applications in quick times. While it, at times, may be the fault of the leadership team, there are times when the tools itself are at fault. With Node JS that is seldom the challenge. One of the main features that make Node JS a popular tool for developers is its ability to multitask. It is a single thread, multi-tasking event driven program that allows the program to look at various activities at the same time and efficiently. Because it undergoes event loop and is non-blocking, it improves the running time of the code and thereby speeds up the project. A reason for this performance is because of the platform on which it was built. Node JS is built on Google Chrome V8 engine, and the language used is C++. Google continuously invests in its improvement and hence Node JS remains a world class program globally, helping customers beat competitors merrily.
An aspect that is again overlooked by most is the ability of frameworks and programs to scale when the time comes. Companies build products that are meant withstand enormous usage and mad rush. That is how revenue flows for most. However, whilst doing so, often, most of those websites fail and falter. Node JS isn’t one of them. It has clients like Netflix, Walmart, Uber and PayPal to name a few who rely on it for their growth and future. Node JS has a plethora of features which ensure that the no matter the volume, the efficiency of the website will not be hampered. Features like Cluster module, non-blocking loop mechanism are a few of them. Node JS also allows the developer to access Microservices which allows the user to segregate larger tasks into smaller ones. This allows large applications to scale up and down at will and without any hitch.
Another important aspect while completing projects is the cost involved. It is not profitable for the organisation to spend more that what it can earn. Node JS solves that problem by allowing developers to write codes for both the front and the back end. This is done with ease and efficiency. The advantage that Node JS provides here is that one team alone can complete the entire the programming process instead of two teams. It is not only a great advantage being provided by it but also allows the projects to ger completed on time. One of the prime examples of this has been LinkedIn. After gaining experience of Node JS, the development team has been able to reduce the number of servers from the original 30 to 3. It also allowed them to utilise resources optimally and hence start focussing more on core company strengths and goals, rather than troubleshooting.
This is of great advantage to any developer as well as the software itself. A community is responsible for pushing the product to more people and advertise about its features too. Communities also helps the entities improve on the performance. Node JS has a vast community who regularly provide inputs and feedbacks to keep the wheels of the program moving. Users also find it helpful since there are enough community resources that direct anyone, stuck with an issue, to the correct solution. There are numerous repositories too like GitHub and NPM which provide a large pool of information to anyone who wishes to master the program. The community is also backed by large tech corporations like Amazon, Google, Facebook and Netflix. Being accepted by large companies is a sure way to increase one’s influence and worth. These companies are themselves worth billions of dollars and millions of followers and the spill over effect is palpable. In addition to this, tech companies also help the program grow and improve whilst introducing newer and state of the art technologies. Node JS is also open source and hence accessible to everyone interested in learning the skill to build web applications.
Easy to learn
Node JS is not a complicated language to learn and implement. This is great advantage for newbies, who are interested in acquiring new fangled knowledge of the web application program. One of the reasons for its popularity is because of its easy adaptability. It is rather important for project managers and CTOs alike that the program they use for the completion of the project should be easy to use. A complex program will not only hamper the progress of the project but may also not give the desired output. On the contrary it may be harmful for the overall success of the project. As per StackOverflow, an astounding 49.9% of professional developers voted in favour of Node JS and one of the prime reasons for it was its easy to learn and implement structure. It has been accepted that Node JS requires less time to learn and has faster turnaround time.
Communication gaps between teams spread across geographies and time zones are one the main reasons behind most of business delays and eventual failures. It is also the case where disparate teams do work on projects handling separate responsibilities. There are numerous instances where tasks and deadlines have been missed simply because the teams lost track of the communication channel between them. Node JS is an ideal solution for such circumstances. It provides developers with full stack development capabilities that allows teams to focus on efficiently building products. Any challenge that may crop us suddenly can be investigated instantaneously. Such a work environment is ideal for the success of the project. Resolving issues and troubleshooting environments cons=currently as and when it happens seamlessly is the hallmark of a highly successful set up and every team and their leads endeavour to achieve such goals. The greatest benefit that is borne out of such an arrangement is that the time between development to the market is considerably shortened.
The response time of an app signifies the efficiency with which it has been built. If the start time is much to be desired, then it is time for the development team to revisit their codes. Node JS is a single thread multitasking program that allows applications to quickly fire up. Netflix is one of beneficiaries. The non-blocking asynchronous architecture allows for improved responsiveness even if used by multiple entrants.
Heavy Computing Tasks and reduced performance
Even though it performs well under most circumstance, it does wither under heavy CPU driven events. CPU based computing slows down the responsiveness of the program because it ends up using all the threads. This deceleration is one of the grave disadvantages plaguing the program. However, in 2018, Node JS introduced worker threads, a module that allowed developers to work on multiple threads and eventually tasks simultaneously. Even though the performance of Node JS while running CPU based computing has improved, it is yet to reach the optimal levels that the program is ideally known for.
An unstable API is the last thing that a developer would want while racing against time to complete a project. However, the reason for this is the frequent code changes, which are not backward compatible. To overcome this challenge, they have to frequently keep changing the access code which has to match the latest version of Node JS.
High demand but poor supply
One of the main reasons for this is the poor rate at which developers mastered in Node JS being added to the market. There is a serious lack of qualified Node JS professionals and that is harming not just the companies but is also doing a disservice to the language itself. The market needs are not being met and hence companies are forced to resort to other programming languages or less qualified manpower. Either way it is a losing proposition for everyone.
Requisite Library Support
While there is vast amount of literature, as mentioned under Advantages section above, most of it is poorly written and not documented well. This causes a roadblock to many who would want to refer to certain challenges they may face while implementing and completing projects. Being open source has both pros and cons, the latter being a lot of lesser qualified folks providing input to the library. Choosing the correct tech partner is a pre-requisite to success.
Node JS is a program that has often been hailed as a game changer. Despite the niggling issues, it is one of the most popular web app development programs. With every passing day, a larger number of organisations are queuing up to move to Node JS and that is testimony of its immense potential and advantages. Being helmed by mammoth tech organisations also help since it pushed the entity to greater heights and glory. Node JS is a wonderful language for a developer to work with and it surely has a bright future ahead.