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What is Node.js? One Stop Solution for Beginners

Published on Jul 26,2019 401 Views
Research Analyst at Edureka. A techno freak who likes to explore different... Research Analyst at Edureka. A techno freak who likes to explore different technologies. Likes to follow the technology trends in market and write about...
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JavaScript is a prominent language that dominated the market of front-end development since ages. It is a powerful scripting language that helps in developing client-side applications but it failed when there was a necessity to execute applications on the server-side. This is where Node.js comes in and provides a better feature set. By the time you finish reading this article, you will be having a complete understanding of what is Node.js and why it is so popular in the market. 

Below are the topics covered in this what is Node.js article:

What is Node.js?

Node.js is a powerful JavaScript framework that is developed on Chrome’s V8 JavaScript engine. It helps in compiling JavaScript directly into the native machine code. It is light in weight and is heavily used in the market for developing server-side web applications. Node.js extends JavaScript API which enables the usual server-side functionalities as well. It is generally used for large-scale application development, especially for video streaming sites, single-page application, and other web applications. Node.js makes use of an event-driven, non-blocking I/O model which makes it a right pick for the data-intensive real-time applications.

Like any other programming languages, Node.js makes use of various packages and modules. These are nothing but the libraries containing functions and are imported from npm (node package manager) into our code and utilized in the programs. But in order to understand Node.js in more detail, first, you need to know how it works internally.

In the next section of this What is Node.js article, I will get into the details of its architecture.

Node.js Architecture

Generally, the server-side technologies like PHP, ASP.NET, Ruby & Java Servers all follow a multi-threaded model. In this traditional architectural approach, each client request creates a new thread or a process.

Traditional Architecture - What is Node.js - Edureka

To avoid this, Node.js uses Single Threaded Event Loop Model Architecture. It means that all the client requests on Node.js are executed on the same thread. But this architecture is not just single-threaded, but event-driven as well. It helps Node.js in handling multiple clients concurrently. Below diagram, represents the Single Threaded Event Loop Model architecture.

Single Thread Architecture - Node.js Tutorial - EdurekaAs you can see in the diagram, the main event loop is single-threaded whereas the I/O workers are executed on distinct threads. This is done to accommodate the entire event loop where most of the Node.js API‘s are designed to be asynchronous/non-blocking. This reduces the server response time and increases application throughput.

I hope this clears the internal functioning of Node.js. Let now move further in this ‘What is Node.js’ article and find out various advantages of using Node.js for application development.

Advantages of Node.js

  • Easy to Scale

Node.js is mostly preferred by the developers as it is easy to scale the applications developed with Node.js, in horizontal as well as the vertical direction. Also, you can easily assign extra resources to it while scaling the app.

  • Real-Time Web Applications

The applications developed in Node.js provides a faster synchronization and because of its single-threaded architecture HTTP overload is also reduced. This is the main reason developers prefer Node.js for developing web-based chat and gaming applications.

  • Faster Suite

As you know by now, Node.js runs on the top of Google’s V8 engine which by far is the fastest JavaScript engine. Node.js makes use of npm which is an online repository for libraries and tools. Because of npm, the code execution of Node.js application is way faster when compared with other technologies.

  • Easy to Learn

Anyone having a brief knowledge about JavaScript can learn to code in Node.js easily as it is a JavaScript framework. The learning curve of Node.js is very shallow and it is less complex to learn and use its various libraries and toolkits.

  • Single Programming Language

Node.js can single-handedly build web applications for both, front-end as well as the back-end. Because of this, the deployment of web applications has become a lot easier as most of the web browsers support JavaScript.

  • Caching

Node.js enables the functionality of caching of a single module. As a result, you don’t have to re-execute the code, each time a request for the first module is generated.

  • Data Streaming

Since HTTP requests and responses are considered to be two separate modules in Node.js, they are treated as two separate data streams. Now each time these files are loaded, the overall processing time decreases resulting in better efficiency. Thus, you can stream audios and videos without having to wait for long.

  • Hosting

Deployment the Node.js applications has also become very easy with the help of hosting platforms such as PaaS (Platform as a Service) and Heroku.

  • Support of Large and Active Community

Node.js is backed up by a large and active community of developers. They continuously contribute towards its further development and improvement and come up with innovative solutions.

Let’s now move further with this what is Node.js article, and see the various applications of Node.js in today’s market.

Applications of Node.js

Node.js tops the popularity chart when compared with other frameworks, libraries, and tools. Below I have added the screenshot of the results held by StackOverflow.

node popularity - What is Node.js - Edureka

Below are the applications which are mostly developed in Node.js:

  • Real-Time Chats
  • Complex Single-Page Applications
  • Real-time collaboration tools
  • Live Streaming Applications
  • JSON APIs based Applications

Now that you know about the areas of application of Node.js, let’s check out the list of the major brands in the market using Node.js in their production:

  1. NetflixCompanies - What is Node.js - Edureka
  2. Linkedin
  3. Trello
  4. Uber
  5. PayPal
  6. Medium
  7. eBay
  8. NASA
  9. Groupon
  10. Walmart

Now, in order to understand what is Node.js better, let’s take a look at its practical implementation.

Simple Demo with Node.js

In order to get your feet wet with Node.js, first, you need to have the Node.js environment installed in your system. To install it, in your system, you can refer to my article on Step by Step Guide to Node.js Installation.

Once done, all you need to do is, open the command prompt and navigate to your project directory. There you need to type in the following command.

npm init

As soon as you hit enter, you will be asked a few questions related to your project file such as:json- What is Node.js - Edureka

Once you provide the details and hit ‘Enter’ your package.json file will be created having details of your project. It should look like below:

{
  "name": "nodeintro",
  "version": "1.0.0",
  "description": "What is Node.js Demo",
  "main": "script.js",
  "scripts": {
    "test": "echo \"Error: no test specified\" && exit 1"
  },
  "author": "Edureka",
  "license": "ISC"
}

Now, the next step is to create the entry point of your application. In order to create this file, type in the below-given code and name the file as you have specified in the json file:

const http = require('http');

const hostname = '127.0.0.1';
const port = 8080;

const server = http.createServer((req, res) => {
    res.statusCode = 200;
    res.setHeader('Content-Type', 'text/plain');
    res.end('Welcome to Edureka's Tutorial');
});

server.listen(port, hostname, () => {
    console.log(`Server running at http://${hostname}:${port}/`);
});

With this, we come to an end of this article. I hope, now you have a clear understanding of what is Node.js and why you must use it for application development. Now, if this has perked you up for learning Node.js, you can refer to my Node.js Tutorial where I have talked about its fundamental concepts from scratch.

If you found this “What is Node.js” relevant, check out the Node.js Certification Training by Edureka, a trusted online learning company with a network of more than 250,000 satisfied learners spread across the globe.

Got a question for us? Please mention it in the comments section of this “What is Node.js” article and we will get back to you.

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