Ever since Node.js came into existence, it has been an ideal choice for web development. The framework was built in 2009 with scalability and performance in mind, which is why enterprise companies and startups continuously choose Node.js for their production. Taking into account Node.Js advantages and weighing them against its disadvantages, Microsoft, Paypal, IBM, LinkedIn, Netflix, and other companies utilize this runtime to develop real-time applications and high-traffic websites.
Any technology has its own good and bad, and Node.js is no exception. We have collected a list of pros and cons of Node.js that are important to learn for every business engaged in product or application development. Why? Because these benefits and limitations will help you decide whether to build your next-gen application with Node.Js or choose its alternative. Let’s dive into the topic.
It provides fast delivery
Node.js is a proven way to make the time-to-market cycle shorter. And there are technical reasons for that, which make it one of the crucial benefits of Node.js.
- First of all, Node.js is a lightweight runtime. It uses an asynchronous, event-driven I/O model which ensures that almost no function in Node.js directly performs I/O. This time-saving operation cuts down the time developers spend on deploying an application.
Although none of the points above are game changers, they accelerate the development time and allow you to quickly deliver a prototype, a test concept, or a final product.
It offers easy scalability
Node.js isn’t more scalable than PHP or Ruby, but it is way easier to scale than other backend technologies. Using Node.js is a crucial advantage for organizations that want to grow and scale their product.
One way this is possible is because Node.js supports microservices architecture. An application built with microservices consists of separate small blocks that perform one function. Each small block receives information, computes it, and delivers the result. If you want to scale up an application, it is easier and faster to add more microservices on top of the existing ones instead of changing the entire application. This is what makes microservice architecture stand out from monolithic architecture, where an application is heavily based on a single database.
Node.js supports event-driven programming which is one of its benefits, too. If your website witnesses high traffic and you’re using the framework, you can be assured it happens without sacrificing performance or accuracy. Node.js is able to quickly adapt to such increases because it spawns additional threads called event loops. Each thread runs in parallel on its own CPU, and Node.js uses all available cores at once instead of relying on fewer cores like some other software programs do.
The caching feature is also helpful for companies that tend to scale their businesses. Without it, the server of the application will have to execute the entire code and retrieve data every time it processes a request. To avoid this, developers use caching services, which increase the response time and improve the database performance in general.
It targets all major platforms
Among the advantages of using Node.js is its cross-platform support. Applications built with Node.Js can easily target all major platforms, including Windows, Linux, and macOS — all with one code base.
Developers recommend using frameworks like Electron or NW.js to build cross-platform real time web applications. These ready-to-go solutions release developers from writing separate codes for different platform versions.
Additionally, your software development team can build native desktop applications without deep-down knowledge of Objective-C, C#, or any other languages. Your Node.js development team can benefit from tools available in the Google Chrome Developer Tool — it was created to build, debug, and write code fast.
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It offers long-term support for enterprises
While software developers are used to rapid changes, businesses seek stability and long-term support.
Here is how Node.js deals with that.
- First, Node.js has its long term support (LTS) policy that clarifies release schedules and provides a time frame within which a given version will be supported. The point of having this policy is to provide a stable and predictable release cycle so that development teams could prepare in advance. This is what enterprise companies and operations teams seek for their web development purposes.
In the annual Node.js survey 2018, LTS support was picked as one of the most important features by 70% of developers. This is one of the reasons why Node.js is still popular among corporate organizations.
- Second, back in 2015 the Node.js Foundation was announced; its idea was to unite developers from SAP, Fidelity, IBM, and Microsoft to contribute to the development of Node.js all together. Their motto was to give assurance of innovation and continuity without risk. They even created a few initiatives — Node Security Platform, a tool that allows continuous security monitoring for apps built with Node.js; and Node Interactive, which is a series of conferences for Node.js users.
- Third, there is the famous Node Package Manager (NPM), which is an online database of public and paid-for private packages. With more than 836,000 packages available for download, software development teams can get a variety of features and integrate them into their applications instead of building them from scratch. In fact, NPM hosts the largest and most active community of open source libraries that has ever existed.
There is a set of packages available for enterprise companies that run behind the company’s firewall. They come with a private registry and high-end security features. But most importantly, they secure enterprises from unsafe and unreliable code, guarding against vulnerabilities and facilitating the various access permissions enterprises need.
All these points above make long-term support be one of the main benefits of using Node.Js.
It is quick to adapt & easy to learn
Half the respondents in a 2018 Node.js survey stated that it was easy for them to get knowledge about Node.js, and 62% of programmers noted their increased satisfaction toward Node.js at work.
These high satisfaction rates lead to a wider pool of talent available worldwide. In fact, it enables that talent to stay productive and competitive from the beginning. This is applicable for frontend developers mostly, while server-side software still requires other skills. For example, database design is not usually for a regular frontend developer to know.
With Node.js getting more popular, there are a lot of people who either use it to start their training or retrain on it to get an applicable skill set. That makes the job market very fluid. The current situation is that oftentimes the demand for talented developers and their skills exceeds the supply. Things get even more complicated with the way the global talent pool can shift, which sometimes makes it hard to find the right fit at the right time.
Drawbacks of Node.js
It wouldn’t be a full picture without both Node.js pros and cons written in our article. Let’s see what drawbacks exist in this runtime.
Its performance is reduced with heavy computational tasks
Node.js is unable to process heavy CPU-bound tasks, and this is arguably one of the biggest drawbacks of Node.js.
When Node.js receives a huge CPU-based task in the event loop, it utilizes all available CPU firepower to process the request, and then answer other requests in the queue. Because of that, the overall event loop slows down and it affects the application’s interface overall.
In 2018, Node.js introduced the worker threads module, allowing developers to execute multiple threads at the same time. With this feature, developers can solve occurring CPU-bound tasks more conveniently. However, it is still hard to name Node.Js a heavy-computation-friendly technology.
It lacks library support
You already know from the upper section that Node.js has a large amount of packages and modules inside the Node Package Manager. However, the NPM lacks a library system in contrast with other programming languages. For example, many registries have poor documentation and quality code or remain in unfinished status. Unfortunately, there is no monitoring system to recognize these files and remove them from a library, which makes it one of the serious limitations of Node.js.
Yet, hiring a team of qualified developers with experience in NPM and Node.js itself would help you to overcome this drawback. So, in a way, the library itself could be considered both an advantage and a disadvantage of Node.js.
It has tons of nested callbacks
Node.js relies heavily on callbacks. It is a function that runs after a task in the queue is finished, allowing other code to run in the meantime. However, with a number of tasks in the queue — each with its own callback — it can lead to callback hell. It’s a situation when callbacks get nested within one another causing complexity in understanding and maintaining the code.
The developers' community says that callback hell is a sign of a lack of experience within teams and poor coding standards that they follow. The solution to it is to refactor and simplify code. Again, it is possible only if you hire Node.Js programmers who know this runtime inside and out.
It has an unstable API
Node.Js implements changes frequently connected to its API. The issue is that those changes are generally backward-incompatible with previous versions. Meaning that developers have to spend their time crafting solutions that could work with these APIs over again, spending additional time and at extra cost. This is why an unstable API is considered one of the key Node.js limitations.
It has high demand but few experienced developers
Each year thousands of students strive to join the talent pool in order to secure a prime spot in the industry and stay ahead in such a competitive market.
The tech companies understand as much and launch job fairs where they seek out the best talent. As Node.js is becoming more popular every year, the demand for talent has become higher than the supply of experienced Node.js developers. It is complicated to identify a true specialist with the desirable skills needed for your project, as CVs often don't represent a complete picture.
Finally, since Node.js has taken the leading position in surveys over the last couple of years as the best web development framework, this situation will arguably remain unchanged.
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What Types of Businesses Are the Best Fit for Using Node.js?
Now that you know Node.js advantages and disadvantages, let’s see what types of businesses and applications it fits the best.
Enterprise-level companies are active users of Node.js. In 2015, Node.js announced that 98% of the Fortune 500 companies use this runtime environment for app development. And although it has been 7 years since the results were published, the trend is still in place: Node.js is used by such giants as PayPal, Microsoft, IBM, Netflix, LinkedIn, and others.
Node.js is also a popular choice for startups. Knowing about Node.Js pros as well as its cons, startups tend to use it anyway. Considering the fact that it allows programmers to use one programming language for both frontend and backend is a significant driver in the decision-making process, and results in overall cost savings.
But more importantly, it allows businesses to deploy an MVP faster than with other Node.js alternatives due to its technological aspects.
When choosing Node.js as their primary runtime environment, companies do that to build real-time applications and execute app development services. With Node.js, companies can implement such features as real-time messaging, real-time notifications, data streaming, and tracking. These features arrive as part of numerous frameworks and libraries — WebSockets, Socket.io, Faye, Storm, etc. — and release developers from worrying about messaging protocols or networking. In turn, businesses get the ability to deploy chatbots, online games, eCommerce transactions and other dynamic applications smoothly and securely.
Uber was one of the three first companies which utilized Node.js in their production. They’ve chosen Node.js because:
- It processes tons of data quickly and securely
- It analyzes errors conveniently and deploys code quickly
- It offers constant updates due to strong community support
As a result, Uber is able to process 2 million real-time calls per second.
Node.js is compatible for building Internet of Things (IoT) applications. It supports the MQTT messaging protocol that employs WebSockets used by IoT apps, as well as AWS IoT, which routes and processes tons of messages.
Modules available in the Node Package Manager and NodeRed facilitate IoT app development, too, by offering packages used in the computation of IoT product specifications. And finally, Node.js provides data protection that meets IoT requirements, namely: access rights, authentication of users and devices, and thoroughgoing code architecture.
Another popular choice of using Node.js is for building single-page applications. The fact that Node.js can handle asynchronous calls and heavy I/O workloads makes it well-suited for complex single-page applications. Since Node.js is an event-driven runtime, it is authorized to delay multiple concurrent requests from the clients and ensure consistent transition with seamless data updates.
Trello is a good example for building single pages. It is a collaborative online tool that offers businesses the ability to organize projects using dashboards. They use Node.js for server-side purposes. In Trello’s case, the reason they opted to go with Node.js was because of its ability to provide immediate updates and hold many open connections at once. The Trello team uses open-source packages, which are suitable for single-page functionality.
Learn How EPAM Anywhere Business’ Developers Optimize the Benefits — And Avoid the Limitations — Of Node.js
Whether you're a startup, a middle-sized business or an enterprise company, you need a reliable team to build dynamic applications with Node.js. The path of choosing a partner can be complex, considering the vast pool of available talent on the market due to increasing Node.js popularity.
EPAM Anywhere Business is ready to provide you with talented developers of FAANG level middle and senior ranges. With over 55,000 developers in our base, we can select those that best suit you, your project, and in the time zones you prefer.
No matter where a developer is, we ensure high quality code standards. Whether it’s product code, data processing, storage model or security tools — we make sure they comply with such industry standards as HIPAA, PCI DSS, and GDPR.
Hire Node.js developers with EPAM Anywhere Business to avoid any possible Node.js drawbacks — and exploit the full potential of its advantages.
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- With Node.js, businesses are able to develop a prototype, MVP or a final product faster than with other programming languages, and do so while cutting development costs.
- Its event-driven nature, microservices architecture, and MongoDB support allows businesses to grow and scale their products easily. However, be careful with heavy CPU bound tasks, as Node.js can reduce the performance of your application.
- Node.js is a cross-platform runtime environment, meaning you can deploy an application on all major platforms such as Windows, Linux, and MacOS with one code base.
- Node.js offers 800,000+ packages to simplify the development circle for teams. However, some packages lack reliable code, as the Node Package Manager is not monitored properly.
- Node.js is the top choice for such enterprise companies as IBM, Microsoft, Uber, Trello and LinkedIn. It is suitable for development of real-time applications, IoT applications, and single-page applications.
As you can see, there are several pros and cons of Node.js that you need to consider carefully in order to ensure it will be a good match for your business strategy and objectives.