JavaScript

What is Node JS and What is it Used for?

Every web developer must have heard about Node js and it is getting more famous day by day because of Node js fast and scalable web applications development and the constantly growing Node js community. Before we go to what Node js is let us have a look at what Web apps use Node js.

Popular Web applications in Node.js

  • Netflix
  • Paypal
  • LinkedIn
  • Uber
  • eBay

What is Node JS?

Node.js is an open-source back-end run time environment of JavaScript that runs on a v8 engine(Google Chrome JavaScript Engine) and can execute JavaScript code outside the browser. Node js was developed in 2009 by Ryan Dahl and Node js function is to make building fast and scalable network applications easy. It is lightweight and efficient and a perfect candidate for data-intensive real-time applications that can run on different distributed devices because of the usage of the event-driven and non-blocking I/O model.

Node js is not a framework of JavaScript but a runtime environment for server-side and networking applications and JavaScript language is used for the creation of Node js applications.

Node.js Features

Now that we know what Node js is let us discuss the main features of Node.js:

  • As mentioned earlier Node.js is built on a v8 engine which makes the Node.js library very fast in code execution.
  • The Node js API libraries are entirely asynchronous and non-blocking, which basically means that the server never waits for an API to return or provide data and instead moves on to the next API once the previous one has been called.
  • Node.js is highly scalable but single-threaded.
  • Node.js applications output data in chunks hence no buffering.

What is Node.js used for?

Node.js is very useful when it comes to developing applications and running JavaScript on both the client and server-side and some of the usages of Node.js are:

Streaming Applications

You must have heard of Netflix which is one of the largest media services providers by offering over 150 million users of streaming content. Netflix moved half of Netflix API to Node.js in 2018 because of a common language on both the Server-side as well as client-side and the benefits of Node js i-e asynchronous non-blocking I/O capabilities.

Chat applications

Node.js is famous for its real-time development applications and is widely used by developers for developing real-time applications because of its handling of heavy input-output operations. When designing chat applications, developers frequently choose the Socket.IO library because it allows for bi-directional, real-time, and event-driven communication between the browser and the server and When Socket.IO and Node.js are combined, it becomes incredibly simple to create chat applications with as few as 30 lines of code for a group chat application.

Browser games

Node.js is also used to build and develop games with a combination of HTML5 and Socket.io library which run in the browser without any third-party plugins like adobe flash player etc.

Command-Line Applications

Node.js with the help of libraries like a commander and yards makes creating command-line applications simple, fast, and extremely cost-effective as JavaScript is used both on the front-end and back-end.

Where Node.js is avoided

Now that we have discussed what Node js is used for, let us discuss where Node js should be avoided.

  • Server-side Web application with Relational Database as a backend
  • Heavy processing at Server-Side
  • Intensive CPU computations

Conclusion

Usage of Node.js is growing day by day and some of the top companies are shifting their APIs to Node.js. One such example is Netflix. Judging by the popularity of Node.js in the huge community of developers and newbies learning Node.js, it is safe to say that Node js will grow more in the future and is worth learning.

The simple definition of Node js is that it equals JavaScript library and runtime environment.

In this article, we discussed what Node.js is and what Node Js is used for. Apart from that we also discussed some of the features of Node.js and pointed out the major Web applications that use Node.js.

About the author

Shehroz Azam

A Javascript Developer & Linux enthusiast with 4 years of industrial experience and proven know-how to combine creative and usability viewpoints resulting in world-class web applications. I have experience working with Vue, React & Node.js & currently working on article writing and video creation.