Also, Node.js handles large volumes of requests simultaneously and is often used to build web and real-time applications. There are several advantages to using Node.js, but there are also limitations. This article covers all you need to know about Node.js pros and cons to help you make an informed decision.
- Understand Node.js pros/cons to make informed decisions, maximize app performance, and build better applications.
- Node.js is fast, lightweight, scalable, has non-blocking I/O, a large ecosystem, and robust community support.
- Some of the essential features of Node.js are also part of its limitations, like single-thread performance and asynchronous programming model
- Node.js has many use cases, including real-time apps, data-intensive apps, single-page apps, and more.
What Is Node.js?
Also, Node.js runs on multiple platforms, including Linux, Windows, Mac OS, Unix, etc. Node.js eliminates waiting for the server to handle a single file request, as it can manage multiple simultaneous users. It is single-threaded and very memory efficient.
Additionally, Node.js can do the following:
- Create dynamic page content
- Develop, open, write, read, delete, and close files on the server for Node.js
- Collect form data
- Add, remove, and alter the information in your database
Importance of Understanding the Pros and Cons of Node.js
If you are a website designer or developer looking to use Node.js in your next app-building project, you must understand the benefits and drawbacks of the platform. The following are some of the reasons why it is essential to understand the pros and cons of Node.js:
1. Making Informed Technology Decisions
2. Maximizing Performance
Web apps today must be scalable and efficient to attract the right audience. As such, web developers must use technologies that maximize performance and make their applications scalable and efficient. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of Node.js will help you know whether it can maximize performance for the app you’re building.
3. Avoiding Potential Pitfalls
If you choose the wrong technology for your app project, you will face the following issues:
- Difficulty expanding the existing app or finding another developer who can
- Rewriting the app using new technology stack
- Exposing the app to numerous vulnerabilities and security leaks
- Difficulty creating and adding new app features
- Bugs and quality problems
All these pitfalls are reasons you must know the limitations of Node.js. If using the technology you want for your app will result in any of the above issues, then it’s best not to use it.
4. Building Better Apps
A good web app must have the following characteristics:
When you understand the pros and cons of Node.js, you will build apps with these characteristics. Also, your web applications will be better optimized for performance and scalability.
5. Meeting Business Requirements
If you use bad technology and build a poor-performing app with the issues mentioned earlier, your target customers will not use it. As such, the app will be bad for business. Therefore, to avoid this and meet the requirements of your business, you have to understand the trade-offs of using Node.js. Also, knowing Node.js’ pros and cons will help you deliver value to your customers.
6. Staying Up to Date
Finally, knowing the advantages and disadvantages of using Node.js lets you stay up-to-date with the latest trends and developments in the technology industry. This way, you will avoid using obsolete versions of Node.js.
Pros of Node.js
Node.js is famous for the many advantages it offers. Below are some of the pros of Node.js:
- Lightweight and Fast
- Non-Blocking I/O
- It has Large Ecosystem
- Easy to Learn
- Has a Community Support
1. Lightweight and Fast
Node.js’ design makes it highly scalable, which is why it is ideal for developing apps that handle large requests, like social media applications. Web developers can grow apps in a horizontal and vertical orientation. To scale an app horizontally, you add nodes to the existing system.
3. Non-Blocking I/O
Non-blocking I/O is a single process that serves multiple requests on the floor. Node.js is an event-driven, non-blocking I/O model that makes it highly efficient for handling I/O. For example, with non-blocking I/O, Node.js can read and write file systems or networks.
Also, Node.js runs a single-thread process, making it asynchronous. It means it does not wait for a function to finish after collecting data. Instead, Node.js will run the subsequent request while processing I/O information in the background.
4. Large Ecosystem
Node.js has a growing ecosystem of third-party modules and packages. Developers use these modules and packages to develop and deploy apps quickly. Also, developers can use the Node Package Manager (NPM) to share third-party modules.
Some popular third-party modules are:
- Mongoose: Mongoose is a Node.js-based MongoDB Object Data Modeling library. It allows developers to enforce a specific schema in the application layer. Also, Mongoose is straightforward and has built-in type casting, validation, and query building.
- Mutler: Mutler is the middleware that handles multipart/form-data in Node.js. It makes encoding and uploading files in Node.js easier.
- Body-Parser: The body-parser is a middleware from Express.js, and it processes information sent in an HTTP body request. The body-parser module has four parsing middleware: JSON, Text, URL-encoded, and raw data.
- A significant number of free tools
- Increased speed and performance
- Better code sharing and reuse
- Increased efficiency and general developer productivity
- Better knowledge sharing in a team
6. Easy to Learn
7. Community Support
Node.js’ popularity birthed a large and thriving community of developers committed to developing the platform and providing community support for one another. The community members also create different tools and resources which developers can use for any web app development project. An example of a tool created by Node.js community members is the NPM, the most detailed package manager registry globally.
Finally, Node.js can be used across different operating systems, including Windows, Linux, and Mac OS. As such, you can use it to develop applications that need to run across different platforms. Also, Node.js works with other technologies, simplifying the integration with other systems (e.g., the Internet of Things).
Cons of Node.js
Having seen the many advantages of Node.js, let’s look at some of its limitations.
- Single-Thread Performance
- NPM Dependency Management
- Asynchronous Programming Model
- Error Handling
- Limited Multi-Threading Support
1. Single-Thread Performance
Single-thread performance refers to the work volume a software completes in a single instruction stream within a specified time. While it is one of the benefits of Node.js, it is also one of its drawbacks.
This is because it makes it difficult to handle heavy workloads. So, if your app needs many CPU-intensive operations, Node.js might not be the best option. The CPU issues result in delayed events and may cause user interface problems.
2. NPM Dependency Management
Since Node.js uses Node Package Manager to manage packages, it might lead to issues like version conflict and low package quality. These issues can cause broken dependencies and security vulnerabilities if not managed properly. Also, you may have a chaotic codebase you cannot understand.
3. Asynchronous Programming Model
Although being asynchronous is one of the essential features of Node.js, it is also a drawback. Developers not used to the programming paradigm may be unable to use it. Also, asynchronous codes are more difficult to read and write, sometimes resulting in a series of callbacks if inappropriately handled.
4. Error Handling
Another downside of Node.js is its unique error-handling model that is hard to master. This is pretty disadvantageous as an unhandled error in a Node.js app may cause it to crash. Also, it makes it more difficult to debug the application.
5. Limited Multi-Threading Support
Node.js does not fully support multi-threading, a limitation in some use cases. So, while Node.js uses several processes to handle requests, it is not the same as multi-threading. With multi-threading, several threads access and update the same resources. Also, most developers do not understand thread safety, causing scaling and resource usage problems.
When to Use Node.js
Node.js is an excellent tool for building web apps with high scalability. However, being a powerful tool does not make it the best choice for every web application development. To this end, this section looks at instances where it is beneficial to use Node.js.
Real-time apps (RTA) function within a specified timeframe, sensing, analyzing, and acting on streaming data. Node.js is the ideal tool for developing real-time applications. Examples are live streaming apps, chat apps, and online gaming platforms.
These app types are built around one or more core functionalities and require access to large data volumes. With Node.js, you can build data-intensive web applications requiring real-time data processing and high performance. Examples are big data analytics, social media platforms, and Internet of Things apps.
Single-page apps are web applications that interact with a user by dynamically rewriting a current web page with new data. You can use Node.js to build single-page applications that are responsive, fast, and require real-time data updates. Single-page apps include Netflix, Google Maps, PayPal, and Pinterest.
Microservices architecture is an architectural style for creating web applications, and Node.js is perfect for building microservices. By using Node.js, you will have a microservices architecture that is scalable, independent, and can communicate using lightweight protocols like JSON and HTTP.
This article covered Node.js’ pros and cons, highlighting the many benefits and limitations of the tool. So, while you will enjoy scalability, community support, and its large ecosystem, remember that its single-thread performance cannot handle heavy workloads. Also, it has limited multi-threading support.
Next Steps: What Now?
- Read about the Best Node.js Hosting Providers
- Learn about the Best Web Hosting Providers
- Find out How to Install Node.js on an Ubuntu 15.10 or 14.04