There are several node versions, and the runtime environment has become more popular in recent years because of its efficiency. Also, Node.js can handle a significant number of simultaneous connections. This article delves into Node.js, answering the question: what is a Node.js server? It also covers its features and benefits.
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- Node.js is a powerful platform that is open-source, cross-platform, supports non-blocking I/O, and can be used with other technologies
- There are several benefits of using Node.js, including code reusability, scalability, high performance, cost-effectiveness, etc.
- Node.js have several use cases, like real-time apps and API development, due to its ability to handle real-time web apps and scalability
What Is a Node.js Server?
Importance of Understanding Node.js Server
The following are facts and elements of Node.js you need to understand:
1. Node.js Is a Powerful Platform
Node.js is a highly scalable, performant, and efficient platform and is best for building server-side applications. It has a high capacity to handle several simultaneous connections with high throughput.
Node.js uses non-blocking, event-driven I/O, making it lightweight. It is also efficient when handling data-intensive real-time applications across multiple distributed devices. As a result, developers build faster and more reliable apps.
2. Node.js Is Open-Source
Node.js is an open-source platform, and developers can see, adjust it to meet their needs, and share it as they deem fit. Developers can work simultaneously on the client and server side, which hastens an app development process.
4. Node.js Has a Large and Active Community
Node.js’ wide usage among developers has led to a large and active community. The Node.js community constantly works to improve the platform and develop new tools and libraries.
These libraries and frameworks are Express.js, Socket.io, Passport.js, etc. Once you are a part of the Node.js community, you have access to its members and resources, which is great for your web development career.
5. Node.js Supports Non-Blocking I/O
Again, Node.js uses a non-blocking I/O model to handle large data volumes and requests without affecting other operations. The I/O model allows developers to call a function that performs I/O without the execution code getting blocked.
Instead, the I/O will function in the background while you execute other parts of the code. As a result, Node.js is best for creating real-time applications like multiplayer games, chat apps, and streaming services.
6. Node.js Is Cross-Platform
Another element of Node.js you need to understand is that it is cross-platform. This means running Node.js is possible on multiple platforms: Linux, Windows, and macOS. Also, being cross-platform makes Node.js a flexible and versatile platform for developers.
7. Node.js Can Be Used With Other Technologies
Finally, you can use Node.js with other technologies like web servers, databases, and front-end frameworks. Combining these technologies with Node.js allows developers to create complex, full-stack apps.
Therefore, developers use the platform to build Internet of Things (IoT) apps or data streaming products. Also, understanding the combination of Node.js with other technologies will help you build better and more integrated applications.
How Node.js Server Works
Having answered the question: what is Node.js server and provided insight into why you need to understand the platform, our next focus is how Node.js web server works.
1. Event-Driven Architecture
Node.js uses event-driven architecture, a powerful software design method that improves app flexibility, scalability, and performance. The event-driven architecture allows the Node.js platform to run in a single thread.
Also, event-driven architecture in Node.js is implemented using an event loop and event emitter module. The two are powerful tools that help you handle asynchronous events.
2. Non-Blocking I/O
Node.js non-blocking I/O operations allow developers to use a single process to serve multiple requests simultaneously. Non-blocking means that a code’s execution will not be blocked while the I/O operation is ongoing. This is because the I/O operations are delegated to the system, allowing the process to complete the next code.
3. NPM (Node Package Manager)
Node.js also has NPM, a package manager that allows developers to manage, install, or uninstall Node.js packages and modules in an app. The NPM also serves as an online repository for open-source Node.js packages and a command-line interface (CLI) for interacting with the repository.
The repository acts as a digital storage and retrieval facility, while the CLI is a tool for communicating with the storage facility. The Node.js community members develop modules and publish them as packages in the repository.
5. Server-Side Scripting
Node.js is used for side-server scripting, meaning developers execute it on the server side, not the client side. As a result, Node.js runs outside the web browser on a server, and it works on the backend of an app to manage data.
The design of Node.js makes it highly scalable. Therefore, it can handle large traffic and connections without slowing or crashing. Also, since Node.js utilizes a single thread to manage non-blocking I/O calls, it takes little resources for apps to accept concurrent connections.
7. Cross-Platform Compatibility
Again, Node.js is cross-platform, which allows it to run on various platforms, and makes it a versatile option for web development. Aside from Windows, Linux, and macOS, Node.js also runs on Unix.
Common Tools and Frameworks Used With Node.js Server
The following are the standard tools and frameworks developers use with Node.js:
Express.js (Simply Express) is a popular and minimalist framework for developing web applications and APIs. It is open-source, free, and available under the MIT framework. Express.js is the fastest Node.js framework, allowing developers to create server-side tools. Experienced developers can use this framework for enterprise-grade or web browser apps, but it is not recommended for beginners.
This framework allows real-time, bi-directional communication between a client and a server. As a full-stack Node.js platform, Socket.io enables the usage of multiple programming languages. Web builders looking to solve complex issues in a web app prefer using Socket.io as it provides real-time analytics and fast support. This framework is best for multiplayer games, video conferencing apps, etc.
PM2 is a production process manager for Node.js apps, enabling developers to manage the application process easier. It is also one of the simplest and easiest developer tools and provides community support for web developers worldwide. Its key features are behavior configuration, container integration, development workflow, etc.
This tool is an Object Data Modeling (ODM) library used alongside MongoDB to interact with MongoDB databases. Mongoose manages relationships between different data, supplies schema validations, and translates between objects in codes and object representation in MongoDB.
Passport.js is a lightweight and flexible authentication middleware for Node.js apps, and it supports different authentication methods. The latter includes the username and password models, social media log-in, etc. Passport.js works well with Express.js apps and simplifies the authorization stage.
Unlike others on this list, GraphQL is a query language and runtime for APIs. It provides an efficient and flexible way for Node.js to interact with server-side data. GraphQl was developed by Facebook, and it speeds up the request process.
Benefits of Node.js Server
The following are some benefits of using a Node.js server:
Developers use Node.js to create fast apps that produce results within seconds. Also, Node.js supports multitasking, is event-driven, and has a single-threaded design that quickly processes multiple requests without clogging the RAM.
2. Easy to Learn and Use
Another benefit of Node.js is that developers can build applications in horizontal and vertical orientations. Also, they can scale apps by adding more nodes to the existing system.
A significant advantage of Node.js is that it reduces costs associated with maintenance and infrastructure. Also, it does not require two teams and runs on less powerful hardware than traditional servers used for web hosting.
5. Large Community and Ecosystem
Again, developers from different countries contribute to Node.js. This makes it easier to address complex development issues, make improvements on Node.js server, and get cooperation from development specialists worldwide. Also, developers can access and use several libraries and modules.
6. Cross-Platform Compatibility
Since Node.js runs on different platforms, it is a universal choice for developers. Also, the cross-platform compatibility removes the need for developers to write separate codes for different desktop versions.
7. Real-Time Applications
Developers use Node.js to build real-time apps, like chats and online games. This is possible because Node.js web servers can handle multiple simultaneous connections in real-time.
8. No Buffering
Since Node.js servers stream data directly to the client without buffering, there is a faster response time and better user experience. Also, there is less loading time using caching, and developers can reduce their task workload and code re-execution.
9. Microservices Architecture
Node.js is also best for building microservices. It enables the creation of small, independent services that communicate with each other.
10. Code Reusability
Developers can reuse codes between the client and the server using the JSON Format. This means that developers can change or improve codes to fit the unique requirements of an app, making it easy to maintain applications.
Use Cases of Node.js Server
There are multiple use cases for Node.js server due to its ability to handle real-time web apps and scalability. Below are some of the standard use cases.
Web Application Development
Node.js is the go-to choice for developers that want to develop real-time apps for chats, online games, and stock trading platforms. The platform uses Event API to create push notifications and server-side events for apps like Facebook Manager.
Node.js is modular and lightweight. As such, developers use it to build microservices that easily integrate with a more extensive system. Also, Node.js simplifies the mounting of multiple server instances and the construction of proper routing addresses.
Node.js’ ability to handle a large volume of requests with low latency makes it ideal for API development. Also, it allows developers to build scalable API proxies that can handle simultaneous requests with high throughput.
Node.js is used in serverless computing architecture like AWS Lambda, where functions are executed in response to events. Also, with Lambda functions, developers do not need to begin a new process for every request but can do everything in a single operation.
Node.js can handle large volumes of data quickly and in real-time, making it ideal for developing IoT apps. Also, it comes with Node Packaged Modules that meet IoT requirements, and since it runs on Google’s V8 engine, it compiles and executes data faster into a native machine code.
Next Steps: What Now?
- Read about the Best Node.js Hosting Providers
- Learn How to Install Node.js on an Ubuntu 15.10 or 14.04 – The Short Effective Guide
- Learn How to Host a Java Web Application on a Web Server