Differences between Node.js and Browser

Differences between the Node.js and Browser

Both the Node.js and browser use JavaScript as their programming language – but the literal Run Time Environments are different. Building apps that run in the browser is a completely different thing than building a Node.js application.

Despite the fact that it’s always JavaScript, there are some key differences that make the experience radically different.

From the perspective of a frontend developer who extensively uses JavaScript, Node.js apps bring with them a huge advantage: the comfort of programming everything – the frontend and the backend – in a single language.

By using the same language to perform all your work on the web – both on the client and on the server, you’re in a unique position of advantage.

What changes is the ecosystem.

  1. In the browser, most of the time what you are doing is interacting with the DOM, or other Web Platform APIs like Cookies. Those do not exist in Node.js, of course. You don’t have the document, window and all the other objects that are provided by the browser.
  2. In the browser, we don’t have all the nice APIs that Node.js provides through its modules, like the filesystem access
  3. In Node.js you control the environment. Unless you are building an open source application that anyone can deploy anywhere, you know which version of Node.js you will run the application on. Compared to the browser environment, where you don’t get the luxury to choose what browser your visitors will use, this is very convenient.
  4. You can use Babel to transform your code to be ES5-compatible before shipping it to the browser, but in Node.js, you won’t need that.
  5. Node.js uses the CommonJS module system, while in the browser we are starting to see the ES Modules standard being implemented. In practice, this means that for the time being you use require() in Node.js and import in the browser.

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Node.js and browser are both environments that allow JavaScript code to be executed, but they have distinct purposes and characteristics. Here are some of the major differences between Node.js and the browser:

  1. Environment:
    • Node.js: Node.js is a runtime environment for executing JavaScript code on the server side. It allows you to run JavaScript outside of a web browser, enabling you to build server-side applications, command-line tools, and more.
    • Browser: Browsers are client-side environments where JavaScript is executed. They render web pages and enable interaction with web applications.
  2. Core Modules:
    • Node.js: Node.js provides a set of core modules for performing various tasks on the server side, like file system operations, networking, and more.
    • Browser: Browsers provide a different set of core APIs for interacting with the Document Object Model (DOM), handling events, making HTTP requests, and managing local storage.
  3. Modules and Packages:
    • Node.js: Node.js uses the CommonJS module system, allowing you to import and export modules using require and module.exports.
    • Browser: Browsers traditionally used a global scope for JavaScript files, but with the advent of ECMAScript 6 (ES6) and module systems like import and export, they have started to support a more modular approach.
  4. File System Access:
    • Node.js: Node.js has built-in support for interacting with the file system, allowing you to read and write files.
    • Browser: Browsers have restricted access to the local file system for security reasons, but they provide APIs for reading and writing files in a sandboxed environment.
  5. Networking:
    • Node.js: Node.js has powerful networking capabilities, allowing you to create web servers, handle HTTP requests, and build networked applications.
    • Browser: Browsers can make HTTP requests using the XMLHttpRequest object or the newer fetch API. They are primarily used for client-server communication.
  6. Environment Variables:
    • Node.js: Node.js can access environment variables, which is useful for configuration and sensitive information.
    • Browser: Browsers do not have direct access to environment variables, as they are primarily concerned with rendering web pages.
  7. Concurrency Model:
    • Node.js: Node.js uses an event-driven, non-blocking I/O model, which allows for high concurrency. This means that Node.js can handle many connections simultaneously without creating a new thread for each one.
    • Browser: Browsers also use an event-driven model, but they handle user interactions and events related to rendering and user interface.
  8. DOM Manipulation:
    • Node.js: Node.js does not have a DOM. It’s mainly used for operations that don’t involve rendering web pages.
    • Browser: Browsers have a DOM, which represents the structure of a web page. JavaScript in the browser is used to manipulate the DOM, handle events, and update the user interface.
  9. Access to Hardware:
    • Node.js: Node.js does not have direct access to hardware components like a browser might in some cases (e.g., accessing a webcam or microphone).
    • Browser: Browsers have APIs for accessing hardware components, such as cameras, microphones, and geolocation.
  10. Performance Considerations:
    • Node.js: Node.js is optimized for tasks that involve I/O operations, making it well-suited for tasks like handling requests, reading/writing files, and database operations.
    • Browser: Browsers are optimized for tasks related to rendering web pages, handling user interactions, and managing the DOM.

In summary, Node.js and browser serve different purposes and have distinct capabilities. Understanding these differences is crucial when choosing the right environment for a particular task or project.


How much JavaScript do you need to know to use Node.js

As a beginner, it’s hard to get to a point where you are confident enough in your programming abilities. While learning to code, you might also be confused at where does JavaScript end, and where Node.js begins, and vice versa.

If you are asking this, this means you don’t know JS or have little experience with it. Allow me to simplify this for you.

If you have taken another programming course before (like Python) then you have the proper programming foundation and can go ahead and start learning Node.js without taking a JavaScript course.

However, if this is your first programming experience, I highly recommend starting with a foundational web development course covering HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to build a strong programming base.

I would recommend you to have a good grasp of the main JavaScript concepts before diving into Node.js:

  • Lexical Structure: JavaScript code is structured using various elements like variables, functions, and objects. Understanding this structure is fundamental to writing JavaScript code.
  • Expressions: Expressions are the building blocks of JavaScript programs. You need to learn how to create and evaluate expressions to perform various tasks in JavaScript.
  • Types: JavaScript has different data types, such as numbers, strings, and objects. Knowing how to work with these types is essential.
  • Classes: JavaScript allows you to create classes and objects, making it an object-oriented language. Learning how to define and use classes is crucial for building robust applications.
  • Variables: Variables are used to store and manipulate data. You need to understand how to declare and use variables effectively in JavaScript.
  • Functions: Functions are reusable blocks of code. Learning how to define and use functions is a fundamental skill in JavaScript programming.
  • this: The “this” keyword is used to refer to the current object. Understanding how “this” works is essential when working with objects and functions.
  • Arrow Functions: Arrow functions provide a concise way to define functions. They are widely used in modern JavaScript, so it’s crucial to understand their syntax and usage.
  • Loops: Loops are used for repetitive tasks in programming. You need to learn how to create loops in JavaScript, such as “for” and “while” loops.
  • Scopes: Variable scope determines where a variable is accessible. Understanding how scope works is crucial to avoid bugs in your code.
  • Arrays: Arrays are used to store collections of data. Learning how to work with arrays is essential for many JavaScript applications.
  • Template Literals: Template literals provide a convenient way to work with strings, allowing you to embed variables and expressions within strings.
  • Semicolons: Semicolons are used to separate statements in JavaScript. Knowing when to use them is essential to avoid syntax errors.
  • Strict Mode: Strict mode is a set of rules that help catch common coding mistakes and “unsafe” actions. Enabling strict mode is a best practice in JavaScript.
  • ECMAScript 6, 2016, 2017: JavaScript evolves over time, and it’s essential to keep up with the latest features and enhancements introduced in different ECMAScript versions.

With those concepts in mind, you are well on your road to become a proficient JavaScript developer, in both the browser and in Node.js.

Other than general programming syntax in JavaScript, there is so much that goes into Node.js. The following concepts are also key to understand asynchronous programming, which is one fundamental part of Node.js:

  • Asynchronous programming and callbacks: Node.js is known for its non-blocking, asynchronous nature. You need to learn how to work with asynchronous operations and callbacks effectively.
  • Timers: Timers are used to schedule tasks to run at specific intervals or after a delay. Understanding timers is essential for building responsive Node.js applications.
  • Promises: Promises are a modern way to handle asynchronous code, providing a more structured approach compared to callbacks.
  • Async and Await: The async/await syntax simplifies working with promises, making asynchronous code more readable and maintainable.
  • Closures: Closures are a fundamental concept in JavaScript and play a crucial role in managing data and state in Node.js applications.
  • The Event Loop: The event loop is at the core of Node.js’s asynchronous nature. Understanding how it works is essential for building efficient and scalable applications.


In conclusion, when you embark on your Node.js learning journey, you’re likely interested in building backend services or REST APIs for websites. Check if you’ve covered these skills, and you’ll be better equipped to decide whether to learn JavaScript before diving into Node.js. Building a solid foundation in JavaScript is invaluable and will make your Node.js learning experience smoother and more enjoyable. With the right knowledge and practice, you can confidently start your journey into the exciting world of Node.js development.

npm package

Publishing a package on the Node Package Manager (NPM) allows other developers to easily install and use your code. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to publish your package on NPM:

1. Create your Node.js package:

  • Create a directory for your package and navigate to it in your terminal.
  • Inside the directory, create a package.json file. You can do this manually or by running npm init and following the prompts to generate the package.json file.

2. Add your code:

  • Place your code and any necessary files within the package directory. Ensure that your code is organized and functional.

3. Add a README file:

  • Create a README file (e.g., README.md) in your package directory to provide documentation and information about your package.

4. Prepare the package for publishing:

  • Make sure your package.json file contains the necessary metadata such as name, version, description, author, and license. Fill in these details appropriately.

5. Set up an NPM account:

  • If you don’t have an NPM account, you’ll need to create one by running npm adduser in your terminal and following the prompts to register.

6. Log in to your NPM account:

  • Use npm login to log in to your NPM account using your username, password, and email.

7. Publish your package:

  • Run npm publish in your package directory. This command will package your code, upload it to the NPM registry, and make it publicly available.

8. Update your package (optional):

  • If you make changes to your package, increment the version number in your package.json file. Follow semantic versioning (SemVer) guidelines when updating version numbers (e.g., 1.0.0 to 1.0.1).

9. Publish updates (optional):

  • After updating your package, use npm publish again to publish the new version.

10. Managing access (optional): – You can manage who has access to your package by configuring package access settings on NPM. You can set it as public or private, and you can control who can publish updates.

11. Verify your package: – You can verify that your package has been published by visiting the NPM website (https://www.npmjs.com/package/your-package-name) or by searching for it using npm search your-package-name.

That’s it! Your package should now be published on NPM and accessible to other developers worldwide. Remember to keep your package up to date and maintain good documentation to make it easier for others to use and contribute to your code.

How to publish your own package

Several developers feel the need to use some functionality of one project in another. Normally, the developer copies code from one project and pastes in another but if it is common functionality that may be used in several projects its a better and good practice to publish your reusable codes as npm packages.

Okay, so let’s start!

  1. npm init:

When you are in your desired directory, open the CLI, and use this command:

npm init

A text utility appears and you are asked to enter a few details to create a basic package.json file such as package name, version, description, author, etc.

Enter the details of the package as you please. The defaults will be mentioned in parentheses like this →

package name: (test-package)

version: (1.0.0)

description: This is a test package




Just hit Enter if you want the default options.

A basic package.json will be created looking something like this :


"name": "test-package",

"version": "1.0.0",

"description": "This is a test package",

"main": "app.js",

"author": "ashramtech",

"license": "ISC"


Obviously, you can change the package.json file later if you want.

  1. Source

Now, you need to prepare the source code. If the code is not too big, it is typically just write in the main file(app.js here). Else, conventionally a src directory is used where your abstract code is stored in several files.

Remember to export the code using module.exports

  1. Test

You now need to thoroughly test your code before publishing. This is how you, as a developer, confirm that your package can actually be used.

  1. Publish

If this is your first time, you probably won’t be logged in with your npm account. If you don’t have an account, go to npmjs.com and create your account.

Now, in your terminal, log in with your npm account.

npm login

And now to publish your package,

npm publish

And you’re done!

You can now check your published project at www.npmjs.com/<username>/<pkg-name>.

The details regarding the package such as version, author name, description, etc. are extracted from the package.json file you created earlier.


Now you’ve got a basic idea about what npm is and how you can publish your own package to the npm registry. If you want to know more about npm and its basic commands please follow this article An Introduction to the npm : An Absolute Beginner’s Guide



npm is the standard package manager for Node.js.

In January 2017 over 350000 packages were reported being listed in the npm registry, making it the biggest single language code repository on Earth, and you can be sure there is a package for (almost!) everything.

It started as a way to download and manage dependencies of Node.js packages, but it has since become a tool used also in frontend JavaScript.

An introduction to npm

  • npm is Node’s package manager. It’s a repository of hundreds of thousands of useful pieces of code that you may want to integrate with your Node project.
  • npm also has a command line tool that lets us easily install, manage and run projects.
  • npm is written entirely in JavaScript(JS) and was developed by Isaac Schlueter. It was initially used to download and manage dependencies, but it has since also used frequently in frontend JavaScript.
  • npm can manage packages that are local dependencies of a particular project, as well as globally-installed JavaScript tools. In addition to plain downloads, npm also manages versioning, so you can install any version, higher or lower according to the needs of your project. If no version is mentioned, the latest version of the package is installed.
  • You can have a more in depth overview of NPM in their documentation.

Yarn and pnpm are alternatives to npm cli. You can check them out as well.

How to use npm:

Installing all dependencies

If package.json file exists in your project root directory, all you need to do is use this command

npm install

This command will initialize the node_modules folder and install all packages that the project needs.

Installing a single package

If you just need to install a single package, you can use this command

npm install <package-name>

Often you’ll see more flags added to this command:

  • –save-dev installs and adds the entry to the package.json file devDependencies
  • –no-save installs but does not add the entry to the package.json file dependencies
  • –save-optional installs and adds the entry to the package.json file optionalDependencies
  • –no-optional will prevent optional dependencies from being installed

Shorthands of the flags can also be used:

  • -S: –save
  • -D: –save-dev
  • -O: –save-optional

Updating packages

And if you need to update the installed packages, hit

npm update

All packages will be updated to their latest versions.

Similarly, if you just need to update a single package, all you need to do is

npm update <package_name>

Note: By default, packages are installed in the local scope. If you need to install the package at global scope, you need to mention the flag -g

npm install <package_name> -g

This will install the package at the global scope in the system directory.


npm also manages versioning, so you can specify any specific version of a package, or require a version higher or lower than what you need.

Running Tasks

The package.json file supports a format for specifying command line tasks that can be run by using

npm run <task-name>

Initialize a Project Using npm init

Several developers feel the need to use some functionality of one project in another. Normally, the developer copies code from one project and pastes in another but if it is common functionality that may be used in several projects its a better and good practice to publish your reusable codes as npm packages.

Okay, so let’s start!

  1. npm init

npm init is the first command you need to know to create a Node project. It will ‘initialise’ your project by adding a file called package.json in the root directory.

npm will ask you some questions in your terminal after you run the command — your answers will be pre-filled into the package.json.

Don’t worry, you can change your answers later by editing package.json manually.

When you are in your desired directory, open the CLI, and use this command:

npm init

A text utility appears and you are asked to enter a few details to create a basic package.json file such as package name, version, description, author, etc.

Enter the details of the package as you please. The defaults will be mentioned in parentheses like this →

package name: (test-package)

version: (1.0.0)

description: This is a test package




Just hit Enter if you want the default options.

A basic package.json will be created looking something like this →


"name": "test-package ",

"version": "1.0.0",

"description": "This is a test package",

"main": "index.js",

"author": "ashramtech",

"license": "ISC"


Obviously, you can change the package.json file later if you want.

Where does npm install the packages?

When you install a package using npm you can perform 2 types of installation:

  • a local install
  • a global install

By default, when you type an npm install command, like:

npm install cowsay

the package is installed in the current file tree, under the node_modules subfolder.

As this happens, npm also adds the cowsay entry in the dependencies property of the package.json file present in the current folder.

A global installation is performed using the -g flag:

npm install -g cowsay

When this happens, npm won’t install the package under the local folder, but instead, it will use a global location.

Where, exactly?

The npm root -g command will tell you where that exact location is on your machine.


Now you’ve got a basic idea about what npm and its important commands. Several developers feel the need to use some functionality of one project in another. Normally, the developer copies code from one project and pastes in another but if it is common functionality that may be used in several projects its a better and good practice to publish your reusable codes as npm packages. We will cover in next article How to publish your own package to the npm registry.


Within the JavaScript ecosystem, a particular app will consist of a combination of technologies, called a “stack.” The MEAN, MERN, and MEVN (pronounced “Mevin”) stacks are among the most popular technology stacks that developers use to create websites and mobile applications. But, what are the major differences between these stacks? And, do developers prefer one over the other?

To understand which stack is the better one, we need to understand the underlying differences between them.

What is a technology stack?

First things first, tech stacks are comprised of the many components which work together to produce an application which serves the needs of users and businesses:

  • A front-end framework does most of the “heavy lifting” of building a complex website or mobile app, so the developers and designers can focus on providing the specific features and fixes needed by the users and the business.
  • Often a CSS framework helps translate the design decisions of designers to easily-achievable and reproducible steps for developers.
  • A back-end framework does most of the “heavy lifting” of communication between the website or mobile app and the database and business logic.
  • Miscellaneous back-end technologies used for a variety of tasks, such as organizing the gradual release of experimental features, tracking and reporting errors in the system, or accommodating sudden increases in usage (such as when something goes viral).
  • Database technologies store and organize data, as well as provide features for searching, filtering, and reporting data.

What are the MEAN, MERN, and MEVN stacks? 

MEAN stack: MEAN is an abbreviation that stands for MongoDB, ExpressJS, AngularJS, Node.js. This framework provides quick and easy development of web and mobile applications. The main components of MEAN are as follows-

  • MongoDB: It is used to store the data of back-end applications as JSON files.
  • ExpressJS: It is a back-end application that runs on top of Node.js.
  • AngularJS: It is the front-end framework that runs the code in the browser.
  • NodeJS: It provides runtime system for JavaScript on the back-end web application.

MERN stack: MERN is an abbreviation which stands for MongoDB, ExpressJS, ReactJS, Node.js. This framework also provides quick and easy development of web and mobile applications using java as its main component. Main components of MERN are as follows.

  • MongoDB: It is a document-oriented No-SQL data store used to store back-end applications.
  • ExpressJS: It is a layered framework built on top of NodeJS that takes care of the website’s back-end functionality and structure.
  • ReactJS: It is a library that facilitates creating the user interface components of single-page web applications.
  • NodeJS: It is a runtime environment capable of running JavaScript on a machine

What is the difference between them ?

In those stacks there are common letters which are M – E – N .

  • M: MongoDB
  • E: Express.js
  • N: Node.js

Those are the Backend technologies be while the Frontend technologies are A – R – V for MEAN – MERN – MEVN .

Then Obviously,

  • A: Angular
  • R: React
  • V: Vue

So, what’s the difference between Angular, React, and Vue? 

Since the primary difference between these stacks lies in their use of Angular, React, and Vue.js, let’s explore what those frameworks do.

  • Angular is a front-end framework led by the Angular team at Google. It is Typescript-based by default and used for web, mobile web, native mobile, and native desktop development. Angular is popular in the business world and is often used by traditional organizations, like hospitals and banks. Angular is a more opinionated framework in that it isn’t as customizable as frameworks like React or Vue.
  • React is a front-end framework for creating web applications to be run inside the browser. It was originally designed by Facebook to be able to support many millions of users. React is the most popular among the startup, freelance, and software consultancy crowds. It’s highly customizable and really good at scaling for massive numbers of users, which makes it easy for teams to be confident about future growth.
  • Vue.js is an easy-to-learn JavaScript framework. It’s known for its approachability, versatility, quality documentation, and speed. Vue was released in 2014 and is considered an up-and-comer as it doesn’t have the same market reach as frameworks like Angular and React just yet—but it is a fan favorite!

To the date, both MEAN stack and MERN stack are popular choices for web development, and each has its advantages depending on your specific needs and preferences. Here’s a brief comparison and a killer SEO title for each:

  1. MEAN Stack (MongoDB, Express.js, Angular, Node.js): Title: “Mastering the MEAN Stack: Powering Dynamic Web Apps with MongoDB, Express, Angular, and Node.js!”
  2. MERN Stack (MongoDB, Express.js, React, Node.js): Title: “Unleashing the MERN Stack: Building Scalable Web Applications with MongoDB, Express, React, and Node.js!”

To determine which stack is the best fit for you, consider the following:

MEAN Stack:

  • Angular: A powerful front-end framework maintained by Google, best suited for complex, large-scale applications.
  • TypeScript: TypeScript is often used with Angular for strong typing and enhanced tooling.
  • Full-stack JavaScript: JavaScript is used across the entire stack, promoting code consistency.

MERN Stack:

  • React: A popular and flexible front-end library maintained by Facebook, ideal for building interactive user interfaces.
  • JSX: Allows developers to write HTML-like syntax within JavaScript, making React components easy to create and manage.
  • Full-stack JavaScript: Like MEAN, MERN also relies on JavaScript for the entire stack.

Which is better MEAN, MERN, or MEVN? 

MEAN stack vs. MERN stack vs. MEVN stack… which one is best? These stacks are all very similar. Once a developer knows one of these 3 stacks, it won’t be too difficult to learn the others. All of these stacks are useful – it just depends on the type of project you’re taking on.

In short, one isn’t necessarily better than another. Choosing the right stack for your software development process depends on the front-end framework or related tools you’d like to use. If a developer or team prefers to work with Angular, they may choose to work with the MEAN stack. Meanwhile, a developer or team who enjoys working with React will gravitate towards MERN.


Companies like Accenture, Raindrop, Vungle, Fiverr, UNIQLQ, and Sisense among others use MEAN in their tech stacks. Brands such as UberEats, Instagram, and Walmart use MERN stack. Both the stacks provide an incredible user experience. Stability and scalability can be achieved with both stacks.

From this we can conclude that enterprise level projects require MEAN over MERN. MERN makes rendering UI simpler. Both are reliable for a quick front end development.

MEAN is good for large scale application. MERN is good for faster development of smaller applications.

v8 JavaScript engine

In this V8 introduction, we will ignore the implementation details of V8: they can be found on more authoritative sites (e.g. the V8 official site), and they change over time, often radically.

What is V8 javascript engine?

V8 JavaScript engine was initially developed for Google Chrome and Chromium web browsers to improve the performance of JavaScript execution. The project’s creator, Lars Bak, created the first version that was released at the same time as the first version of Google Chrome in September 2008. The engine was initially designed solely for execution by web browsers, but the latest versions also execute JS code outside of the browser, enabling server-side scripting.

Other JS engines

Other browsers have their own JavaScript engine:

and many others exist as well.

A high-performance JavaScript engine

V8 is written in C++, and it’s continuously improved. It is portable and runs on Mac, Windows, Linux and several other systems.

This might seem counter-intuitive, but since the introduction of Google Maps in 2004, JavaScript has evolved from a language that was generally executing a few dozens of lines of code to complete applications with thousands to hundreds of thousands of lines running in the browser.

Our applications now can run for hours inside a browser, rather than being just a few form validation rules or simple scripts.


  • JavaScript is generally considered an interpreted language, but modern JavaScript engines no longer just interpret JavaScript, they compile it.
  • This has been happening since 2009, when the SpiderMonkey JavaScript compiler was added to Firefox 3.5, and everyone followed this idea.
  • JavaScript is internally compiled by V8 with just-in-time(JIT) compilation to speed up the execution.

How V8 JavaScript Engine Works

When a developer runs a JS script on V8, the following steps are taken by the engine:

  • The engine compiles and executes the JS code
  • The engine handles the call stack
  • The engine manages the memory heap
  • The engine handles the garbage collection
  • The engine provides all the data types, objects and functions
  • The engine also provides the event loop (sometimes implemented by the browser as well)

Key Notes:

  • V8 is Google’s open source high-performance JavaScript and WebAssembly engine, written in C++. It is used in Chrome and Node.js, among others.
  • It implements ECMAScript and WebAssembly, and runs on Windows 7 or later, macOS 10.12+, and Linux systems that use x64, IA-32, ARM, or MIPS processors.
  • V8 can run standalone, or can be embedded into any C++ application.
  • V8 is the name of the JavaScript engine that powers Google Chrome. It’s the thing that takes our JavaScript and executes it while browsing with Chrome.
  • V8 provides the runtime environment in which JavaScript executes. The DOM, and the other Web Platform APIs are provided by the browser.
  • The cool thing is that the JavaScript engine is independent of the browser in which it’s hosted. This key feature enabled the rise of Node.js.
  • V8 was chosen to be the engine that powered Node.js back in 2009, and as the popularity of Node.js exploded, V8 became the engine that now powers an incredible amount of server-side code written in JavaScript.


On the web, there is a race for performance that’s been going on for years, and we (as users and developers) benefit a lot from this competition because we get faster and more optimized machines year after year. V8 provides the runtime environment in which JavaScript executes. The DOM and the other Web Platform APIs are provided by the browser.

V8 is always evolving, just like the other JavaScript engines around, to speed up the Web and the Node.js ecosystem.




Differences between Node.js and Browser

With so many frameworks available, sometimes it is hard to decide on something new and different. In the case of Node.js, you probably have heard sentences like ‘JavaScript runtime’ or ‘event-driven’ or ‘operates on a single thread event loop’ and have been wondering what it all means.

After over 20 years of stateless-web based on the stateless request-response paradigm, we finally have web applications with real-time, two-way connections. So, what is all this recent excitement around Node.js we’ve been all hearing lately? Why is it so popular? Let’s look at all this and more.

What is Node.js?

The definition of Node.js is quite complex. It’s not a programming language nor is it a framework or a library. On their official website, Node.js is defined as a JavaScript runtime built on Chrome’s V8 JavaScript engine. So Node.js is an open source, a server-side script which runs on the top of Google’s open-source scripting engine V8. Node.js can be simply referred to as a technology.

Node.js uses an event-driven, non-blocking I/O model that makes it lightweight and efficient, perfect for data-intensive real-time applications that run across distributed devices. It is mainly used for backend operations and is/can be used together with frontend JavaScript frameworks like AngularReactVue and others. Node.js is similar in design to Ruby’s Event Machine and Python’s Twisted.

How and why did Node.js get popularity?

Node.js was introduced into the world in 2009 by the initial writer Ryan Dahl. Back in 2009, Apache HTTP server was a popular web server. But, it had a major problem; it could not handle a lot of concurrent connections.

When Node.js was created it was able to solve the problem Apache had. It offered scalability and parallel code execution. It introduced a new logic and approach for JavaScript server-side development. It introduced use of a single threaded event loop model. A single thread is used to perform all requests.

Since then its popularity has wildly grown. For instance in Github, Node.js has 81.9k stars and 21.4k forks. In Stackshare it has 96.2k followers and 8.4k votes. These numbers alone can show how popular Node.js is. To the date 7509 companies reportedly use Node.js in their tech stacks, including Uber, Netflix, Paypal and Twitter.

Why Node.js is so popular among developers.

  1. Easy to learn.

This is one of the major contributors to its wide usage. Among many developers, JavaScript skills are common. Node.js uses JavaScript. So, learning Node.js is relatively easy and few weeks of learning can get you up and running. Without JavaScript Knowledge, learning Node.js will take a bit longer but still manageable. Therefore, learning Node.js is not that tricky.

  1. The scalability offered.

Node.js is designed with scalable network applications in mind. Node.js can handle many concurrent requests. This is the main reason it quickly became popular among developers and large companies. It can handle many simultaneous requests without straining the server. A callback is fired only after a request, but if there are no more jobs to be done, Node.js will go to sleep. Node.js is only online when needed. This avoids unnecessary usage of your RAM.

  1. The Mobile-friendly, Cross-platform, and Dev-Friendly nature.

The ability to build flexible apps that run smoothly on any platform, be it Linux, Windows, or Mac OS gives Node.js a big thumbs up. There has been a rise in cross-platform app development in the last few years. The fear of apps not running on other operating systems is gone, as Node.js helped take care of that. It has enabled developers to write apps that run on different platforms with little or no modifications being made.

  1. Lightweight and fast.

Node.js uses Google’s V8 JavaScript engine which is built in C++. The engine is an open source and high-performance JavaScript and Web Assembly engine. The engine was developed for Google Chrome and Chromium browsers by The Chromium Project. V8 engine handles memory allocation, compiles, and executes JavaScript. It compiles JavaScript into machine code using a just-in-time (JIT) compiler before executing it.

More about Google’s V8 JS engine can be found in the V8 docs. Node.js uses a non-blocking model in performing operations. Node.js has published a full article on blocking and non-blocking models here. It handles requests made in a single asynchronous thread. This reduces CPU workloads as well as memory. This makes your app lightweight.

  1. The many hosting providers available.

As a result of its growth in recent years, many cloud-based hosting providers and web servers have added quite simple ways of hosting Node.js code. Some of these hosting providers include Heroku, Amazon Web Services, Azure and Digital Ocean among others. There are also many detailed and simple guides on this.

  1. Highly extensible

Node.js does not provide everything that you need all at once. Instead, you customize or add what you need over time. This prevents having unnecessary libraries. NPM – Node package manager is the default package manager in Node.js. Here, you can browse and install over 1 million open source packages. You can also use it to identify and install project dependencies.

  1. Its caching ability

Node.js provides the ability to cache single modules. Caching is the storage of data for future requests. When a request involving the module is made, it is fetched from the cache instead of the main servers. Thus, the app loads faster and responds quicker.

What apps we can develop with Node.js?

You may be asking, what kind of apps we can develop with Node.js. The answer is: Node.js can be used to make almost any kind of app. Below are some of the apps you can develop using Node.js.

  • Single-page applications (SPA). e.g. portfolio etc.
  • Social media applications. LinkedIn uses Node.js.
  • Real-time apps like chat apps.
  • Streaming apps. For example, Netflix.
  • Ecommerce apps. For example, Walmart.
  • Blogs.
  • Online Payment systems. For example, PayPal
  • APIs
  • Mobile apps. Node.js can be used together with other frameworks eg. ExpressJs to build mobile apps.
  • Many more.

The advantages of using Node.js.

  • Node.js modules and tools are easily available via NPM.
  • Node.js developers are easily available.
  • Strong community and bug tracking team.
  • It can be used to build a wide range of apps.
  • It’s Cross-platform and mobile-friendly.
  • Hosting Node.js code is not a hassle due to many of its supported hosting platforms.
  • It’s lightweight.
  • It’s ability to handle many simultaneous requests.
  • Fast code execution.

What are the disadvantages of Node.js?

  • Decreased performance during complex & heavy computation tasks

As we have mentioned before, Node.js is single-threaded and event-driven, and that is why it isn’t suited for heavy computational tasks. Receiving a massive computational task, it uses the CPU power to the fullest to handle that task, leaving other tasks running in a queue. That means slowing down the entire thread of events, which impedes the interface. “Worker threads” have been introduced to remedy this problem, but this solution isn’t absolutely effective at handling CPU-related computational tasks.

  • Callback hell puts code quality at risk

Node.js is reliant on callbacks due to its asynchronous approach. Typically, this function works after executing a task. If multiple tasks are running in the background, each having a callback, it might cause callback hell, an unwieldy number of nested “if” statements or functions. It impedes performance and lowers the quality of code.

  • Lack of library support

While the npm library seems rich, the quality of many packages leaves much to be desired. Lots of them don’t have proper documentation. Since it’s an open source system, professional monitoring here is scant, so many packages don’t meet the coding standards. The good news is that Joyent supervises the key Node.js technologies.


Node.js can be used for applications of various sizes and needs thanks to its high level of scalability. By offering security, scalability and performance among other things, Node.js has become a solution to many problems. It is a type of technology that works without any unnecessary effort.

Node.js is not a one-size-fits-all solution, but it’s a good solution for creating fast and scalable web applications with less engineering effort.

Node.js is perfect for creating streaming web applications, server-side apps or microservices. Being built on Chrome’s V8 engine, using asynchronous execution and operating on a single thread event loop Node is recognized as an amazing and scalable framework for many businesses.