What is NodeJS? (Uses and Features Explained)

Juan SalasJuan Salas

Juan Salas

What is NodeJS? (uses and features explained)

NodeJS is a JavaScript-based open-source runtime environment that allows developers to create and execute server-side code. It provides an extensive library of modules that simplify the development process, allowing developers to create powerful web applications quickly.

Node's features include its asynchronous I/O model, which enables it to handle multiple simultaneous requests without blocking other requests; its event loop, which allows for the efficient execution of operations; and its package manager, NPM, which makes managing dependencies easy.

NodeJS is a versatile platform for developing web applications and services, making it an ideal choice for businesses looking to build fast and reliable applications with minimal effort.

This article will explain in detail what NodeJS is and its main uses in product development.

What is NodeJS (and Why is it Important to Know it)?

NodeJS is an open-source, cross-platform runtime environment that allows developers to write code in JavaScript and execute it outside the web browser.

It provides an extensive library of modules that simplifies the development of web applications and can be used to create effective and efficient back-end services.

Being open source, this tool can be used freely. It also has a massive community of developers worldwide, which makes it easy to find information about its uses and benefits.

It is important to know Node because it allows developers to create highly scalable and dynamic web applications. With fewer lines of code than other server-side technologies, such as PHP or Java, Node is a great choice for creating applications.

The Evolution of NodeJS

Node was created in 2009 by Ryan Dahl and was initially released in 2010. It 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.

Over the years, NodeJS has become increasingly popular due to its scalability, performance, and versatility. It can be used to build various applications, including web servers, chatbots, IoT (Internet of Things) systems, mobile apps, and more.

Node provides a comprehensive library of modules that facilitate application development and reduce the time necessary to create complex applications. Also, developers can write code in JavaScript for server-side and client-side purposes, thus simplifying maintenance and debugging processes and enabling code sharing across different platforms.

Since its initial release in 2010, Node has undergone several major releases, with new features and improvements regularly added. Each updated version has more stability, performance enhancements, and new APIs for developers to use when building their applications.

The most recent version of NodeJS is v14 which was released in April 2020 and includes improved diagnostics capabilities such as heap snapshots and the ability to trace async operations using async_hooks API, among other features.

As Node continues to evolve, its popularity will likely grow as developers look for ways to build robust applications with minimal effort or overhead costs quickly.

Features of NodeJS

NodeJS is a powerful and popular JavaScript runtime environment for developing server-side applications. It has several features that make it an attractive choice for developers, including the following:

1. Event-driven programming: Node uses an event-driven programming model, making it easy to write code that responds quickly to user input. This makes Node.js ideal for developing real-time applications such as chat programs and online games.

2. Asynchronous I/O: Node supports asynchronous I/O operations, allowing developers to perform multiple functions simultaneously without blocking other processes from occurring. This makes it possible to handle large amounts of data efficiently and quickly, making Node.js suitable for high-traffic applications such as web servers and API services.

3. Modular design: Node is designed with a modular approach, making it easy to write code in small modules that can be reused across different projects or even shared with other developers via npm packages or repositories like GitHub.

4. Cross-platform compatibility: NodeJS can run on any platform, including Windows, macOS, Linux, and even mobile devices like iOS and Android phones and tablets, making it highly versatile for development purposes.

5. Scalability: Node's asynchronous I/O operations make it highly scalable when dealing with large amounts of data or traffic, allowing developers to quickly scale their applications up or down depending on their needs without having to rewrite code or deploy new hardware resources.

NodeJS Architecture

Node architecture consists of the following components:

1. Event Loop

This is the main component of Node.js architecture which handles all asynchronous I/O operations. It works by continuously monitoring the event queue and executing registered callbacks for each event as it occurs.

2. The libuv Library

This is a multi-platform C library that provides support for asynchronous I/O operations such as file system access, network programming, DNS lookup, etc.

It also includes thread pooling to handle multiple tasks simultaneously and abstracts away platform-specific details from NodeJS core modules.

3. Thread Pool

This is a collection of worker threads used to execute long-running blocking I/O operations to prevent the main line from being blocked while waiting for the process to complete.

4. JavaScript Runtime Environment

This component offers a platform for executing JavaScript outside a web browser, with APIs enabling developers to create server-side applications using JavaScript. It also supports features such as non-blocking I/O operations and event-driven programming.

5. Package Manager

This component offers an interface for managing third-party packages utilized in Node.js applications, such as Express and MongoDB. It facilitates installing, upgrading, and effectively removing these packages from the system expeditiously and effectively.

6. Core Modules

These pre-written modules provide various functionalities such as HTTP request handling, file system access, etc., which can be used directly without any additional coding or configuration required from the developer's side.

Which companies are using NodeJS?

NodeJS is popular with startups because of its scalability, flexibility, and affordability. Companies like Medium, Trello, and Groupon rely on NodeJS for their web applications.

Additionally, many large enterprises are using NodeJS for their internal projects. IBM Cloud, SAP, Microsoft Azure, Oracle Cloud Platform, and Adobe Experience Manager are some companies that use NodeJS for their cloud-based solutions.

NodeJS is also increasingly used in the Internet of Things (IoT) space. Companies such as Samsung SmartThings and Bosch IoT Suite use NodeJS to develop IoT applications.

Furthermore, many companies are leveraging NodeJS for mobile development projects due to its ability to build native apps for both Android and iOS devices quickly. Companies like Walmart Labs have already implemented this technology into their mobile development strategies.

Overall, NodeJS is a powerful tool that can be utilized by many organizations, from small startups to large enterprises. Its versatility makes it an attractive option for many companies looking to create efficient web applications or services quickly and cost-effectively.