Node Development

​Node Development

Node.js is an open-source and cross-platform JavaScript runtime environment. It is a popular tool for almost any kind of project!

Node.js runs the V8 JavaScript engine, the core of Google Chrome, outside of the browser. This allows Node.js to be very performant.

A Node.js app runs in a single process, without creating a new thread for every request. Node.js provides a set of asynchronous I/O primitives in its standard library that prevent JavaScript code from blocking and generally, libraries in Node.js are written using non-blocking paradigms, making blocking behavior the exception rather than the norm.

When Node.js performs an I/O operation, like reading from the network, accessing a database or the filesystem, instead of blocking the thread and wasting CPU cycles waiting, Node.js will resume the operations when the response comes back.

This allows Node.js to handle thousands of concurrent connections with a single server without introducing the burden of managing thread concurrency, which could be a significant source of bugs.

Node.js has a unique advantage because millions of frontend developers that write JavaScript for the browser are now able to write the server-side code in addition to the client-side code without the need to learn a completely different language.

In Node.js the new ECMAScript standards can be used without problems, as you don't have to wait for all your users to update their browsers - you are in charge of deciding which ECMAScript version to use by changing the Node.js version, and you can also enable specific experimental features by running Node.js with flags.

Node.js architecture

The mechanics of Node.js are what contributes to its popularity with developers. Whereas most alternative runtime environments utilize multi-threaded processing models, Node.js does it all in a single thread.

In multi-threaded processing setups, each server has a limited thread pool it can access. So every time a server receives a request, it pulls a thread from the pool and assigns it to that request, to take care of processing it. In this case, the processing is synchronous and sequential, which means that one operation is performed at a time.

In multiple-thread processing, a thread is picked out every time a request is made until all of the limited threads are used up. When this happens, the server has to wait for a busy thread to become free again. This can make for slow and inefficient applications, which leads to knock-on effects on anything from customer experience to lead conversions. It can particularly become a problem if your application has to deal with a high number of concurrent client requests.

Node.js, however, uses single-threaded processing. The difference between the two is as you’d imagine: single-thread architectures process every request using a single main thread, utilizing event loops to run blocking Input/Output operations in a non-blocking way. Don’t worry if some of these terms seem unfamiliar. The ‘Terms To Know’ section, below, will explain it all in more detail.

A single-thread architecture can, in theory, perform and scale much more quickly and efficiently than multiple-thread setups. This is what Ryan Dahl had in mind when he first wrote Node.js and is a big part of why it is so popular among web application developers.

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