The Positive and negative aspects of Node.js web development

Pros and cons of using Node.js for web development

Choosing the technology stack for an application can be quite a challenge, as many factors affect the effectiveness of technologies. When it comes to developing social media apps, messengers, and streaming services, many developers choose Node.js. But why is it considered one of the best tools for creating such platforms? In this article, we’ll look at the pros and cons of this technology, sort out whether Node.js is a programming language, for which projects it should be used, and if it works for you.

What is Node.js?

Node.js is a JavaScript runtime environment that runs on the V8 engine and executes JS code outside web browsers. To put it simply, Node.js adds a backend part to the full frontend language, which allows developers to create not only websites but also scalable web apps that don’t require using a browser. Node.js is open-source, lightweight, and fast.

Ryan Dahl introduced Node.js back in 2009, and initially, it supported only Mac OS X and Linux. Until then, there was another solution for executing JS on server side, called Netscape’s Live Wire, but it didn’t reach success.

The release of Node.js allowed JavaScript to move from being a scripting language to becoming a programming language. It also gained extreme popularity among programmers and especially startups. They saw the advantages of JavaScript tech stack in its speed, the interaction between frontend and backend devs, and relatively low training and overall project costs, which can be further reduced if you have a full-stack JS engineer in your team.

Node.js vs JavaScript: What are the differences?

  • JS is a programming language, while Node.js means a runtime environment.
  • JS is used for frontend development, while Node.js is intended for the backend
  • JS code can only be run in browsers, while Node.js allows us to run it outside browsers.
What is the difference between Node.js and JavaScript

Node.js pros

Asynchronous programming

Thanks to the asynchronous I/O model, it’s possible to process new requests instead of waiting for the completion of the previous ones. As a result, the main pros of web apps developed with Node.js is that they have higher performance and can handle more simultaneous requests than applications created using a multithreading model. When thousands of users connect to the app’s server at the same time, it can easily cope with the load since there’s no need to create a separate thread for each connection.

Execution speed

In terms of web apps, speed of execution refers to the time it takes to process a request on the server and generate a response to the client. Node.js is fast thanks to its asynchronous nature and the V8 engine. You can take a look at how Go, PHP, and Java handle requests compared to Node.js and see it yourself. Many large companies switched to Node.js to improve performance and had significant improvements. For example, PayPal migrated from Java to Node.js and saw a 35% decrease in response time.


When your business starts growing, the application needs to be scaled to fit the new requirements. Node.js allows us to use microservice architecture to divide the app into smaller parts — this way, you can scale the app up or down whenever you need it. The tool lets you easily scale the app both horizontally and vertically to increase its performance.

Fullstack JavaScript

Node.js is a great technology if you plan to use a JS-based tech stack. This way it’s possible to use one language for both the server and the client side of a web app. It’s especially profitable for startups and small companies because they can hire just one JS developer and save their budget. You can combine Node.js with a JS-based frontend technology for different purposes. For example, among the benefits of Angular.js plus Node.js tech stack is that it’s great for building single-page applications.

Easy to learn

The main prerequisite for Node.js is learning JavaScript. If a developer already knows JS, it would take less time and effort to learn Node.js than to learn a backend technology based on a completely different programming language.

Node.js cons

Unstable API

Frequent API changes are probably one of the most crucial drawbacks of Node.js. Many changes have been made to its current version of API, and not all of these changes are backward compatible. To maintain compatibility with the most recent version of Node.js API, developers need to make changes to the available codebase every time a new version appears.

Limitations of JavaScript

Node.js can’t process very high computational intensive tasks. Since the runtime is based on JavaScript, it was designed to be single-threaded. As we said earlier, the technology prioritizes incoming requests, which is good for light tasks, but heavy tasks slow down the work.

What are the benefits and drawbacks of Node.js

If you’re interested in other programming languages and frameworks, check out our Stories and articles for more information.

What is Node.js used for?

Real-time applications

Real-time apps transmit live text, audio, and video data — these are social media apps, streaming platforms, messengers, and more. Such apps require speed and scalability, that’s why Node.js is a good option for developing them. Node.js easily handles real-time streams with heavy traffic, and, as a result, users don’t experience any delays when exchanging data or updating.

IoT applications

The Internet of Things is an ecosystem of various automated devices and sensors that can exchange data with each other without human intervention. IoT devices generate a large number of requests that require fast processing. Node.js handles these requests quickly and efficiently and can store large amounts of data generated by the devices on Node.js servers.

Single page applications

A single-page app is a page in a browser that stores dynamically changing data. SPAs load much faster than regular websites and can significantly improve the user experience especially when users have a low-speed internet connection. Node.js is a great technology to build SPAs because it handles intensive workloads. Plus, most SPAs are written in JavaScript, while Node.js is based on it.

Machine learning

JS developers can now build and train ML models using TensorFlow.js, an open-source library that gives JavaScript machine learning capabilities. It supports Node.js, so TensorFlow can also be used in web applications, which eliminates the need to use Python.

Famous projects built with Node.js

  1. Paypal. The company moved the app from Java to JS+Node.js. The development took two times less time than it did with Java. Node.js also helped them to establish interaction between the browser and the server since both sides are written in the same language.
  2. eBay. Mostly, eBay had a Java-based tech stack. It used to take a lot of resources and time to generate and convert data. To improve user experience and to make the code maintainable and scalable, they switched to Node.js. Moreover, they have established the interaction of services and made the website able to update constantly.
  3. Netflix. Back in 2015, the company used Java on the backend and JavaScript on the frontend. Then they decided to migrate to Node.js to have a common language for both sides of the app: the backend and the frontend. The platform has improved its performance — now the pages load within seconds.

At Ronas IT, we used Node.js in one of our messaging app projects. The project is under NDA, so we can’t give you the name of the app or the client. In the beginning, it was a small support service application, so when we started the project, our main task was to create it with minimal resources. Therefore, we chose JS as a development language and Node.js for the backend part. We also created the mobile application with the help of Cordova, a platform for building mobile apps with JavaScript. This way, it was possible to do everything with just one developer.

Then our client decided to turn the app into a large messenger. From the experience of previous works, we decided to migrate the mobile apps from JS to native languages — Swift and Kotlin. As for the backend part, there were no problems with Node.js, so we left it the way it was. In fact, it appeared to be very flexible and allowed us to scale the app to the desired sizes — 100 thousand users. Subsequently, we kept Node.js on the backend but switched to a higher-level framework, Adonis.

Is Node.js the right technology for your project?

In software development, there are specific cases when technologies perform best. Node.js is a powerful tool tailored to execute particular tasks. It’s well-suitable for developing real-time apps, SPAs, microservice architecture, and IoT apps. However, misusing Node.js and ignoring its characteristics can lead to big problems in the project.

If you want to know whether Node.js suits your project, contact Ronas IT Services for advice. Our specialist will help you choose the best possible tech stack to match your business goals and expectations.

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