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Everything You Need to Know About Node.js

Node.js framework is a cross-platform and open source  JavaScript runtime set-up, which runs on the V8 engine and executes JavaScript code outside a web browser, to build scalable network applications.

It is a popular tool for most projects. Interestingly, outside the browser, it manages the powerful V8 JavaScript engine, developed for Chromium web browsers and Google Chrome. Node.js app runs in just a single process. 

The standard library of Node.js comprises asynchronous input/output primitives that prevent the blocking of JavaScript code. However, often Node.js libraries are designed as per non-blocking paradigms. As a result, blocking behavior works as an exception, not the rule. 

While Node.js runs an input/output action, such as accessing the file system and a database, or reading from the concerned network, it will restart the operations when a response comes back. This is in contrast to stopping the thread and misusing CPU cycles, awaiting a response. This permits it to manage numerous concurrent connections through a single server. 

Moreover, this tool has a unique advantage as  front-end developers who prepare JavaScript for a browser, do not have to grasp a new language to design server- and client-side codes. 

Additionally, there will be no problem in Node.js with the usage of the latest ECMAScript standards. This is because one need not wait for the users’ browsers to get updated in this case. By altering the Node.js version, one can select which version of ECMAScript to use. Further, one can use certain experimental attributes after operating Node.js with feature flags. 

With its easy framework, npm has accelerated the advancement of the Node.js space. At present, the npm registry stores over 1,000,000 free, open-source packages. 

Background of Node.js Framework

On 8th November 2009, Ryan Dahl demonstrated the Node JavaScript project at the European JSConf. Initially, it supported only Linux and Mac OS. Dahl led the maintenance and development. However, later on, Joyent sponsored it. 

Dahl criticized the narrow possibilities of Apache HTTP Server, the most famous server in 2009, since it had to manage numerous connections concurrently. Issues occur when there is a suggested multiple execution stack at the time of simultaneous connections or a blocked code throughout the entire procedure. This case had to be fixed by designing code using sequential programming.  

Key Highlights of Node.js

Here are the distinct features of Node JavaScript that make it among the best  software architects:

1. Highly Scalable and Single-Threaded

Node.js uses a one-threaded model combined with event looping. Here, this event mechanism enables the server to initiate a response in a non-blocking manner. Hence, the server is scalable compared to any regular server, which uses limited threads for handling requests. Therefore, the single threaded program of Node.js can provide service to more requests than Apache HTTP Server.  

2. Very Prompt 

Being designed on the V8 JavaScript engine of Google Chrome, the Node.js library is extremely swift in code execution. 

3. Event-driven and Asynchronous 

Node.js consists of asynchronous APIs, which means non-blocking in nature. It simply denotes that a Node.js-oriented server does not wait for any API (application programming interface) to return data. The concerned server moves to the succeeding API post calling it. An events notification system enables the server to receive a response via the preceding API call. 

4. No Buffering 

Node JavaScript applications do not buffer any data. Such applications just output any data in lumps. Node.js is introduced under the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) license.

Basic Concepts of Node.js 

Following are the vital concepts of the Note.js ecosystem:

5. Observables 

The observer pattern refers to robust software design pattern wherein an object, known as the subject, keeps a record of its dependents, named observers. It automatically notifies them of any state alterations, generally by calling any of their processes. 

Observables are the functions throwing values and observers (objects) subscribe to such values. Observables attain tremendous strength of async execution via this model.    

6. Promises 

Promises is a distinct JavaScript object which may be designed, and an effective executor function is passed to it. The executor function operates automatically. After completing the job, it will call those functions that have been put forth as its parameters. 

7. Callbacks 

Callbacks are functions that can be passed into other relevant functions as arguments to be put into effect later. Functions refer to first-class objects. Here, first-class objects are entities that are dynamically returned as values, passed to the functions, created and destroyed. 

8. Modules 

In JavaScript, a module is a file that comprises related code. There are primarily two types of modules, namely core and user-defined modules. 

Core modules are basically general-purpose functions that developers primarily use. User-defined modules are defined by self (custom made) in accordance with the requirement of the application. 

9. Prototypes 

At first, developers will design an object and create its properties. Then, they inherit from the respective objects to attain inheritance. In Node.js, this inheritance process is prototypal inheritance. Here, each object will share an internal connection to the object.prototype.   

Usage of Node.js 

Developers learn Node.js to deploy, develop and build dynamic web applications conveniently. Following are the common aspects of a server:

  • A file to open on the server 
  • Returning the concerning content to a client

A file request has to be managed in ASP or PHP as follows:

  • The task will be saved in the file system of a computer
  • Now, wait for the respective file system to properly open and read it
  • The material must return to the concerned client 
  • Finally, ready for the next task 

The way Node.js will respond to the file request is as follows:

  • The task will be saved in the file system of a computer
  • Ready for the next task
  • After the file system opens and  reads the file, the server forwards the respective content to a client 
  • Node.js eliminates the waiting and instantly proceeds to the succeeding request 

Node.js emerged as an exceptional technology partner in the following areas:

  • Single page applications
  • JSON APIs oriented applications
  • DIRT (Data Intensive Real-time Applications)
  • Data streaming applications 
  • I/O bound applications 

Some of the eminent Node.js apps are eBay, GoDaddy, Groupon, Uber, Netflix, Mozilla, Yahoo, LinkedIn, and Paypal. 

Roles of Node.js Developers 

Node.js developers are usually responsible for the following:

  • Developing services and applications through Agile development methods
  • Contribute to organizational improvements and team in infrastructure and process
  • Design back-end services and customer-facing UI 
  • Operate, test, and code Node JavaScript-based services 
  • Effectively use ingenuity and tools to recognize and fix defects 

Node.js Frameworks and Tools 

The community wrote numerous libraries on Node.js to make things exciting and easier for developers. Some of the noteworthy options are as follows:

  • Hapi: It  is an advanced framework for developing services and apps. It allows developers to concentrate on reusable application logic instead of infrastructure. 
  • Micro: Micro builds asynchronous HTTP microservices through a light server.
  • Strapi: It is a powerful open-source headless content management system. It permits developers to make use of their preferred frameworks and tools while also allows  editors to distribute and manage their content in a convenient manner. 
  • Loopback.io: This makes it easier to design modern apps using complex integrations. 
  • NestJS: It is a TypeScript-oriented progressive framework to build enterprise-class quick server-side apps. 
  • Egg.js: It is a Koa and Node.js framework for designing better enterprise apps and frameworks.       
  • Meteor: It  is a robust  full-stack framework. It allows developers to design apps with JavaScript through an isomorphic architecture and share code throughout the server and the client.  
  • Gatsby: GraphQL-powered Gatsby is a powerful static site generator. It is created on React. It has a huge ecosystem of starters and plugins.  
  • Socket.io: To build network apps, an effective real-time communication engine is necessary. Socket.io facilitates this in a simpler way. 
  • Next.js: It is an exceptional React framework, including route prefetching, smart bundling, TypeScript support and server and hybrid static rendering. 

Procedure to Install Node.js 

Follow the steps below to install Node JavaScript in Windows:

Step 1: Visit the official portal of Node.js and download the installer (.msi file) as per your system environment (64-bit & 32-bit).  

Step 2: Double click the .msi file you just downloaded. Now, select ‘Run’ on your screen to start the installation.
Step 3: Follow the different prompts in the Windows installer. In simple words, accept the given license agreement and choose ‘Next’ several times to agree with the installation settings.

Step 4: On the next screen, select ‘Install’ to begin the installation.

Step 5: Finally, choose ‘Finish’ to complete the procedure successfully. 

Final Thoughts

The Node.js framework is fast and simple to create scalable network applications. Some of the greatest apps, namely Netflix, Uber and Paypal, choose it. Further, this toolkit is an easy and free-to-use server environment. The numerous frameworks, such as Gatsby, Strapi, NestJS, and Next.js, make coding lives convenient and offer features that may prove to be life savers for developers. 

Learn Node.js and how to use it in web and mobile application development, check out Hero Vired’s in-depth Certificate Program in Full Stack Development with cloud for web and mobile.

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