What is Node.js?

Node.js is an open-source run-time environment that allows for the execution of JavaScript code outside of a browser. Initially released in May 2009 by Joyent, it’s popularity has since flourished, due to its effective use in real-time web applications, giving the ability to run JavaScript both on the client, as well as the server side, allowing data to be passed liberally between the two of them.

What’s the difference between Node.js and JavaScript?

Node.js, on the other hand, allows developers to use JavaScript to write Command Line tools and for server-side-scripting – running scripts server-side to produce dynamic web page content before the page is sent to the user’s web browser.

Traditionally, you had to write scripts in JavaScript and embed into the HTML of a webpage, running the client-side by a JavaScript engine in the user’s web browser. Now, with Node.js you can:

  • Write Command Line tools using JavaScript,
  • Run scripts server-side to create dynamic web page content,
  • All before the page is even sent to the user’s browser.

Node.js has, in fact, led to a unification of web app development, based around JavaScript, as opposed to have to utilize different languages for server side scripts and those of the client side.

Are there any other technologies that can do what Node.js does?

Many individuals may point out that the free data exchange between client and server has already been achieved, in the form of Java Applets and Flash. However, unlike Node.js, these were merely sandboxed environments and were run in isolation. Usually, they were operated over non-standardized ports. They utilized the web as a transport protocol in order to be delivered to the client.

Advantages of Node.js

So let’s take a look at the key advantages in using Node.js?

  • Node.js is extremely quick. Since it runs on the Google-developed V8 engine     that uses JavaScript into native machine code. A single thread is used, making it much more efficient than having to worry about forming separate threads.
  • When   working with Node.js, you’re unlikely to run into many of the flaws that you would usually associate with working with streams. For example, you can process files at the time of uploading, reducing overall processing duration.
  • If you want to work with Node.js you only need to know JavaScript, making it relatively quick to get started for developers whose     expertise lies in using JavaScript code.
  • An open source sharing culture has led to widespread problem solving. Meaning if you encounter a problem then it’s likely that a fellow user will already have a solution for you.

How has Node.js evolved within the market?

Upon being written initially by Ryan Dahl (and sponsored by Joyent), Node.js was initially supported by only Linux and Mac OS X. As it’s development continued, in July 2011 Microsoft released the first Node.js build supporting Windows after collaborating with Joyent, the platform’s sponsor from day 1. In order create uniformity, a neutral Node.js foundation was created after a vote in 2015. Currently, many big corporate collaborators are getting on board with Node.js software, including IBM, Microsoft, Netflix and Paypal.

Every six months (during April and October), a new major release of Node.js is cut from the GitHub master branch.

Node.js has been embraced by many developers, given its “community-sharing” culture. The surge in popularity is becoming more evident, with an increasing number of operating systems, web applications, microcontrollers and robots being testament to this phenomenal growth.

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