The Importance of Node.js in the Responsive Web Era

A constant increase is being noted in the number of enterprises adopting responsive web design to optimize the look, feel, performance and accessibility for each device. The new web designing approach aims to customize content to fit any desktop computer, smartphone, tablet or phablet. So it becomes essential for web programmers to combine three frontend building blocks of responsive web design, i.e., HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript.

As a cross-platform runtime environment, Node.js enables web programmers to build a variety of server-side applications using JavaScript. As the JavaScript applications run within the Node.js runtime, they can run seamlessly on major operating systems and web servers. Thus, the open source runtime environment helps developers to make web applications more responsive by writing both client-side and server-side code in JavaScript.

Why Node.js is used widely by Modern Web Developers?

Google V8 JavaScript Engine

Node.js executes JavaScript code using Google V8 engine. Unlike other JavaScript interpreters, V8 engine compiles the JavaScript code into native machine code. Thus, it enables the runtime environment to boost the performance of web server applications by executing JavaScript code in a faster and more efficient way.

Asynchronous I/O Operations

Node.js further performs all I/O operations asynchronously through a single-treaded event look. The modern approach makes the Node.js application perform I/O operations by sending the asynchronous task to an event loop along with a call-back function. After sending the asynchronous task to the event loop, the application continues executing the remaining code. After completing the asynchronous operation, the event loop returns to the task, and executes the call-back function. In addition to consuming less memory, the feature enables Node.js to handle a large number of concurrent connections efficiently. The programmers can use the runtime environment to perform common tasks like reading or writing to the database, file system or network connections.

Robust Tooling

While using Node.js, the developers can take advantage of a dependable package manager like npm. In addition to being fast, consistent and robust, npm also simplifies the process of specifying and installing project dependencies. At the same time, it keeps the project dependencies separate to eliminate chances of version conflict. The users can further take advantage of the strong file streams capabilities of JavaScript using tools like broccoli, gulp and brunch, while using a popular task runner like grunt.

Complements Real-Time and Multi-User Requirements

In addition to using responsive web design, the developers nowadays need to build multi-user and real-time web applications. Node.js enables programmers to create complex gaming, chatting and communication applications without putting any extra time and effort. The developers can use websocket protocols to build real-time web applications. As a two-way communication channel between the client and web server, websockets can make the web server push data to the client in a faster and more efficient way without increasing the overhead of HTTP. At the same time, the developers can create multi-user applications by taking advantage of the even loop feature of Node.js.

Facilitates File Streaming

The web programmers can take advantage of the efficient I/O handling capacity to Node.js to reduce the amount of time required for streaming a file from the file system. They can use the runtime to read/write streams to both HTTP and websockets. Thus, they have can reduce the overall transcode audio or video processing time in a number of ways. For instance, a programmer can simply shift the stdout from the web server to a web browser through websockets, and allow the web page to display output to the user in real time.

Supports JavaScript 6

The current version of Node.js supports the new features included in JavaScript 6. It further uses the most recent version of Google V8 engine to execute the code written in the latest version of JavaScript. It allows developers to take advantage of the shipping and stable features of JavaScript 8 without using any runtime flag. But programmers are required to use runtime flag while using the staged or almost completed features of JavaScript 6.

Build and Maintain a Single Code Base

Node.js enables developers to write both client-side and server-side code in JavaScript. So a programmer can use JavaScript for building both frontend and backend of a web application. Further, he can create the whole application using a single code base written in the most widely used client-side programming language. The developers can further maintain and update the application easily due to the single code base. Thus, Node.js helps developers more productive by eliminating the gap between frontend and backend development.

However, Node.js is not a JavaScript development framework. But the programmers have option to use a number of frameworks designed specifically for the cross-platform runtime environment including Restify.js, Hapi.js and Express.js. Also, the effectiveness of Node.js can be determined from the fact that currently the runtime environment is being used by large websites like IBM, Microsoft, LinkedIn, Yahoo, SAP, PayPal, GoDaddy and Netflix.

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