But what does that mean, exactly?
I/O means input/output operation. It can refer to a whole variety of things, like making an HTTP request to API or reading the file contents. Non-blocking means that the application is running asynchronously, so the parser doesn’t wait to execute the whole application code from the beginning till the end and can handle many tasks in one thread. In other words, when the application sees that it will wait for data from another component (i.e. database), it puts the waiting task in a waiting queue and takes another item from that list to process it in the meantime, at the same time minimizing delays and increasing efficiency.
It’s difficult to put a label on Node.js. Why? Its definition is quite complex (just see above) and there’s no shortcut you can take, really.
It’s not a programming language dedicated to developing backend web apps – but it utilizes one of the most popular ones.
It’s not a package manager by itself, but it tightly works with and relies on them, and what is even more important, we have many options to choose from – such as npm or bower.
All the technical wonders of Node.js are impressive, but we can also sum up its advantages in a few words: it’s fast, lightweight, scalable, and efficient. And what more could you ask for?
What types of applications can be built with Node.js?
A lot of big players are already team Node. Netflix, Uber, PayPal… Just to name a few (more on that later – stay tuned!). Node is not limited to a list of apps that you can make with it. Whenever you start developing a software product, you shouldn’t only think about what’s in fashion or not (though the Node hype is here for a reason), but you should get expert advice on what technology will be best for your product. There are a few things that make Node.js stand out and take the lead when we compare it to other alternatives.
First of all, Node provides fast delivery. Remember the lean startup thing we’ve mentioned in some of our previous articles (for example: Why do you need innovation workshops)? We deeply believe that it works. Delivering functioning pieces, or prototypes, and testing the concepts is crucial to the development. Node.js helps achieve that in a few ways. It can share whole code modules and tests between the client (e.g. browser) and server, which comes in handy. Also, there’s no huge struggle with communication with backend and frontend. Same language and same approach to handle JSON covers it all. Sure, these may not be huge things, but everything time-saving matters in the development process.
Secondly, applying changes can be done easily and quickly. Node’s event-driven model handles substantial changes efficiently.
Last, but not least, comes the scalability. You want your product to be scalable both in terms of business and technology. It’s hard to say whether Node is more scalable than PHP or Ruby, but it definitely is really easy to scale, thanks to its popularity and support in the community.
OK, but let’s get to the apps.