Node.JS

Node.js is an open-source, cross-platform JavaScript runtime that runs on servers. Since its release in 2009, this platform has become extremely popular and plays a very important role in the field of web development these days.
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Node.js

 

 

Node.js is an open-source, cross-platform JavaScript runtime that runs on servers. Since its release in 2009, this platform has become extremely popular and plays a very important role in the field of web development these days. If we consider the number of stars that a project has collected on GitHub as an indicator of popularity, then Node.js, which has more than 50,000 stars, is a very, very popular project.

 

The Node.js platform is built on Google's V8 JavaScript engine, which is used in the Google Chrome browser. This platform is mainly used to create web servers, but its scope is not limited to this.

 

Let's look at the main features of Node.js.

 

Speed

 

One of the main attractions of Node.js is speed. JavaScript code executed in Node.js can be twice as fast as code written in compiled languages ​​like C or Java, and orders of magnitude faster than interpreted languages ​​like Python or Ruby. The reason for this is the non-blocking architecture of the platform, and the specific results depend on the benchmarks used, but overall, Node.js is a very fast platform.

 

Simplicity

 

Node.js platform is easy to learn and use. In fact, it is downright very simple, especially when compared to some other server platforms.

 

JavaScript

 

JavaScript is executed in the Node.js environment. This means that millions of front-end developers who already use JavaScript in the browser can write both server-side and client-side code in the same programming language without having to learn a whole new tool to move to server-side development.

 

The browser and the server use the same language concepts. In addition, Node.js can quickly transition to new ECMAScript standards as they are implemented on the platform.

 

There is no need to wait for users to refresh their browsers for this since Node.js is a server-side environment that is completely in control of the developer. As a result, new language features become available when you install a supporting version of Node.js.

 

V8 engine

 

At the heart of Node.js, among other solutions, is Google's open-source V8 JavaScript engine, which is used in Google Chrome and other browsers. This means that Node.js is taking advantage of thousands of engineers who made the JavaScript Chrome runtime incredibly fast and continue to work towards improving V8.

 

Asynchrony

 

In traditional programming languages ​​(C, Java, Python, PHP), all instructions are blocking by default, unless the developer explicitly takes care of executing the code asynchronously. As a result, if, for example, in such an environment, you make a network request to download some JSON code, the execution of the stream from which the request is made will be suspended until the response is received and processed.

 

JavaScript makes it much easier to write asynchronous and non-blocking code using a single thread, callbacks, and an event-driven approach to development. Every time we need to perform a heavy operation, we pass a callback to the appropriate mechanism, which will be called immediately after the completion of this operation. As a result, there is no need to wait for the results of such operations in order for the program to continue working.

 

A similar mechanism originated in browsers. We cannot afford to wait, say, for an AJAX request to finish without being able to respond to user actions, such as button clicks. To make it convenient for users to work with web pages, everything, both downloading data from the network and processing button clicks, must occur simultaneously, in real-time.

 

If you've ever created a button click event handler, you've already used asynchronous programming techniques.

 

Asynchronous mechanisms allow a single Node.js server to simultaneously handle thousands of connections without burdening the programmer with thread management and parallel code execution tasks. Such things are often sources of error.

 

Node.js provides the developer with non-blocking basic I/O mechanisms, and in general, the libraries used in the Node.js framework are written using non-blocking paradigms. This makes blocking behavior the exception rather than the norm.

 

When Node.js needs to perform an I/O operation, such as loading data from the network, accessing a database or the file system, instead of blocking the main thread waiting for the results of such an operation, Node.js will initiate its execution and continue to do other things until the results of this operation are received.

 

Libraries

 

With the ease and convenience of working with a package manager for Node.js called npm, the Node.js ecosystem is thriving. There are now over half a million open source packages in the npm registry that any Node.js developer can freely use.

 

Having reviewed some of the main features of the Node.js platform, let's try it out in action. Let's start with the installation.

 

 

Node.js

 

 

Installing Node.js

 

Node.js can be installed in a variety of ways, which we'll cover in a moment. So, the official installation packages for all major platforms can be found.

 

There is another very convenient way to install Node.js, which is to use the package manager provided in the operating system. For example, the macOS package manager, which is the de facto standard in this area, is called Homebrew. 

 

If you have one on your system, you can install Node.js by running this command on the command line:

 

brew install node

 

A list of package managers for other operating systems, including Linux and Windows, can be found here.

 

A popular Node.js version manager is nvm. This tool allows you to conveniently switch between different versions of Node.js, with its help you can, for example, install and try a new version of Node.js, and then, if necessary, revert to the old one. Nvm is also useful in a situation where you need to test some code on an old version of Node.js.

 

For beginners to use the official Node.js installers. For macOS users, one would recommend installing Node.js using Homebrew. Now that you've installed Node.js, it's time to write "Hello World".

 

First Node.js Application

 

The most common example of a first Node.js application is a simple web server. Here is its code:

const http = require('http')

const hostname = '127.0.0.1'

const port = 3000

const server = http.createServer((req, res) => {

  res.statusCode = 200

  res.setHeader('Content-Type', 'text/plain')

  res.end('Hello World\n')

})

server.listen(port, hostname, () => {

  console.log(`Server running at http://${hostname}:${port}/`)

})

 

To run this code, save it in a file server.js and run the following command in the terminal:

 

node server.js

 

To check the server, open a browser and enter in the address bar http://127.0.0.1:3000, that is, the server address that will be displayed in the console after its successful launch. If everything works as it should, the page will display "Hello World".

 

Let's look at this example.

 

First, notice that the code contains the command to connect the HTTP module.

 

The Node.js platform has an excellent standard set of modules, which includes well-developed mechanisms for working with the network.

The createServer()object method http creates a new HTTP server and returns it.

 

The server is configured to listen on a specific port on a specific host. When the server is ready, the corresponding callback is called, informing us that the server is running.

When the server receives a request, an event is fired request that provides two objects. The first is the request (req, the http.IncomingMessage object), the second is the response (res, the http.ServerResponse object). They are the most important mechanisms for handling HTTP requests.

 

The first provides us with information about the request. In our simple example, we do not use this data, but, if necessary, using the object, reqyou can access the request headers and the data passed in it.

 

The second is needed to form and send a response to a request.

 

In this case, we form the response to the request as follows. First, we set the property status code to a value of 200, which indicates a successful operation:

 

res.statusCode = 200

Next, we set the title Content-Type:

res.setHeader('Content-Type', 'text/plain')

We then complete the preparation of the response by adding its content as an argument to the method end():

res.end('Hello World\n')

 

We've already mentioned that a powerful ecosystem has formed around the Node.js platform. Let's now discuss some popular frameworks and helper tools for Node.js.

 

Frameworks and Helper Tools for Node.js

 

Node.js is a low-level platform. In order to simplify development for it and make life easier for programmers, a huge number of libraries have been created. Some of them have become very popular over time. Here is a small list of libraries that I think are well done and worth exploring:

 

Express: This library provides the developer with an extremely simple yet powerful tool for building web servers. The key to Express's success has been a minimalist approach and a focus on basic server-side mechanisms without trying to impose a vision of "one-stop" server architecture.

 

Meteor: It is a powerful full-stack framework that takes an isomorphic approach to develop JavaScript applications and using code on both the client and the server. Once Meteor was a standalone tool that includes everything a developer could need. It now also integrates with frontend libraries such as React, Vue, and Angular. Meteor, in addition to developing common web applications, can also be used in mobile development.

 

Koa: This web framework is built by the same team behind Express. Building on years of experience with Express, it was developed with a focus on simplicity and compactness. This project came about as a solution to the problem of making major changes to Express that are incompatible with other framework mechanisms that could split the community.

 

Next.js: This framework is designed to organize server-side rendering of React applications.

 

Micro: It is a very lightweight library for building asynchronous HTTP microservices.

Socket.io. It is a library for developing real-time network applications.

 

In fact, in the Node.js ecosystem, you can find a helper library for almost any task. As you can imagine, it takes a lot of time to build such an ecosystem. The Node.js platform appeared in 2009. During its existence, a lot of things have happened that should be known to a programmer who wants to learn this platform.

 

A brief history of Node.js

 

Node.js is 9 years old this year. This is, of course, not so much when you compare this age with the age of JavaScript, which is already 23 years old, or with the 25-year age of the web as we know it if you count from the advent of the Mosaic browser.

 

9 years is a short time for technology, but now it seems like the Node.js platform has always existed.

 

With Node.js from early versions of the platform when it was only 2 years old. Even then, despite the fact that there was not so much information about Node.js, one could already feel that Node.js is very serious.

 

Now let's talk about the technologies behind Node.js and take a quick look at the main developments related to this platform.

 

So JavaScript is a programming language that was created in Netscape as a scripting language for manipulating web pages in the Netscape Navigator browser.

Part of Netscape's business was selling web servers, which included an environment called Netscape LiveWire. It allowed you to create dynamic web pages using server-side JavaScript. 

 

the idea of ​​using JS for server-side development is much older than Node.js. This idea is almost as old as JavaScript itself, but at the time in question, server-side JS was not popular.

 

One of the key factors that made the Node.js platform so widespread and popular is when it first appeared. So, a few years earlier, JavaScript had started to be considered a serious language. This happened thanks to Web 2.0 applications like Google Maps or Gmail, which showed the world the power of modern web technologies.

 

Thanks to the competitive war of browsers, which continues to this day, the performance of JavaScript engines has significantly increased. The development teams behind the major browsers are working every day to improve the performance of their solutions, which has a beneficial effect on JavaScript in general. 

 

One such engine is the already mentioned V8, used in the Chrome browser and used in Node.js. It is one of the results of browser developers striving for high-performance JavaScript code.

 

Of course, the popularity of Node.js is based not only on a lucky coincidence and on the fact that the platform was born at the right time. She introduced the world to an innovative approach to server-side JavaScript development. Let's look at the major milestones in the history of Node.js.

 

2009


  • The emergence of Node.js

  • Making the first npm variant.

 

2010

  • The appearance of Express.

  • The emergence of Socket.io.

 

2011


  • Npm 1.0 release.

  • Big companies like LinkedIn and Uber have started using Node.js.

 

2012


  • The rapid rise in popularity of Node.js.

 

2013


  • The emergence of Ghost, the first major platform for publications using Node.js.

  • Koa release.

 

2014


  • Dramatic events have taken place this year. The IO.js project appeared, which is a fork of Node.js, the purpose of which, among other things, was to introduce ES6 support and accelerate the development of the platform.

 

2015


  • The Node.js Foundation is founded.

  • Merging IO.js and Node.js.

  • In npm, it becomes possible to work with private modules.

  • Yield Node.js 4 (it should be noted that versions 1, 2, and 3 from the platform were not).

 

2016


  • Left-pad package incident.

  • The emergence of Yarn.

  • Node.js 6 release.

 

2017


  • Npm is starting to pay more attention to security.

  • Node.js 8 release

  • The emergence of support for HTTP / 2.

  • V8 is officially recognized as a JS engine designed not only for Chrome but also for Node.

  • There are 3 billion npm downloads every week.

 

2018


  • Node.js 10 release.

  • Support for ES modules.

  • Experimental mjs support.