Book Image

Node.js Web Development. - Fourth Edition

By : David Herron
Book Image

Node.js Web Development. - Fourth Edition

By: David Herron

Overview of this book

Node.js is a server-side JavaScript platform using an event-driven, non-blocking I/O model allowing users to build fast and scalable data-intensive applications running in real time. This book gives you an excellent starting point, bringing you straight to the heart of developing web applications with Node.js. You will progress from a rudimentary knowledge of JavaScript and server-side development to being able to create, maintain, deploy and test your own Node.js application.You will understand the importance of transitioning to functions that return Promise objects, and the difference between fs, fs/promises and fs-extra. With this book you'll learn how to use the HTTP Server and Client objects, data storage with both SQL and MongoDB databases, real-time applications with Socket.IO, mobile-first theming with Bootstrap, microservice deployment with Docker, authenticating against third-party services using OAuth, and use some well known tools to beef up security of Express 4.16 applications.
Table of Contents (19 chapters)
Title Page
Packt Upsell

Why should you use Node.js?

Among the many available web application development platforms, why should you choose Node.js? There are many stacks to choose from; what is it about Node.js that makes it rise above the others? We will see in the following sections.


Node.js is quickly becoming a popular development platform with adoption by plenty of big and small players. One of those is PayPal, who are replacing their incumbent Java-based system with one written in Node.js. For PayPal's blog post about this, visit Other large Node.js adopters include Walmart's online e-commerce platform, LinkedIn, and eBay.

According to NodeSource, Node.js usage is growing rapidly (visit The measures include increasing bandwidth for downloading Node.js releases, increasing activity in Node.js-related GitHub projects, and more.

It's best to not just follow the crowd because the crowd claims their software platform does cool things. Node.js does some cool things, but more important is its technical merit.

JavaScript at all levels of the stack

Having the same programming language on the server and client has been a long-time dream on the web. This dream dates back to the early days of Java, where Java applets were to be the frontend to server applications written in Java, and JavaScript was originally envisioned as a lightweight scripting language for those applets. Java never fulfilled its hype as a client-side programming language, for various reasons. We ended up with JavaScript as the principle in-browser, client-side language, rather than Java. Typically, the frontend JavaScript developers were in a different language universe than the server-side team, who was likely to be coding in PHP, Java, Ruby, or Python.

Over time, in-browser JavaScript engines became incredibly powerful, letting us write ever-more complex browser-side applications. With Node.js, we may finally be able to implement applications with the same programming language on the client and server by having JavaScript at both ends of the web, in the browser and server.

A common language for frontend and backend offers several potential benefits:

  • The same programming staff can work on both ends of the wire
  • Code can be migrated between server and client more easily
  • Common data formats (JSON) exist between server and client
  • Common software tools exist for server and client
  • Common testing or quality reporting tools for server and client
  • When writing web applications, view templates can be used on both sides

The JavaScript language is very popular due to its ubiquity in web browsers. It compares favorably against other languages while having many modern, advanced language concepts. Thanks to its popularity, there is a deep talent pool of experienced JavaScript programmers out there.

Leveraging Google's investment in V8

To make Chrome a popular and excellent web browser, Google invested in making V8 a super-fast JavaScript engine. Google, therefore, has a huge motivation to keep on improving V8. V8 is the JavaScript engine for Chrome, and it can also be executed standalone. Node.js is built on top of the V8 JavaScript engine.

As Node.js becomes more important to the V8 team, there's a potential synergy of faster V8 performance wins as more people focus on V8 improvements.

Leaner, asynchronous, event-driven model

We'll get into this later. The Node.js architecture, a single execution thread, an ingenious event-oriented asynchronous-programming model, and a fast JavaScript engine, has less overhead than thread-based architectures.

Microservice architecture

A new sensation in software development is the microservice idea. Microservices are focused on splitting a large web application into small, tightly-focused services that can be easily developed by small teams. While they aren't exactly a new idea, they're more of a reframing of old client-server computing models, the microservice pattern fits well with agile project management techniques, and gives us more granular application deployment.  

Node.js is an excellent platform for implementing microservices. We'll get into this later.

Node.js is stronger for having survived a major schism and hostile fork

During 2014 and 2015, the Node.js community faced a major split over policy, direction, and control. The io.js project was a hostile fork driven by a group who wanted to incorporate several features and change who's in the decision-making process. The end result was a merge of the Node.js and io.js repositories, an independent Node.js foundation to run the show, and the community is working together to move forward in a common direction.

A concrete result of healing that rift is the rapid adoption of new ECMAScript language features. The V8 engine is adopting those new features quickly to advance the state of web development. The Node.js team, in turn, is adopting those features as quickly as they show up in V8, meaning that Promises and async functions are quickly becoming a reality for Node.js programmers.

The bottom line is that the Node.js community not only survived the io.js fork, but the community and the platform it nurtures grew stronger as a result.