May. 16

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JavaScript has changed the face of the web a lot. It has been one the reasons for the different look and feel of our web space. That’s all has been a contributor to  the great popularity of JavaScripts. Nowadays, with JavaScript running on the server and in the browser, has enabled us to do a lot of things that were quite unimaginable in the beginning of web era.

Defining Node.js

As per Wikipedia, “Node.js is a packaged compilation of Google’s V8 JavaScript engine, the libuv platform abstraction layer, and a core library, which is itself primarily written in JavaScript.”

It’s been more than 20 years since the inception of the web that we have been using an impassive request-response paradigm. But now with Node.js, we eventually have web applications with real-time and two-way connections. With this both the client and server can commence the communication, allowing a free exchange of data.

One may say that we had something like this in the form of Flash and Java Applets, then what new in it? If we look closely, Flash and Java Applets were mere sandboxed environments which used the web as a transport protocol to be carried to the client. Also, they were to run separately and often controlled over non-standard ports, which may have needed extra authorizations.

How Does It Work?

Node is fully event-driven. Primarily the server consists of one thread processing one event after another. Let’s take an example:

  • When a new request comes it becomes one event.
  • So, the server starts processing the event and when there is a blocking I/O operation, it registers a callback function rather than waiting for the event to complete.
  • The server promptly takes up the processing of a new event (request).
  • After the I/O operation is finished, the server processes it by executing the callback.

Therefore, Node.js operates on a single-thread and goes on processing multiple requests of concurrent connections.

Applications where Node.js can be used


Chat is the most typical real-time, multi-user application. The chat application is really the best implementation for Node.js: it’s a lightweight, high traffic, data-intensive (but low processing/computation) application that runs across distributed devices.


Although Node.js really shines with real-time applications, it’s quite a natural fit for exposing the data from object Databases (e.g. Azure DocumentDB). JSON stored data allow Node.js to function without the impedance mismatch and data conversion.


In more traditional web platforms, HTTP requests and responses are treated like an isolated event; in fact, they’re actually streams. It’s possible to process files while they’re still being uploaded, as the data comes in through a stream and we can process it in an online mode.


Node.js is easily employed as a server-side proxy where it can handle a lot of simultaneous connections in a non-blocking manner. It’s especially useful for proxying different services with different response times, or collecting data from multiple source points.

While Node is not intended to replace other languages, it will certainly take its place as one of the tools for enterprise software development and will hold that place for at least a decade. Node has already shown early promise for Internet of Things implementations. For web-based and mobile-based backend systems, Node is here to stay.


Ketan Raval
Posted by Ketan Raval

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