How to Build a High-Performing Web Application with Node.js
Table of Contents
Node.js is in Almost Every App We Use Daily
Node.js is an open-source runtime environment that allows for running web applications outside the browser. It utilises the V8 engine derived from Chromium Project and is literally everywhere around us. Ever heard of Netflix, LinkedIn, Uber or eBay? They all work as well as they do thanks to Node.js. And one thing they all have in common is performance under heavy loads and while processing enormous amounts of data. Why did their devs choose this particular technology, though? There are three basic reasons:
Real-time server-client communication
Equality is a huge asset, no matter if we’re talking about relations between humans or between machines. Node.js brings this characteristic to a whole new level, when it comes to software. Thanks to its smart architecture, this technology allows servers don’t need to wait for clients to initiate communication anymore and can just send data whenever they need. Note: this feature is not a novelty, but making it work in the past was extremely inefficient and required legacy Java Applets or even Flash which is already discontinued.
Cross-platform apps with no hassle
In the past, creating an application that would work the same on different hardware architectures and operating systems was a nightmare. In fact, it usually required more than one development team working on the same project parallelly. Now, because Node.js uses the same V8 engine, no matter on what devices it works, creators can focus on perfecting their apps, as the code doesn’t require many changes to work on different platforms. Just imagine how much resources can be saved thanks to Node.js.
Better performance and faster loading
Most legacy environments launch independent processes for each task they perform, but Node.js is smarter than that. Though it only runs one processor at a time, it understands that some tasks are easier and some require more time and computing power. It just lets the quicker ones finish first and gets back to the most difficult ones later on. In practice, this feature (called event-driven asynchronous callbacks) means that apps and websites render and react much faster. And we all love that.
How to Build a Fast Node.js Application
Node.js gives creators a lot of flexibility and freedom, when it comes to planning the project and development process. Among all of the decisions that need to be made, it’s always important to pick strategies that lead to performance – after all you never know what device your users will have and you always need to be able to process data as fast as possible – time is money.
Go asynchronous wherever possible
As mentioned above, event-driven asynchronous callbacks allow for better performance than synchronous, multi-threaded architectures. Rule number one in making the best out of Node.js is remembering to use this feature, as it ensures a non-blocking operation flow. Synchronous components bottleneck the performance.
Use caching tools
Data needs to be accessed either locally or from a server. Obviously, the latter takes more time. So maybe it would be wise to store the most commonly used information within reach? This is exactly what caching is about. It improves response time, minimises bandwidth needed and overall performance costs of app operations.
Are the queries optimal?
Databases can be huge, just imagine finding a scroll in the Alexandrian Library without knowing where it is. An app written in a poor way will face such a situation and waste time checking every single scroll at a time. However, Node.js offers solutions that can make queries smarter and more efficient. Seasoned coders know when to avoid most obvious statement (such as SELECT and SELECT DISTINCT) and how to filter records to limit the number of results (WHERE and LIMIT)
But… isn’t it a Bit Complicated?
Node.js has grown to a mature and versatile technology, but versatility comes with a price. With its 17th release, it offers so many different options and ways to do things, that for each application, ways of doing things with it need to be thoroughly planned and intelligently executed – only this guarantees speed of the final product. This brings us to another question: is it better to build an in-house development team for a new project or to trust an experienced Node js web development company? Believe it or not – this is a topic for a whole book. However, the simple conclusion is that it all boils down to whether you already have access to talented developers or you need to build a new team. Unfortunately current market conditions make the latter rather difficult – it’s all up to you, anyway!