Why Node.js is the Future of Backend Development

Constantin Macri 29/04/2023 | 15:02

Node.js is in trouble! The days of this open-source environment are numbered. Any developer that can save themselves should jump onto another backend environment ASAP! ” are the words of JavaScript nay-sayers. 


Don’t listen to them. Node.js is here to stay and rewrite the ways of backend web development.

Spoiler alert: It’ll become faster than Flash and stronger than Man of Steel, thanks to its scalability and efficiency. Red-lining its V8 engine, not even the most complex API-demanding web application will stand in its path. Microservice architecture and progressive web applications will be tiny pit stops in the direction where this backend technology is heading.

Enough with the spoilers. Let’s see what the future really holds.


How did Node.js become the poster child of backend development?

In the good ol’ days of backend development, PHP was the main tool for building web projects. But it slowly became web dev’s weird, edgy uncle, and nobody knows why it exists anymore. Then Ruby (coasting on Rails) came like the cool cappuccino-drinking hipster cousin with all its fancy disrupting technology.

We all have that type of cousin, but we don’t want to hang out with them. And don’t get me started on Java — the Dodo bird of backend development only Nokia gamers remember.

And then, several years ago, something new, not so hipstery, and incredibly efficient came into the backend development world — Node.js.

Profile bio: Node.js is an open-source, cross-platform JavaScript runtime environment that took the world back in 2017, the year of its mass adoption. Before destroying the 40,000 stars mark on Github, the history of Node.js was unwritten. It was just one of those small JavaScript environments that executed code beyond your web browser.

But, as it turned out, Node.js was what the backend development world needed all those years — an unstoppable glamorous environment handling ludicrous numbers of requests.

These traits are keeping it even more popular as the poster child of the backend web dev:

  • Its super lightweight footprint makes for an ideal development tool for cloud-based applications.
  • With its V8 JavaScript engine under the hood, it’s almost as fast as the light.
  • Building applications is highly scalable and responsive.
  • Its community counts more than 100,000 active developers.
  • It has a treasure chest of APIs and a boundless ecosystem that lets you build anything from simple, 1-2-3 applications to rocket-science-level microservice architectures.

What’s the secret sauce?

Here’s a brain-scratcher: How on Earth can one backend development environment handle so many requests while being anti-fragile and responsive?

What secret sauce runs through its veins?

Besides having the same engine as Google Chrome, Node.js runs on an event-driven, non-blocking I/O model. It’s what makes real-time applications like Netflix (streaming services), Discord bots (chatbots), and 8 Ball pool (online games) ticking.

Think of the event-driven, non-blocking I/O model as a superhero you created, called Node-Man. His special power is handling multiple missions and saving people without breaking a sweat. The essence of his superpower comes from the I/O model — a model handling multiple requests without waiting for one to finish before moving on to the next.

That’s how the Node Man is faster than the Flash and more efficient than the Man of Steel.


5 misunderstood facts about Node.js to know in the future

Every poster child has a shadow of misunderstandings following it, and Node.js isn’t the exception to this rule.

Here are five misunderstood facts about Node.js that are not true:

  1. Node.js isn’t the perfect match for large enterprise applications — Node.js’s second name is scalability. Last time we checked, every enterprise was looking to scale its applications to new performance heights and that’s precisely what they’ll get with Node.js.
  2. It only works for small applications —  PayPal, Walmart, Trello, and LinkedIn, besides Netflix, say otherwise. They’re some of the incredibly complex applications using Node.js for handling requests and running with little-to-no downtime.
  3. It’s only for web dev — Node.js does wonders with desktop applications, IoT devices, and command-line tools. The Electron-Node.js power couple is what brought us Slack and Visual Studio Code. Gatsby and Yarn are command-line tools responsible for building light-speed and secure websites while running on Node.js on the backend.
  4. CPU-intensive tasks destroy Node.js — Sure, it’s a single-threaded environment that gets bottleneck performance depending on the number of requests. But you can overcome that limitation by creating task queues or spawning async child-processes to fit the task.
  5. It’s not a good security option — Node.js supports input validation and sanitization while running on the most trusted libraries. TLS/SSL communication support is a built-in feature of Node.js. It’s what makes the communication encrypted and protected from vulnerabilities and attacks.


The biggest trends in Node.js changing the future of backend development

Node.js’s biggest pro, besides scalability and light-speed efficiency, is its effortless learning curve. Once you get a hold of it, it’s like playing the game of connecting the nodes.

Because of these traits, web development trends like GraphQL, serverless computing, microservice architecture, and progressive web applications (PWA) are rising in popularity.

We’ll see the era of small, self-contained services, each specific to a business capability, communicating through APIs, running from one shared codebase. It will be the era of modular and scalable web application development.


Where will Node.js be 1 year from now?

Node.js has come a long way since 2009, but the most exhilarating journey for this JavaScript cross-platform is yet to come.

At one point, Node.js will spread its sails and leave the backend development waters. It’ll map the uncharted territories of machine learning, AI, IoT devices, and desktop applications. It would be a fool’s hope to think these territories are danger-free from other languages and libraries. GO, Deno, ASP.net, and Flask are just a few backend framework/language sharks endangering Node.js’s adoption and life.

But despite the dangers, the future is bright and rich, just like Node.js API library.

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