27 min read 11/13/2021

The Ultimate Guide To Get Started With Node.js

In the past few years, Node.js has absolutely taken off as a server-side platform that is now one of the richest environments to develop web applications, APIs, or microservices.

Node.js has seen an increase in adoption over the past few years. The time to leverage the powers of Node.js is now since it’s still not too late to catch the hype train. This article will provide you with the best ways to get started with Node.js.

So what exactly is Node.js all about?

Let’s find out!

What is Node.js?

Node.js is an open-source, cross-platform runtime environment that executes JavaScript code server-side built on Chrome's V8 JavaScript Engine. Node.js is commonly used to develop high-performance, data-intensive web applications.

It was developed by Ryan Dahl in 2009 and can be downloaded for free from the official website.

What makes Node.js unique from other server-side languages?

When you visit an URL, and the website is loaded, the JavaScript code is run by the visitor, also known as the client-side. However, in Node.js, the JavaScript code is executed server-side or in other words, on your web servers.

Why Use Node.js?

Node.js is an event-based, asynchronous environment, meaning that it operates on a non-blocking event loop. In other words, this means you can easily use Node.js to make fast, scalable network applications.

Node has a large number of libraries, which makes it ideal for use in a wide range of applications. There are thousands of free npm (Node Package Manager) modules that can be incorporated into your projects, such as authentication and file upload functionality.

Using Node.js, a wide range of applications can be created, from simple CLI (command line) tools to sophisticated programs and autonomous HTTP servers. It's this versatility that has made Node.js so popular for use by many enterprises and developers!

And with big companies like LinkedIn, PayPal, and Yahoo using Node in production, you know it is a reliable option for your next project.

Projects Node.js is Ideal For

Node.js is a very flexible and powerful platform, making it ideal for use in projects involving real-time data transmissions such as chat, stock market tickers, or games.

For example, products such as Slack and Trello, use Node.js to power their real-time features!

It is also widely used for developing APIs, as well as creating custom web servers (game, streaming, and advertisement servers) and backend services. Unlike other server-side languages, Node.js is a single-threaded process and scales well for high-performance applications.

It is also suited for developing collaborative web applications with real-time data updating, document sharing, etc.

As it is so lightweight, you can even run Node.js on a Raspberry Pi! This makes it an ideal option for prototyping the next big thing!

What are the Downsides of Node.js?

Although there is no doubt that for many projects Node.js is a great choice, there are some caveats to be aware of.

It is not suited for applications that require heavy computation running in the background, as it can be memory intensive. It's also not the best choice for CPU-intensive applications.

What is NPM?

One term you will definitely hear a lot when getting started with Node.js is NPM or the 'Node Package Manager. This command-line tool allows you to install, share and distribute Node.js packages. 

It's the default package manager for all projects created using Node.js. It allows you to install modules that are compatible with your project by listing them in the package.json file which is automatically generated when you create a new Node project!

Node.js Frameworks

Each application is made up of many different components. For example, an API might include authentication and file upload modules which can be reused in other projects.

A framework is an open-source library that provides functions to create custom modules that can be used in any project. Frameworks are great as they can speed up development and also ensure consistency across projects.

Node has a large number of frameworks, so the choice can be overwhelming! In this post, we will look at some of the most popular frameworks, their various features, and how to use them.

Express Framework

Express is one of the most common Node.js frameworks. It provides a lightweight code structure which is great for building APIs, web applications, and microservices.

Express works seamlessly with Node's modules and has a large number of plugins available.

Koa

Koa was created by the same team as Express but is more performant. It's an ideal choice for developing APIs and microservices, as well as building web applications.

Koa uses generators which makes it more efficient with asynchronous code, in comparison to Express.

Sails

Sails is “designed to emulate the familiar MVC pattern of frameworks like Ruby on Rails, but with support for the requirements of modern apps: data-driven APIs with a scalable, service-oriented architecture” according to the official website

It is a great framework for creating real-time applications such as chat, gaming servers, and live data apps. 

Hapi

Hapi was created by Node experts at Walmart Labs in collaboration with IBM. This framework has been designed specifically for building large applications and is already being used at an enterprise level by many big companies.

Hapi provides a comprehensive toolkit for building APIs and web services, which includes authentication tools and monitoring capabilities. The team behind Hapi has also built plugins that can be easily incorporated into your project to create custom modules! 

Features of Node.js frameworks

Node has a large number of feature-rich, powerful, and flexible frameworks at your disposal. So what exactly are these modules capable of doing? There is so much choice! Let's take a look...

Data storage: Using NoSQL databases in combination with Node.js modules allows you to store data quickly and efficiently, regardless of the size or number of users!

Using NoSQL databases in combination with Node.JS provides a scalable solution for fast-paced projects where user numbers are constantly changing. 

The MERN stack: This popular (and catchy!) acronym stands for MongoDB, Express, React, and Node.js, the hyper-flexible combination of technologies that are used to create full-stack web applications!

The MERN Stack is a great choice for building single-page apps with modern UI/UX features such as animations or infinite scrolling since it provides everything you need in one package! 
 

Parts of Node.js - Unraveling what the building blocks

Node.js is a JavaScript runtime that comes with libraries and frameworks such as Express, which provides an easy way to build web applications. They are similar in many ways to Java's servlets.

Modules: 

Node.js has a built-in library system that allows you to use prebuilt modules in your application. It is an incredibly useful feature, as it allows you to easily call functions from a library without having to modify the source code.

Every Node application comes with a built-in module system. This system is designed to help you organize your code and reuse it in other projects.

Examples of Node.js modules: HTTP, URL, fs, util, query string, stream, path, assert.

Console: 

Allows debugging in the same way as the basic JavaScript console provided by internet browsers.

Cluster: 

A Node.js cluster is a way to share server load across multiple processes or machines, allowing you to create applications that use all available resources.

Global: 

Global objects are functions, modules, strings, etc. They can be found in every Node.js module.

Error Handling:

Standard JavaScript errors, System errors, User-specific errors, and Assertion errors are the main types of errors seen with Node.js applications. Exceptions are used to treat errors In Node.js.

Streaming:

Streams are the objects that enable you to read data or write data in Node.js.

Buffer: 

Buffers are used to process streams that contain only binary data.

Domain:

Errors that remain unhandled are caught by the domain module. 

DNS:

The DNS module is what allows you to connect to a DNS server and conduct name resolution.

Debugger:

The debugging process can be done using the built-in debugger module.

Together the above-mentioned parts of the Node.js ecosystem form a very powerful and flexible tool that can be used in almost any project, whether it is for personal use or commercial use.

How To Use Node.js?

Install Node.js

The first thing you will need to do is install Node.js. Head over to the official website (nodejs.dev) and download the installation package of Node.js for your operating system (Mac, Linux, or Windows) and follow the installation steps.

The LTS (Long-term Support) version is recommended as the best option for download since it is more stable than the most recent edition.

To verify that Node.js is installed correctly, open the terminal/command prompt and access your project directory (create a new one if you don't have any yet) and enter the following command:

node -v 

You should see the current version of Node.js, which is displayed when you enter the command node -v.

What about NPM Installation?

Ideally, NPM is already included with the installation of Node.js.

To verify that NPM is installed correctly, open the terminal/command prompt and access your project directory (create a new one if you don't have any yet) and enter the following command:

npm -v 

You should see the current version of NPM, which is displayed when you enter the command npm -v.

Once you have successfully installed Node.js, you can start creating your own applications.

Using NPM to install Node Modules

NPM can also be used to install packages for your project, including submodules. All you have to do is open a terminal and navigate to the folder containing your package.json file. Then type npm install MODULE_NAME --save

The '--save' flag allows you to save packages in your package.json file, under the "dependencies" section. This means that if another developer clones your project and runs npm install, they will automatically download any packages listed in dependencies!

NPM also has a huge number of plugins available which allow you to automate many development tasks.

Key Industry Trends with Node.js

Node.js is fast emerging as one of the most popular platforms for building web applications, and it's not hard to see why when you look at the stats.

Node.js has been downloaded over a billion times, and the number of downloads is increasing at an incredible rate.

Some of the world's largest enterprises have adopted Node.js as a strategic platform for digital transformation initiatives that support their business goals. Node.js is also widely used in high-traffic websites, startups, and new ventures across different industries including financial services, retail, education, health care, media, and entertainment.

Because Node.js has emerged as the preferred platform for building scalable web applications, the demand for Node.js professionals has increased, with startups all around the world offering attractive packages to experienced Node.js developers.

There are several reasons behind this popularity, including the following:

  • JavaScript Everywhere - Node.js uses JavaScript, which is by far the most popular programming language today and that's why it's easy to find developers for this platform.
  • The Vibrant Ecosystem - Node has an enormous community of open source contributors and users, which is constantly growing and evolving. This vibrant ecosystem has allowed developers to create over 200,000 free packages in the NPM registry and they can be easily installed using NPM.
  • Low Learning Curve - Developers can use the same language they are already familiar with for both frontend and backend development, which means less time spent learning new technologies.
  • Modular Architecture - Node is based on modules, which are reusable code that can be easily plugged into other modules. This modularity makes it easy to work with other frameworks and libraries in Node, including AngularJS, React, or Express.

Other factors that are fueling the growth of Node.js include its scalability, speed, and simplicity - all making it a great choice for businesses who are looking to create highly scalable and data-intensive web applications.

Hire the best Node.js experts online right now to stay ahead of the curve

Now that you know the basics of Nodejs, you may be wondering how you can hire a Node js developer to build your next web application.

The good news is that there are thousands of skilled and experienced developers on Hiremotely who are available to work on your project right now. The best part is that these developers have been vetted using a 5-step testing process, with their skills and experience verified by our team of experts.

So if you're looking for Node.js developers, feel free to post a job describing the details of the project you need help with, and a team of recruitment experts will help you find the best fit for your project. The keyword here is "best fit" - don't just look for Node.js developers, but rather find the best-suited developer who has the required skills and experience that you need.

The process is completely free to get started, and after you've been matched, you stand to enjoy an 8-hours risk-free trial - where you can work with your developer without spending a cent and if you're not satisfied, you can simply cancel without paying a penny.

The bottom line is that by using Hiremotely, you can hire Node.js developers to build your project and you don't have to worry about anything else.

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