The new features and improvements on the new NodeJS 8 are probably the best in enabling workflow for developers so far. The main updates and features include async hooks, Node.js API, util.Promisify, zero-filling buffers, and JS binding among others.
The Nodejs 8 release replaces the previous version 7 and will be made available in Long Term Support (LTS) later in October this year. LTS line targets security and stability and is considered best for developers seeking stability during upgrades or when applying NodeJS in an enterprise. If you have a very complex production system, it is advisable to wait for NodeJS 8 to shift to LTS prior to upgrading. The following are the key NodeJS 8 updates.
A boost to the native modular ecosystem
One of the main NodeJS 8 changes is the much hyped N-API. Node.js API is being added on an experimental basis and will run behind the flag. The feature will assist to eliminate breakages that occur between main releases and native modules. Though the native modules form a very small portion of the entire ecosystem, more than 1/3 of modules rely on native modules.
The V8 5.8 update
Enhanced buffer operation
NodeJS 8 release comes with a new buffer (num) that is added by default. This means that developers can now enjoy two buffers to enhance their Node 8 performance; the zero filling buffer and the new buffer. The additional buffer helps to enhance security and lower risk of info leaks. However, it has a major downside; people who use it have to take performance hits.
Full shift to WHATWG URL parser
WHATWG URL parser was adopted in an experimental model during the previous version. However, it is now fully supported in the new NodeJS 8 release. The new URL parser is more compatible with many browsers including Safari, Firefox, Edge, and Chrome to allow code sharing in different environments.
Node 8 async_hook updates
One notable update in the Node JS 8 is the async_hook. In the previous version, it was referred as async_wrap. This update is targeted at helping developers working on diagnostic software to peel back and peep into what is taking place in the event list of Node. Therefore, the developer can tap into the entire lifecycle by designing and installing hooks into the best systems.
After finding out all about the nodeJS 8 update, let us get deep inside and find out everything you should know about nodeJS.
Understanding NodeJS for real-time applications
When it comes to real-time applications, NodeJS rules! It operates best in many web operations that use push technologies compared to web sockets. Here, think of real time application such as Gmail. NodeJS is a result of more than 20 years of stateless web development where the client and server can initiate communication. It is a complete shift of the common web response paradigm where it was the client only who initiated communication. NodeJS operates on a web-based stack (JS, CSS and HTML) functioning on the standard port 80.
NodeJS utilizes non-blocking I/O to remain very light and highly effective even when applied in data-intensive real-time operations. However, it does not target dominating the web but only operates perfectly to accomplish specific need.
Unlike with the previous versions and conventional web-serving methods that spawn new threads when a request is initiated (resulting in RAM consumption); NodeJS works on a single thread. This makes it possible to support thousands of concurrent connection within the event loop.
The main NodeJS frameworks
To comprehensively understand NodeJS and its operations, one cannot omit the built-in frameworks package utilizing NPM. The frameworks are installed in every Node.js by default.
- Express: Express.js is a unique Sinatra-inspired framework for Node.js. It is also the standard for most nodejs apps today.
- Connect: This is an extensible HTTP server framework for nodejs. It provides a wide range of middleware (high-performance plugins) and serves as the base for Express.
- Hapi: Hapi.js framework is used to develop application programs interfaces (APIs) as well as other apps. It is loaded with great plugin ecosystem and has great features including error handling, logging, input validation and key features among others.
- Sockjs and Socket.io: These are important server-side components of two common web sockets in the market today.
- Sails: This is one of the common NodeJS frameworks for building apps. It provides a unique model-view controller pattern for implementation of APIs. It is the most preferred when building chat interfaces.
What makes NodeJS so popular?
NodeJS popularity is growing very fast in its communities, versatility, and opportunities. As a runtime that comes with diverse features allowing people to craft bare-borne web-servers, it also allows the developer to include a lot of functionalities (more than 450 every day). With this in mind, NodeJS popularity can be viewed in these benchmarks;
- The fast growing developer community: The energy behind NodeJS is monumental. Starting with engagement on the key Stack Overflow to the Express, the numbers are breathtaking.
- NodeJS opportunities and roles: When you mention the large companies using Node, the magnitude of the application becomes very clear. Top companies starting with PayPal, Uber, NetFlix, and LinkedIn are all on Node and the list keeps growing. Because of NodeJS flexibility, lightness and efficiency in push technologies, the popularity is expected to keep growing.
Where should you apply NodeJS?
The popularity of NodeJS goes hand in hand with specific applications. Where exactly is Node JS applied in organization operations?
- Chats: It is perhaps the commonest and the best real-time multi-user application based on NodeJS. Though a very light in weight NodeJS application, it handles high traffic, data intensive applications on distributed devices.
- Data streaming: In many online platforms, HTTP requests and responses are handled separately (isolated events). However, they are streams. NodeJS makes it possible to process the files when they are getting uploaded (the data gets through as it comes in the form of a stream when being accessed in an online mode).
- Proxies: NodeJS is employed in some instances as a server-side proxy to help handle multiple connections without blocking. It is particularly helpful when a developer or company wants to proxy various services with different response times (such as different time zones) or when gathering data from different sources. NodeJS is targeted at replacing other languages in apps development. It is, therefore, a great tool for software development and is expected to hold the lead position in the next two decades. Already there is a great promise from NodeJS on the Internet of Things applications on web and mobile based systems.
- API applications on object databases: While NodeJS does very well when applied in the real-time application; it fits very well when considering exposing data from specific object databases. For example, JSON stored info allows Node to operate without data conversion and impedance.
Other major areas of NodeJS applications include artificial intelligence and big data management. On artificial intelligence, developers can create their own learning bots that can listen, talk, and remember conversations with clients.
When not to use NodeJS
Heavy server side computation
Though NodeJS has many evolving applications, you have to be extra careful when dealing with heavy computation. Well, if you try to run any CPU intensive operations, there is a risk of undoing all the benefits that come from NodeJS. This is because NodeJS runs on single-threads and utilizes only one CPU core. Therefore, CPU intensive operations can easily cluster the module and risk blocking incoming requests. It is strongly recommended that if clustering is unavoidable, all heavy computations should be offloaded to the background processing. Indeed, though such background processing can still operate on the same server with NodeJS, the risk for scalability remains high.
Server side web applications
When NodeJS is compared to Ruby on Rails in dealing with relational databases, the latter is preferable. NodeJS relational database tools are still in their infancy and developers cannot expect to achieve much with them. NodeJS lacks database schema migration support tools and other developments that make it less preferable to key competitors.
Where NodeJS stands when comparing with other technologies
When developing applications, the platform you pick is very critical. Every platform has something unique for the user and it is up to him to pick the best. Here is our comparison of NodeJS with these other platforms;
- Ease of development: One thing that users enjoy about NodeJS is its ease of development. No matter whether you are coming from Go, PHP, or Ruby on Rail, getting into Node programming is very easy. However, a nodejs developer will need to first learn a few things such as channels, coroutines, and strict typing if transitioning to Go and other platforms.
- Error handling: Though error handling in NodeJS was inconsistent in many previous versions, the latest NodeJS V8 has cleared the issue using unique throw mechanisms. However, other platforms such as Go require users to manually check errors that make troubleshooting lengthy and cumbersome.
- Complexity of closure: While NodeJS idiosyncrasies can be stressful to some developers, it is a more modern language with the latest syntax and useful components such as closures. Therefore, NodeJS makes it easy to configure and extend powerful libraries like JQuery which is a monumental task in other platforms such as Python and Ruby on Rails.
- Performance: NodeJS is superb in performance compared to Python and Java because it can handle concurrent requests with little or no limitations.
- Database management: On relational database management, Ruby on Rails stands taller while NodeJS follows closely. For example, Ruby on Rails has database schema migration support for enhanced management that is absent in NodeJS.
From this comparison, though NodeJS is far from being perfect, it stands tall compared to its peers such as Python, Ruby on Rails and Go. One unique characteristic that makes NodeJS rush fast past others is the fast rate of new updates release. The developers are fast to note new loops and rectify them promptly with regular updates. It is because of this that NodeJS is poised to become the undisputed leader in the next decade.
NodeJS improvement over time
- Converged Node.js (version 1 –version 3): The converged nodejs made it easy for developers to publish and share codes through the Node.js libraries. They also simplified installation, updates, and operation of the libraries.
- NodeJS v4: This version brought many bonuses in 2015 compared to the previous versions. It came with many features including block scoping, typed arrays, classes, template strings symbols, collections, arrow functions, and generators among others that were activated by default after installation. Other notable changes included the timers, util, V8, child_process, and NPM.
- NodeJs v5: This version was released in 2015 a few months after the release of V4. It brought great changes including new buffers that removed the raws and raw. It also introduced console values that are reported by console.time. Other notable changes included fs.readFile, HTTP, tls, src, and node.
- NodeJS V6: It was introduced only 6 months after the release of V5. It delivered great improvements on reliability, performance, security, and usability.
- NodeJS V7: This version was introduced in October 2016 and brought key changes including 98% coverage on ES6 language features. It also brought a new experimental URL parser (built on WHATWG standard) and enhanced performance.
- NodeJS V8: This version was released in June this year and has been labeled the best nodejs for enhancing developers’ performance. It has some great features including async hooks and zero-filling buffers.