JavaScript is the world's most widespread programming language, powering the Internet.

JavaScript is a cross-platform, object-oriented scripting language used to make webpages interactive (e.x. having complex animations, clickable buttons, popup menus, etc.).

There are also more advanced server side versions of JavaScript such as Node.Js which allow you to add more functionality to a website than simply downloading files (such as realtime collaboration between multiple computers).

Inside a host environment (for example, a web browser), JavaScript can be connected to the objects of its environment to provide programmatic control over them.

JavaScript contains a standard library of objects, such as Array, Date, and Math, and a core set of language elements such as operators, control structures, and statements.

Core JavaScript can be extended for a variety of purposes by supplementing it with additional objects; for example:

  • Client-side JavaScript extends the core language by supplying objects to control a browser and its Document Object Model (DOM). For example, client-side extensions allow an application to place elements on an HTML form and respond to user events such as mouse clicks, form input, and page navigation.
  • Server-side JavaScript extends the core language by supplying objects relevant to running JavaScript on a server. For example, server-side extensions allow an application to communicate with a database, provide continuity of information from one invocation to another of the application, or perform file manipulations on a server.

This means that in the browser, JavaScript can change the way the webpage (DOM) looks.

And, likewise, Node.js JavaScript on the server can respond to custom requests from code written in the browser.


Robust technology stack

JavaScript has proven to be an undisputed leader among the most popular programming languages. Node.js, in turn, is also gaining popularity, with 7 million users and an annual growth rate at 100%, as stated by 2017 Node.js User Survey Report.

Using Node.js for backend, you automatically get all the pros of full stack JavaScript development, such as:

  • better efficiency and overall developer productivity
  • code sharing and reuse
  • speed and performance
  • easy knowledge sharing within a team
  • huge number of free tools

Consequently, your team is a lot more flexible, the development is less time-consuming and as a result you get fast and reliable software.

Despite a common belief, with full stack web development you are in no way limited to the traditional MEAN (MongoDB, Express.js, AngularJS, and Node.js) stack.

The only must-have in this case is Node.js (there is no alternative in JavaScript for backend programming). The rest of the technologies within this stack are optional and may be replaced with some other tools providing similar functionality (read about the alternatives in our separate article).

Fast and event-based

What is Node.js used for? When using a common language for both client- and server-side, synchronization happens fast, which is especially helpful for event-based, real-time applications.

Thanks to its asynchronous, non-blocking, single-threaded nature, Node.js is a popular choice for online gaming, chats, video conferences, or any solution that requires constantly updated data. The examples speak for themselves: many leading companies switched technologies to developed Node.js applications and noticed significant improvements – PayPal, for instance, noticed 35 percent decrease in response time since migrating from Java.

Not only does app performance benefit from Node.js’ lightness, the team’s productivity will increase as well. Developers trained in frontend JavaScript can start programming the server side with the minimum learning curve.

With the same language on both sides, you can reuse code on front-end and back-end by wrapping it into modules and creating a new level of abstraction.

Scalable technology for microservices

Since it’s a lightweight technology tool, using Node.js for microservices architecture is a great choice. This architectural style is best described by Martin Fowler and James Lewis as “an approach to developing a single application as a suite of small services, each running in its own process and communicating with lightweight mechanisms, often an HTTP resource API.”

Accordingly, breaking the application logic into smaller modules, microservices, instead of creating a single, large monolithic core, you enable better flexibility and lay the groundwork for further growth. As a result, it is much easier to add more microservices on top of the existing ones than to integrate additional features with the basic app functionality.

The difference between the monolithic and microservices architecture

Node.js is the technology of choice when building and deploying microservices solutions, according to the recent Node.js User Survey Report. About a half of the respondents are already using microservice-related technologies (namely, Docker, the leading software containerization platform) to build Node.js web apps

With each microservice communicating with the database directly through streams, such architecture allows for better performance and speed of application. Namely, Walmart’s shift to microservices architecture with Node.js resulted in the following immediate benefits:

  • Overnight 20 percent conversion growth in general and 98 percent mobile conversion growth
  • One hundred percent uptime on Black Friday (handling over 500 million pageviews)
  • Saving up to 40 percent on hardware and 20-50 percent on overall operations

Another bright example of how Node.js can outperform the competition in terms of performance is the case of GoDaddy.

Running the SuperBowl ad campaign, the company was able to handle 10.000 requests per second without downtime, using only 10 percent of the hardware thanks to Node.js.

Rich ecosystem

npm, a default Node.js package manager, it also serves as a marketplace for open source JavaScript tools, which plays an important role in the advance of this technology. With about 350,000 tools available in the npm registry as of now, and over 10,000 new ones being published every week, the Node.js ecosystem is quite rich. And it is actively used by developers, based on the number of weekly packages downloads.

With such a vast variety of free tools accessible in a few clicks, there is a huge potential for the use of Node.js. At the same time, open source software enjoys a growing popularity as it allows you to build new solutions reducing the overall costs of development and time to market. The Future of Open Source Survey finds that 65 percent of respondents leverage such solutions to speed up the application development.

Strong corporate support

As mentioned above, the development of Node.js was supported by Joyent. In 2015, the Node.js Foundation was created to “enable widespread adoption and help accelerate development of Node.js.” IBM, Microsoft, PayPal, Fidelity and SAP became the founding members of the organization.

The list of organizations using Node.js in production is constantly growing. It currently includes almost three hundred well-known companies, such as PayPal, Medium, Trello, Uber and Zendesk.

Very few open source projects have ever enjoyed such strong support from the world’s leading companies. And that foretells Node.js has outstanding potential.

Other Companies Using JavaScript

AmazonAirbnbProduct HuntOpen TableNew York TimesKLMTicketmasterTwitterSpotifyHootsuiteIntuitIntelBest BuyHuluPBSMLB Advanced MediaNOAANASAVerizonDepartment of Veteran AffairsCapitalOneSnapchatBMWZillowBustleThe Coca-Cola CompanyThomson ReutersCoinbaseGEFinraPinterestUberInstagramFacebookReddit Long Logo


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Related Terms

  • Progressive Web App

    A progressive web app (PWA) is a website that looks and behaves as if it is a mobile app.

  • Design Framework

    The process of joining different subsystems or components as one large system, ensuring that each integrated subsystem functions as required.

  • Single Page Application

    An SPA is a Web app that is presented to the user through a single HTML page to be more responsive and to more closely replicate a desktop application or a native app.

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