The internet could not exist without servers to handle the exchange of data between devices. Given the importance of servers, the software and systems that run on them are equally as important. The programming of these applications is called Server-side development and is a large computer science field.
Node.js also comes bundled with a command-line utility called Node Package Manager. Abbreviated npm, it manages open-source libraries for Node.js projects and easily installs them into the project directory. The npm package repository is comparable to the Maven repository for Java. However, according to modulecounts.com, npm is over three times larger than Maven with nearly 1.8 million packages compared to less than 500 thousand. Each Node.js project has a package.json file where settings for the project are defined such as running scripts, version number, required npm packages, and author information.
The majority of Node.js applications share common packages that have become standard frameworks throughout the community. An example of this is Express.js, which is a backend web framework that handles API routing and data transfer in Node.js.
At the core of node.js is the event loop which is responsible for checking for the next operation to be done. This allows for code to be executed out of order without waiting for an unrelated operation to finish before the next. The default asynchronous ability of node.js is ideal for webservers where many users are continuously requiring different tasks to be done with differing speeds of execution. When people visit different API routes, they expect the server to respond as quickly as possible and not be hung up on a previous request.
I have used Node.js before but now that we have begun to use it in class, I wanted to learn more about its benefits in server-side development. For me, the most important takeaway is the need to take advantage of Node.js’s nonblocking ability when developing a program. Doing so will improve the speed of the application and increase usability.