Back to blog

When and Why to Use Node.js


10 min read

Node.js has become a popular choice in the fintech industry because it alows handling real-time data processing, high scalability, and fast performance.

According to the 2023 Stack Overflow Developer Survey, Node.js is used by 42.37% of professional developers. Besides, Node.js is involved in the development of as much as 85% of web applications, making it one of the most popular technologies.

In this post, you’ll discover the basics of JavaScript Node, including its components and architecture. You’ll find out what Node.js is used for,  discover its indications of real-life software products, and understand what development and business benefits it has to offer. 

The Essentials of Node.js: A Short Review

Node.js is an open-source, cross-platform Javascript runtime environment that allows developers to run JavaScript code outside of a web browser. Node.js is built on the V8 JavaScript engine developed by Google. 

Node.js enables the development of server-side and networking applications. It also can serve as the main environment for building cross-platform applications. In some cases, only the server for an app or a web-platform is built with Node.js, while the core functionality is developed using other programming languages. This benefits security of the application and helps to handle complex project requirements. However, it’s still possible to create a perfectly secure and compliant app using Node.js only. 

Let’s transfer to an in-depth description of Node.js architecture and the way it works. 

How Node.js Works

Node.js operates based on several main principles: 

  • Non-blocking I/O operations

Traditional web servers handle I/O operations, such as reading from a database or a file system, in a blocking manner, meaning the server can only process one request at a time. In contrast, Node.js performs these operations asynchronously, allowing multiple I/O operations to execute simultaneously without blocking the main thread. This approach boosts efficiency due to a server being able to continue processing other requests while waiting for I/O operations to complete.

  • Event-driven model

Node.js employs a progressive event-driven pattern with an event loop that responds to specific events. The event loop is a fundamental component of Node.js, enabling it to handle thousands of concurrent connections in a single-threaded environment. This model contrasts with the traditional multi-threaded approach, where each connection requires a separate thread, leading to significant overhead.

  • Asynchronous paradigm

The asynchronous paradigm is aligned with the event-driven nature of JavaScript. In Node.js, operations are performed asynchronously, and the server uses callbacks or promises to handle the completion of tasks. This asynchronous programming model allows Node.js to optimize resource usage and avoid bottlenecks associated with synchronous operations. For example, instead of waiting for a database query to finish before moving on to the next task, Node.js initiates the query and immediately continues processing other tasks, handling the query result when it becomes available.

It’s worth mentioning that before Node.js, JavaScript was primarily used for client-side scripting, running in a single-threaded environment within the browser. This meant that if one request was being processed, the browser could not proceed with other tasks. Node.js revolutionized JavaScript by extending its capabilities to server-side development, making it much more dynamic and versatile.

You can request web development services at the corresponding DashDevs service page. 

Components of Node.js Architecture

Here are the main components that compose the general Node.js architectural model:

  1. Node.js server. The Node.js server forms the core of the architecture, serving as a server-side platform. It handles incoming user requests, processes them, and sends back the appropriate responses.
  2. Event queue. This component acts as a storage area for incoming client requests, sequentially passing each request to the event loop for further handling.
  3. Event loop. It’s a continuous cycle that processes requests from the event queue and sends back responses to clients. It comprises six phases: timers, I/O callbacks, waiting/preparation, I/O polling, setImmediate() callbacks, and close events. These phases repeat until all tasks are completed.
  4. Thread pool. The Thread Pool is a component of the Node.js backend architecture, containing threads responsible for executing tasks necessary to process client requests efficiently.
  5. External resources. External Resources manage multiple blocking requests, such as data storage and computation, without hindering overall system performance.
  6. Event emitters. Using the Node.js EventEmitter class, developers can create and manage custom events. This enhances the development of responsive, event-driven applications by allowing specific conditions to trigger personalized events.
  7. Asynchronous APIs. Node.js provides asynchronous APIs for various operations like file system access, network communications, and database queries. These APIs enable non-blocking code execution, allowing for efficient handling of concurrent requests and maintaining performance under heavy loads.
  8. Requests. Web application requests can be either blocking (complex) or non-blocking (simple), depending on the tasks the users aim to perform.
  9. Modules. Node.js utilizes a module system to organize and reuse code effectively. Modules encapsulate related functionality, aiding in the development of modular applications. Core modules provided by Node.js include HTTP, File System, and Crypto. Additionally, developers can create custom modules, enhancing code modularity and maintainability.
  10. Libuv. This multi-platform support library enables Node.js to perform asynchronous I/O and manages the Event Loop and Thread Pool. By providing an abstraction over different OS mechanisms, Libuv allows Node.js to perform non-blocking operations efficiently.

There’s also a Node Package Manager (NPM), which should be elaborated on separately:

NPM, or Node Package Manager, is the default package manager for Node.js and serves as an essential tool for JavaScript developers. 

NPM simplifies the process of managing and sharing reusable code packages. It comes with dependency management capabilities, a version control system, a command-line interface (CLI), an NPM registry, and script automation functionalities. 

Summarizing everything, here’s the general overview of how Node.js works with some of its components indicated in the infographics: 

How Node.js works

Top Benefits of Node.js in 2024

Let’s proceed with reviewing the best benefits of Node.js that make this technology stand out among competitors on the market: 

  1. Supports efficient handling of streaming data. Node.js is one of the best runtime environments for processing real-time data streams. It makes it ideal for applications where consistent and rapid data flow is crucial.
  2. Scales effortlessly with large numbers of concurrent connections. Node.js manages thousands of simultaneous connections using non-blocking I/O and an event-driven model, ensuring efficient resource utilization.
  3. Ideal for building flexible, event-driven architectures. Node.js supports asynchronous operations and event-driven programming, enabling efficient handling of multiple concurrent events.
  4. Integrates with TypeScript. Node.js seamlessly integrates with TypeScript, providing type safety and access to modern JavaScript features, enhancing code quality.
  5. Offers high performance and fast execution. Node.js leverages the V8 engine, ensuring high performance and quick execution of JavaScript code.
  6. Lightweight and efficient. Node.js features a lightweight runtime, minimizing resource consumption and maximizing efficiency. 
  7. Promotes code reusability and sharing. Node.js supports modular coding practices and has the NPM library of packages, promoting code reusability and enhancing development efficiency. This principle of code reusability can drastically shorten development cycles.
  8. Optimized by the powerful V8 engine. Node.js benefits from V8 engine optimizations, providing fast and efficient JavaScript execution.
  9. Versatile for both front-end and back-end development. Node.js allows developers to use JavaScript for both front-end and back-end, enabling a unified development environment.
  10. Perfect for microservices, enabling easy scaling and quick deployment. Node.js supports microservices architecture, facilitating easy scaling and quick deployment. In fact, Node.js is one of the best runtimes on the market for using in the cases of microservices-based apps. 

You can discover about the usage of Node.js with microservices in detail from another blog post by DashDevs. 

Disadvantages of Using Node.Js

As any other technology, Node.jshas some limitations to be aware of. They are the following:

  1. Poor quality of some Node.js packages. The vast number of packages available for Node.js can lead to inconsistency in quality. The open-source nature means anyone can publish a package, resulting in some packages being poorly maintained or unverified. Even some popular packages may have security vulnerabilities, outdated dependencies, and code quality issues.
  2. Single-threaded nature. Node.js operates on a single-threaded event loop, which can become a bottleneck for CPU-intensive tasks. While it handles I/O operations efficiently, it struggles with CPU-bound tasks as they can block the event loop, leading to performance degradation.
  3. Challenges with relational databases. Node.js is often less efficient when working with relational databases compared to NoSQL databases. The asynchronous nature of Node.js doesn’t always align well with the synchronous nature of SQL queries, leading to potential performance issues and increased complexity in query handling. ORM (Object-Relational Mapping) tools can help, but they add another layer of abstraction and complexity.
  4. Complexity of asynchronous programming. With Node.js, developers need to handle multiple callbacks or async/await syntax, which can lead to issues like callback hell, where nested callbacks become hard to read and maintain. This complexity can increase the likelihood of bugs and make the codebase harder to understand and debug.
Let the DashDevs team of expert software engineers contribute to your best project

When to Use Node.js: The Best-Fit Projects

Possible applications of Node.js are many. Let’s review some of them, bringing concrete examples of ready apps available on the market: 

#1 Streaming Application

Streaming applications demand efficient data management and real-time processing to maintain seamless and continuous data flow. Node.js is particularly well-suited for these tasks due to its non-blocking, event-driven architecture. It can manage multiple data streams simultaneously without delays or blocking other operations. This makes Node.js an ideal choice for developing streaming applications that require low latency and high performance.

Examples of streaming applications built with Node.js: 

#2 Real-Time Web Applications

Real-time web applications demand immediate communication between the server and the client. Node.js is well-suited for this because of its asynchronous capabilities, enabling real-time updates and interactions. This makes it perfect for applications like live chat, online gaming, and collaboration tools.

Examples of real-time web applications built with Node.js: 

  • Slack
  • Trello
  • LinkedIn
  • Real-time web assistant for translating calls in real-time by DashDevs. In one of our past cases, we crafted a web extension that can translate audio calls held via Zoom, Google Meet, and similar applications. The solution basically converts the speech of the first meet participant to text, translates it, and then converts text to speech, playing it to the second meet participant in real-time. 

#3 Chatbots and Virtual Assistants

For building chatbots and virtual assistants, Node.js offers a solid platform due to its efficient handling of multiple concurrent connections. Its support for real-time data processing and rapid response times ensures a smooth user experience.

Examples of streaming applications built with Node.js: 

#4 IoT Applications

Node.js is well-suited for IoT applications because of its lightweight and efficient nature. It can handle a large number of simultaneous connections, making it ideal for managing numerous IoT devices. Its event-driven architecture ensures efficient data handling and real-time updates.

Examples of IoT applications built with Node.js: 

#5 Dynamic Websites

Dynamic websites rely on server-side processing to deliver personalized content. Node.js excels in this area with its fast execution and non-blocking I/O operations, making it ideal for handling high traffic volumes and delivering quick responses.

Examples of dynamic websites built with Node.js: 

#6 Microservices and APIs

Node.js is also highly effective for developing microservices and APIs. Its modularity and efficiency allow developers to create lightweight, fast services that scale easily. Additionally, Node.js integrates seamlessly with various databases and third-party services, making it a strong choice for building robust APIs.

Examples of microservices and APIs built with Node.js: 

  • Uber
  • Netflix (Their backend services)
  • PayPal
  • Digital API marketplace by DashDevs. In one of our recent cases, the DashDevs team created a digital platform for the distribution of APIs. The solution connects buyers who can be both developers and companies and API sellers and provides them with analytics and flexible API distribution options. The digital APi marketplace is intended to make selecting APIs and app creation easy for developers

#7 Collaborative Tools

Collaborative tools require real-time data synchronization and efficient handling of concurrent users. Node.js, with its event-driven architecture, supports real-time updates and collaboration features effectively. It ensures that changes made by one user are instantly reflected for all other users.

Examples of collaborative tools built with Node.js: 

Developers from DashDevs can address any of your project needs

When Not to Use Node.js: Specific Projects to Avoid

Now, let’s review several scenarios when Node.js is not the best choice for a server technology:

CPU-Intensive Service-Side Computation

Node.js generally performs well under a significant load when it needs to handle multiple requests at the same time. However, it underperforms when a single request overwhelms the system, leading to excessive CPU usage, which in turn blocks the event loop and causes delays in handling other requests.

Examples of CPU-intensive solutions: 

  • Image or video processing services
  • Frameworks designed for multi-threaded operations such as Python with libraries like OpenCV 

CRUD-Based Apps When There Are Additional Processes to Execute Over Requests

Node.js is perfect for transferring and delegating requests to other modules and apps. However, again because of its single-threaded nature and the specificity of asynchronous programming, it doesn’t work well with additional procedures to be handled over requests, as needed for basic   Create, Read, Update, Delete (CRUD) operations. Examples of such procedures include cryptography, hashing, mathematical computations, and more. They can monopolize the event loop leading to performance issues. 

Examples of CRUD-based solutions: 

  • Applications that process large volumes of encrypted data 
  • Application that conduct complex financial calculations

Monolithic apps

Node.js struggles with the scenarios when it has to conduct any additional processes over requests. That’s why Node.js is a bad fit for any monolithic applications that naturally don’t have microservices to take on cryptography, data cleansing, and any other processes. 

Examples of monolithic solutions:

  • Large enterprise applications with extensive business logic and interconnected modules
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems 

You can discover the differences between modular and monolithic architectural patters from another post by DashDevs. 

Final Take

Node.js offers significant advantages in developing scalable, efficient, and real-time applications, making it a preferred choice for many use cases, particularly in fintech development. However, given its limitations, leveraging Node.js technology effectively requires recognizing its strengths and aligning them with your project’s needs to optimize performance and maintainability.

Entrust the development of your software Node.js to DashDevs — a fintech agency with more than 13 years of experience on the market delivering tailored solutions for businesses’ needs. Our team is ready, willing, and able to contribute to your best project. 

Contact us

Share article

Table of contents
What is an outsourcing software development company?
An outsourcing software development company partners with businesses to handle their software development needs. They employ a team of skilled programmers who work remotely, not necessarily on-site at the client's location.
How do I choose a software outsourcing company?
Selecting the right outsourcing partner requires careful consideration of several factors. These include cost, the developers' expertise in specific programming languages you need, their educational background, fluency in English for clear communication, and cultural compatibility to ensure a smooth working relationship.
Is outsourcing software development a good idea?
Selecting the right outsourcing partner requires careful consideration of several factors. These include cost, the developers' expertise in specific programming languages you need, their educational background, fluency in English for clear communication, and cultural compatibility to ensure a smooth working relationship
Which country is number one in software development?
We don’t rank countries, but our experts highlight several strong options for outsourcing software development, including Ukraine, India, Poland, Thailand, and China. Each location offers its own set of advantages and disadvantages to consider based on your specific needs. Anyway, Ukraine is the most preferable option in the world for outsourcing, as the country provides top developers and experts in other IT fields with lower price tags.
How much does IT cost to outsource software development?
The cost of outsourcing IT development can vary depending on several factors. These include the location of the developers you choose, their level of expertise, the complexity of your project, and the prevailing market rates. The article mentions average hourly salaries for software developers in some countries to give you a general idea (e.g., Ukraine - $21/hour, India - $19/hour, Poland - $36/hour).
Which IT services should be outsourced?
It’s important to choose a company with expertise in the programming languages your project requires. This ensures they have the necessary skills to deliver your project successfully.