Node.js Tutorial

Welcome to our tutorial on Node.js! In it, we will discuss everything you need to know to start using it, from the most basic things to some more advanced techniques. However, we must first talk about what exactly Node.js is.

Node.js is an open-source, cross-platform JavaScript runtime environment that launched in 2009. That sentence may be confusing to a beginner, so we will break it down and explain the main parts.

  • Open-source - This means the source code for Node.js is available to the general public and is maintained by contributors worldwide;
  • Cross-platform - Node.js can operate on all three major operating systems (Linux, Windows, MacOS) and is not confined to a single one;
  • JavaScript Runtime Environment - JavaScript is a coding language mainly used to build frontend applications that can only run in a browser. An environment in this context has all the necessary tools and functionalities for a developer to create applications. A runtime environment is an environment that can execute applications. Since Node.js is a runtime environment, you can run JavaScript applications without a browser.

To summarize, Node.js is a JavaScript environment that allows for the building and execution of both frontend and backend applications. It can be used on all three major operating systems (Linux, Windows, MacOS), and its source code is openly available to anyone who wants to download and modify it.

However, since it is a JavaScript environment, you will need knowledge of the language itself. If you are an absolute beginner with Node.js, the best starting point is JavaScript basics. JavaScript is the foundation upon which you will build your Node.js knowledge and, consequently, your applications. Since JavaScript is expansive, you will never know all there is to know, so get to a point where you feel comfortable using the language consistently: your applications run as expected and have as few errors as possible.

Nonetheless, let us assume you already have some knowledge of JavaScript and want to learn Node.js. What can you do with Node.js, though? Almost anything when it comes to creating applications, actually. You would want to use Node.js, as opposed to other runtime environments or coding languages, because it can create scalable, high-performance applications with the help of its microservice architecture that also allows for drastic optimization of the creation process. Since that sentence can also be confusing, we will break down its key points.

  • Scalable - Node.js allows an application to grow in functionality as necessitated by the website, project, customer, etc. With Node.js, you can enhance the application to suit almost any need that arises;
  • High-performance - While this one is self-explanatory, we also wanted to mention it. Node.js uses a single-threaded, real-time push architecture, which, to put it simply, means it spawns only a single process while running. It uses that single process to incredibly efficiently manage all requests to and from the hosting server without burdening the server’s CPU while maintaining a fast execution rate for those requests;
  • Microservice Architecture - This architecture allows Node.js’ codebase to be split into smaller chunks instead of one large, singular codebase. Imagine breaking a wall of text into paragraphs. That makes it much more manageable. This splitting of the codebase also makes it much quicker to create with Node.js since you can use pre-made chunks of code instead of writing everything from scratch.

That was a lot of dry theory, so we want to show you what you can do with Node.js. The websites of the services below are all created with Node.js:

  • Linkedin
  • Netflix
  • Uber
  • PayPal
  • Mozilla
  • Yahoo
  • eBay

If you go to any of those companies’ websites, you will see they are very well together. Their functionalities are responsive, and their interface is intuitive.

That concludes our quick introduction to Node.js. The following part of this tutorial will tell you about some core elements and functionalities of Node.js, so read on to learn more. Later on, we will also discuss what you need to start with Node.js and how to start. We will also give examples of applications and talk about common errors and useful resources.

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