Why Node.JS is such a popular choice for web application developers

Node.js exploded onto the web development in 2009, built on the back of the JavaScript runtime produced by Chrome – and ever since has established itself as one of the most important and one of the most fundamental frameworks designed for rapid web application development (and it’s easy to see why).

This is no flash in the pan solution that starts off with a big bang and then fades off into obscurity. No, Node.js is a full-featured framework designed to provide web developers with real-time web application solutions, highly interactive user experiences, and the kind of flexibility and freedom in web development that you just aren’t going to find elsewhere.

It certainly doesn’t hurt the reputation of Node.js that major companies like PayPal, Yahoo, eBay, Netflix, Walmart, and more are all utilizing Node.js to build a mobile application and web application solutions, either!

While Node.js brings a lot of advantages to the table, the most significant of all these advantages have to be its ability to provide developers with capabilities that allow for JavaScript creation on both the client and server side of development.

Below we highlight some of the biggest benefits that Node.js brings to the table, the kinds of advantages you are going to be able to enjoy as a web application developer.

A rapid development process

Utilizing the V8 Engine that has been developed and released by the folks at Google to allow compilation of JavaScript into native machine code with lightning fast execution, Node.js is one of the fastest development tools you’ll find anywhere to produce robust, complex and intuitive web applications.

Executing common web application tasks is going to happen almost instantaneously with Node.js – including when you are reading or writing to a database, network connection, or a file system. At the same time, these processes are going to be a lot more lightweight than they would have been in the past, improving efficiency and speed at the same time.

A live app development environment

Real-time mobile and web application development is absolutely essential these days, with Big Data a linchpin of success in the world of business right now (and for obvious reasons).

By gaining access to critical information about your users and your customers in real time – and then finding ways to use of that information in real time as well – you are given a competitive advantage through using Node.js that doesn’t exist otherwise.

Node.js users are able to build real-time web applications as quickly as anyone could build a straightforward blog in PHP. Multiuser functions are handled by oven loops through web socket protocols based off of TCP, avoiding any of the throttling or overhead issues of HTTP in the web development side of things.

Effortless data streaming

While HTTP requests and responses are two separate and isolated offense, the data streams that are released during both processes are interrelated and interconnected – which can slow down data streaming significantly. Through using Node.js, file processing while uploading is a reality that will save a considerable amount of time that would have otherwise gone wasted during the initial processing of event data through streaming. Real-time video or audio recording is made simple and straightforward with the use of Node.js.

You can use a single code base for full web development

It is impossible to overstate the importance or the value of being able to use a single code base when creating a web application the way that Node.js makes possible.

One of the biggest hurdles that any web developer has to clear when they are designing something new or developing something from scratch is utilizing multiple code bases, multiple libraries, and multiple sources of resources to cobble something together effectively.

The potential for the system to break under the weight of interconnectivity is always there, and worse than that, jumping from one code base to another is inevitably going to slow even the fastest and most focused developer down significantly.

This isn’t necessarily a one-stop shop solution that is going to dominate the world to web development by any stretch of the imagination but is a single source solution and a web development/application development framework that fills a very specific and very particular need exceptionally well.

Node.js allows for the rapid development of scalable online and web applications, all in a single source location with code base and resources available without a lot of jumping around. Combine that with all of the other events that have already been highlighted in this quick guide it’s easy to see why so many veteran developers are jumping on board the Node.js platform and why so many brand-new web developers are choosing Node.js as their first foray into the world of web application development.

Robust, flexible, and advanced while still remaining relatively simple, straightforward, and lightning fast to take advantage of, Node.js is a game changer in the world of web application development.

 

Highlighting the top 10 web development frameworks for 2017

Regardless of whether or not you are brand-new to the world of web development or a seasoned veteran looking to take advantage of new technology to create web solutions that were never possible before, you’ll want to be sure that you are making the most of all the dev frameworks on the scene in 2017 that make amazing things online possible.

While there are more dev frameworks and tools out there now than you could possibly imagine, 10 of them have separated themselves from the rest of the pack. Below you’ll find inside insight about the top 10 best web dev frameworks out there in 2017.

AngularJS

An open-source JavaScript framework designed to be used specifically with single page web applications that utilize MVC architectural patterns, this isn’t necessarily a full stack of JavaScript solutions but instead a front-end framework that deals only with your main pages.

Incredibly popular (especially after the release of version 2.0 – a total overhaul of the original code set), AngularJS is now released version 4.0 and is even better. Developed by the folks at Google, it’s nothing but the best of the best as is to be expected.

Laravel

When it comes to backend web development frameworks, you are as well designed, has feature-rich, or as flexible as the solutions you get when you choose to take advantage of Laravel.

100% free, completely open source, and a robust PHP web framework designed for building advanced Web applications and cloud-based programs using the MVC architectural pattern, the real shining star of this tool is its modular packaging system with a dedicated dependency manager that streamlines your backend development significantly.

React.js

Just a few short years ago it would have been impossible to imagine Facebook – yes, THAT Facebook – to be so influential in the world of web development, but with the introduction of React.JS they have become one of the most important “gateways” in the world of JavaScript development.

Maintaining a vast open source JavaScript library (with the help of a large developer community), these library assets are used primarily for UI options in web applications, but there is a whole host of other library assets that are being taken advantage of by development platforms across all spectrums of online creation. The Facebook team behind React continues to pump money into the library, funding two years worth of research that has helped to propel the JavaScript community move forward into the future than they would have been able to all on their own.

Node.js

The whole concept behind Node.JS was to use a variety of nonblocking and event-driven I/O solutions that helped JavaScript (and other web development packages) to remain as lightweight and as efficient as possible even when large amounts of data or running across a variety of different distributed devices.

Not only a rock solid framework that can be depended on in a variety of different development situations but a complete development environment at the same time, this has been a favorite of web developers for quite a while and likely will continue to be in the future.

Ruby on Rails

It’s kind of crazy to think now that Ruby on Rails is one of those “legacy technologies” in the world of web development, but since it was originally established in 2005 it definitely is the elder statesman of the web development world – but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have a number of tricks still up its sleeve!

Completely free of charge, capable of running efficiently on Linux (which also happens to be open source), Ruby on Rails isn’t just very easy to get started with as a new programmer it is also fun to play around with – and quite flexible and capable for veterans of the development community.

Symfony

A PHP framework that has been designed specifically for larger scale or complex enterprise-level web applications, projects, and services, this is one of the most stable frameworks you are going to come across and a platform that can make the most of PHP 5 – with hooks and integrations built right in to make it flexible enough to use with any new overhaul or iteration of PHP as well.

It doesn’t hurt that this platform has also been designed to work with some of the world’s largest open source platforms, giving you the tools and technology you need to hit the ground running right out of the gate.

ASP.NET

Another of those legacy technologies like Ruby on Rails, ASP.NET is Microsoft’s entry into the world of web development frameworks and has been available since 2002 – 2002!

Flexible, robust, and providing developers with powerful tools for creating dynamic web solutions, powerful web applications, and efficient web portals, this platform is built on the back of the Common Language Runtime that is maintained by a global development community and Microsoft itself.

Yii

Very, very similar to ASP.NET, this particular platform differs in that it is one of the most ambitious and well supported open source web development frameworks for the PHP community.

Really showing its strength when it is working to help develop mobile and web applications for systems that have repetitive tasks, this platform is designed to take advantage of smart component-based models, database abstraction layers, and even event-driven programming solutions with the flexibility to design and develop modular application architecture at the same time. Combine that with effortless data migration, and you’re looking at something special here.

Meteorjs

A relative newcomer to the world of web development frameworks, Meteor is designed specifically to rapidly develop new software solutions while taking advantage of JavaScript on both the front-end and backend of the platform.

A full stack solution (utilizing a variety of libraries and packages all bound together, with the ability to utilize libraries and packages you selected as well), this produces a more efficient and more streamlined code base, and you’d be able to otherwise.

CakePHP

Incredibly popular since the very first day it was introduced to the open source web development community, Cake PHP revolves around a modular controller view and associative data mapping to provide professionals and amateurs with the ability to produce rapid and robust web applications in a very structured and efficient process.

It’s almost unbelievable to imagine, but this particular open source development framework as some of the best documentation and practical tutorials and guides within the framework itself. This gives new developers the opportunity to really immerse themselves in the world of Cake PHP without though they are lost in the woods.

 

The evolution (and future) of JavaScript and front-end building tools

JavaScript has become a fundamental tool and technology of the internet today, with developer spending a considerable amount of time focusing on everything it has to offer today as well as everything that it can potentially offer in the future.

Robust, flexible, and adaptive, JavaScript is seemingly capable of anything and everything that developers and programmers can imagine. Relatively simple and straightforward enough to wrap your head around even as a new programmer, it also is complex and intricate enough to provide advanced and experienced programmers with all the tools and technology they need to create game-changing new solutions.

Because of JavaScript’s popularity, it has also become one of the most frequently developed tool bases on the internet today as well. Programmers are working on creating tools that help other programmers create with JavaScript, which sounds a little bit incestuous at first but it allows for rapid iteration of both the JavaScript foundation as well as the tools themselves used to create with.

Many of the most popular tools to create and JavaScript have gone through many different “facelifts,” with new solutions starting off as forks of these original projects and others being completely new concepts altogether. Some of the most influential tools for creating and JavaScript remain in the developmental world, and many of them have gone on to become the “gold standard” of JavaScript creation.

To better understand the future of JavaScript front-end building tools, it’s important to understand a bit of the past as well as where we are right now. Here is a quick overview of some of the most popular tools that have helped to lay the foundation of JavaScript as it is right now, the tools responsible for charting the course for JavaScript’s inevitable future going forward.

Code Kit

Launching on the scene in early 2012 as tools originally designed to help you get your frontend assets as ready for the internet as possible, this set of tools help to compile and “shrink” files, but also to compress images, linked files, and handle a variety of different tasks that would have otherwise been handled by a myriad of different tools or command line prompts.

The biggest difference between Code Kit and most of the other JavaScript front-end tools on the market at that particular point in time was that Code Kit utilized a Graphical User Interface (GUI). This simplified and streamlined the front-end development process considerably and allowed those without a lot of command line experience to take advantage of more robust JavaScript tools then they may have been able to previously.

Code Kit remains very alive and quite popular today, with its third version (3.0) released just recently.

Grunt and Bower

Also created in 2012, Grunt (and later Bower) hit the scene designed to simplify command line executions that needed to be used to handle JavaScript front-end assets – though without the beautiful graphic interface of Code Kit (at least originally, anyway).

Both tools were designed to simplify specific tasks, configure different processes, and automate as much of the front-end deployment system of JavaScript as was physically possible at the time. Not quite as flexible or as adaptable as Code Kit (then or now), they served very specific purposes and were a big part of any serious JavaScript developer toolbox.

While development with both of these tools is slowing down considerably, new solutions have popped up to take their place and help carry the legacy that these tools established.

Gulp and Browserify

Towards the end of 2013, Gulp was released and opened up a tremendous amount of freedom for the JavaScript world that was sorely lacking.

A combination GUI and command line solution that helped programmers build a script in JavaScript inside the tool without having to use outside assets, it was possible to create functions, variables, and use conditions anywhere – not only building beautiful looking scripts really opening up a level of freedom and control through JavaScript (and online) that just wasn’t possible previously.

Browserify allowed for NPM packages to be brought into the front-end, essentially rendering Bower obsolete while leveraging the assets and foundational tools that it had helped to create. The graphic user interface was also much cleaner and easier to manage, providing a one-stop-shop solution for both front-end and backend administration.

Gulp remains incredibly popular, though Browserify popularity has dropped off a little bit in recent years.

Webpack and NPM Scripts

Webpack is very much the new kid on the block, with modern JavaScript developers taking advantage of this tool more than probably any other solution on this list and really driving the innovation JavaScript forward a lot faster than it was driven in the past.

Taking advantage of NPM scripts is a bit of a “retro idea,” as much as an idea can be retro in the world of JavaScript, but combining these two stacks together is producing game-changing new solutions that people couldn’t have foreseen or anticipated in the past. The future of JavaScript development runs through these tools!

 

Browser diversity keeps the web healthy

While there are plenty of web developers that would love nothing more than to eliminate all but one web browser for EVERYONE to use – the truth of the matter is a single browser to use on the entirety of the internet would never work, could never work, and (honestly) should never work.

Like everything else in this world, competition drives innovation and without competition from other web browsers (even those that aren’t able to gobble up a considerable share of the market like Internet Explorer, Edge) there would be almost no incentive whatsoever for browser developers to continue to push the boundaries of what this technology is capable of and we’d see a much more stunted internet because of it.

As Steve Jobs said in a legendary interview in the middle of 2004:

“What’s the point of focusing on making the product even better when the only company you can take business away from is yourself?”

There’s a lot of truth behind that sentiment, and the internet is better off with multiple web browsers out there pushing one another further and further into the future and looking for new ways to revolutionize the world’s and humanities most revolutionary piece of technology.

Sure, a lot of the game-changing innovation for modern web browsers is coming out of the same old, same old development houses at Microsoft, Apple, and Firefox. However, open source solutions are pushing new innovations forward as well, with very talented developers that might have gone unrecognized and underappreciated otherwise creating new browsers and new add-ons that the “big boys” continue to cannibalize and gobble up – in turn making our web experience even better.

There are other reasons behind why it’s good to have real browser diversity online today, as well.

Believe it or not, not everyone is a web developer

Ask a room full of web developers whether or not they would love to see a single standard browser to streamline the efficiency of their work and every single one of them would respond positively.

Now ask a stadium full of people whether or not they are web developers and even care about whether or not to web developers can do their work more efficiently or effectively and see how many hands shoot up.

At the end of the day, consumers are using the internet – using the web browsers themselves – and they want things that are completely and totally separate from what web developers are interested in. The web thrives on diversity, customization, and “tweaking things” until they are exactly the way YOU want them, regardless of whether or not everyone else wants them that way.

By forcing everyone into the same standard, you steal that creativity from the market, and there would be considerable pushback and inevitable diversity bubbling up anyway.

Diversity connects us all through different browsers

The web is easily the most revolutionary technology ever created in human history, connecting every corner of the planet with more than 4 billion users logging in each and every single day.

Not only connecting each and every one of us to everyone else, but the internet also connects us to more information than any of us could ever hope to use effectively or efficiently. The entire history of humanity is written on the web, but the entire future of humanity is written on the web every single day as well.

Different browsers, though they can be a real headache and hassle to design and program for, make it possible for a diverse group of people all over the planet to connect, collaborate, and share with one another in a way that wasn’t ever possible before.

It’s a good thing that the browser wars are a reality!