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What is Node.JS framework and how it is different from JavaScript programming

By Editorial Team on 2018-02-15

JavaScript programming language is very flexible as it can be used for handling both front-end and back-end requests. Prior to JavaScript, developers tended to use only PHP for back-end programming; however, nowadays many professional JS programmers use Node.JS to handle all website back-end requests. This article reviews Node.JS framework and in what ways it is different than normal JS coding.

When web development first became popular the LAMP (Linux-Apache-MySQL-PHP) stack grew in popularity. Services like Wikipedia, Facebook, and even Slack have roots in this stack and to this day still, use PHP for their backend services. However, this required the use of the Apache HTTP server through which PHP code would be written through a Common Gateway Interface (CGI). CGI code often had to be interpreted (which is why PHP could also be replaced for Perl or Python) and did not offer a lot of features that should be readily available for web servers. This introduced the advent of state of the art web server frameworks such as Ruby on Rails and Django that allowed easier access to connections being made by the server. These frameworks created a rift between developers - existing developers were able to write more performant web Apps but new developers were not easily able to learn these frameworks with no programming experience due to the complexity and learning curve. This led to the creation of Node.JS.

                In any web App, JavaScript must be used. In order to make calls to a server, change content on a page dynamically or even check form submissions without requiring a server call all use JavaScript. These are all examples of front-end JavaScript. Node.JS, however, allows JavaScript code to be run server-side, replacing the need for the Apache HTTP server and an extra language like PHP or Python. Node.JS uses Google’s V8 JavaScript engine to run its code on a single non-blocking thread. Non-blocking refers to the methodology where functions are added to a queue, and only once all inputs have been received, is the function called. This allows for powerful concurrent computing that wouldn’t have been done as easily with something like Ruby on Rails.

Node.JS allows JavaScript to be run in a more powerful way. Before the creation of Node.JS, JavaScript was limited to being run on a browser with limited computing power or memory. This meant in order to retrieve data from a database, it required an HTTP server that could bridge the connection between the web page and the database being used. However, Node.JS allows lightweight JavaScript programs to be run on servers and even create full production systems. This meant JavaScript code could be used to not only manipulate front-end elements but also query data directly from the database. Node.JS also allows JavaScript to be pulled out of the light as a “web only” language into a general purpose computing language. For instance, PayPal uses Node.JS to handle microservice transactions without needing a front-end web interface for the user. It is quite clear that Node.JS was created in response to the decline in web page use and the transition to native applications.

Node.JS comes with its own stack as well called the MEAN (MongoDB, Express.JS, Angular.JS, Node.JS) stack that allows full-stack programming purely in JavaScript. However, as JavaScript has become more outdated, alternatives like Typescript or CoffeeScript have been used to transpile to JavaScript with a syntax for more modern programming features. Learning this stack can be quite useful in securing full-stack programming careers as the popularity of JavaScript as a full-stack language has been consistently growing. Additionally, Node.JS comes with a package manager called the NPM that allows developers to easily retrieve modules from whatever code repository it is pointing to. This not only makes it easier for developers for code reduction but also allows developers to create open source libraries for other developers to use.

Programming Languages and Resources for Web Developers
Here are a brief summary of coding languages and resources for web designers. HTML, CSS (or HTML5 & CSS3) PHP, MySQL, JavaScript (or JS frameworks like jQuery, Angular, React, Node, or Express) or MongoDB, Apache, Ruby on Rails, and Linux are related to web programming. The most  popular content management systems that use PHP  & MySQL are  Wordpress, Joomla, and Drupal. Also, obtaining the following PHP and database certifications are highly rewarding for all custom web developers: Zend Framework 2, Zend Certified PHP Engineer, Oracle Database 11g Administration and Oracle Database 12c SQL Fundamentals. For those interested in learning more about web design and development, here are a list of step-by-step training guide articles: i- Become CMS specialist, ii- Become front-end specialist, iii- Become expert SQL developer, iv- Become expert PHP developer

JS coding is well suited for those interested in pursuing a career in web design and development; however, other options are mobile App design and development, system admin and software engineering. It is advisable to consult with an IT career counselor to understand what career options best fits your skills. For instance, if you want to be a software engineer, learning HTML and CSS might not fit the bill. Here is an excellent article for learning more on coding and technology career roadmap. Once you know what career path you wish to pursue, you can make a plan on what, when, and how to learn. There are lots of online resources for learning coding and technology in general. For teenagers and high school students, High School Technology Services offers variety of hands-on training. For adults and professionals, Coding Bootcamps and DC Web Makers Companies offer basic to advance project-based programming and technology classes.

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