JavaScript explodes on the server side with the growth of Node.js

With the rise of Node.js, server-side JavaScript is becoming an important cloud, container, and web development language.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

Not so long ago, the idea that JavaScript could become an important server-side language would've sounded downright silly. Thanks to Node.js, JavaScript has become a vital language not just for web development, but for Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) such as Cloud Foundry. In fact, according to the Stack Overflow 2017 Developer Survey of 64,000 programmers, Node.js is the most popular of all developer frameworks.

According to Mark Hinkle, executive director of the Node.js Foundation, a branch of The Linux Foundation, "With more than 8 million Node.js instances online, three in four users are planning to increase their use of Node.js in the next 12 months."

Why? Because, "the application platform helped improve developer satisfaction and productivity, and benefited from cost savings and increased application performance." On the business side, Node.js is expanding its markets.

Hinkle continued: "It is moving beyond being simply an application platform, and beginning to be used for rapid experimentation with corporate data, application modernization and IoT solutions." In addition, "Node.js use is beginning to rise in the Ops/DevOps sector and mobile as well."

On top of that, he said, the use of Node.js "expands well beyond containers and cloud-native apps to touch development with databases, front-end framework/libraries, load balancing, message systems and more."

Node.js, for those who don't know it, is a JavaScript runtime built on Chrome's V8 JavaScript engine. It uses an event-driven, non-blocking I/O model to be both lightweight and efficient for server side applications. Npm, its package ecosystem, is one of the largest open-source libraries collections in the world.

According to its creator Ryan Dahl, a major advantage of Node.js is that it constantly processes incoming requests without waiting for responses. Critics say that means a single process could crash applications by eating up CPU cycles. Node.js supporters point out Node.js's small processes don't require many ticks of the CPU clock.

In real life, Node.js works well. Thanks to the rise of Cloud Foundry's popularity, Node.js has gained even more supporters. Microsoft, for example, has been supporting Node.js since 2011.

Where Node.js shows up the most is on Amazon Web Services (AWS). Sixty-eight percent of Node.js survey respondents who are using Node.js for serverless deployments are using Amazon Web Services for production. There, they're using its back-end services, full stack applications, front-end services, JavaScript's traditional stronghold, and DevOps.

In short, Node.js is becoming a vital language for enterprise deployment.

If you want to learn more about it, you can sign up for the Node.js Foundation community newsletter. The Foundation will also hold its annual conference from Oct. 4 to Oct. 6 in Vancouver, Canada.

Related stories:

Editorial standards