Node.js uses an event-driven input-output (I/O) which makes it perfect for the implementation of real-time web applications. While Ruby on Rails was a server-side language that attempted to make the implementation of real-time applications a reality, Node.js actually is the server.
What makes Node.js more efficient than alternatives such as Apache is that it remains dormant when there are no connections. Apache, on the other hand, requires several idle servers to remain active to deal with new connections as they come. Since Node only activates a callback when new connections come in, server resources are saved.
Since Node.js acts as an efficient and responsive web server, it allows for the creation of real-time web applications that can run smoothly. Traditional web servers require the creation of a new thread when a new connection is made. This limits the number of connections and depletes system resources. Node, on the other hand, only uses a single thread to handle all connections. This makes it great for web applications that require scalability and it is also extremely easy to install.
What Does This Mean for Web Developers and End Users?
One of the most exciting uses of real-time web application technology is browser-based games. Gone are the days where users would have to open up a Flash, Java, or Shockwave applet in order to play games in their browsers. With Node.js in conjunction with Socket.io and HTML 5, impressive real-time browser games are becoming a reality. These are multiplayer games too, so we’re not just talking about your online solitaire games.
Remember the days of AOL chat? These days, it seems like most people use phone apps or major social media platforms to chat, but nevertheless, creating chat rooms is one simple task that Node.js can do well. Independent chat rooms might not have much popularity on today’s Internet, but online games are more fun when there is a chat component to them.
The collection of massive amounts of data can be made more efficient with the use of Node.js. Accepting large quantities of data into a database can cause a bottleneck, since accessing a database is a blocked operation. Node.js can receive this data, then send it to the backend piecemeal. The data gets stored without any system breakdowns.
Video and audio files that are uploaded to streaming video services like YouTube have to be processed in order to be viewed or heard by users all over the world. The processing of these files typically occurs after they have been uploaded.
With Node.js, videos can be processed as they are uploading, saving time and making media widely accessible at a faster rate.
On top of video and audio, other forms of data can be input and output in real time. Imagine being able to work on projects and output the results with colleagues halfway around the world!
Node and the MEAN Stack