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Node.js is Like PHP in the 00s: Already Ubiquituous, Just Not Detected Yet

The Performance Zone is presented by AppDynamics. Scalability and better performance are constant concerns for the developer and operations manager. Try AppDynamics' fully-featured performance tool for Java, .NET, PHP, & Node.js.

In the early two-thousands, corporate applications were built with C, Java, or sometimes ASP. At that time, PHP wasn't welcome in the enterprise world yet. But despite the lack of clearance from the CIOs, PHP was already inside the corporate walls.


It all started with this IT guy. You know who I'm talking about: this kinda hippie guy, who was unaware of the corporate rules, or not willing to obey them. He installed a simple blog engine, or a photo album engine, or a bulletin board engine, on a disused server. These applications had no interface with the corporate IT systems. PHP arrived with simple tools that were much easier to deal with than the state-of-the-art technology. And the IT guy started to learn the language, and understood that it was able to do much of the stuff the CIOs asked to Java or ASP. And that's how PHP sneaked into the enterprise. Today, PHP is broadly accepted as an industry-class language, and adopted by large banks, medias, retailers, for both frontend and backend applications. In the meantime, PHP had to become a robust language with industrial tools (frameworks, automatic build, monitoring, etc). And lost part of its attraction in the process. 

Today, there is a new kid on the block. While the corporate IT advocates the use of C#, or J2EE, or PHP, there is this IT guy who plays with JavaScript on the server-side without telling so. 

He doesn't need it to create a blog, or a photo album, or a bulletin board. No, these services have been available for free in the cloud for a long time already. But in a service-oriented architecture, choosing an alternative technology for a particular component is not that hard. The thing is, there are so many good JavaScript developers out there, gathering in meetups every week, frantically contributing to open-source libraries, pushing the performance limits on the browser side, that JavaScript becomes a viable alternative. Who needs a full featured framework with CSRF support, and embeddable forms, and a voter system, and an AST parser, just to build a simple API for a document repository, or a list of log files? Sure, you could use raw PHP, but it isn't enough based on the HTTP protocol to build a simple API without additions. On the other hand, JavaScript comes with a built-in Event system, and with Node.js, creating a REST API is a breeze.

Be prepared, CTOs. Node.js is already in your walls. Or maybe it's in the cloud, because you told your sysadmins to restrict the hosted applications to C#/J2EE/PHP. But who needs to be in the corporate infrastructure when dealing with a service-oriented architecture? Anyway, the wave is coming. Accept it, or you'll be stuck with a heavyweight software stack in a few years time, while your competitors will fly high with their Javascript wings.

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Published at DZone with permission of Francois Zaninotto .

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