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Web technology stacks – from LAMP to Janos

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Web technology stacks – from LAMP to Janos

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The classic stack of small- to medium-scale web technologies is LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP). With the rise of JavaScript and NoSQL databases, another stack is poised to replace it: Janos (client-side JavaScript, Node.js, NoSQL database).

LAMP – the incumbent

Linux and its accompanying software made it cheap for startups to run a web server. The LAMP stack comprises the following components:
  • Linux: Unix, free.
  • Apache: a web server.
  • MySQL: a relational database
  • PHP: a programming language for web back ends.

LAMP transformed the internet industry by making previously expensive technology available for free.

Janos – the challenger

JavaScript’s client-side popularity triggered many interesting developments. The Janos stack (which is short for JaNoNoS) is one of the results:
  • Client-side JavaScript
  • Node.js
  • A NoSQL database (such as MongoDB or CouchDB)

  • The importance of client-side JavaScript. Client-side JavaScript is much more important to the stack than many people realize. It changes the paradigm from client-server to something whose nature is more distributed: On one hand, clients perform more computations and might even communicate with other clients. On the other hand, servers are less responsible for the application logic and mostly become a data tier. An example: FunctionSource assembles its page dynamically in the browser, via JavaScript. As a result, clicking a link usually means that only a part of the page has to be replaced instead of sending the complete page from server to client. There is also a fallback – if a browser does not support JavaScript, the assembling code is executed on the server and the result sent to the client.

    The next step is already in development: With browsers gaining offline functionality such as embedded databases, the data tier is more about syncing databases than about the server managing the data and the client displaying it.

  • Same language on client and server. Not having to switch languages when going from server to client is a big plus. You can reuse much code (validation code, domain logic, etc.) and don’t have to mentally switch between two languages during development. The ability to execute client-side code on the server enables fallbacks if a client does not support JavaScript (see example in the previous item).
  • Data – a confluence of events. It is very fortunate for JavaScript programmers that two things have become popular: JSON as a data transfer format (for web services etc.) and NoSQL databases. Both are perfect fits for JavaScript: JSON uses JavaScript syntax. Schema-less databases make things as flexible on the database side as they are on the programming language side; you get the advantages of object-oriented databases without their messiness.
  • Where is the operating system in the acronym? I initially thought that the stack should include a “U” for a Unix-based operating system. But the truth is that operating system matters remarkably little, now that Node.js has a proper Windows port.

In production systems, Node.js is often used as a complement to more mature servers. But that is slowly changing. Furthermore, it is already a terrific system for smaller projects.

Another proposed acronym

  @evanpro tweets:
PSST! #node.js apps backed by a NoSQL database are now known as the #nono stack. Pass it on!

But while that name sounds nice, it does not mention a key ingredient of the stack: client-side JavaScript.


Source: http://www.2ality.com/2011/11/janos.html

Deploying code to production can be filled with uncertainty. Reduce the risks, and deploy earlier and more often. Download this free guide to learn more. Brought to you in partnership with Rollbar.


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