What is NodeJS?

Web Development Jargons Explained in 4 Different Ways

TLDR: NodeJs is a system that runs JavaScript programs for back-end server applications. This enables web engineers to use one programming language for writing front-end and back-end projects.


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NodeJs is a system that runs JavaScript programs for back-end server applications. This enables web engineers to use one programming language for writing front-end and back-end projects.

JavaScript, originally a browser only programming language, has been made executable on servers with NodeJs. Before NodeJs, engineers mainly wrote back-end applications in Ruby, PHP, Java, Python, .Net, etc.

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NodeJs is a runtime environment that can execute JavaScript server side, i.e. not needing a browser. You can write any JavaScript program and use NodeJs to execute it. Since it isn’t running in a browser, it doesn’t have access to the browser specific objects such as window, document, etc.

Being a server side runtime environment, NodeJs comes with built in modules, namely ‘http’, ‘https’ module, that deal with data transfers. You can write a very basic Node server with just a few lines of code. See example. To start a server, just use Node to execute the file containing the server code in terminal node server.js.

NodeJs is based on the V8 engine built by Google for the Chrome browser to translate JavaScript code into machine code. This is what enables NodeJs to run JavaScript code server side.

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The following video demonstrates how to create a text file, edit it, and delete it using the command line interface.

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You can install and use third party NodeJs libraries in your projects to speed up development time. This is however a double edged sword as there are just too many choices for NodeJs. For web frameworks alone, there exists more than 10 different choices.

ExpressJs is one of the more popular and mature web framework. It has been the go to choice for building server applications in NodeJs. The team behind ExpressJs also created Koa, which is a more minimalistic approach to writing APIs. Koa has risen in popularity dramatically in 2017 and is the hottest choice in 2018.

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