node.js – a passing fad or the future of the web?

node.js has been going for a good while now and its adaptation is spreading pretty quickly, a windows executable has been released recently and that has opened a whole new market segment for this language.

Awareness spreading like wildfire, meetups and conferences, we have seen this before with other emerging languages and frameworks, but few have become the standard. Does node have what it takes?

Pros

  • It’s JavaScript – a decent language which is relatively easy to pick up and already is one of the standard languages which should be learned by all web developers.
  • It’s versatile and flexible – setting up virtual servers is only a few lines away. Virtual servers can easily be assigned different ports and can be configured to do pretty much anything any other server can.
  • It’s fast. Very fast. From the moment you press go. – I’m a big fan of php, but the amount of effort that is required to get apache to execute it efficiently and to handle the same number of concurrent requests as node.js can straight out of the box is simply ridiculous.
  • The community – the avalanche of plugins and addons reminds us of what happened with RoR, however what sets node apart is the support and the attitude of the node community. If you need help, you’ll find it. Forums, irc channels(and servers), wikis and all kinds of resources are available, are free and are very noob-friendly.
  • npm – the simplest and most powerful package manager I’ve ever used.

Cons

  • It’s JavaScript – while the majority of the web development community supports it, there are a good amount of opponents who like to point out the downsides of the language. One of them being math and the fact that JavaScript by default uses floating point numbers and thus can be a bit inaccurate in the most unexpected moments. (I’d like to point out that there are workarounds for this.)
  • It’s young – the docs are not what some developers might be used to and some bugs may pop up from time to time.

So will it succeed? It definitely has everything necessary for success, but only time will tell if it has what it takes to convince the “set in their ways” sysadmins and to overtake apache.

Meanwhile here at ByTheScruff we are toying with node and are creating little javascript experiments that we think you should be interested in, so stay tuned!

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