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Matthew N. Henry

Businesses, over the years, have preferred the Node.js framework for backend development. As per Statista, Node.js is the most used web framework among developers worldwide, as of 2022. A remarkable achievement, but in the recent past, Google’s Golang has also emerged as another frontrunner for building heavy, secure, and high-performing applications.

Nodejs vs Golang - ISHIR

Building and scaling APIs, data management, working with libraries, and dealing with fewer UI-based components requires selecting a reliable, straightforward, and error-free web framework. The right tech stack can influence the extent of development complexity, time, investment, and resources. You need to know more about these languages to make a more informed decision. Read on:

What is NodeJS and what are its uses?

Node.js, built on Chrome’s V8 JavaScript engine, is an open-source and dynamically-typed cross-platform runtime environment that helps JavaScript function as a server-side language. The runtime environment assists in the development of server-side and networking applications. If you plan to build a 2-way real-time application with a fast response time, then Node.js is the best bet.

The single-threaded and highly scalable nature of Node.js can easily cope with event-driven, non-blocking servers. Node.js eliminates the need to wait. It simply continues to the following request. The lack of buffering, ability to handle multiple connections concurrently, and fast code execution make it very fast and efficient.

Node.js can generate dynamic page content, collect form data, perform various actions to the files on the server, and modify data in the database. This makes it suitable for back-end API services and traditional websites. I/O bound apps, data-intensive Real-time Apps, data streaming apps, JSON APIs-based apps, and Single Page Applications.

Pros of NodeJS

Simplicity and learning curve:

Node.js code is easy to read and statically typed. Developers find the neat and clean syntax of Node.js easy to learn. Plus, it results in fewer variable errors. The ability to master the language effortlessly reduces the learning curve. Becoming an expert at Node.js is easy, even if you aren’t familiar with JavaScript.

Event Driven and Asynchronous:

The single-threaded, asynchronous and non-blocking nature means tasks running in the background don’t affect the main thread. Node.js eliminates the waiting cycle and processes the subsequent request, making it suitable for tasks requiring instantaneous responses and no latency. With Node.js, you don’t need to worry about dead-locking a thread – it doesn’t block the event loop. The Event Loop executes the callbacks and fulfills the non-blocking asynchronous requests.

Development tools:

The extent of ready-to-use tools can influence development time, cost, and effort. The Node.js ecosystem has a comprehensive library of open-source tools, packages, frameworks, and libraries that make coding more effortless and fun. Golang, on the other hand, lacks (standard set) these powerful tools.

Error Handling:

The throw-catching mechanism to check errors in Node.js places it ahead of Golang, which requires developers to execute explicit error checking for runtime errors (syntax-related errors get corrected in the code) – increasing the development time. Also, this requires developers to inspect the return value of the function. In Node.js, the errors are detected and corrected immediately at runtime.

Cons of NodeJS

Heavy computing:

Node.js is incapable of addressing heavy computational tasks. Node.js doesn’t offer the raw performance of CPU-based memory-bound tasks. The single-threaded nature of Node.js and event loop makes it hard to accelerate large CPU-driven tasks in time. Node.js, even with the worker threads, make it hard to avoid the deceleration of the event loop.

Asynchronous Programming:

Node.js inherited the non-blocking and asynchronous nature from JavaScript. Asynchronous programming offers key advantages, such as scalability. But it also demands a high level of expertise and familiarity, as it becomes more complex to set up and maintain when compared to linear blocking I/O coding. Inexperienced developers find it hard to manage this with ease.

API instability:

In Node.js, the packages and APIs undergo recurrent changes and updates, which cause compatibility issues. The backward-incompatible API changes lead to heavy code modifications that confuse the developers. The continual and unexpected maintenance work to keep the app’s codebase compatible with changes increases development time.

What is Golang and what are its uses?

Golang is a statically typed server-side programming language known for its concurrent programming capabilities, memory management, and speed. Golang gets primarily used in backend web development. Golang came into existence in 2009, when Google couldn’t resolve its persistent issues with multi-core machines, web development, and networking through C, Java, and Python.

The Golang creators mimicked aspects of C and Python – the reason it features certain similarities with them – in terms of safety and speed. Golang is mainly used to build modular apps with high speed and security. It’s also suitable in places where scalability is a concern. Golang deals in restricted garbage collection, making its code writing procedure more efficient and accessible.

Golang’s flexibility allows you to use it for network programming, system programming, and web app development service. You can also use Golang to build a large-distributed system and create command-line apps or scripts. Furthermore, Golang can be used for big data, machine learning, and building highly-scalable network servers.

Pros of Golang

Scalable:

Golang is suited to building heavy, enterprise-ready, layered, and complex applications that may need to scale in the future. The presence of goroutines allows seamless and reliable execution of threads concurrently and in a smooth manner. The non-blocking goroutines run simultaneously and independently, utilizing very little memory and without crashing the system.

Performance:

Statically typed Node.js, running on the v8 JavaScript engine, is no match to Golang, which frees up unused memory spaces and increases available memory for top-tier processing. The ability to compile the code straight into machine code without any virtual machine leads to the same level of performance as C and C++. Golang is best for raw computation and performance-heavy tasks.

Concurrency:

Golang, with its coroutines, lightweight thread communication workflow, and optimized memory management, can handle numerous requests simultaneously without slowing down and affecting the RAM. This makes Golang best suited for big network servers and enterprise applications requiring heavy computations without needing to cut corners to run multiple processes simultaneously.

Cons of Golang

Community Support:

Golang is a young language; the community around Golang isn’t as widespread and robust. If you run into issues while programming with Golang, expect to either receive a delayed response from the existing user base or you’ll have to figure it out yourself. The documentation around Golang is also less detailed compared to Node.js.

Lack of developers:

Despite the growing popularity, the language is yet to find mainstream acceptance. Therefore, the chances of coming across many Golang developers are less. In this case, businesses will have difficulty recruiting skilled and knowledgeable resources for their projects. If someone drops out midway, filling that vacancy may also see delays.

Functions:

The absence of generic functions in Golang is another drawback. This means developers will need to create functions such as “filter,” “reduce,” etc., to deal with the various parameter types. No generic functions in Golang mean limited code reusability and decreased development efficiency. Developers can’t reuse the same functions for dissimilar types of collections.

What are top companies using?

YouTube, Dropbox, and Netflix are already on Golang. Netflix developed Rend Proxy in Golang to handle thousands of concurrent connections (through coroutines). The decision-makers in Netflix wanted something that had lower latency than Java, fewer errors, reduced build time, and increased the developer’s productivity.

PayPal switched from Java to Node.js for their web applications. As a result, they witnessed a lower development cycle, fewer resources, 33% fewer lines of code, and a 35% decrease in average response time, as the pages responded 200ms faster. PayPal was able to double the number of requests processed per second.

Popularity in 2022 and what does the future hold

In a Stack overflow survey from 2021, 33.91% of developers (83,052 responses) preferred Node.js to Golang’s measly 9.55%. Due to its newness and unavailability of developers, some businesses might be a little apprehensive. However, as per the same survey, for the highest-paying technologies, Node.js only gathered $54,672, while Golang managed $75,669 and $89,204 in 2022.

The stats reveal that Golang is valued, and developers who can master it will likely fare well in the coming years. Furthermore, developers showed a keen interest in Golang. As per a 2022 Stack Overflow survey, around 65.58% of developers expressed their love for Golang, and 16.41% of the respondents wanted to learn Golang.

Summing Up

Having done a Node.js vs. Golang comparison, we can conclude that both languages are worthy on their own and have their strengths and weaknesses. Ultimately it comes down to the nature of your project. Your business specifics, budget, availability of qualified resources, and the complexity of your requirement will dictate the technology stack.

If you are looking to adopt either one or are planning to make a switch, it’s essential to formulate the right roadmap and have the best experts on board. ISHIR has the best consultants and developers to strategize and execute the development project from start to finish – in sync with your requirements, on time, and within the prescribed budget.

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