Is Node Better Than Your Legacy Tech Stack?

by Vincent Wilson

Is Node Better Than Your Legacy Tech Stack?

Node.js is our backend of choice here at Differential. Most of the time we use Meteor because of its sane defaults, easy setup, and real-time first design. Even when we use Meteor, we write a lot of code that would run identically in Node without Meteor.

When we tell people we use Node.js as our server of choice, sometimes we get a funny look. Due to the turbulent past of Javascript, people are often uneasy with the idea of running Javascript on the server. Since the inception of Node.js, there’s been a heavy stigma around using a “light” language like Javascript to handle the heavy lifting required of modern web servers.

Is Node.js fast, stable, and scalable enough to build a reliable production server?

Like any tool, there is a time and a place for Node.js. We at Differential have found it to be a very effective language for the projects we work on. Most of the developers on our team have spent most of their careers writing Javascript, both on the frontend and backend. From an iterative and collaborative standpoint, a huge advantage is the ability it offers to “learn once, write anywhere.” Although the same lines of code don’t translate from our Node.js servers to our React frontends, by using Javascript on both the frontend and the backend, we can share many paradigms and techniques across platforms.

Not only is Node.js incredibly convenient, the test of time has proven its stability and scalability in many different roles in a backend tech stack. In addition, its adoption by larger, fast-moving tech companies has done a lot to dissipate the stigma around the tool. But don’t just take my word for it.

Netflix uses Node.js to allow for rapid iteration of their frontend services.

LinkedIn was able to lower the overhead of their front-end servers and increase the speed 20x by rewriting the existing Rails apps in Node.js.

PayPal engineering has found Node.js faster, smaller, and quicker for developers than their existing Java infrastructure.

Groupon increased page loads times by 50% while needing less hardware than their Rails app.

Not only does Node.js provide a comfortable environment for developers with an experience primarily on front-end work, most organizations have found that it performs just as well, if not better than their legacy tech stacks.

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