If you’ve ever played an online game or used an online app, the odds are good that you’ve encountered a product built with Node.js.
If you dream about becoming an application developer, game-builder or full stack programmer, the Node.js framework should be at the very top of your to-learn list.
Not sure where to start? No problem — this article will cover the basics of Node.js for beginners, including the essentials of the framework, careers that make use of Node.js and ancillary skills that could bolster your coding repertoire.
What Is Node.js?
Because Node.js uses an event-driven, non-blocking input-output (I/O) model, it is lightweight and efficient. The framework also allows the server to handle multiple requests simultaneously.
Why learn Node.js?
In a word — it’s useful.
Node.js has countless practical applications in software, application and web development. It can create dynamic page content, I/O bound applications, data-intensive real-time applications and JSON APIs. Developers can use Node.js to write more expansive applications without writing overly complicated code. An array of leading employers in the tech and related industries use the framework, including PayPal, Google, Microsoft, General Electric and Uber.
Companies turn to Node.js because they develop fast, interactive applications. As such, they need professionals who can handle the framework. Their need is a developer’s gain; knowing Node.js can give an aspiring coder an edge during their job search.
Skills covered in these tutorials:
- Restful API
- Events & Arguments
- Template Engines
- Express Applications
- Postman Endpoints
But don’t worry; in the below sections, we’ll walk you through a few Node.js tutorials and help you familiarize yourself with the framework’s basics.
What You Need to Know Before Starting
As you can probably guess, Node.js isn’t a framework often recommended to complete beginners. While those who have a solid programming foundation might be able to pick up Node.js skills via practice and self-study, beginning coders may benefit from a more formalized educational experience.
Take a coding bootcamp as an example; in these intensive programs, beginning coders pick up front and back end coding fundamentals in as little as three to six months. Learners also have a chance to gain proficiency in standard coding tools and frameworks like — you guessed it! — Node.js.
Don’t rush into Node.js before you’re ready! Take the time you need to learn your coding basics before you dive into the framework.
Node.js Process Model
If you’re a Node.js beginner, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the framework’s process model.
The way Node.js handles user requests to the web server is different from the approach outlined in the conventional web-server model.
Traditionally, each request made to a web server is handled by one dedicated “thread” within the server’s finite “thread pool.” If no threads are available at the time a request is made, that request waits in a queue and executes as soon as one becomes available. This approach is conventional but resource-intensive.
Node.js offers a different model for processing user requests on the server. All user requests are handled by a single thread, asynchronously. The framework uses an internal C++-based thread pool to provide this asynchronous input-output. Node.js’s event loop conducts a constant check for completed events, executing the function when each job completes. This approach produces faster results and increased application performance.
Moreover, because Node.js runs in a single process, it needs fewer resources than other server platforms. It may not be the best-suited framework for CPU-heavy applications like image processing due to the length of time required to process each request, but it’s an excellent, efficient choice for many web applications.
Benefits of Node.js
The advantages Node.js provides to front and back end coders alike are well-established.
Accessibility and Versatility
Here’s a quick breakdown of what these technologies are:
- MongoDB — a cross-platform, NoSQL database program.
- Express.js — a back end web application framework designed for Node.js.
Node.js is well-known for its optimal performance, rapid execution and top-notch user experience. Moreover, because the framework is open-source and has an active developer community, it is continually improving. Node.js’s open-source nature ensures that developers always have access to the packages, libraries and support tools they need to build and maintain successful programs.
Setting Up Development Environment for Node.js (Tools and Steps)
If you’re planning to enroll in a Node.js course or follow a Node.js tutorial, you’ll need a development environment that will allow you to test your code. You can set up a conducive environment on Windows, macOS, Linux and other popular operating systems.
The official Node.js website allows you to download the open-source package appropriate for your operating system. The Node.js download will come with npm, the Node package manager. You’ll then create a file called package.json to hold all of your metadata. The Node package manager also comes with several relevant clients, including Redis.js, which provides in-memory data storage structures.
After you install Node.js and your npm, you’ll need a place to write your code. You can use a simple text editor or an integrated development environment (IDE). While IDE software is more complex and takes more time to prepare, it can provide helpful tools. That said, some coders enjoy the simplicity of straightforward text editing. Try both out for yourself; you may find that you prefer to use each for different tasks!
Node.js features several built-in modules — reusable blocks of code or sets of functions that developers can include when writing their applications. By using the require function in Node.js, you can load some of these bundled and independent modules into your program. This function can also load third-party libraries and developer-produced content. As you develop your Node.js skills, you will be able to create your own modules.
Careers and Industries That Implement Node.js Skills
If you plan to upskill into back end or full stack coding, you should make sure that learning Node.js is at the very top of your academic priority list. Not only is the framework an invaluable coding tool in its own right, but having it on your resume may give you an edge when you apply for your first professional coding role.
Below, we’ve listed a few jobs that require — or at least strongly recommend — Node.js proficiency.
Node.js developers are full stack coders who build and maintain network applications. Their primary responsibilities include managing data flow between users and servers, developing back end structures and ensuring that their applications connect with web-based services. Node.js developers typically work in teams and often collaborate with full stack developers and user interface (UI) designers.
A marketer’s primary goal is to sell products and reach target consumers. As such, they need to have at least a basic understanding of the websites that engage potential customers. Marketers who know basic front end tools are better equipped to conceptualize new web-based advertising designs and engaging web features than their non-technical peers. While these specialists don’t necessarily need the back end capabilities that Node.js provides, knowing how to use the framework can bolster their professional value.
Front End Developer
How Long Does it Take to Learn Node.js?
Your chosen learning method can also influence your timetable. New coders who try to learn Node.js through self-scheduled independent study may take more time than those accountable to more formalized courses. Both academic approaches are valid, though you should consider your goals when selecting your learning route.
For example, those who want to upskill into a professional full stack role quickly may want to consider enrolling in a coding bootcamp. These intensive, instructor-led courses impart job-ready coding skills within just three months (full-time) to six months (part-time). Choose an academic path that suits your goals!
What Other Skills/Languages Should I Learn?
Your academic to-do list will depend on your goals!
Not sure where to get started? Berkeley Coding Boot Camp may be your best bet. This intensive, flexible program provides instruction in the full stack skills that aspiring coders need to know before entering the job market. Bootcamps typically run for three to six months, depending on whether you study full- or part-time, and are available both virtually and in-person.
Want to know what Berkeley Coding Boot Camp can do for your career? Contact us today!
What is Node.js used for?
Is Node.js easy to learn?
Do developers need to know Node.js?