Getting Started with NodeJS: A Step-by-Step Guide

Published on:
December 28, 2023

Node.js has its supporters and critics, just like many other technologies. But regardless of your viewpoint on the matter, it is undeniably a powerhouse because several influential companies, such as Uber, LinkedIn, and PayPal, use it.

As developers put it, “Node.js isn’t a silver-bullet latest platform that may dominate the website development world. Instead, it’s a channel that accomplishes a specific need.

But exactly what is Node.js? Is it like Angular, a JS framework, or for programming? Is it a library for JavaScript? Is it a catch-all phrase for a collection of technologies or an alternate for JavaScript?

If you still have all these questions, this guide is for you. Because today we’ll dive into the world of Node.js. 

Let’s get started.

Node.js Overview

How does Node.js work

Node.js is a sophisticated JavaScript runtime environment that enables businesses to accelerate development, lower staffing expenses, and operate apps more quickly and efficiently. It’s created using Chrome's V8 JS engine, which runs and parses the code. 

Node is quick and light thanks to its event-based, non-blocking I/O approach. One of the key reasons it has become a massive hit is because of this programming paradigm. Creating software & apps that need synchronous, real-time interactions, such as chat apps and webpages, is best suited for Node. 

However, it also has other applications and advantages that appeal to developers, adding to its popularity. Many large companies today rely on Node.js, including Netflix, NASA, LinkedIn, and PayPal. These businesses use Node.js features to create powerful applications for their users.

But what makes NodeJS so powerful? Let’s look.

Node.js Features

In the last few years, Node.js has drawn developers' attention due to its many practical capabilities in the runtime environment. But there are other excellent features as well.

How does Node.js work
  1. Beginner friendly:

For novices, Node.js is excellent. It is partly because of the sizable, helpful open-source community. It's a good option for most web developers, with all the tutorials and guides accessible.

  1. Speed and scalability:

Because Node.js thread execution is non-blocking, JavaScript executes quickly. Also, Node.js is single-threaded & you can add scalability to your web applications. It indicates that Node.js can manage numerous connections at once. 

  1. Brings packages:

More than a million packages are available through Node package management (NPM). These packages streamline your work and are simple to install with just one command. Behind the scenes, the packages handle a lot of automation, like creating the appropriate folder structure and starting boilerplate code. You can zero in on building the project with this automation.

  1. It has a robust backend:

Node.js is based on C & C++, which allows useful tasks like networking, providing dynamic website content, and gathering form data while also giving Node.js an increase in speed.

  1. It has cross-platform support:

You can create webpages, desktop applications, and even mobile apps using Node.js. Node.js abstracts system-specific functionality and converts it into APIs, enabling cross-platform support. Then, using your applications on other platforms, you may call these APIs.

The NodeJS Survey report says, “Node users tend to report positive business impact, like enhancing developer productivity & satisfaction at a reduced cost.”

Node.js Architecture

One of the primary aspects of NodeJS that makes it so popular among developers is its functionality. In contrast to most alternative runtime environments, Node.js does all processing in a single thread.

The event-driven, non-blocking I/O model used by Node.js architecture makes it easier to design data-intensive, real-time apps that can run on all shared devices while also being more lightweight and efficient.

Unlike traditional web serving methods, the Node.js design works on a single thread, which launches new threads whenever a request comes in just to clog up RAM. As a result, it can handle the event loops with thousands of concurrent connections.

Theoretically, a single-thread architecture can scale and operate considerably more swiftly than a multi-thread configuration. It is another key reason why Node.js is so well-liked by web application developers and what Ryan Dahl had in mind when he first built it.

How does Node.js work?

Although Node.js operates quick and effective web servers, how does it do that?

How does Node.js work

To understand how Node.js functions, we need to understand its three fundamental components -

  • V8 Engine
  • Libuv
  • Event Loop

The V8 Engine is the JavaScript engine in the Chrome browser that interprets and executes JavaScript code. A computer cannot interpret JavaScript without the JavaScript engine. It has a memory heap as well as a call stack. They serve as the foundation for the V8 engine. They aid in the management of JavaScript code execution.

Then there is Libuv. Libuv is a C library that handles input/output (I/O) activities. The computer takes time to process I/O instructions, while Libuv—the library Node.js uses to communicate with the computer—focuses on Asynchronous I/O. It can manage many I/O operations at once.

Although single-threaded, Node.js transfers I/O instructions effectively. The Event Loop in Node.js is a crucial layer of the process & it's a loop from the name. As Node.js starts to perform a task, the loop will start running.

As a result, the event loop in Node.js executes callbacks from asynchronous data using the JS-based V8 engine. It's also a loop & every time it runs, the V8 engine monitors the call stack to view if it should eliminate the first callback & pass it to the JS engine.

The model of Node.js is stated to be event-driven. It means that Node.js is created to listen to events & respond to them once they occur. It could be timer events, network events, or something else. Once the event gets triggered, Node.js answers via an event loop to feed event callbacks & to the engine. In the end, Node.js is ideal for real-time data transfer in apps.

Why NodeJS?

Many firms are curious about why Node JS is used almost everywhere. The vital reason is its ability to efficiently manage incoming requests for server folders by reducing the waiting time. NodeJS provides the world's biggest open-source library ecosystem, npm, which offers various ready-made solutions & packages that can speed up development.

Further, Node.js promotes code reusability and sharing. npm allows developers to package their solutions into modules, share them with the rest of the community, and import packages created by others to avoid "reinventing the wheel."

Finally, Node.js is the unrivaled choice for developing apps within a microservices architecture. Because of its lightweight nature and modular design, it is straightforward to divide complex programs into simple, decoupled, and manageable microservices.

According to the Node.js user study, “Node.js is having a positive impact on users, particularly on developer productivity & satisfaction; when explaining Node.js, respondents use positive terms.”

Modules in Node.js

A good deal of Node.js' functionality is stored in modules included with the software. These modules are designed to break down program building blocks into manageable bits, like Lego blocks. We simply need to import the modules we require for our programs now that this is in place.

For example, the code below imports the fs built-in module.

cont fs = require('node:fs')

The fs module includes events, classes, and methods to deal with file I/O operations. Similarly, there are other modules as well, such as:

  • http - to create NodeJS server.
  • util - includes utility functions for developers
  • url - for URL parsing
  • stream - to handle stream data
  • zlib - for compressing or decompressing files 

Aside from the built-in modules, you can use modules (or packages) created by other developers. Node Package Manager (NPM) is a software package with Node.js. It is in charge of all third-party modules available in Node.js. When you need a third-party package, use the npm install command to install it from NPM.

Getting Started with Node JS

Next, it’s time to install Node.js and get started with it. Before writing code, you must install Node.js and NPM on your workstation. Installing the LTS (Long-term Support) version is a good idea because it is more stable than the current version.

Here’s how to install it. 

#On Windows

For Windows, you can download the Windows Installer from the site. Find out how. 

#On Mac

For Mac, you have to incorporate Bash.

curl "${VERSION:-$(wget -qo- | sed -nE 's.\*>node-(. \*)\
.pkg.\*\1|p')}.pkg"> "$HOME/Downloads/node-latest.pkg" &&
sudo installer -store - pkg "$HOME/Downloads/node-latest.pkg"
-target "/"

You can use Homebrew on Mac.

brew install node

#On Linux

To install Node on Ubuntu 18.04+, implement the following commands.

sudo apt update

sudo apt install nodejs

Bravo! Node.js has been successfully installed & it's ready to use. 

To understand what version of Node.js you have downloaded, use the below command:

node -v

If the above command is successfully executed, you can start working with it. Or else, you can run the below command to check the NPM installation:

npm -v

Next? You can enjoy NodeJS for use!

Where to Use Node.js?

Due to its flexibility & efficiency, Node.js has enormous apps. Here are some of the reliable use cases:

Where to Use Node.js
  • Real-time Web Apps - Node.js dominates the building of real-time web apps, like instant messaging & gaming apps. It’s due to the efficient event-driven & non-blocking design.
  • Collaborative Tools - Collaborative devices, such as Trello or Google Docs, necessitate real-time data sync across users. With its capacity to handle various connections concurrently, Node.js is apt for building those apps.
  • Chatbots & IoT Apps - Node.js excels in scenarios that need low latency & data-intensive skills. These features make it an excellent option for dealing with the massive data rates of IoT devices while enabling smooth & faster interactions in chatbots.
  • Queued Inputs - Node.js can monitor various concurrent connections & push database write-offs for later processing, dealing with queued inputs.
  • Single-page Apps - With its ability to manage multiple requests concurrently, Node js builds single-page apps & dynamic websites. It can offer dynamic content to users, enhancing their overall experience.
  • Streaming Apps - Creating streaming applications is one area where Node.js genuinely shines. Its ability to manage data streams effectively makes it an excellent choice for such tasks. 
  • Proxy - Node.js, as a proxy, is a versatile option for acting as an intermediate between services with varying response times or assisting in data collection from various sources.
  • Microservices & APIs - Based on its lightweight nature, Node.js is an awesome choice for designing microservices architectures & RESTful APIs. It divides apps into smaller, more manageable modules that may be developed, tested & deployed independently.

Looking forward 

Node.js now has a big developer community. On GitHub, it has thousands of contributors and is used by some of the world's largest corporations. But how does the future of Node.js look? It has come a long way since it was created in 2009. It was originally designed for back-end development but can now do much more. 

Node.js can create desktop programs, front-end web applications, mobile apps, and command-line utilities. Developers will continue featuring it in an increasing number of these apps. Ready to build apps with NodeJS? MarsDevs can help. Book a slot with us today!


  1. What is Node.js?

Node.js is an open-source server-side JavaScript runtime environment. Node employs Google's V8 libUV engine to provide cross-platform compatibility and a core library. Because Node.js does not operate in a browser, it does not offer a global window object.

  1. Is Node.js a framework?

No, Node.js is a programming environment. Node.js is used to run back-end frameworks. Express.js (Express) for HTTP servers and Socket.IO for WebSocket servers are 2 popular, interoperable frameworks.

  1. Why is Node.js popular?

Aside from its effectiveness, Node.js is popular for its massive, active, open-source, JavaScript-based ecosystem.

  1. Where can Node.js be used?

As NodeJS is single-threaded, we generally utilize it for non-blocking, event-driven servers. Since it was designed for real-time, push-based systems, NodeJS can also be used for regular web pages and back-end API services.

  1. Where does NodeJS work?

Cross-platform software is not restricted to a single operating system or hardware architecture. Similarly, it’s capable of running on several platforms. Node.js runs on various platforms, including Windows, Linux, Unix, and MacOS.

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