Node.js tools: Server-side JavaScript comes of age

Node-inspired development environments and cloud platforms are rapidly remaking the Web application stack

By Peter Wayner, InfoWorld |  Software, JavaScript, Node.js

The story of Node.js reads like it came from a Hollywood script assembly line: Some kids are monkeying around with scrap they picked up around the Internet and find a new way to snap it together. The next thing you know, they're lapping the pack at the racetrack and coasting to the winner's circle.

In technical terms, the Node.js team, which is largely led by Ryan Dahl, began looking for a new way to serve up documents from a website without chewing up as much RAM as the traditional tools. They grabbed a copy of the V8 JavaScript engine to speed up their code, then created simple libraries that connected the V8 engine to the TCP/IP ports. Presto change-o, it was answering requests very quickly.

[ Also on InfoWorld: "JavaScript conquers the server" | Node.js is an InfoWorld 2012 Technology of the Year Award Winner. For more insight on software development, subscribe to InfoWorld's Developer World newsletter. ]

Once people noticed the speed, they started actually using the tool and the challenges began. It's easy to make a car by bolting together spare parts that are lying around, but it's an entirely different task to make something that can carry a load or stand up to the daily commute. The first version of Node ran from a command line containing the name of the file where the instructions were stored. That's not a great way to run a big, stable, professional website.

The scruffy, junkyard quality of the Node realm is rapidly disappearing as programmers build extras for Node as quickly as Node itself was born. Now Node is more of an ecosystem, with its own conference and a collection of tools that orbit around it. There are IDEs, deployment tools, and companies looking to offer Node hosting as a service. All are helping to transform Node from science experiment to real contributor in the data center and the cloud.


Originally published on InfoWorld |  Click here to read the original story.
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