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

Reinventing the Web stackThere's plenty of good news to report. The Node.js ecosystem is growing at an exponential rate, and there's a bazillion times more code that's ready to use and enjoy. Of course, it's only natural at this point in time because it's easy to grow quickly when you start with nothing. These tools are building a sustainable infrastructure that's already doing useful work in small corners of the enterprise world.

It's easy to predict that there will be even more advances coming very soon and to imagine new tools that shouldn't be hard to build. I'm sure we'll soon start seeing versions of the IDE that are tightly integrated with the website itself. Many of the Web content management systems such as Drupal have little switches that appear when an administrator logs in. If you want to change a part of the site, clicking on the nearest switch will take you to a screen where you can simply edit some PHP and hit Save. There's no need to fire up a text editor or sift through a pile of files for the source code. Everything is done right on the browser.

This kind of development environment would be ideal for Node, if only because the structure of the framework is even more disjointed than the typical programming language. Node's nested callback structure lends itself to a form-based tool that would have separate sections for code that's executed before and code executed after. I find the callback structure maddening and difficult to work with, especially when it's several levels deep. A nice UI into these depths would simplify matters dramatically. Only geniuses can manage to count all those nested brackets.

An innovation like this would go a long way to fixing some of the biggest problems that people are reporting with Node. You'll have no trouble finding developers' blogs filled with four-letter words because they hate the "spaghetti callback" design paradigm. People can manage this when the site is a simple layer on top of some database, but they go nuts when the application gets more complicated.

The websites of cloud providers like Joyent also show how a good UI will make it easier to work with Node. The instrumentation is much better than that offered by the basic download, and it's probably going to get better as the company invests more into making its SmartMachines a platform that sustains enterprises.


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