Node.js is widely known as a versatile runtime environment, powering both back-end and front-end web development. Its popularity notwithstanding, the community often pits it against Golang or Go, Google’s programming language introduced in 2009.
Comparing a runtime environment with a programming language might seem absurd on the surface. But, a deeper examination of the pros and cons of each throws light on which of the two back-end development tools you should choose for your project.
This article showcases a head-to-head comparison and attempts to settle the Node vs. Go debate, at least for now and in the near future. If you’re deliberating between the two from a hiring perspective, read on to find which option makes the most sense for your project.
What Is Node.js?
Node’s rich ecosystem of libraries and reusable components makes it a prime choice for developers.
What Is Node.js Used For?
Node.js provides developers with the tools to create beautiful, modern real-time web applications. Node’s asynchronous architecture is especially ideal for creating applications like online games, online messengers, video chats, and more.
Who Is Using Node.js?
Companies like Netflix, PayPal, Walmart, LinkedIn, Trello, Uber, and many more use Node.js for their industry-leading UIs and server-side platforms.
Companies that want to build two-way applications that don’t require waiting for APIs to return data find Node.js perfectly suited to their needs.
The 2022 Stack Overflow Developer Survey clearly shows Node.js as the second most wanted framework by developers.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Node.js?
It’s important to be aware of both the pros and cons of Node.js before committing resources to a development project. Node.js isn’t free from a few drawbacks, some of which might be deal-breakers for your particular use case.
Pros of Node.js
- Scalability: Thanks to native API clusters, child_process, and worker_threads, building scalable web apps is quite easy with Node.js. It can tackle an increased number of requests by taking the burden off of CPU resources.
- Time-to-market: Node’s lightweight nature and inherent reusability considerably reduces build time. The huge number of reusable components available in Node Package Manager (stylized and abbreviated as ‘npm’) makes development even simpler for your team.
Cons of Node.js
- Not ideal for CPU-heavy computing: Node’s single-threaded and event-driven nature yield a performant codebase, but this is a sub-par alternative for CPU-based computing tasks. Large CPU-dependent tasks can slow down its event loop, hindering performance in such cases.
- API dependency: Node’s APIs are regularly updated with little to no backwards compatibility. Maintaining Node.js code due to the frequent changes requires ongoing commitment and resources.
- Asynchronous model: Node’s asynchronous programming is an advantage that makes it ideal for scalability but it also requires a high level of expertise to master it.
What Is Go?
Go or Golang is a statically-typed programming language released by Google in 2009. It is an open-source language created to tackle challenges like multi-core computing, networking, and web development that were prevalent during the time. The language rose in popularity in 2016.
Golang developers based the language on C, a low-level language. Given that low-level languages offer little abstraction from pure machine code, Go is easy to compile, providing superior speed and efficiency.
Golang is still one of the most wanted programming languages according to the 2022 Stack Overflow Developer Survey.
What Is Go Used For?
Go combines fast compilation and garbage collection to bring the benefits of both low-level and high-level languages to applications. Its excellent handling of concurrency makes it ideal for CPU-hungry tasks often seen in back-end applications.
Popular development tools like Kubernetes and Docker have been built with Go. Go can even be used for system programming, large-scale distributed systems, and highly scalable network applications.
Go is also useful for cloud development, big data apps, and machine learning applications.
Who Is Using Go?
Google, Netflix, Dropbox, IBM, Soundcloud, Medium, Twitch, and many others use Go widely in their applications. Google has claimed that it uses Go in YouTube and Chrome.
Uber’s microservice for geofence lookups that supports everything from driver searches to dynamic pricing is written in Go. This microservice is Uber’s highest ‘queried per second’ service and has been running 99.99% of the time since its launch
What Are the Pros and Cons of Go?
Google’s highly efficient programming language has its own set of pros and cons that should be seen in conjunction with those of Node.js.
Pros of Go
- Efficiency: Go’s code is compiled directly to machine language and hence doesn’t require an interpreter. This makes Go extremely fast, efficient, and easy to maintain.
- Scalability: Go’s ability to handle concurrency with ‘Goroutines’ is one of its foundational features. Go can handle up to 1000 concurrent requests per second and can make full use of multi-threaded CPUs.
- Simple syntax: Go’s syntax comprises a mere 25 keywords. This not only keeps the code highly readable and clean but also minimizes the chances of errors by developers.
- Memory handling: Go’s excellent garbage collection handling prevents memory leaks in cases where developers forget to release memory from redundant objects.
Cons of Go
- Time-consuming: Go’s simplistic code makes it harder to implement complex abstractions. Developers need to code more for using simple features, limiting the language’s versatility.
- Nascent community: Go’s community is less mature as compared to that of some other programming languages. This makes it less attractive for newer developers as they can find it hard to get their questions answered by the community.
- No built-in GUI library: Building GUI applications needs significant effort as you need to connect additional libraries with your project.
- Resource-heavy: Go is prone to consuming significantly more resources for complex applications as it doesn’t have a virtual machine (VM).
Node.js vs. Go: Side-By-Side Comparison
Both Node.js and Go have advantages and drawbacks when it comes to different aspects of web development. In order to choose the one best suited for your present use case, it’s important to compare them side-by-side.
In terms of raw performance, Go has a clear edge over Node.js as its code is compiled directly into machine language. But in terms of real-world performance where database server interaction and network applications are involved, there is very little difference in speed between the two.
Go’s ability to process around 1,000 requests per second and its reliable execution of multiple threads through goroutines make it a clear winner in terms of concurrency. This makes Go ideal for scaling large projects. Node.js applications can also be scalable but its asynchronous single-thread architecture lags behind that of Go.
Error handling works differently in Node and Go. Node uses the conventional throw-catch method to catch errors during runtime, debugging each line sequentially. Go requires explicit error checking which can create inconsistencies. Node is thus the better choice in this aspect, at least until Go2 (Go’s planned successor) brings some improvements.
While Go has fast gained the trust of developers (it has 105k stars on GitHub; Node has 91k), it still has a long way to go in terms of community support. The Node.js foundation enjoys the support of the likes of IBM, Microsoft, and PayPal and has a more mature ecosystem of developers and reusable libraries.
Node.js vs. Go: Which Is Better?
On the other hand, in cases where you need to leverage the most CPU bandwidth you can, Go might be the ideal choice despite having a lengthy and costly development cycle.
In short, it all depends on your business use case and the compromises you’re more comfortable with. Both Node.js and Go are fantastic development tools with their own unique strengths and weaknesses.
If your project requires Node.js developers, Trio can make the hiring process smooth and economical for your organization. Trio developers are extremely skilled, thoroughly vetted, and ready to be onboarded in no time.
Contact Trio today to learn more about outfitting your project with leading Node.js developers from around the globe.