InfoWorld: The rise of Node.js: JavaScript graduates to the server

February 7th, 2012

Although it is just three years old, Node.js is gaining traction as an application development platform, letting developers extend JavaScript beyond the browser and into servers. But questions remain about JavaScript's appropriateness on servers and developers' readiness to use it.

Invented by Joyent developer Ryan Dahl, Node.js -- or simply Node -- is getting endorsements from established companies such as Microsoft and Yahoo, as well as from smaller ventures. Geared to network application development, the platform is built on the Google Chrome V8 JavaScript engine and features an event-driven, nonblocking I/O model that advocates say make it ideal for data-intensive, real-time applications running across distributed devices.

Dahl even sees Node.js displacing Java on servers. "Java got very complicated, and what was really nice about JavaScript two years ago was that it was this very simple language," Dahl says. "It had strings, and it had numbers and functions, but there really wasn't all that [much] else to it." But JavaScript did have capabilities such as closures and anonymous functions, Dahl noted: "That kind of set the stage to introduce a new server paradigm that focuses on nonblocking I/0."

JavaScript founder Brendan Eich, CTO at Mozilla, is not surprised that JavaScript has been extended beyond the browser and into servers. "I expected it because Netscape actually wanted to do that," Eich says. Developers "like a full-stack, end-to-end, one-language development model."

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