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Node.js is the web’s latest server-side programming language, only 4 years old and has already been adopted by web giants like Google, Microsoft and Ebay. Bringing javascript out of the clientside-scape and into the server environment, it’s a concept that is quite radically different and is yet another example of how today we jump from one technology to another. 10 years ago the hype was PHP, 3 years ago it was HTML5 and CSS3 and now it’s Node.js

But don’t be confused, it’s not a javascript library or file like its name may suggest – its a fully fledged language that servers can execute, although only after a relatively complex installation procedure – and most hosting providers still don’t have it available yet. Despite this it is indeed the future, with some of the most promising future platforms like Ghost – the all new blogging platform – being built on it. Let’s take a look at why:

1. It’s Fast and Extremely Scaleable

Compared to other server programming languages such as PHP, Ruby and Python – Node.js is a powerhouse, it simply blows them away. This is because of something called the “Event Loop.” Instead of querying and requesting every second like other systems, which can be and is extremely resource-intensive, Node just simply transmits the data when it exists. This is a lot faster than the client having to query everything, which is why large scale platforms like Microsoft Azure, Paypal and Uber are being built upon it. This works similar to the human conversation, your brain doesn’t send signals to a person talking to you, it just simply receives the information. This means that you can build applications that can rapidly scale up to millions of users, instead of the server being bogged down with query after query – it’ll just send the information as and when it exists. Bringing Javascript to the server environment was one hell of an idea.

2. Still works with MySQL

With pretty much of all the internets applications storing their database in the SQL format, porting existing applications or building new ones to a new system would be pretty traumatic – it would be impossible in fact. The good news it still works with SQL meaning all the usual database goodness, like synchronisation, tables etc. are still intact. This is great news as instead of having to learn, yet another database technology – it uses one you already know! Rather ironically we’ll all still be using PHPMyAdmin to access our databases – yea, someone should get to work building a Node database app – then we’ll all feel less blasphemous and traitor-y.

3. You already know how to use it

The chances are if your reading this, your a web developer of some sort. So you most likely no Javascript, which is great news, it means you already know how to use Node! Since Node.js is pretty much pure Javascript JSON (JS Object Notation) except it just executes in the server environment, you’ll be able to get coding straight away. In contrast to the introduction of other new technologies or refreshes like Ruby, Python or CSS3 you won’t be required to learn anything new. Although it is strongly recommended that you read up on some documentation, so that you at least have a vague idea of what you’re doing!

4. Turn your web app into a desktop application

Due to the development of recent plugins in the Node development scape it’s now possible to package all your HTML, CSS and Javascript into a desktop application that is both downloadable and executable by your audience. The exact same code and system you’ve been building using web languages can easily be built into an application which launches within the users computer systems.

If you interested in getting started in Node.js development, head over to their site here: http://nodejs.org/

Have any thoughts of your own? Leave them in the comments below or tweet us @webdevsco