Node.Js or Python and why? | Hacker Noon

Node.js vs. Python are two of the most popular back-end technologies available in the market. The critical difference between them is that while Python is a programming language, Node.js isn’t (based on Javascript). It is the perfect framework for microservice architecture, and big companies like Netflix and PayPal have already leveraged it to shift from the monolith to microservices. It is a high-level programming language having numerous tools and packages.

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@gouravkhanaGourav Khanna

Gourav Khanna is technical writer, at APPWRK IT Solutions (P) Ltd.

Photo by Quaritsch Photography on Unsplash

Any business looking to develop an application always faces the dilemma of choosing the right technology among numerous options available in the market.

Since selecting the best technology stack is imperative, It can be challenging to choose between Node.js vs. Python- two of the most popular back-end technologies.

It is critical to use these right back-end technologies concurrent with the project’s use cases to create an efficient application.

This determines the project’s success by evaluating the different parameters like performance, resource consumption, and scalability.

With this article, we will discuss every element of both the back-end technologies platforms to provide you with clear insights.

Table of Contents

  • What is Node.js?
  • Node.js features
  • Pros of Node.js
  • Cons of Node.js
  • What is Python?
  • Features of Python
  • Pros of Python
  • Cons of Python
  • Node.js vs. Python: Head to Head Comparison
  • Scalability
  • Learning curve and syntax
  • Architecture
  • Speed and Performance
  • Dev Tools and Libraries
  • Community
  • Universality
  • Extensibility
  • When to choose Node.js or Python: Table
  • Conclusion

The critical difference between them is that while Python is a programming language, Node.js isn’t (based on Javascript).

For this reason, before moving towards the actual Node.js and Python comparison let’s understand its basics.

What is Node.js?

Node.js is a single-threaded, open-source Javascript runtime environment on Chrome’s V8 that helps you to create swift and scalable web applications.

It uses event-driven, non-blocking I/O architecture making it efficient and excellent for data-intensive real-time applications.

Node.js Features

Here are the key features of Node.js:

Scalable- Being single-threaded, Node.js handles many simultaneous connections with high throughput resulting in vast scalability scope.

Easy – As there are numerous tutorials and a vast developers community, it is often a choice for web development beginners.

Speed- Fast and efficient due to non-blocking thread execution.

Packages- More than one million packages in the NPM community are available today that can simplify your work.

Robust back-end- As Node.js is written in C and C++, it is comparatively fast for running the server and adding new features like networking support.

Multi Platform-With Node.js cross-platform support, you can create websites for SaaS products, desktop, and mobile apps.

Maintainable- As both front-end and back-end use Javascript, Node.js is a common choice among developers.

Pros of Node.js

Rich Tech Stack

As Node.js is based on Javascript, you can access all the Javascript resources, tech stacks, and community.

Moreover, it provides the opportunity to develop with Mean Stacks (a combination of MongoDB, Express.js, Angular, and Node.js.)

Microservice Development

Node.js comes with a package manager having three modules that enable developers to edit multiple modules simultaneously.

Node.js is the perfect framework for microservice architecture, and big companies like Netflix and PayPal have already leveraged it to shift from the monolith to microservices.

Transitioning to microservices helps organizations fragment functionality into smaller parts, leading to better maintenance quality, improved testing, and enabling the update of numerous features simultaneously.

Powerful Ecosystem

The package manager of Node.js contains multiple open-source Javascript plugins. NPM has more than 840,000 libraries, and the developers use these NPM modules in over 97% of the web applications.

Cons of Node.js

Though in Node.js app development, there are many inherited advantages provided by Javascript, it has some disadvantages too. Let’s have a look at the drawbacks of choosing Node.js

Performance Issues

As node.js is built of Javascript syntax, its CPU consumption rate is comparatively low for processing tasks. These CPU bond tasks appear regularly when you use Node.js for back-end runtime.

The structural irregularities of Node.js combined with high load CPU processing constrains the developers and affects the performance negatively.

Immature Tools

In NPM, the less popular modules lack documentation, contain bugs, and are poorly developed. This happens because Node.js is open source. As a result, many of its updates bypass strict quality checks.

Callback

Node.js uses a callback to track the completed tasks. Over time, as the product grows and the count of active processes scales up, this increases callbacks.

Due to this reason, there is a possibility that developers might get lost in callbacks and miss out on critical technical bugs.

What is Python?

Python is one of the oldest back-end programming languages having numerous tools and packages. It is a fully developed, high-level, object-oriented dynamic language.

Python has been around for the last 30 years and consists of multiple libraries, APIs, and ancillary tools.

Features of Python

Let’s have a look now at various features Python provides:

Open source- Being an open-source, free, high-level language, Python is easy to learn and build applications.

Packages- As Python provides many modules, it enables developers to create complex applications with ease.

Multi-paradigm- Python supports object-oriented programming as well as functional and structured programming.

Cross-platform support- Python features cross-platform support that can be written or run in any operating system, Windows, Mac, or Linux.

GUI support- Python supports numerous GUI frameworks for popular libraries, including PyQT, Tkinter, Pygame, which helps create a wide range of applications.

Extensible- As Python is highly versatile, it enables easy integration with C, C++, Java, and other languages.

Pros of Python

All the features mentioned above provide uniqueness to Python and thus attribute various advantages of using it. These are:

Simplicity

Having a simple and highly conversational syntax, The codes written in Python are highly readable.

AI/ML opportunities

Python web development opens the door to Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning opportunities as it provides many in-built AI libraries like Tensorflow, PYlearn2.

Multi Spots Library hosting

Multiple hosting providers allow integration of additional plugins and APIs and extend native support for Python code. For this purpose, you can use several platforms like Digital Option, AWS Heroku, A2 Hosting, etc.

Cons of Python

The universal feature of Python acts as a curse when it comes to web development. Here are some of the drawbacks of availing Python:

Low Speed

Since Python consists of several abstraction layers that require additional processing time, it slows down the speed of managing server-side operations.

Mobile development challenges

If you are looking for hybrid development, Python isn’t a suitable option. It is difficult to use Python for mobile development as neither it is native iOS language nor native Android language.

Though you can use Python for mobile development with frameworks and platforms, it will have relatively slow performance.

Node.js vs. Python: Head to Head comparison

Till now, we have discussed both the technologies in detail with their several features, benefits, and drawbacks.

To help you further make a sound decision, let’s compare both the technologies on different parameters and find the winner among Node.js vs. Python.

Scalability

Scalability is the vertical growth in the resource needs when you scale your web application. You will have a light web application in the initial stage, and any coding environment can work for the task.

Later, when you decide to scale the web application with features and functionalities, the resource consumption of the coding environment also grows equally.

Node.js

Node.js provides enough resiliency to avoid a core. Instead of developing a core and scaling things around it, you can create a set of modules and microservices. 

In the case of scaling the application, these microservices and modules run their own process. Hence in Node.js, adding nodes to the existing ones help you scale the application horizontally while adding the resources enables vertical expansion.

Python

Python is built on Global Interpreter Lock; it cannot operate several threads simultaneously.

This makes the process complex and time-consuming as you cannot run other processes until the sequentially historical process is completed.

Winner: Looking at the flexibility and low maintenance, Node.js is the winner in terms of scalability.

Learning Curve and Syntax

Syntax denotes the efficiency of language or program to perform a set of functions with minimum coding lines possible. It is possible by grouping popular operations together into in-built functions.

This factor is one of the necessary ones as easier syntax is directly proportional to a flatter learning curve.

Node.js

If you are familiar with Javascript, the learning curve for Node.js will not be steep. Some people feel that installation and documentation are a little complex due to Node.js event-driven programming concept.

This concept itself is the reason behind the scalability and efficiency of Node.js

If you are a new developer, it might take some time for you to understand event-driven programming thoroughly.

Python

One of the biggest USPs of Python has been its universality and easy syntax. This fact is known industry-wide that Python’s code length is relatively smaller than Node.js or other prominent programming languages.

It is effortless for you to write code in Python.

Winner: The key issue with both languages is their sensitivity to indentation and whitespace. If you are a new developer, you are more prone to make these errors frequently, and resolving them is tricky.

Though both languages are easy to adopt, it is always better to prefer the one you already know.

Since familiarity is one of the crucial factors, there is no clear winner, and you should solely let your requirements choose for you.

Architecture

Architecture is the set of common principles you need to adhere to the framework.

While Node.js has a single-threaded architecture that can handle multiple requests, Python follows standard implementation known as “CPython,” which uses interchangeable code modules.

Node.js

As noted earlier, Node.js is a runtime environment having server-side asynchronous programming. As a particular process is still underway, the input-output functionality of Node.js is not blocked.

As you can run parallel processes, deploying the application becomes much faster in Node.js. The event-driven architecture enables it to take action when an event occurs.

Python

In contrast to Node.js, Python neither provides the functionalities mentioned earlier nor supports multithreading.

Python is uncompromising, and you have to run and finish one process before moving on to the next.

Though some tools can enable developing asynchronous apps using Python, they still don’t make Python completely asynchronous.

Winner: Due to its conductive and receptive architecture, Node.js is the clear winner in this round.

Speed and Performance

Scaling an application with utmost efficiency can help you significantly reduce costs. Hence, speed and performance are essential considering factors for the program/ language assessment.

Node.js

As we already know that Node.js is a blocking architecture that makes the execution process simpler and faster. Moreover, there is one more advantage with Node.js as it facilitates code execution outside the web browser.

In this way, the app running on a web browser processes faster and performs better on efficiency parameters. It also enables the app to pull features such as TCP sockets, which otherwise are not available on browsers.

Python

Python’s natural architecture restricts multithreading, as a result, creates problems in this aspect too. 

As Python can’t run processes parallel, it slows down the processing speed. Though its syntax is comparatively easy to learn, it isn’t fast enough to recall data from a web server.

Winner: Node.js

Dev Tools and Libraries

Libraries are the reason for the rapid growth of app development technologies in the last few decades. Its concept is straightforward- You don’t need to recreate something that has already been devised as a code. Instead, you can integrate this code directly from the library in your program.

Node.js
Node.js consists of extensive and well-documented libraries that Node Package Manager manages. NPM has the most comprehensive repository of packages in the world, containing more than 350,000 packages.

Python

Pip (Pip Install Packages) manages the libraries in Python. It is a well-known fact that Python’s libraries are well documented and easily deployable, but the case isn’t the same for new libraries. Python’s new libraries are generally not well documented and hence less reliable.

Winner: In this aspect, there is no clear winner as with both the technologies, you get numerous options of libraries and development tools. Both technologies work well in this segment.

Community

 A community of developers plays a crucial role in any technology development. They update popular libraries, add new features and run debugging exercises. Most communities are generally managed by a single dedicated organization for the programming environment.

Node.js

It may be a surprise that Node.js, despite being a newer form of technology, has quite a large and globally active community with experienced developers. It’s effortless to find talent in Node.js circles.

Python

As Python is the older language among the two, it naturally has a larger community. Python isn’t short of talents having junior to senior level contributors. Having such a big community provides the ease of finding developers, and this active participation results in swift solutions.

Winner: Since both languages are continuously growing through global contributions, choosing just for the sake of talent and community support availability shouldn’t factor in your decision.

Universality

In today’s time, web applications can be accessed through several devices. To handle such diverse avenues, it is expected that the development language should also be advanced.

Node.js
Node.js performs exceptionally well on the universality front as it is usable for both front-end and back-end development due to Javascript. Node.js is an all-rounder whether it’s web applications, desktop applications, mobile applications, cloud, and IoT solutions.

Python

Python having a simpler syntax is appropriate for all forms of projects except mobile applications. Python is garnering attention lately in IoT solutions and cloud apps and is being used by more and more programmers.

Winner: As both the technologies are platform-dependent, they can be availed for Mac, Linux, and Windows users’ projects.

Extensibility

Extensibility is the degree of flexibility a language provides to add features using third-party tools. More extensibility across third-party tools results in more additional features in the application.

Node.js

For older version users, Node.js can be combined with Babel for flawless front-end development. While Webpack and PM2 help with module bundling, Jasmine helps with unit-based testing.

Python

Python uses sublime text to edit codes. Other popular frameworks like Django and Web2Py provide other numerous features to the Python framework.

Winner: Comparing both the technologies, Node.js and Python offer great extensibility with many tools available to extend functionalities.

As we have discussed in detail and compared both the platforms on each crucial parameter, there is one more thing left. Though these factors are always important, you cannot ignore your requirements too. Here is a brief table for you to provide a more precise answer on Node.js vs. Python.


When to choose Node.js?

  • For consistently connected applications between browser-side apps and the server.
  • If real-time transmission is important to the app’s usability.
  • For frequent interaction between client-side application and cloud server.

When to choose Python?

  • To efficiently build and deploy an MVP.
  • For rapid app development and iteration.
  • For developers having less experience and technical knowledge.

Conclusion

It can be daunting to choose best in Node.js vs. Python, especially when developing a full-flagged project. The features and advantages of both platforms are immense and can help you with judgment.

While Node.js is the perfect option for creating scalable, streaming web applications and microservices, Python provides optimum solutions for faster time to market and search engine-friendly web development.

For this reason, we recommend dealing with this dilemma by focussing on the end-use of your application. Identify all the features you require for your web application and how you plan to develop them.

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