The term “Node.js” has taken over the Internet by storm almost suddenly in recent years. Are you surprised by its rapid popularity and wondering whether you should try it in your web development projects?
Well, you have made the right decision. In the following sections, we will discuss why implementing this new platform is an excellent idea in terms of speed as compared to other similar solutions.
What Exactly is Node.js?
The open-source and cross-platform server environment of Node.js enables web developers or any mobile app development company to efficiently use it to build networking and server-side applications. Node.js runs on several platforms, including Windows, macOS, Linux, Unix, and others.
What’s more, Node.js comes with an easy learning curve and a large active community, which is especially helpful for beginners. This is the reason why popular brands like PayPal, Uber, and LinkedIn have been talking about the platform these days, praising its efficient performance and impressive results.
Why is Node.js so fast?
What’s concerning web developers is how Node.js performs with such efficiency and execution speed. To answer this question, let’s dive into the real meaning of the term, “execution speed”.
Executive speed can depend on a range of factors, including querying databases, Fibonacci sequence calculations, and so on. Apart from that, in the world of web services, the execution speed includes everything ranging from sending a response to the customer to processing various requests.
Basically, execution speed can be defined as the time spent in processing a request and it begins from initiating or establishing a connection or ticket and ends when the connected consumer receives the desired response.
Other factors contributing to the speed of Node.js include –
- The platform is single-threaded and asynchronous in nature. It means that all I/O operations won’t block other tasks, and therefore multiple operations can be performed simultaneously. Therefore, any js development company would now be able to read files, send emails, query databases, and perform other activities all at the same time, without hassle.
Well, in layman’s terms, we can safely say that the virtual machine helps all the essential functions to get compiled efficiently into the machine code, hence enhancing the overall execution speed. It is because the virtual machine of V8 is able to take the source code for compiling it into the appropriate machine code during runtime.
How to Make My Node.js Application Faster?
If you are planning to incorporate Node.js in your next web or application development project, here are some tips for you to make your app run unbelievably faster.
1. Go Asynchronous
In Node.js, asynchronous code is said to be the non-blocking form of programming as it can execute seamlessly without waiting for any external resources (I/O) to be ready. It is opposed to the synchronous code, in which the program is paused until all the necessary resources are available. Therefore, it is also known as the “blocking” form of programming.
The Node.js runtime has a single-threaded design, because of which synchronous code can lock the entire website or app. Most of the file system APIs, for instance, have their own synchronous counterparts.
However, if you conduct a long-running operation, your principle thread will be blocked and remain so until the operation is completed. And it only hampers the entire speed and performance of your app.
This is why you will see most professional mobile app development services are more concerned about using asynchronous APIs in their codes, at least in the critical sections of the app’s performance.
Further, we would recommend you choose your third-party modules carefully. Sometimes it so happens that an external library or collection can end up making asynchronous calls, which in turn affects your app’s speed and performance. And sadly, this may occur even after taking all the major precautions of preventing asynchronous code. So, choose your libraries wisely!
2. Make Multiple Functions Run in Parallel
While managing web app development projects, you may need to create multiple internal API calls for extracting a number of different data. Let’s take the example of a user dashboard. At the time of rendering the dashboard, let’s say, you are executing the below-mentioned hypothetical calls, such as –
Now, for retrieving the above information, you may build a separate middleware per function and attach the same to the dashboard route. However, there is one problem with this approach: each of these functions has to wait until the previous one is executed. Therefore, it’s advisable that you execute all these calls simultaneously in parallel.
Node.js is an efficient platform known for running multiple operations in parallel, and it is only possible due to its asynchronous nature. It means that no function depends upon one another and hence, is executed independently. Web developers must take advantage of this nature and run multiple functions at the same time to reduce downtime, eliminate all unnecessary middlewares, and enhance performance.
3. Use Caching
Caching is a popular technique that helps to improve application speed and performance. It is generally done on both the server-side and the client-side. The latter refers to the temporary storing of various data like CSS stylesheets, HTML pages, JS scripts, and other multimedia contents.
Client-side caching also enables you to optimize your data costs by storing all the commonly referenced data locally, that is, on a content delivery network (CDN) or the browser. You probably have seen the term “cache” numerous times in your browser. Therefore, one good example of client-side caching is when your web browser locally stores all your frequently used data.
The whole purpose of caches is that when a user visits a website and revisits it again after a few days, s/he won’t need to wait for the page to load all its resources, which s/he may have done in the first visit. Hence, these speed improvements for revisiting users if you use client caches.
And this entire process that we discussed just now is made possible by HTTP through cache headers, which are of two types – a) Expires and b) Cache-Control: max-age. While the former refers to the date on which the website resources need to be requested again, the latter specifies the time (in seconds) for which the said resource remains valid.
4. Go for Client-Side Rendering, Whenever Possible
Today, with the advent of powerful client-side frameworks like AngularJS, Meteor, Ember, etc., it has become a lot easier for web app developers to build one-page applications. On the client-side rendering process, one can use frameworks to consume and display JSON on the UI.
In fact, you can simply expose APIs, which can provide JSON responses to the client, and hence, there is no need for a rendering. Besides, you can save bandwidth if you send JSON directly from the server, thus boosting speeds since there’s no need to send layout markup for every request. Just sending plain JSON will be enough, after which it will be rendered on the client-side.
5. Turn OnGZip Compression
GZip is a lossless data compression process that enables users to extract the original data after it is unzipped or decompressed. This compression method is typically used by web browsers and servers to compress and decompress data seamlessly while it is being transmitted over the Internet.
If you turn on the GZip compression feature, you can experience a great impact on the overall performance of your app. And why is that so? Well, whenever a GZip compatible browser makes a resource request, the server can reduce the response size through compression. If a GZip is not used for compressing one’s static resource, the browser will take a much longer time to fetch the response.
6. Avoid Storing Too Much Data in Sessions
In any typically Express application, the session data gets stored in the memory by default. If you store a lot of data in the session, a huge amount of overhead gets added to the server. Therefore, in such cases, you can opt for another type of storage solution to manage your stored data.
Alternatively, you can attempt to reduce the amount of data being stored in the session. A good practice is to store only the “id” of a visitor who logs into your app rather than noting down the entire information in the session. On every request made, you can simply retrieve the object or the entire information from the “id” itself, thus saving time and increasing speed.
7. Opt for Standard V8 Functions
Certain operations like the “reduce”, “map”, “forEach” libraries aren’t supported in all operating systems or browsers. But there’s a way to overcome this browser incompatibility issue. For instance, some Node.js development services are using a few client-side collections on the front end.
8. Implement SSL/TLS and HTTP/2
While developing your Node.js application, you can use HTTP/2, a revised HTTP network protocol that helps to optimize web experience specifically for mobile users by implementing high levels of security and boosting performance. By using HTTP/2, you can hasten and simplify the entire web browsing experience of the user while also minimizing bandwidth usage.
Moreover, this upgraded protocol of HTTP/2 focuses on performance improvements and can even solve issues associated with the previous version of HTTP/1.x. Some of the popular features of HTTP/2 are –
- Header compression: It eliminates all unwanted headers and ensures that all HTTP headers are transferred in a compressed format.
- Multiplexing: This feature enables various requests to retrieve response messages and resources simultaneously in a single TCP connection. Besides, the aim of multiplexing is to reduce the total number of requests being made to the server.
Further, it must be noted that the time taken in building an HTTP connection is generally higher than the time required to transfer the data itself. Therefore, to use HTTP/2 efficiently, you should implement TLS (Transport Layer Security) and SSL (Secure Socket Layer) protocols.
9. Try Load Balancing
If you are developing performance applications capable of handling a huge number of incoming connections, then I am sure you may have faced a lot of challenges! There is a common solution to this issue, that is, to distribute the traffic for balancing the connections. Hence, the name load balancing.
The good news is, Node.js enables web developers to duplicate an app or program instance for handling more connections. You can do this either using only one multicore server or through multiple servers, and both approaches work well.
In order to scale your Node.js application on a multicore server, the best way would be to utilize the introduced cluster module, each of which can give rise to new processes known as “workers” (created on a one worker-one CPU core basis).
These workers can again run simultaneously and get connected seamlessly to a single master process. Therefore, it enables the processes to share one server port, thus behaving as a single multithreaded Node.js server.
You can also use the cluster module to facilitate load balancing and distribute the incoming connections as per a round-robin strategy (a brainstorming strategy that enables a team to generate new ideas without being influenced by other members) across all the workers present over the multiple CPU cores of an environment.
There’s another efficient approach that utilizes the PM2 process manager for keeping your applications active for a lifetime. This process also helps reduce downtime since the app gets reloaded whenever a code change or other errors appear.
10. Optimize Your Data Handling Methods
For any web development project, optimization is key, and even the best web development company must abide by that. How well your website or app would perform depends on how efficiently you handle and optimize your vital data.
You may be wondering what you can possibly optimize in a Node.js website or application, as it is already performing at its best compared to other similar solutions. But yes, there are still certain areas that should be optimized for better performance, such as your data handling methods.
Even the seemingly fast and efficient Node.js programs or applications can experience downtime and low speeds due to CPU/IO-driven operations, including a slow API call or a database query. Further, in most Node.js apps, the data fetching process is carried out through an API request followed by a returned response. You need to optimize this process. But how?
- Pagination: One commonly used approach is pagination that involves the separation of responses into individual content batches. One can easily browse these batches through selective response requests. Users can also use the pagination procedure to optimize the response as well as maintain a larger amount of data being passed to the end client simultaneously.
- Filtering: This is another effective method that especially restricts the results through the requester’s criteria itself. This method reduces the entire number of calls being made and the number of results being shown. What’s more, the filtering approach enables you to decide very precisely whether the resources are delivered based on your requirements.
These two are also the most commonly seen concepts in REST API web development projects.