NODE.JS VS PYTHON: The Great Backend Dilemma

node js vs python Which backend framework is best

The face-off between Node.js and Python is a long due battle. However, your choice of backend should entirely be based on your development requirements. This piece delves into specific metrics for judging the viabilities of Node.js and Python as back-end formats.

The server-side or backend of an application is the very backbone of the project and the client-side runs on it. However pretty and responsive your front-end is, the application falls flat on its face without a robust backend to hold it up. Hence, this leads to an inevitable choice that every developer has to make- what language do you choose for backend development. The ease of use and universality of Javascript has made sure it has no real competitor in front-end development but back-end development is a whole different ball game together.

PHP, Java, C++ – a plethora of programming languages are considered for server-side operations but two of them take away the lion’s share of projects- Python and Node.js. Of course, you must note that Node is not really a programming language but simply a Javascript runtime environment whereas Python is a tried and tested programming language with robust features for three decades now.

But how do you pick a backend language?

Ease of use? Proficiency of developer? Learning curve?

Well, you better not!

Rather, go through the nature, specifications, budget, and requirements of the project to pick the backend language you will go with.

To make this choice easier for you, we have come up with a side by side comparison of Python and Node.js regarding the top specifications to look out for when creating a project- so that you’re very clear with instructions when you are looking for backend development services.

1. Performance and Speed

2. Scalability

3. Universality

4. Architecture

5. Extensibility

6. Libraries

7. Error Handling

8. Community

PERFORMANCE AND SPEED

Starting with the primary feature asked of web and mobile apps – high performance and high speed.

Python:

  • Single flow of code leading to slow processing of requests.
  • Python can be a major letdown if you want a quick recall of data from the server.

Node.js:

  • Much better performance than Python courtesy of the Google-funded V8 engine.
  • You can code outside the web browser using TCP sockets which makes Mode.js more resource-efficient.
  • Node.js development allows caching of fetched data which is unlikely to change, contributing to a higher speed than Python web development.
  • It is responsive and has a lesser loading time.

SCALABILITY

Scalability defines the linear growth of resources required along with an increase in functionalities of an application. This should not be an afterthought- it should be a factor for choosing your backend language right from the get-go.

Python:

  • A major drawback of Python is its use of the Global Interpreter Lock which does not support multi-threading. Though scalability can be increased with imported libraries, unfortunately, it cannot combat the innate scalability of Node.js.

Node.js:

  • Node.js development facilitates multithreading via its asynchronous architecture, leading to easy scalability.
  • Rather than a solid core like Python, Node.js uses a set of modules for its functionalities. Therefore scaling the app would simply mean the addition of a few modules. This is a major reason why it is taking up a chunk of the market share when it comes to backend development languages.

UNIVERSALITY

Universality denotes the number of different applications a programming language has. It is quite difficult to judge which is “more universal” than the other as both have a vast number of use cases and can be used across many platforms.

Python:

  • Python can be used for both front-end and back-end development.
  • It allows cross-platform usage (that is, the same application may be used on Mac, Linux, and Windows.) However, in this case, you will need to install a Python interpreter as well on Windows.
  • Python would be the top choice for IoT and Natural Language Processing(AI and ML), but not so much for mobile app development.

Node.js:

  • One of the primary reasons behind the popularity of Node.js development for backend is the fact that it is a Javascript tool. This allows you to craft both frontend and backend with the same programming language – allowing you to hire one team to do both. So it turns out to be quite efficient in terms of resources.
  • It has cross-platform functionality and the same desktop app can be used on Mac. Linux and Windows OS.
  • Wide range of use cases- web app, mobile app, and even IoT.

Due to the speed and multi-user proficiency, 51% of developers prefer Node.js for web application development. Click To Tweet

ARCHITECTURE

Another critical factor you should check before picking out your backend development language. Architecture is generally of two types- synchronous and asynchronous. Synchronous programming languages do not entertain further requests until the job at hand is done. Asynchronous programming languages, on the other hand, can smoothly run parallel processes.

Python:

  • It is synchronous and hence, slow. So if your project is something like a chatbot, you’d rather not pick Python. However, you can leverage the Python Asyncio library to run parallel processes.
  • It is not event-driven. Again, you can make it event-driven using modules like CPython.

Node.js:

  • Both input and output are asynchronous, asking Node.js development fast and hence the top pick for chatbots and games. It can process several requests and a time and has a mind-boggling speed.
  • It is event-driven.

comparison between node.js and python

EXTENSIBILITY

Extensibility refers to the ease of adding new features and functionalities to a programming language. The more frameworks, data structures, and functions you can tack onto the base language, the more is your functionality.

Python:

Great extensibility with many frameworks for web development makes Python such a rage for backend development.

  • Robot – Framework for acceptance level testing
  • Flask – Web development
  • Web2py – Open-source framework for agile development of data-driven web apps
  • Django – Framework for backend development

Node.js:

The last few years have seen the rise and rise of Javascript and Node and as such, every day, a new framework or tool pops up with Node as a base. Here are the ones most widely used.

  • Babel – Framework for frontend developmentg
  • Jasmin – Testing
  • Log.io – Framework used for project management
  • Webpack – Used for module binding

LIBRARIES

Libraries are a major help in web development. Most websites have thousands of lines of code and developers would prefer to choose a language that would have libraries that can be used to reduce the burden – as code reusability would be key to time-efficient development.

Python has been around for 3 decades and Node for just over 11 years. So does Python have more libraries and documentation? Let’s have a look.

Python:

  • Package manager – PIP
  • PIP has vast documentation and several libraries and this makes it a favorite for developers, along with clean, compact code. However, you should keep in mind that not all of the newer frameworks have that much documentation.

Node.js:

  • Package manager – NPM
  • With 350,000 packages, NPM is the biggest repository on the web.
  • Documentation on Node.js is huge simply because of its popularity. This majorly helps the developer by creating a smooth learning curve for the language.

ERROR HANDLING

Robust error handling has two major benefits :

– clean code for the team to read and debug
– better user experience for customers

So where do Python and Node.js stand in that department?

Python:

  • Strong troubleshooting – Python code is clean and compact and it makes debugging much easier.

Node.js

  • Multithreading abilities help with high performance but since it processes multiple requests simultaneously, runtime exceptions occur often and errors can be difficult to handle.

COMMUNITY

The one area where both Node.js and Python stand on equal pedestals. Both the languages have an avid following and a huge community, such that it is never very difficult to find help!

Python:

  • It is older and hence has a larger community of dedicated developers.

Node.js

  • Though it is not as ancient as Python, Node.js has a large community since it is open-source. Thus, you can always fall back on the community for some support.

USE CASES

Python and Node.js have very specific use cases and going by their pros and cons, we have curated a list of use cases to make this decision seem easier when you go into a project.

Python:

Python development has been around for a while and yet according to a 2019 StackOverFlow survey, it was still the “most loved programming language”, which speaks volumes about its concise code and functionalities. It may be slower than Node.js but the robust troubleshooting, massive documentation, and large community of developers has made it a favorite among engineering students and science graduates for their projects.

  • Big Data
  • DevOps and Testing Automation
  • Science and engineering
  • Government technical projects

Big names using Python: Reddit, Facebook, Google

Node.js:

Node.js development is the route for you if your project is data-intensive or requires transmission of real-time information as the data streaming efficiency is much better compared to Python. It may also be used for projects requiring heavy client-side functionalities and utilization of firm resources.

  • E-commerce stores
  • Games and 3D Graphics
  • Content Management Systems
  • Chatbots

Big names using Node.js: LinkedIn, PayPal, Netflix

The Node vs Python dilemma has been doing the rounds for a while and since both are still going strong, this issue will persist. Rest assured, both are excellent choices for their particular use cases. If you need a memory intensive, data-intensive project which does not need too much code, go for Node. It is designed in a way that small projects can make up a larger one and no huge program needs to be written – just like nodes make up a tree. Just ensure that you pick an team experienced with writing clean codes while you hire node.js developers.

Read More : 7 Questions to Ask Before You Hire a Node.js Development Team

On the other hand, if you are gunning for a larger project with many integrations and calculations, Python’s clean code and syntax will be a life-saver.

But you will not be able to leverage either of these languages unless you look for a backend development company in earnest. It is of paramount importance that you rope in an experienced Python developer or a top-rated Node.js development company to make sure you have been able to extract as many functionalities as you could from these languages.

With the right team and right backend language, you’re halfway to success already!

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Jaydeep Patadiya is a senior business development manager at Radixweb and always has the answer to- what's on the mind of the customers? In an industry that is fundamentally changing, he helps customers make the right decisions by connecting the right dots and adopt new technologies. Beyond work, he prepares for upcoming marathon races.