Thoughts on Node

I’ve been watching NodeJS for a while now. I thought that I wanted to get into Ruby on Rails for personal projects, since it is a cleaner version of the OO paradigm I’m used to with Java. But I’ve also been doing a lot of client-side JavaScript, using both JQuery UI and ExtJS.

After several false starts, Rails was just not sticking. It’s not the fault of either the language or framework, both of which are exceptional. It’s more a case of the whole “OO MVC” web stack is just feeling old. So I decided to update my Node and NPM installs and take a look at web development through a different lens.

Node stuck. I haven’t had this much fun coding in a long time. Node feels like what Java felt like in the JDK 1.1.x days. It has a lean API and begs to do anything you can throw at it. And like early Java, it is moving at the speed of light. The number of new projects popping up on GitHub around NodeJS is staggering.

Since I’m playing with web stuff, I’ve mostly been looking at the Express stack. It’s a lot like Sinatra for Ruby, but with JavaScript syntax instead of Ruby. It’s also very quick to code with. I’m using NodeJS and Express with Redis, and it’s a blast. I’m working on a sample project using JQuery Mobile just to get the hang of it.

The biggest surprise with NodeJS is how quickly the ecosystem is growing. GitHub and NodeJS projects were made for each other. You can now host Node applications on Heroku and Cloud Foundry. The package management system (NPM) is tight and easy to learn. The biggest shock was that Microsoft is even getting on board with helping to port NodeJS to Windows.

JavaScript is now the place to be playing and NodeJS really does make it possible to do it end to end. I’m having a lot of fun digging in to it, and we’ll see where it carries me.

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