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Node.js vs Python: A Comparative Guide to Top Web Backend Development Tools

When it comes to web backend development, Node.js and Python are two of the best tools used today. While both have grown in popularity over the years, the comparison between Node.js vs Python still remains. With the former being one of the best tools for server development and the latter being one of most commonly used programming languages, it might seem as though both are on equal footing.

In this article, we look at both tools’ pros and cons from a technical and industry perspective to determine how they fare against each other.

What is Python?

Before we delve deeper into the Node vs Python debate, let’s first dissect each of them. Because of its popularity and place in the programming industry, the question “What is Python programming” isn’t asked anymore by programming experts. However, for those looking for a quick refresher or for those completely new to programming, an introduction might be necessary.

Python is an object-oriented, dynamic, high level, multipurpose programming language first developed in 1991. It is the programming language of choice for AI development, big data, scientific computing, automation, and back-end development. The programming language has been frequently used by experts to code because of its capacity to process large amounts of data, comprehend difficult calculations, and use AI and automation. The language itself has been used for several coding projects. There are several projects that use Python for mobile app development, making it a testament to the language’s versatility and complexity.

Some of the key features of the programming language are:

Simplicity

As a language, Python is quite easy to learn compared to other programming languages. Its syntax is considered to be simple and conversational, making its code files highly readable. 

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AI development and machine learning opportunities

Python has a lot of built in AI libraries such as Plylearn 2, Tensorflow, and Scikit-learn for neural networks and data analysis.

Multiple library hosting spots

Python has a wide array of open-source data analysis tools, web frameworks, and testing instruments, making it one of the largest ecosystems in the programming community. Because of this, many hosting providers support Python codes and allow integrating APIs and additional plugins. This makes Python one of the most convenient languages to use for programmers as it allows them the flexibility to do their codes and to use other popular platforms such as AWS, A2 Hosting, TMDHosting, Digital Option, and Heroku to name a few.

The simplicity of Python allows both experienced and beginner programmers to create complex codes. If you’re looking for individuals that can maximize Python and create innovative codes and programs, then it’s always a good option to go with Python development outsourcing.

Image credits to Canva

What is Node.js?

You can’t really do a proper comparison between Node.js vs Python for web development without discussing the salient features of the two. In the previous section, Python’s details were discussed, thus for this section we discuss the features of the Node.js.

First things first, it should be clarified that Node.js is not a programming language like Python. It is an open-sourced runtime environment based on Javascript that was initially released in 2009. Using a non-blocking, event driven I/O model, developers can build backend and front end with a single unified stack. It is a great option for real time web projects. Designed for web development, Node.js has several advantages that address the problems of webdev such as fast performance, regular library tool updates, flexible syntax, and efficient code sharing.

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Here are some of the salient features of Node.js:

Powerful tech stack

Because it is based on JavaScript, using Node.js allows you access to the JS tech stack, resources, and community. Using Node.js also allows you to develop using the MEAN Stack. 

The components of MEAN Stack and its specific functions are as follows:

  • MangoDB can be used for data management;
  • Express.js is usually used for efficient back end development;
  • Angular can be used for front-end, running JS code to create a dynamic user interface;
  • and finally, Node.js is used for backend JavaScript development.

Fast event-based model

Since Node.js uses event-based programming to perform operational algorithms that aren’t tied to user actions, Node.js is a faster model. In fact, it is estimated to be 2 to 3 times faster than Java, PHP, and Go. With just a click of a button, the program can quickly present a new page, send a new message, or display new content. 

Microservice development flexibility

With Node.js, developers can edit multiple modules simultaneously because it has a package manager with free modules. This is essentially perfect for microservice architecture. A transition like this allows companies to divide functionality, improve testing and maintenance quality, and simultaneously update for several features thanks to the non-blocking nature of Node.js.

Rich ecosystem

With over 840,000 libraries in the Node.js package manager, Node.js has one of the biggest collections of open source JS plugins. Developers utilizing the Node.js use these NPM modules such that it is used in more than 97% of web applications.

Image credits to Canva

Node.js vs Python for Web Development: Which is better?

The Node.js vs Python debate can be settled by looking at the following factors:

  • Speed
  • Architecture 
  • Syntax
  • Scalability
  • Extensibility
  • Libraries

Below is a brief but detailed comparison of the two development tools:

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Node.jsPython
SPEEDfaster due to the V8 engine, event-based architecture, and single module cachingrelatively slower because of the single flow
ARCHITECTUREnon-blocking and event-drivennot event-driven
SYNTAXsimilar to your browser’s JavaScriptsimple and compact
SCALABILITYeasily scalable horizontally and verticallynot easily scalable
EXTENSIBILITYhas a wide array of available toolshas a wide array of available tools
LIBRARIESmanaged with NPM; fast, reliable, and understandablemanaged with Pip; fast, reliable, and understandable
UNIVERSALITYback-end only for mobile, desktop, and webfront-end and back-end for mobile, desktop, and web
LEARNING CURVEvery easy for someone with background in JavaScriptvery easy for someone with even a minor technical background
COMMUNITYlargelarge

Both tools are very powerful, which is why most experts use these categories to compare and determine what suits their needs better. When it comes to extensibility, libraries, community, and learnability, both tools are on par with each other. However, Python has an edge when it comes to universality as it allows front-end development. Node.js, on the other hand, has an upper hand in terms of speed and scalability.

Can Node.js replace Python?

Node.js is a highly complex programming tool that is highly useful for web back-end development. However, despite this complexity it does not come close to Python’s power as a programming language. Thus, because of these conditions, it cannot really be said that Node.js will replace Python definitively. 

Which is better: Node.js vs Python?

When it comes to programming and development, Node.js and Python rank among the top tools for 2021. The question remains though, Node.js vs Python: which is better?

The answer to this question is still highly dependent on what you want to accomplish and which apps you’re using it on. If you’re using the tool on an application that has numerous concurrent requests, heavy client-side rendering, or frequent data shuffling from a client to a server, then you should probably be using the Node.js. Note however that you won’t be able to use it on applications that require a lot of CPU resources.

Similarly, if you’re looking to develop both small and large projects, then the best option will always be Python. This programming language can be used on various applications involving data analysis, data visualization, recognition systems, image-processing software, neural networks, and machine learning systems. Python lets you go through a wide range of applications, making it an incredibly versatile language.