NodeJS vs GO: What to choose for backend development?

Let’s compare NodeJS and Go to see what comes on top for your backend development project.

6 min read
Jun 29, 2022

The backend is undoubtedly the most vital part of any application, which helps bring necessary operations to life and keeps business logic working. The front-end UI is only the first part of the equation of building a whole web application. Several factors define the quality of an app, such as its ability to perform and scale smoothly and overall system security.

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Tech stack for backend development has many options, like Ruby, Node.js, Go, Python, PHP, etc. Having a clear understanding of facts about each of these technologies is essential to picking the right set of tools. All of this depends directly on the backend of the application.

Node and Go both are relatively new and growing in terms of popularity. But which is the best for backend development? Let’s dive in to find out which fits best for your project backend.

What is Node.Js?

Node.js is an open-source javascript runtime environment built on Google Chrome’s V8 Javascript engine. After its introduction in 2009,Node.js has become a popular tool for building cross-platform applications.

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Node.js extends the limits of javascript beyond web browsers and is a perfect tool for building server-side business logic. It is currently the backbone of almost all modern JavaScript tooling.

Its non-blocking I/O architecture allows developers to build a highly scalable, lightweight, and fast application. Top companies of the modern age like Netflix, Trello, and Linkedin are using Node.js for their applications.

NodeJS is written in Javascript, making it easier for developers to write client-side and server-side scripts using a single language. It is supported by Windows, Mac, Linux, and Unix and has plenty of libraries that simplify the web development process.

What is GOLANG?

Golang, popularly called GO, is an open-source statically typed multi-purpose programming language by Google in 2007. Its syntax shows similarities with the C programming language.

It allows safe memory usage, object management, and better garbage collection. Codes written in GO are compiled directly into machine codes, and the language favors speed and efficiency.

Go works best for cloud-based interfaces, networking applications, real-time development, and other microservices. It is a structurally solid and effective way of handling concurrent programming and is preferred for its dynamic interfaces.

It is predicted that there will be more use cases for Go. 19% of DevOps are planning to use Go in the future, a 9% increase from 10% of the current usage of Go.

Pros and Cons of Node.js and Go

Pros of Node.js

  • Efficiency is one of the main strengths of Node.js. It runs on the Google V8 Javascript engine, which breaks Javascript into more minor machine codes. This eliminates the need for an interpreter.
  • Google is putting effort into increasing the efficiency, security, and performance of the V8 Javascript engine, which directly benefits Node.js applications.
  • Node.js makes it easy to build scalable applications. Its native APIs like worker_threads, child_process, and clusters can handle multiple requests. Node/js reduce the development time and allow developers to create reusable codes or components.
  • More than 836,000 reusable components are available via NPM, a package manager within the Node.js ecosystem.
  • Node.js works well on server-side applications that need to handle multiple requests without burdening the node. The architecture of Node.js ensures stable connections between the client and server applications. If you are developing applications like video chats or online messenger, Node.js might be the right choice.
  • Also, the javascript market is completely saturated with programmers. A Node.js developer earns an average salary of $91,198 a year.

Pros of Go

  • On the other hand, Go shines with its simplicity as a programming language. Since Google introduced Go, developers have trusted and adopted the language widely.
  • Also, the syntax is similar to C/C++, so developers need not go through an extensive manual to understand the language and can quickly master it.
  • Go also supports garbage collection, memory management, and other features usually available in high-level languages.
  • Go prevents memory leaks when developers forget to release memory from redundant objects manually.
  • The talent associated with Go is overgrowing. A community is going on for Go, and libraries and tools are being developed and tested.
  • Golang is one of the fast-growing languages. Developers are jumping into the industry and are in great demand. The average salary of a Go developer is $117,394 a year.

Cons of Node.js

  • Node.js is not suitable for heavy CPU-bound requests.
  • It has an ecosystem that is supported by various open-source tools and libraries. You need to be dependent on third-party developers for such devices.
  • Developers can encounter reliability and performance issues when using these tools. It directly affects the application you are building. Also, some poor quality of node.js packages makes it concerning.

Cons of Go

Comparing Node.js and Go

Now we know the basics of both, it’s time to dive into comparing them and find the best fit for your project.

Performance

It is the prominent feature that differentiates Node.js and Golang. Golang performs at a high level in terms of speed and memory management. Their memory management tools, like Garbage collectors, thrive on a solid yet straightforward structure.

Node.js is only trailing a little with GO in performance. An improved single-threaded Node.js boosts efficiency as it ensures that the application runs without needing an interpreter.

In 2016, Uber even migrated from Node.js to Go to enhance their micros services. Go’s statically typed, and raw CPU performance suited Uber’s Algorithms better, and multi-threading provides smoother usage of resources.

On the other hand, PayPal released a report that they switched operations from Java to Node.js, which led to a 35% decrease in average response time and served pages 200ms faster with this new stack.

Still, Golang has better raw performance and stability, but both have substantial benefits in the workplace.

Concurrency

Concurrency is an essential factor for enterprise-scale apps and apps that receive thousands of requests simultaneously. The more concurrent an app is, the less chance of the app being crashed under a considerable load.

Node.js handles concurrency with APIs like worker_thread, clusters, and child_process, ensuring that incoming requests are processed reliably.

While Go is built to handle concurrent tasks, GoRoutines allow applications to run multi-threaded functions without compromising RAM. It makes GO a better candidate for processing intense jobs without affecting its functionalities. Rob Pike, the creator of Go, says that Go is an excellent tool for large software projects.

Community

Since both Node.js and Go are open source, whole communities are engaged in improving these languages, fixing bugs, and creating new proposals and packages. Both have their repositories on GitHub.

As of 2018, the number of Node.js downloads has crossed the 1 billion mark. It indicates how widespread Node.js is and the community is supporting its usage.

Go has similar signs in terms of popularity and has 83.2k stars on Github. However, Node.js has 24000 closed PR, and Go only has 1200. It clearly shows a massive difference in the community development of both technologies. Thus, Node.js wins here.

Error Handling

Go demands developers to implement explicit error checking. The compile-time and run-time errors are handled differently, raising developers’ problems. Compilation errors are often syntax related and can be rectified in code.

In August 2018, Go developers announced the development of Go 2, which will possibly include additional support for error handling.

On the other hand, Node.js implements the traditional throw catch error mechanism, which is popular among programmers and developers. In this process, the errors are displayed and corrected immediately before performing further operations.

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Conclusion

The above points prove that it isn’t easy to decide which is better, Node.js or Go. It greatly depends on the type and characteristics of the app we are building. Both technologies are good at different things.

If you are familiar with javascript, then using Node.js makes complete sense. But if you are not good with javascript, Golang is an absolute must for development.

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