Java vs Node.js
What do we expect when watching a tarantula fighting a scorpion? Anyone can win or lose. Or is there a way one will escape?
Is there a winner and who will lose then? Intrigued? Let’s get it started!
“Node.js extends the creative potential of people with web development experience, enabling a new generation of developers to create servers, command-line tools, desktop apps, and even robots.”
“Today, Java not only permeates the Internet but also is the invisible force behind many of the applications and devices that power our day-to-day lives.”
Java was conceived by James Gosling and the “Green Team” in 1991. In many ways, Java was the trailblazer. It brought the very first example of a successful implementation on different devices, demonstrating cross-platform capabilities, stability, and efficiency. Today it is one of the most popular and most adopted programming languages in the world:
We have previously discussed Java in this article.
IO is decrypted as an Input/Output communication model. Basically, it describes the process of entering or displaying the data and refer to the data itself entered into or shown by the computer.
There are two types of I/O calls: blocking and non-blocking. Blocking IO means that a thread cannot do anything more until the IO is fully received. Non-blocking IO means that while a thread assists an IO request, it can handle the others, with no waiting for the implementation of each (if needed, the request is queued straight away and processed later).
Node apps are asynchronous and non-blocking. In other frameworks such as ASP.NET and Django (which are synchronous and blocked), you can make them asynchronous, but it’ll require extra efforts. So, comparing to those guys, in Node we don’t have to do anything extra.
On the other hand, Java has a blocking way of communication. The developer here is going to wait for every IO request or need to fire off a thread per request. While for non-blocking he can send off multiple requests.
Basically, it looks like that:
In synchronous I/O, a thread assists a request and enters a wait state until this request is completed. Asynchronous type allows a thread to continue processing another request until the operation is complete, and decreases the time of implementation.
To sum up, blocking provides linear programming, easiness to code and less control. And non-blocking is parallel programming, more difficult to code and more control.
In current Java versions, both synchronous and asynchronous processes are available (depending on the method, class, and object being called).
Node.js is single-threaded, what means that we have one thread to deal with all requests. Once a request arrives, that thread is used to handle it. If you need to query a database, a thread doesn’t need to wait for a database to return the data. While a database is executing our query, that single thread will be used to serve another request.
When the database finished its job, it puts a message in the Event Queue. Node is continuously monitoring this queue, and after it finds the event, just takes it out and process it. This kind of architecture makes Node ideal for I/O-intensive apps that include a lot of disk or network access, therefore we can serve more clients, without the need of throwing more hardware. And that is why Node applications are highly scalable.
But here comes a disadvantage: while performing the calculations to serve one client, other clients have to wait. For that reason Node shouldn’t be used for CPU-intensive applications (video encoding, image manipulation service etc.).
On the other hand, Java is multithreaded what means that several tasks may be performed simultaneously within a program.
Multithreaded programming has been smoothly integrated into Java, while in other languages, operating system-specific procedures have to be called in order to enable multithreading.
Basically, multithreading helps applications perform better. So, for large-scale projects that involved concurrency, Java is highly recommended whereas Node.js does not handle the thread as well as Java does. This is the weakest point of the JS environment.
The final results on the overall efficiency of both Node.js and Java we’ll observe through the following benchmark:
Java shows itself quite well: it spends rather less time on handling requests than Node.js.
According to StackOverflow, the global usage of this environment breaks the records:
Rising from 8%, it hits 26% in 4 years and still moving upwards.
The number of countries that welcome programming as the main source of future development is still growing. And America is currently one of the most progressive “employers” in the world:
Companies that use Node.js, by the revenue:
In the meantime, Java has been here for more than 20 years and still in demand:
Top programming languages for 2018 (Sources: Tiobe, IEEE, Stack Overflow, PYPL Index)
Programming may be compared to what is happening in the fashion industry: some languages fade away, some have just begun to shine. People want their new tools to be more simple and omnipresent. And that is the answer why so many people got hooked on Java in the late 90’s.
Well, the story hasn’t changed that much: Java is still a cross-platform language that can be applied on various platforms and for diverse purposes. See what countries Java has successfully inhabited:
Nevertheless, the market is constantly changing. Such giants as C and C++ are not utilized the way they used to be 20 years back. Java is stable, secure and reliable - these features make modern IT companies say ‘yes’. The following TIOBE index graph displayed the total attitude:
The companies that use the language often serve as a trustworthy guarantee that the tool is reliable and useful.
So, there are main things Node is used for:
“When web companies grow up they turn into Java shops”
Java is used in tech, government, finance, healthcare, insurance, education, manufacturing, defense etc. 90% of Fortune 500 companies use Java for their backend architecture. Yet, because of its speed and scalability, many startups facing rapid growth use Java to power their tools as well. According to iDataLabs, companies that use Java are: 70% small (<$50M in revenue), 13% medium-sized ($50M - $1000M), and 7% large (>$1000M).
Today Java is used for:
- The Internet of Things,
- Big data technologies,
- E-commerce websites,
- High-frequency financial trading platforms,
- Scientific applications, etc.
Java is the brains behind Gmail and also powers Android, which is the most widely used OS on earth.
So, to sum the things up, what’s so special about Node.js:
- Easy to get started
- Great for prototyping and agile development
- Can be applied for building superfast and highly scalable services - it is already used by such titanic companies as PayPal, Uber, Netflix, Walmart and so on
- Build twice as fast as Java with fewer people
- In the story with PayPal changes, Node uses 33% fewer lines of code and 40% fewer files, in comparison with the previous Java-based application
- Node.js doubles the number of requests served per second while decreasing the average response time by 35%
- Node uses the largest ecosystem of open-source libraries available to anyone (no need of spending time on building infrastructure from scratch, instead you’ll focus on the core of the application)
- Node.js is an event-driven (the server only reacts when an event occurs) and non-blocking environment. That makes it lightweight and efficient, perfect for data-intensive real-time apps.
And about good old Java:
- Java is relatively simple
- It is supported by all the devices and OS exist today
- Incredible breadth of libraries reduce your workload
Basically, It is a set of precoded classes and methods, that solve typical problems. Without them, you just reinvent the wheel.
- Bottom-up security. Built-in language security features enforced by the Java compiler and virtual machine that make Java one of the most trustworthy languages for the enterprise, financial, scientific and web development.
- Java shows better results in its performance, gradually improved by each update.
- Robustness. ‘Robust code’ means that your program takes into account all the possibilities of an error - all situations are handled by the code.
- Java is really good at integration - there are specifications and implementations for integrating with many kinds of systems that you're likely to run into in an "enterprise" environment.
- Java has always supported for client-side technologies just as JSP, and JSTL. These technologies help developers write dynamic web content much faster.
- Java is a mature language, therefore more stable and predictable. The Java Class Library enables cross-platform development.
Node.js extends the creative potential of people with web development experience, enabling a new generation of developers to create servers, command-line tools, desktop apps, and even robots. The fact that Node.js community doubles in size each year proves the necessity of a space that allows everyone to develop the future.
However, Java’s been challenging its rivals past 20 years and still has the fire in the eyes. Because of Java's robustness, ease of use, cross-platform capabilities and security features, it has become a language of choice for providing worldwide Internet solutions.
Java is a technology that helps to develop applications for a wide range of environments, from consumer devices to heterogeneous enterprise systems, as well as all kinds of Android apps, desktop apps, and video games. Plus, it’s also good as a server-side language for backend development.
A virtually omnipresent language, it’s used in devices such as smartphones, automobiles, medical devices, and E-readers, as well as many of the world’s most prominent websites like eBay, Linkedin, Amazon, Facebook, and Google.