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August 24, 2021

Node.Js Vs Python: Which One Should You Pick for Your Next Web Application

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When starting a new project such as a web application, several options come to our mind: Python, Node.js, PHP, Java, Ruby, and Go. And if they don’t, this is the right time to learn. Each of these languages has series of characteristics and uses that make it distinct from the rest.

Today we are going to dive into the Node.js vs Python debate, but this won’t give you a final verdict about which is best among the two. It is going to be an opinion of a programmer who has been lucky enough to work on several projects with both Python and Node.js.

So, let’s start!

A little about them

To begin with, I would say that both Python and Node.js (Javascript) are interpreted languages. If you don’t know what that is, it means that they have an interpreter that translates the instructions, one by one, into machine language so that they are executed at the moment. So you don’t have to compile all your code every time you want to run it, as you would with C ++, Java, Rust, etc.

Node.Js

The first thing is to understand the origin of Node.js: this language was born when the original Javascript developers decided that JS would not only work in a browser but also operate on their machines as an application by itself.

As is evident, Node JS is a Javascript-based language, it is event-driven and based on a non-blocking I/O model. These characteristics make it an ideal language for creating web applications that require real-time distribution, high scalability, and high performance.

Its popularity is so great that it has the second most viewed repository on GitHub. Some of the giants that use this technology include LinkedIn, Netflix, and Walmart.

Associated Frameworks:

Express.js is a light, fast and simple technology, that serves as a connection point between servers and routes. It’s fully customizable, has a low learning curve, and is more browser-focused. One of its most valued features is that it allows you to develop lightweight apps with the ability to process multiple requests without any problems.

Python

Python is a technology derived from many other languages such as Algol-68, Modula-3, ABC, and SmallTalk; while its advantages have to do with the ability to support structured and functional programming methods.

Python has a code that is simpler to read and maintain by other developers involved in the project. It is also ideal for prototyping, as it is easy to maintain.

Python also stands out for its ability to use object-based programming with classes and multiple inheritances and of grouping the code in modules and packages.

Associated Frameworks:

Django, an open-source full-stack framework that has a wide collection of libraries, object-relational mapping (ORM), database schema migrations, and authentication mechanisms. This makes it a more efficient option and one that has been able to captivate companies such as Mozilla, The Washington Times, and Pinterest, among others.

Age

Python appeared in the late 80s, while Node.js appeared in 2009, so Python is clearly older than Node.js.

Typing

Regarding typing, it is a very complex issue with no clear and uniform consensus on what is considered strong typing and weak typing. However, experts often say that strongly typed languages do not allow changes to data types once declared, while weakly typed languages do.

I leave you a couple of examples for you to consider:

Typing in Node.js

Let’s first see what happens if we try to change a type in Node.js:

let numberInText = "1"
numberInText = 1 // Nothing happens
const number = 1
number = "2"
Uncaught TypeError: Assignment to constant variable.

In addition to const, Node.js allows you to declare a variable, let, or var. If instead of using const we had used var or let the error would not appear.

But now, look what happens if we add an integer and a text string:

//Node.js
console.log(1 + "1")
"11"

No problem! It adds them without any problem, even though one is of type string and the other an integer.

Typing in Python

Python doesn’t necessarily require that you specify the type of the variable. See what happens if we try to change the type of a variable:

# Python
number = "1"
number = 1
number = [1]
number = {1:1} # There was no error in any case

And what if we now try to add two different type variables as we did in Node.js?

# Python
print(1 + "1")
Traceback (most recent call last):
File "", line 1, in
TypeError: unsupported operand type(s) for +: 'int' and 'str'

As you can see, Python does not allow implicit transformations to variable types. However, as of version 3.5, Python incorporates optional typing, which can be used to show you errors in the code, however, the interpreter does not force its use. Check the official documentation to learn how to use them.

Syntax

Node.js Syntax

The syntax of Node.js like that of Javascript is quite similar to that of C ++ and other classical programming languages which is a little unclear. The separation between parts of the code is done using braces and semicolons. Javascript uses this as a reference to the object itself.

Python Syntax

On the other hand, Python favours readability, the use of special characters is reduced to a minimum, and the separation for parts of the code is done using indentations and line breaks. Python uses self to refer to the object itself.

The syntax differences are much more extensive than the ones I expose here. Each one has its own functions, its own built-in libraries, and different syntax, but I hope you have at least appreciated the differences between the two.

Platform

Node.js Support

Node.js is built on the top of Google’s V8 and you can run it on Chrome web browser. You can also install and run it on your computer locally on all major operating systems.

Python Support

Python can’t be run on browsers, however, it is installed on most GNU/ Linux systems by default, if you use a Linux distribution and open the terminal of your operating system and run the Python command you will see that it is already found installed.

Applications

Node.js Uses

Node js has allowed javascript to be used outside of the browser, so its use has spread, even to machine learning. In recent years there are rumours that deno, made by the creator of Node js, will replace node, its predecessor, but they are just that, rumours.

Python Uses

Python is a multipurpose language that allows you to create native applications with user interface, program networks or web servers, artificial intelligence, web application development, practically anything.

Popularity

According to the recent survey conducted by Stack Overflow with a sample size of 80,000 developers, JavaScript (Node.js’ parent) came first in the list of most popular languages among developers (64.9%), Python (48.2%), and Node.js (33.91%).

The most popular programming languages in 2021 © Stack Overflow.

The most popular programming languages among developers in 2021 © Stack Overflow.

Speed

Both Python and Node.js are interpreted languages which means that they are much slower than compiled languages, so they will look pretty bad if you compare them with C, C ++, Java, Rust, etc. However, the difference between them is evident: Node.js is much faster than Python with its original interpreter.

Packages

Packages in Node.js

Node.js uses npm for package handling and there are quite a few to choose from. In June 2019, npm exceeded one million packages published. Lots of variety to choose from!

Packages in Python

Pypi is the main platform for handling packages in Python. As of the date, this article was written Pypi has 270,000 published packages, just a fifth of the amount Javascript has!

To Summarise

Python

It is much more than language: beautiful, clear, great community, events, thousands of high-quality libraries (and few low ones too), incredible frameworks.

When to use:
  • When you have a good team.
  • Projects are extended over time.
  • Custom functionalities.
Pros
  • Clear code.
  • Extensible to other platforms.
  • Varied and stable libraries.
  • Simple tests to generate.
Cons
  • Difficult to deploy on a VPS. You need to have a good knowledge of Linux.
  • Slow compared to the competition.
  • It is not the best solution for real-time.

Node.js

Node.js is actually a runtime environment. Google’s V8 engine for Javascript. Or put another way, it is the software to run Javascript. It allows us, with very little, to set up a powerful website. With a great capacity for parallel execution and easy to deploy.

When to use:
  • Real-time projects.
  • A large load of requests.
  • Few resources on the server.
  • I / O Linked Applications.
  • Applications based on JSON APIs.
  • Single-page apps.
Pros
  • Easy to learn.
  • Simple to deploy.
  • Flexible.
  • Fast.
  • Comfortable when developing.
Cons
  • Difficult to maintain a clear structure due to syntax.
  • Poor exception handling.

I hope that this comparison has shown you what makes Node.js different from Python. If you are thinking of focusing on any of them you have more information on the table to make the right decision.

Consider your requirements and resources, discuss them with your team and then go for the one which you think will work best for your project!

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