Node.js vs. Golang: Let the Battle Begin!
March 3, 2020

Software Development

Node.js vs. Golang: Let the Battle Begin!

By Olga Matuts

Backend realization is the cornerstone of web application development. A scalable backend that effectively implements the needed business logic is the main goal of backend developers. So it is crucial to pick the most powerful and scalable technology for that. 

There is a large number of different server-side programming languages, but the two most popular technologies are Node.js and Golang. They are actual and evolving languages that have been recently used in various interesting projects. 

So, let’s consider who will win the Node.js vs. Golang battle.

Node.js in simple words

Node.js is a server-side open-source runtime environment that appeared in 2009. Node.js was created with Google Chrome V8 JavaScript engine for building cross-platform applications. It has an async input/output model and is intended for the development of scalable server-side applications with the JavaScript language.

Node.js

 

The Node.js engine compiles JavaScript to machine code, so developers can use the same programming language for backend and frontend. It illustrates the “JavaScript everywhere” paradigm, and in short, it is a separate language based on Javascript with modifications. 

Node.js has a lot of open-source libraries for convenient web application development and can integrate with third-party libraries as well. It is supported by such operating systems as Microsoft Windows, Linux, and macOS.  

Golang in simple words

Golang or just Go is an open-source compiled multithreaded programming language. Google conceived its concept in 2007 and introduced it to programmers in 2009. It embodies the best characteristics of other programming languages, for example, the performance and security of C/C++ and the speed of Python. So, it can be used for concurrent programming, providing memory safety and dynamical interfaces.

Golang

Go works with the most popular operating systems like Microsoft, macOS, Linux, DragonFly, and others. As experience shows, Go is the best technology for cloud interfaces, networking applications, and microservices.

Node.js vs. Golang in action

After we introduced both backend technologies, let’s take a deeper look at their features, pros, and cons. To make it easier to choose the most appropriate technology for your project, we compare both of them based on 10 parameters:

  • maturity
  • raw performance
  • real-life performance
  • error handling
  • learning curve
  • concurrency
  • scalability
  • benchmark task performance
  • development tools
  • finding developers

Maturity

In this case, both languages have the same period of existence — since 2009. We can call them mature and proven tools with a great support community. But, to clarify, Node.js community is bigger than the Go audience.

Both Node.js and Golang get 1 point.

Raw Performance

The reason for the Go appearance is that Google was disappointed with already existing programming languages. Go is fast and lightweight because it is based on C and C++, so it can show high raw performance and established computation processes.  

JavaScript works slower than other programming languages. That is why statical Node.js, as its derivative, also can’t give high-speed results and high raw performance of work with CPU and memory.

So, we have 1:2 in favor of Go.

Real-life Performance

When we talk about real-life performance, in particular, network communication or database connection, Node.js and Go have the same results and demonstrate the same speed.

Go still wins: 2:3.

Error Handling

These technologies use different mechanisms of error tracking. Node.js provides a traditional and popular with developers way of error handling, called throw-catch. It means that errors are shown and require fixing before developers move to the next stage.

Go uses several ways of error handling for different kinds of errors; for example, for compile-time and runtime errors, which leads to confusion. Golang developers try to simplify this process with new releases. 

For this reason, Node.js gets the point: its throw-catch approach is more precise and well-known among developers.

The score is tied, 3:3.

Learning Curve

JavaScript is one of the most popular and frequently used programming languages with a lot of tutorials and actively working programming forums. So, with basic knowledge about JavaScript, developers can figure out how to work with Node.js.  

Go, in contrast to Node.js, doesn’t have a similar prototype; it is an absolutely new programming language with separated rules of coding and unique features. The number of offline and online resources is also not so huge, which also makes the Go learning process more complicated.

4:3 in favor of Node.js.

Concurrency

There’s nothing to tell, Node.js is a single-threaded event-driven programming language. It uses an event-callback mechanism. Developers can work with a task only in a linear order. It is not about concurrency.

Go is the best solution for huge projects where it is needed to concurrently process a large number of requests. In this case, Go has special coroutines called Goroutines. Together with lightweight mechanisms of communication between threads, they provide developers with an opportunity to run functions simultaneously.

So, Golang catches up with Node.js: 4:4

Scalability

As shown in the previous paragraph, Goroutines allow Go to be more functional and work with parallel threads with good productivity. So, developers can successfully use Go for large projects. Node.js, in turn, doesn’t have such functional scalability and is not available for multithreaded projects. 

Node.js vs. Golang: 4:5.

Benchmark task performance

Go has high performance, and it was proven in different issues and tests of computer languages and algorithms. They demonstrate that Go operations take less time, CPU load, and memory in contrast to Node.js.

Go expands the distance between Node.js: 4:6.

Development Tools

Node.js, thanks to JavaScript, has a huge set of tools, frameworks, and libraries, as well as a supported community where developers can find a solution for any task. Go has all the needed packages and libraries for development, but its number is smaller than Node.js has. So, careful examination and the ability to manually make configure changes are crucial for Go programmers. 

For obvious reasons, Node.js gets the point.

As a result, Node.js vs. Golang: 5:6.

Finding Developers

As we can see, Node.js is very popular with developers, and a lot of programmers choose this technique for their work. So, this is not an issue to find experts in Node.js for your software development projects.

It can be problematic to find an expert in Golang, but, in the meantime, Go is one of the most prospective programming languages and attracts the interest of developers. So, the situation can change in the near future.

Node.js vs. Golang Total score: 6:6.

Takeaways

Both Node.js and Go have strong and weak points. This is the reason to use them for different sorts of projects. So, Node.js, in contrast to other backend technologies, presents an open-source environment with all the needed tools for successful development, it is well-known and easy to learn. 

The Go language is actively gaining popularity and provides high real-life performance and allows creating powerful multithreaded projects.  

So, let’s consider what companies picked these backend languages for their needs. They need no introduction.

Node.js Golang
Netflix BBC
Linkedin Uber
Trello Google
PayPal Basecamp
Medium Intel
eBay Docker
NASA Heroku
Walmart Medium

No, there is no mistake in our table; Medium uses both Node.js and Go for better results. 

Some companies change their technology stack and adopt Golang to achieve higher performance and scalability. 

For example, Uber, at the beginning of its work, used Node.js, but in 2016 replaced it with Go. This solution significantly increased the performance of the application work, as Uber developers say.

Node.js and Golang are the leading backend technologies. Though they have different characteristics, they are similar in some ways. As there can be no correct choice for everyone, developers decide which language to use based on the project’s’ goals.

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