Over the years, we’ve seen dozens of technologies come and go, but there are two that never seem to disappear from the tech spotlight: Python and Node.js. These two technologies are the de facto industry standard. Both were developed at various points in time and for different purposes, making them distinct technologies. In this blog post, I’ll take an in-depth look at these two technologies and help you figure out which one is better for your project.
A quick look at Python and Node.js
Before getting into specifics, it’s important to define what we’re comparing. Understandably, you’d want to create a web application with a visually appealing design and eye-catching user interface elements. Python and Node.js can be similarly used for web app development. However, each has a distinct definition and set of traits.
What is Python?
Python is a dynamic, high-level programming language that is free and open source. Unlike many other programming languages, Python is not narrowly focused on a single topic or activity. From developing websites and software to automating processes and analyzing data, it may be used for any type of software development.
It was first launched in 1991 and continues to be relevant today. As a tribute to Monty Python, Python was designed to be both straightforward and fun to use. Because it takes care of much of the complexity for the user, Python has earned a reputation as a beginner-friendly language. Also, a large number of independent programmers use Python since it is an open-source community language. According to Stack Overflow Developer Survey 2022, Python is not only the most wanted technology but also among the most popular languages for people learning to code.
A large number of frameworks like Django or Flask, APIs, and related tools have been developed during its nearly 30-year existence. Python is a game-changer in the world of technology. Because of its principles and wide support, it’s frequently used in customer-centric and business applications.
What is Node.js?
Ryan Dahl released the first version of it in 2009. Backend development tools like Express.js, Fastify, and NestJS have made it an attractive alternative to more established languages like Python, which have been around for many years.
Can you use Node.js and Python together?
Various technologies are frequently used to accomplish different goals in enterprise applications. Every language has a unique way of accomplishing a given task. However, it’s better to understand how to accomplish this activity in a specific tech stack than to switch to another one. For the most part, we should stick with one technology for the backend unless there is a compelling need to use two.
Python vs. Node.js – an in-depth comparison
The age-old question of whether to use Node.js or Python has been debated again and again. And because both are flourishing to this day, the problem will not go away. The choice will depend on the particular advantages you need from the digital product. This table can provide you with a quick overview before we get into a side-by-side comparison.
|Architecture||Multi-threaded but at any given time, only one thread can take control of the Python interpreter. However, it can work in non-blocking manner (with certain limitation), making it on par with JS capabilities.||Single-threaded, non-blocking, and uses an event-driven design.|
|Performance||Slow. There are, however, faster versions of the Python interpreter as well as various libraries, for example, for data processing, which increase the performance (even close to C/C++)||V8 engine execution and the fact that Node.js does not block make it fast.|
|Scalability||As it grows, it’s easier to tame the complexity of large and complex applications than in Node.js||Easily scaled in the horizontal direction. Vertical scalability is similar as in Python, because of single-threaded character of both technologies.|
|Extensibility||Easy to customize with a large package library to add new features.||Easy to customize, add to, and connect to other tools.|
|Popularity||The Python community is very active with 3.4 million releases.||More than a million open-source packages.|
There are various ways to characterize a system’s software architecture. It specifies how the system’s key components interact, relate to each other, and are arranged to each other. A well-designed architecture can lead to systems that are scalable, functional, and easy to maintain.
Node.js is single-threaded, non-blocking, and uses an event-driven design. It has a single-threaded event loop approach to manage several client requests at the same time. Since it is meant to use fewer resources, it produces processes that are small and fast. Furthermore, because Node.js is non-blocking, it can manage hundreds of concurrent connections, making it an excellent choice for real-time applications.
Python is a single-threaded language as well, in large part due to the Global Interpreter Lock (GIL) mechanism it uses. This system only permits one thread to control the Python interpreter and execute Python code at any given moment. The GIL will switch between the threads at regular intervals even if the Python program employs several threads, allowing each thread to have a chance to run code. But Python, in contrast to Node.js, is not built on an event-driven model. Even yet, Python may still be used to develop asynchronous apps thanks to its improvements from version to version that made async a core part, that is increasingly used, not just a niche curiosity. All new frameworks have async in mind and the old ones try to catch up and switch to it. In developing asynchronous apps in Python, you can also use libraries like Asyncio.
The speed with which a piece of software completes a task is reflected in its performance. You can save money on operational costs by making your application more efficient as it grows. Code that runs more quickly results in faster response times. In the case of web applications, often using a faster language does not mean improvement at all. This is because there are more moving parts. e.g. database, external services, etc.
To save resources and improve app performance, Node.js runs the code externally to the web browser. The V8 engine’s execution plus the non-blocking nature of Node.js make it even faster. It is also possible to process several requests at the same time because of the event-driven architecture.
When compared to Node.js, Python is generally slower. As an interpreted language, Python must first be compiled to byte code before it can be executed on the computer, however, then is does not influence the app performance. It is worth noting, however, that there are faster versions of the Python interpreter, such as PyPy. Stackless Python, for example, makes it possible to use Python for threaded programming.
A web application’s scalability is its capacity to grow linearly as you increase the number of users. When you start with an MVP, you have a simple web application that can be coded in almost any language or environment. When you add more features and functions to an application, the resource consumption goes up in lockstep.
Node.js tends to be commonly arranged into microservices architecture. Those meant to be small, separated pieces of application logic connected via lightweight protocols. A flexible development approach can be achieved by adding additional microservices and modules, however, remember that this adds complexity levels to software architecture. A Node.js web application can also be simply scaled horizontally.
In Python, we can also have microservices. We also have async in Python. So, it scales practically the same as Node.js. What’s more, developers have been solving the problem of scaling for a longer time than Node.js and Python tools are ready for it.
When selecting a tool for software development, it’s critical to be able to add new features without compromising the existing functionality. Having a robust echo system and the ability to add new features without affecting the old ones are two of the most important pillars for enabling extensibility. There are strong extensibility possibilities in both Node.js and Python.
Customization, extension, and integration with other tools are simple with Node.js. It has built-in APIs for constructing HTTP or DNS servers, so it may be extended. Frameworks like Express, Angular, and Vue can also be used with Node.js to create web applications.
Many development tools and frameworks have been produced since Python was first released in 1991. Python’s pip repositories provide a large package library for developers to extend Python’s functionality. In addition to web development frameworks, there is now data analytics and machine learning support available. When it comes to integrating Python with other programming languages, its extensibility is crucial.
Ease of use
Syntax refers to a programming language’s ability to carry out a collection of functions in the most efficient manner. To do this, popular processes are packaged as built-in functions. If you look at the learning curve for the language, it’s easy to see how this connects to how easy it is to learn.
Easy syntax and universality have been Python’s main selling points. When compared to Node.js or any other programming language or runtime environment, Python’s code is typically shorter. Python programming is a breeze.
Python is a separate beast. Python is a fantastic language in and of itself. Even though it takes longer to run, speed has never been a priority in Python. In general, Python is a slower language than Java or C++, and it’s possible to speed it up by utilizing an async library or using PyPy, or by just paying for faster runtime.
Choosing a backend web development language is also a matter of community preference. Members of the community and developers are constantly updating and improving the existing tools, as well as launching new features.
More than one million open-source packages have been created for the Node.js platform, all of which can be found on npm. There is a higher probability that someone has already asked the same topic on Stack Overflow, making it easier to learn Node.js and find answers to your questions when you get stuck.
Node.js is newer, but Python is open-sourced and has been around for a while. There is a wide range of contributors in the user community, each with a particular level of expertise. Regardless of whether you’re a business owner or a developer, you’ll reap the benefits of a vast user base. The Python Package Index lists around 370k packages and 3.4 million releases, demonstrating the vibrant nature of the Python community.
What to consider when choosing Python or Node.js?
Web application development begins with the choice of an appropriate technological stack. Your product’s performance and productivity will improve as a result of using the right framework to personalize it to your specific needs and objectives. But there’s a lot more to consider when building a back-end application. As a result, you must analyze your project’s requirements carefully before and among them is the project’s size, desired functionalities, budget, time to market, scalability, security, and others.
When to use Node.js?
Event-based architecture makes it ideal for applications that handle a high volume of requests from multiple clients at once, or often switch between clients and servers. A few examples are IoT solutions, real-time chatbots, and complicated single-page apps.
When it comes to building real-time collaborative applications or streaming platforms, Node.js is a fantastic choice. Node.js, on the other hand, is not the greatest choice for designing apps that require numerous CPU resources.
When to use Python?
Python is a good choice for both small and large projects because of its versatility. Apps involving data analysis and visualization can use it, as well as voice and face recognition systems, image processing software, neural networks, and machine learning systems. Additionally, Python can be used to create 3D modeling applications and video games.
An MVP may be built and deployed quickly thanks to its extensive library. This also ensures that the developer’s resources are utilized to their fullest potential.
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The right back-end technology for your web application
Python and Node.js are two of the most popular and capable web and backend development frameworks. When trying to tackle a particular use case or problem, there is no clear-cut winner. Both are solid options for their respective applications. Your backend technology choice is greatly dependent on the type of application you are building. It’s also a good idea to think about how familiar you are with each of these tools. But you’re already halfway there if you have hired the proper team from one of the top web development companies!