Node.js is No.BS – The Appcelerator Take

Row of server cabinets with computer and digital displays full of data, numbers, and blue blinking lights and leds, arranged in circular rows. Computer servers fill a room of a futuristic data center, used as a cloud computing and data storage facility. Room is illuminated by blue light. Low angle view. Supercomputer simulation, digitally generated image.

There’s a lot of debate going at the moment about the overall readiness and maturity of Node.js – a server-side technology platform for building scalable networked apps in Javascript.

What is clear though is that Node.js is growing like gangbusters, and it’s being adopted by millions of developers and large enterprises for a wide range of use-cases. Big brand names like GM, Yahoo, Dow Jones, Walmart and Dell have all deployed it, and many are already touting its merits and benefits.

According to this Strongloop infographic there are over 35,000 downloads of Node.js per day, and when it comes to cloud adoption it’s one of the top four languages, supported by 5 of the 6 major PaaS providers including Amazon, Google and Microsoft. With its thriving community of developers, there are also now over 30,000 modules available.

The hesitations around Node.js are like those that come with any new technology. Yes, Node.js is “only” in its fourth year of existence. But let’s also remember that the iPhone is in its sixth year and the iPad is merely in its third!

We’re living in a world where the rate of innovation is higher now than at any other time, and mobility is probably one of the best examples of this. Look at the disruption that mobility has caused for traditional markets (think Waze for traffic reports and Instagram for photo sharing) and you can see that a lot can happen in a very short amount of time.

The Appcelerator platform has been designed from the ground-up for managing the mobile application lifecycle, enabling businesses to create, deliver and analyze their entire mobile application portfolio. One of the primary use-cases for these organizations is to build beautiful native apps that access data from corporate backends such as SAP, Oracle and Salesforce. This could be in the form of a B2E field service app for mobilizing company SKUs and prices; a B2B app for selling insurance policies; or a B2C app for checking balances or shipping order information.

To enable this enterprise connectivity we have deployed Node.js as the backbone of our mobile cloud services infrastructure (we call it Node.ACS). We selected Node.js for three primary reasons:

  1. High performance and cloud readiness
  2. Ease of development using Javascript
  3. Broad community and widespread adoption

Last week I wrote about the recently released MyThomson app by TUI Travel and how it provides holidaymakers with a “one stop shop” for all their holiday information. The MyThomson app also leverages the Appcelerator mobile cloud to mobilize the traveler’s booking information that resides on various TUI corporate backend systems. It securely extracts this data, checks whether any changes have been made since the last time, and then transforms and packages it into a mobile-optimized data set for consumption by the mobile app. By ensuring that no data is sent to the mobile device unnecessarily the end user experience is always optimized from a performance perspective.

In all, we’ve found that Node.js has been a welcome addition to our technology stack allowing us to continue to innovate rapidly while building powerful mission-critical solutions for the most demanding of enterprise customers.

So when we hear concerns about the overall readiness of Node.js, we like to assure people that Node.js is No.BS.