The process of web app development can be compared to an iceberg. There is part of the app that a user sees, meanwhile, the rest remains unseen. This is what we call “back end”, imperceptible and mystical.
In the majority of web applications, there is significantly more non-UI code than the code that is directly related to the interaction with the end user. Information needs to be stored and retrieved, logic has to be followed, results – calculated. Complex systems contain all kinds of data and logic in the background. Back end development is about writing code that is not seen directly.
Among technologies used for back end programming, there are Go and Node.js. They are both relatively new and are gaining more and more popularity but in very different ways, and for very different reasons. They are part of a movement away from traditional server-side languages (PHP, Java) used for backend development.
So let’s find out what technology suits your project best. How do you recognize the winner in one of the two next-generation web app development languages: Go (Golang) vs Node.js? We will try to help you figure out the answer and choose whom to hire – Go or Node.js developers offshore.
What is Node.js?
The definition supplied by the official documentation is the following:
Node.js was initially created in 2009. In 2 years, it was released and ready for sharing in open-source libraries. Node.js is an increasingly popular platform created to build scalable, networked applications. It compiles JS code into native machine code, using some complex optimizations.
What is Golang?
Golang is a free, open-source general-purpose programming language. The core structure of Go is built on the basic principles of C (e.g. compiled language safety) and Python (e.g. development working speed). With limited structural typing, garbage collection, and memory safety features, Go avoids a lot of features of other modern languages (e.g. method and operator overloading and type inheritance).
According to the Go official documentation:
“Go is expressive, concise, clean, and efficient. Its concurrency mechanisms make it easy to write programs that get the most out of multicore and networked machines, while its novel type system enables flexible and modular program construction. Go compiles quickly to machine code yet has the convenience of garbage collection and the power of run-time reflection. It’s a fast, statically typed, compiled language that feels like a dynamically typed, interpreted language.”
Go was created in 2007 at Google as an experimental project, designed to be powerful, practical, and, nonetheless, funny. In 2 years, it was launched more widely and introduced to the public as an open-source language. Being a result of C and C++ languages evolution, web development with Go makes the process of writing robust networked apps much easier and much more efficient.
Node.js vs Golang Battle
There are a lot of factors that influence the overall performance of a programming language. Some of the most outstanding ones are scalability, learning curve, raw performance, concurrency, availability of tools for developers, real life performance, and actual ease of finding good offshore software development company (Ukraine is worth considering).
At first sight, Golang may seem to be a perfect solution for web app development. And the fact that it’s becoming increasingly popular among developers is just another proof of that. Even though Node.js does not appear to be losing this battle because it also has certain pros, it makes sense to compare the main benefits and drawbacks of each programming language. This can help you choose the best technology for your next project.
Golang is at a decent level, quite mature and robust for its age. Whereas in Node.js, the APIs are under constant changes, their maturity is highly tentative.
The winner: Go
Learning Curve and Simplicity
The winner: Node.js
One of the goals Go’s developers succeeded in was to achieve a better performance. On the whole, Go is very light-weighted and faster when compared to Node.js. Its performance characteristics are very similar to those of C/C++, which are very good.
At the same time, dynamically-typed Node.js is based on an interpreted language, which generally renders slower than the majority of compiled languages. It doesn’t reach raw performance of CPU or memory bound tasks, contrary to Go. Node performance can be either high or horrible, depending what app you are working on.
Nevertheless, such comparison is fair in terms of raw performance. While in real life performance both technologies are able to demonstrate nearly the same results, the general server performance is affected by numerous other factors. For instance, when network communication or database interaction is involved, the performances of Node.js and Go are often equal, and they work at similar speeds.
The winner: Go
Web development with Go has quite a difficult approach, as it demands explicit error checking with the program flowing in a regular way. However, it ensures better consistency and a flawless result in the end.
Error handling in Node.js can be inconsistent at times. Nevertheless, it offers more clear and common throw-catch handling technique. And the main benefit is that lot of developers are already familiar with it.
The winner: Go, Node.js
Concurrency and Scalability
Golang was initially designed for scalability and concurrency. It is perfectly suited for scalability due to its goroutines (coroutines) – functions that can be executed concurrently with one another. They allow easy and reliable execution of multiple threads that can be performed simultaneously, yet smoothly.
Go runtime consists of a scheduler which manages the execution of goroutines on system threads. Communication between those is done seamlessly and elegantly ( by using channels).
In the meantime, web development with Node.js works a bit differently. It is less elegant, as traditional concurrent programming in JS is done with event callbacks, which are not very effective in terms of concurrency. The main drawback of this system is the possibility of getting messy very quickly. Node.js is single-threaded. This means that the execution instructions are performed in sequence, not simultaneously, which makes Node.js concurrency support not as agile as it should be.
The winner: Go
No doubt, Go is much younger and, therefore, not that popular. Not yet. So, the one mastering Go should be ready to do a lot of research and manual configuration. Golang has some nice libraries and packages to use, but it doesn’t seem to be catching up with Node.JS anytime soon.
The availability of educational resources can easily determine the number of developers working with one or another technology. While it is quite easy to find Node.js developers (Ukraine is considered as one of the most qualified countries for software development outsourcing) and form a professional team, the Go developers (Ukraine, or elsewhere offshore) are a bit more difficult to find.
The winner: Node.js
There is no perfect language or universal tool for all projects. Otherwise, there would be no debates whether to use Go or Node.js. Still, any skilled offshore web development company (Ukraine, Europe, UK, U.S., Australia, etc.) will know what languages and tools to use for a given project. The key is to define the requirements and needs correctly.