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Intro To Node.js


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This is a presentation I prepared for a local meetup. The audience is a mix of web designers and developers who have a wide range of development experience.

Published in: Technology

Intro To Node.js

  1. Intro to Node.js Chris Cowan Lead Engineer
  2. Node’s Goal is to provide an easy way to build scalable network programs.
  3. Node.js is NOT another web framework! But you can create a web framework using NPM modules.
  4. Node.js is… Web Server TCP Server Awesome Robot Controller Command Line Application Proxy Server Streaming Server VoiceMail Server Music MachineAnything that has to deal with high I/O
  5. Node.js isServer Side JavaScript!
  6. Node.js isFUN!
  7. Why Node.js?• Non Blocking I/O• Based on Chrome’s V8 Engines (FAST!)• 15,000+ Modules• Active Community (IRC, Mailing Lists, Twitter, Github)• Mac, Linux and Windows (all first class citizens)• One Language for Frontend and Backend• JavaScript is the Language of the Web
  8. Installing Node.jsMac OS X1. Go to and click install2. Install the downloaded packageWindows1. Go to and click install2. Install the downloaded packageLinux (and *nix variants)1. Go to and click install2. Decompress source and… ./configure … make … make install ( for Ubuntu use Chris Lea’s PPA – ppa:chris-lea/node.js )
  9. Some Basic Examples
  10. Hello WorldCreate hello-world.jsconsole.log(‘Hello World’);On the command line runnode hello-world.jsYou should seeHello World
  11. Basic HTTP Servervar http = require(http);var server = http.createServer(function (req, res) { res.writeHead(200); res.end(Hello World);});server.listen(4000); *Running this script my development box, I can achieve 10,000+ requests per second with 100 concurrent connections without breaking a sweat
  12. Some people use the core http module tobuild their web apps,most use a framework like Express or Connect or Flatiron or Tako or Derby or Geddy or Mojito or …
  13. Visit for a detailed guide on using Express
  14. What is Non-Blocking I/O? And why should I care?
  15. Blocking I/// Get User – 20ms$query = SELECT * FROM users WHERE id = ?;$users = query($query, array($id));print_r($users);// Get Activities – 100ms$query = SELECT * FROM activities ORDER BY timestamp LIMIT 50;$activities = query($query);print_r($activities);// Get Leader Board – 150ms$query = SELECT count(points) as total, user_id FROM activities LIMIT 50;$leader_board = query($query); 270ms = SUM(user, activities, leaderboard)
  16. Non-Blocking I/// Get User – 20msvar query = SELECT * FROM users WHERE id = ?;db.query(query, [userId], function (err, results) { console.log(results);});// Get Activities – 100msvar query = SELECT * FROM activities ORDER BY timestamp LIMIT 50;db.query(query, function (err, results) { console.log(results);});// Get Leader Board – 150msvar query = SELECT count(points) as total, user_id FROM activities LIMIT 50;db.query(query, function (err, results) { console.log(results);}); 150ms = MAX(user, activities, leaderboard)
  17. The most jarring thingabout Server Side JavaScript is thinking in callbacks
  18. The Node Callback PatternawesomeFunction(arg, function (err, data) { if (err) { // Handle Error } // Do something awesome with results.});• Error first then success… ALWAYS!• Because this is the de-facto standard 99.99999% of the time you will be able to guess how a Node library will work.
  19. Callbacks are the Devil’s Work! Don’t go down this rabbit hole…var userQuery = SELECT * FROM users WHERE id = ?;var activityQuery = SELECT * FROM activities ORDER BY timestamp LIMIT 50;var leaderBoardQuery = SELECT count(points) as total, user_id FROM activities LIMIT 50;db.query(userQuery, [id], function (userErr, userResults) { db.query(activityQuery, function (activityErr, activityResults) { db.query(leaderBoardQuery, function (leaderBoardErr, leaderBoardResults) { // Do something here }); });}); One of the biggest mistakes is to get yourself in to callback hell by nesting callbacks inside of callbacks inside of more callbacks.
  20. Avoiding Callback Hell• Keep your code shallow• Break up your code into small chunks• Use a sequential library like async• Visit
  21. Async to the rescue!var async = require(async);var db = require(’db);function getUser (callback) { var query = SELECT * FROM users WHERE id = ?; db.query(query, [userId], callback);}function getActivities (callback) { var query = SELECT * FROM activities ORDER BY timestamp LIMIT 50; db.query(query, callback);}function getLeaderBoard (callback) { var query = SELECT count(points) as total, user_id FROM activities LIMIT 50; db.query(query, callback);}var tasks = [getUser, getActivities, getLeaderBoard];async.parallel(tasks, function (err, results) { var user = results[0][0]; var activities = results[1]; var leaderBoard = results[2];});
  22. Async provides several useful patterns for asynchronous control flow including: parallel, series, waterfall, auto and queue. Visit a detailed guide on using the async module.
  23. The Node Package Manager otherwise know as… NPM It’s how you harness the awesomeness of the Node.js community!
  24. Using NPMIt’s standard practice to install modules locally for your current project.Modules are installed in the ./node_modules in the current directory.To Install a new modulenpm install <module>To find a module in the NPM repositorynpm search <search string>To list the modules (and their dependencies) in the current projectnpm listTo see module detailsnpm info <module>
  25. DON’T INSTALLMODULES GLOBALLY! Unless they are tools like node-dev, jake, express, minify-js OR linked development modules but more on that later.
  26. NPM is awesome sauce! Visit https://npmjs.orgfor more details about NPM and tobrowse the current NPM Repository
  27. Creating your own modules• Node.js uses CommonJS Modules• require(‘./example’) will load either example.js or example/index.js or the entry point specified in package.json• Run npm init to bootstrap your new module• Try to stick to creating Pure JavaScript modules if possible. It will give you less headaches down the road.
  28. Basic Module ExampleEverything exposed via module.exports is available as an instance variable.var currentCount = 0;module.exports.incr = function () { return ++currentCount;};Once you’ve created a module in counter.js you use it like this…var counter = require(’./counter);var count = counter.incr();Keep this in mind… modules are loaded once and cached. So whenyou load the module a second time in your app, require justreturns the cache copied. This lets you do interesting things…
  29. Installing your module• Run npm link in the module working directory• Then run npm link <module> in the your project folder to link it from the global module to your local node_modules.• OR you can create a private registry (See• OR just link it by hand :P
  30. My Favorite Modules• request • jake• async • hogan.js• node-dev • connect• underscore • moment• express • mysql
  31. Questions?Contact me at