Node.js vs Python for Backend Development

May 18, 2021

In this article, we are going to look at the differences between Node.js and Python. The comparison between Node.js and Python proves to be a great battle. However, the decision of choosing either of the two technologies for your backend development depends on your project requirements.

Introduction

By comparing the two technologies in backend development, you will notice that different technologies differ in terms of benefit and areas of application.

The backend side of every web app is the root of every project and the frontend side depends on it. No matter how beautiful and attractive your frontend is, it will always depends on the backend for it to stand. So, every developer must make a wise decision when choosing the technology to use for the backend project

For the frontend, JavaScript has no competitor. This is because of its universality and the fact that it is easy to use. But for the backend, it has remained a topic of debate among developers on which is the best technology to use between Node.js and Python. This is because the two technologies are the most used and are known to be the best as far as backend technologies are concerned.

The question now is, how do you choose between Node.js and Python? 🤔. What are the features to look at?🤔

To answer this question, we will look at the differences between the two languages and help the developer when making decisions on which technology to use depending on the specifications.

Before we look at the comparison of the two technology, let’s first look at the primary differences between the two.

Node.js is an open-source, cross-platform technology and Javascript runtime environment. It is capable of executing JavaScript at the server-side. It depends on Chrome’s V8 JavaScript engine. This engine was designed by Google to compile JavaScript functions into machine code.

On the other hand, Python is a general-purpose programming language used in web development to create dynamic websites using frameworks like Flask, Django, and Pyramid. For the most part, Python runs on Google’s Apps Engine.

To make an informed decision on which technology to use, we will consider the following criteria:

  1. Speed
  2. Scalability
  3. Universality
  4. Extensibility
  5. Architecture

Speed

Performance and Speed are the main features that every developer wishes their project to have at the end. Every developer aims to deliver a high-performance application to the user.

Node.js

Since Node.js uses the V8 Engine to interpret JavaScript code, its performance is remarkable. V8 is a powerful JavaScript engine that is provided by Google. It converts JavaScript code into machine code that will be understood by the processor.

Node.js is also very responsive and has a very high loading speed.

Python

Unlike Java which is a compiled language, Python is an interpreted language. It is generally slower than the compiled languages. This makes Python lose to Node.js in terms of performance.

Python is not suitable for apps that require high execution speed. This is because of the single flow of code in Python which leads to slow processing of requests. Python web applications are therefore slower.

Scalability

Scalability is the ability of a web app to adapt to changes like an increase in performance, new features, etc.

Node.js

Unlike Python, Node.js uses different modules for its functionality. Therefore, for an increase of scalability for an app developed in Node.js a few modules can be added. This will increase the demand for using Node.js by developers.

Node.js is an asynchronous technology. (Can run multiple processes) therefore it facilitates multithreading.

Python

Python does not support multithreading. Therefore, scalability is not as easy. For Python to have easy scalability, libraries have to be used. However, this does not mean that it can compete with Node.js in terms of scalability.

Universality

Node.js

Node.js is used in backend development. For frontend development, developers prefer JavaScript. This saves on resources like money and time since only one team is required to develop both the frontend and backend sides. This feature of Node.js has, in turn, led many developers to choose it.

Node.js is cross-stage. This means that a developer can create one desktop app that will work on different operating systems like MAC OS, Linux, and Windows. This will be a great advantage to the developer in terms of the project cost.

Python

Python is a full-stack language. It is used in backend development while its frameworks are used in frontend development.

A Python program can be written in MAC OS and the same program can run in Linux, therefore Python is also a cross-stage languague.

Python is a good language for web development as well as desktop development. But unlike Node.js it is not primarily used in mobile app development.

Extensibility

Extensibility is the ability to add more features and functionalities to a technology. The more frameworks you add to a backend language, the more it increases its functionality.

Node.js

The use of Node.js and JavaScript together has led to an increase in its popularity. More frameworks have been created with Node.js being the backbone.

These Frameworks include:

  1. Loopback.js- to make dynamic end-end REST APIs with no coding.
  2. DerbyJS - to make web applications.
  3. Hapi.js - used for creating web services such as REST APIs.

Python

After the introduction of Python, a lot of frameworks and development tools like PyCharm have been created.

The great extensibility of Python and the use of many frameworks have made Python to be such a great backend language that every developer would desire to use.

Python frameworks include:

  1. Django
  2. Flask
  3. Web2Py

Architecture

Another important feature that a developer should give a priority before choosing the backend language is the architecture.

There are two types of architecture:

  • Synchronous - The job is first completed before accepting another request.
  • Asynchronous - Here, more than one process can run at the same time.

Node.js

Node.js enables asynchronous programming. A process can be called even if another event is occurring. This means that no process is ever blocked. The different processes can be processed.

Node.js is event-driven (can respond to the user in various ways). Therefore it is suitable for the development of games.

Python

Python is not event-driven. To build an event-driven app using Python, you need to install a tool like CPython.

Although Python enables asynchronous programing it is not frequently used like Node.js as it is limited by Global interpreter lock which ensures that only one process executes at a time.

Wrapping up

From the comparison above, it is evident that one software may work on one project but may not work on another different project. Thus, when choosing between Node.js and Python, it is important to consider the needs and requirements of the two languages.

I now believe that it will be easier to choose either of the two languages when working on the backend side.

Happy coding.

Further Reading

  1. Node.js for Backend Development
  2. Python as a Backend Development

Peer Review Contributions by: Collins Ayuya


About the author

Erastus Muriithi

Erastus is an undergraduate student undertaking Bachelor of science in Computer science.He is very much interested in web development. Erastus likes playing football, playing games, and learning new things during his free time.

This article was contributed by a student member of Section's Engineering Education Program. Please report any errors or innaccuracies to enged@section.io.