Is Node.js front-end or back-end?

This complements our previous article, where we answered the question of JavaScript being front-end or back-end. In today's article, we will look at the JavaScript runtime environment, Node.js.

Node.js is not a back-end framework built in JavaScript. Instead, it's a runtime environment that makes it possible to run JavaScript code outside of the browser.

But, why do we need to do that? As we all know, JavaScript is a major programming language for front-end (client-side) development. It's also a compelling language with a large community.

However, to use JavaScript on both the front-end and back-end, we can't do it immediately. That's because JavaScript can only run in the browser (client-side). To make it able to run on the server side, we need to use a runtime environment that has a JavaScript engine, which is where Node.js comes in.

also read: Master the Future: Top Frontend Technologies for 2024.

What is a JavaScript engine?

Logos for many different browsers, like Chrome and Brave.

When JavaScript was created in 1995, it was a web browser scripting language, so it only ran in a web browser. But how?

To run JavaScript code in a browser, the browser uses a JavaScript engine, which converts the JavaScript code into machine code.Not all web browsers use the same JavaScript engine. V8 is the most famous and most used one now.

It is developed by Google and used in browsers like Google Chrome. It became famous because it's fast, as it converts JavaScript code directly to machine code.

Now, we understand how JavaScript runs in a web browser. Let's talk a little bit about using JavaScript in both the front end and back end.

also read: Innovate in 2024: 8 Web App Development Ideas.

Using JavaScript in front-end

a computer screen with a logo on it

JavaScript is a major language for front-end development. As we know, we use HTML to build the structure of the web page, and CSS to style it and give it a better look. We also use JavaScript to make it interactive with the user.

No front-end developer can ignore JavaScript in their learning journey. You, as a front-end developer, absolutely need to learn JavaScript. And if we want to be real, you need not just pure JavaScript but also learn one of its frameworks like React.

Of course, React is not the only choice, but it's very popular, so we recommend it because of the power of its community.

also read:  Software Architecture for Web Apps: A Beginners Guide [2024].

Using JavaScript in the back-end

shallow focus photography of computer codes

To use JavaScript on the server side, it needs to be able to run on the server. To make it run on the server, we use the runtime environment we talked about before, Node.js.

Now, with the help of Node.js, JavaScript can be run on a physical machine (server). But what else do we need to use JavaScript as a back-end language?

We need a framework to help us in the process of developing our web application. This framework is called Express.js.

That's not all! We also need a package manager, which is called npm.

So, to use a programming language in the back-end, we need the following:

  • A programming language: It should be able to run on a server. JavaScript can do that with the help of the runtime environment Node.js.
  • A framework: This makes the development process a lot easier.
  • A package manager: As its name suggests, it helps us manage our packages.

Now, we understand the use of JavaScript on both the front-end and back-end sides. We also understand that Node.js is not a programming language or a framework. It's a runtime environment that makes it possible for JavaScript to run outside the browser, such as on a server.

Is Node.js front-end or back-end?

a laptop computer sitting on top of a desk

Node.js can be used in both front-end and back-end development. The part of the JavaScript code responsible for making the page interactive will run normally in the browser. Meanwhile, the part responsible for the back-end side will run on the server.

As an example, when we use the PHP programming language to program our back-end, the PHP code will run only on the server, not on the browser. The JavaScript code used in the front-end development process will run in the browser only.

However, when we use JavaScript as a back-end language, we have JavaScript code running on the browser (front-end) and for the back-end, we also have JavaScript code running on the server (back-end). So, we have JavaScript code on both sides.

One of the reasons JavaScript became more famous in recent years is because it can be used on both sides, of course, with the help of the runtime environment Node.js.


Is Node.js a good back-end?

When it comes to back-end development, Node.js has several very good features to consider. It's very fast because it uses the V8 JavaScript engine, which converts JavaScript code directly to machine code.

Also, it has non-blocking I/O operations, which improve performance and can reflect on the user experience and SEO.

Node.js also has many more features, but this is just a glimpse of its power in back-end development.

Is Node.js JavaScript?

Node.js is a JavaScript runtime environment that allows JavaScript to run on a physical machine. By default, JavaScript can only run in the browser, but with the help of Node.js, we can run it outside of it.

Thank you for reading our article. We hope that the information we provided was helpful for your questions and provided you with a good understanding of how to use Node.js on both the front-end and back-end of a website.

DastN GmbH - Software, Ali Barakat March 8, 2024
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Is JavaScript frontend or backend?