12 Best Practices of Using NodeJS For Web App Development

The open source cross-platform JavaScript runtime environment Node.js has been used to develop a wide variety of server applications and tools. This event-driven architecture first emerged in 2009 and utilizes basic modules written in JavaScript although it’s not a JavaScript framework.

Its popularity can be attributed to the speed and efficiency that it provides the development environment. Further, as most of the internet is now turning into user interfaces (UI) and a platform of services, JavaScript and Node.js have come out on top as the key to tying all these services together.

Node.js was specifically designed for integrations, so it’s no coincidence that companies are now able to integrate a plethora of services in the same UI. It has also made it highly cost-effective to integrate legacy systems without the need to develop multiple platforms, so products can get to the marketplace a lot faster.

Some developers consider it as the best solution to solve almost anything, so you can be sure to be using it a lot for years to come. But although it’s been around for several years, it’s still a relatively new technology. As the technology continues to mature, you can expect a lot of changes that will enhance Node.js in the coming months.

So what should developers be aware of this year? Let’s look at some of the best practices for developing in Node.js.

1. Organize Your Code

Organize your code into tiny chunks and then make them even smaller. By following this approach, you can avoid complexities by making it easier for you and other developers to understand and reason modularized code in small parts. 

When you’re writing code, you might think you know how it works but it might be a problem when you return to it a few months down the road. So if you can’t understand it yourself, you really can’t expect your colleagues to figure it out right away.

So just keep it simple to stay with the Node’s asynchronous philosophy. It’s also good to note that npm has changed its unpublished policy. So if you’re working on a serious project, you should be following a caching strategy or a private registry as a temporary solution.

2. Use Promises

As first described over three decades ago, Promises are concurrency primitive. Today it has grown into an important component in most of the modern programming languages.

At the same time, fs API doesn’t have a readFileAsync that returns a Promise, so you have to wrap it with a module like promisifyAll.

3. Always Avoid Blocking Require

As a rule, place all your require statements at the top of the file. This is because they are synchronous, so it will block the execution.

Node is equipped with a simple module loading system that utilizes a CommonJS module format. The modules that exist in separate files can by included by using its built-in require function.

Require works by importing a file or module that was exported. But require is cached, so there won’t be any major changes to the resolved filename, just the code from the module will be executed and loaded into the variable for that single process.

Further, when it comes to npm modules, there are none. But even with caching, it’s better to put your requirement statements first. For better performance, load the modules before even defining the server.

4. Take Advantage of JavaScript Standard Style

Not having a set developing style can turn into a nightmare, so it’s a good idea to set a company standard and stick to it.

It’s a great option to incorporate JavaScript Standard Style as there aren’t any decisions to make and you won’t have to manage .jscsrc or .eslintrc, .jshintrc files.

5. Always Use Asynchronous Code

When it comes to Node, the synchronous code is limited to writing CLI commands or scripts which are not related to web apps. If you’re a Node developer, you’re probably building web apps for the most part, so the async code is the best way to avoid blocking threads.

If you haven’t already, make a note to always write your async code in Node.

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6. Use the Latest LTS Node.js Version

Using the latest version of Long-Term Support (LTS) can offer the best stability and new features. Further, nvm makes it easy to switch between Node.js versions.

7. Containers are the Way Forward

Use a container like Docker because it makes deployment more secure. Further, you can run your applications in isolation by taking advantage of Docker’s lightweight images.

Also read how to keep your Docker containers secure!

Containers can also be used to enable immutable deployments and locally mirror production environments.

8. Make Sure that your Applications are Highly Secure

Securing customer and enterprise data is more important than ever before. So brush up on Node.js Security, Brute Force Protection, Data Validation, Security HTTP Headers, and Session Management.

9. Always use Semantic Versioning

If you’re updating packages without SemVer, then you may have already broken Node.js apps. Systematic versioning is important as your customers need to know when a new version of the module is published. Further, they also need to know what to do on their side to update to the new version.

As npm uses SemVer when it installs dependencies, so you should always respect it to avoid breaking applications when you publish the module.

Always remember that Node is not Java, so you can’t handle multiple errors at higher levels with just one attempt. As Node executes asynchronously using an event loop, all errors are separated from the content of the error handler. This makes this exercise quite futile.

Node developers can get around this by providing you with an error as a callback argument. Further, this makes it important to manually handle each error in every callback.

11. Pay Attention to Error Events

Take it a step further and listen to error events as it’s a great opportunity to catch random errors and resolve them before they create chaos.

As almost all Node objects or classes extend the observer pattern and emit an error event, it won’t be difficult for developers to do this.

12. Learn Serverless Today!

Serverless is growing rapidly with a vibrant open source community, so expect it to be a major part of building new apps in the near future.

As it started with the introduction of AWS Lambda, it’s no surprise that its most popular solution is the Serverless Framework that helps to deploy AWS Lambda functions.

What did I miss? Please share your tips and best practices in the Comments section below!

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Andrew is our IT storyteller and copywriter. His current undertaking is big data analytics and CSS as well as digital design and branding. He is a contributor to various publications with a focus on new technology and marketing.

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