NodeJS vs Ruby on Rails: What to Choose?

Node.js and Ruby on Rails are two competing software solutions that are designed from the start for the creation of web applications. And, if you are on the way to becoming a full-stack developer, then you probably already surfed the Internet with requests like Ruby on Rails vs Node JS, Ruby or Javascript, Node JS vs Ruby, or Ruby vs Node. How to choose between these two solutions? This article should help to understand what to choose.

Node.js Overview

To begin with, unlike Ruby on Rails, Node.js is not a framework in a classic sense, but JavaScript development environment based on the Chrome V8 JavaScript engine. Therefore, it would be more honest to compare it with Ruby on Rails not directly, but with a help of some Node.js derived framework, also based on the MVC model, such as Express.js or Koa.js. Why is the internet literally “dazzling” with such comparisons then? Given the tremendous growth in functions and capabilities of Node.js that is observed over the past few years, this toolkit is extremely popular among startups, which many top development environments cannot boast. Below we seek to find out in more detail what causes such a demand for Node.js.

1. The versatility of syntax. Some developers, previously unskilled with JavaScript, complain about the rather steep learning curve of Node.js. This is explained, above all, by their commitment to the declarative coding style that is practiced in the PHP. However, professional full-stack developers have to be proficient in the imperative style inherent to JavaScript. Once you have learned the basics of JS, you will get extremely strong knowledge, which in the future helps to be able to participate in the creation of both front- and backends.

2. Excellent set of development tools. Node.js contains a powerful instrument – NPM, which is a package manager that allows complementing the created software with the additional functionality. The NPM modules are universalized to such a level as to be suitable for the integration into third-party solutions. In practice, this allows focusing the team’s activities on developing the application core and very specific functionality, while the routine capabilities are implemented with a help of ready-made plugins.

3. Greatly extended JavaScript capabilities. Before the advent of Node.js, JavaScript was used only to create relatively simple web applications that operated over browsers. In turn, through Node.js, developers can create hybrid, desktop and mobile applications and even program microchips that manage electronic network equipment widely used in the Internet of Things concept.

4. Increased performance. The V8 engine, integrated into Node.js, is characterized by an incredibly high performance in comparison with earlier engines, such as JScript, SpiderMonkey, etc. In V8, compilation and garbage collection problems were mostly eliminated. In addition, hidden classes and built-in caches were introduced, which additionally increased the application performance in client-server interactions.

5. Adaptability to the API creation. Node.js is an ideal tool for the API creation. For instance, a bundle of Node.js, Express.js, and MongoDB can be used (additionally, Angular.js may be employed for the creation of a qualitative user interface). In particular, in order to develop a template API with several basic functions (for example, processing the client HTTP requests and a primitive interaction with the DBMS) a couple of hours would be enough.

6. Growing functionality. The capabilities of Node.js are progressing rapidly. In particular, Node.js is already used to create the relatively novel IoT applications such as fitness trackers or smart home controllers. Node.js is best suited for these purposes.

ruby on rails vs node js

Ruby on Rails Overview

Now let us review the features of Ruby on Rails, an advanced and efficient MVC framework, which has not lost its relevance since the first release back in 2004.

1. Rapid creation of large-scale applications. The Ruby language augmented by the RoR bundle’s capabilities is ideal for the quick creation of large-scale projects with complex business logic. Due to the extremely simple integration with external databases, the need for linking the third-party sources is minimized. Thus, capacitive solutions, such as online shopping and corporate resource management sites can be developed easily.

2. Ease of learning. The original concept of RoR, which is clearly tracked in all its versions, implies an extremely low entry threshold for novice developers. As practice shows, in order to learn and begin to confidently use this development environment, only about a month would be needed. The coding in object-oriented Ruby is guided by clearly defined rules that facilitate unambiguous designation of algorithms and minimize possibilities for making careless mistakes.

3. Large online community. As already noted, Ruby on Rails is a fairly mature development environment. It is no surprise that it has an incredibly large developer community. Faced with a difficult case? Most likely, you will be able to find a ready-made solution on the internet.

4. Modular application structure. The main principle of RoR is “Do not repeat yourself”. Ruby on Rails is focused on the creation of modular applications. Thanks to this, Rails is ideally suited for IT companies that seek to minimize the effort spent on developing new projects or creating the universal templates that can later be adapted to the needs of a particular customer without problems.

5. Code readability. Due to the predetermined programming paradigm, RoR is perfect for large teams, where more than a dozen developers work on a single project. One does not need to spend hours understanding the code written by other programmers. Due to the clear interpretation of code structures, they are interpreted extremely easily, which cannot but rejoice those who appreciate every minute of their working time.

6. Simple integration with free plugins. Ruby Gems is the ideal free toolkit for RoR developers, which can be found on the Github. The only nuance of this plugin repository is the lack of filtering based on purpose. The creators of gems try to solve this problem by including the characteristic words that allow identifying the possibilities that a particular plugin implements to its name.

Node.js vs Rails – is there a clean winner?

Let us sum up – who won the battle Ruby on Rails vs Node JS? Based on the feedback from the developers, Node.js is making notable strides towards constant improvement. Demanding only the knowledge of JavaScript, this solution is ideal for beginners. In turn, Ruby on Rails, although it needs a more thorough study (in addition to JavaScript, you will also need knowledge of SQL and Ruby), provides a comprehensive approach to creating applications that in the future will be incredibly easy to scale or modify. In particular, in comparison of the mean stack vs Rails, you can definitely pick Rails due to its integral structures for developing the frontend and backend. Thus, in the Rails vs Node confrontation, we also tend to choose the former, in view of its time-tested functionality and extreme convenience for the teamwork.

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