Isn't it frustrating when 2 equally "tempting" web technologies compete for your preference, if you're a developer, and for your resources if you're a company? Take these 2 highly popular technologies which have divided the web community into 2 groups: each one comes with its own heavy load of advantages, balanced by their sets of drawbacks, too! In conclusion: in the Node.js vs Ruby on Rails debate there's no such thing as “THE technology that fits all use cases and scenarios”. There's only “THE one that makes the best fit for... you”!
For your needs as a web developer and for your current web project(s)'s particular needs, too!
Still, you can't tell which one the 2 “rivaling” web technologies best suits you/your current web project until you've made an inventory of their advantages and disadvantages, right?
To save you valuable time I've summed them up for you!
So here is its, a comparative overview of Node.js's and Ruby on Rails' strong and weak points:
12 Reasons Why Node.JS Could Best Fit Your Scenario
And it's precisely speed and scalability that makes it an excellent choice if it's building a web server, a real-time app or a networking tool that your web project implies.
Now, let's delve straight into its “pile” of tempting advantages:
1. It's packed with some powerful libraries
… such as libuv., a super fast library handling non-blocking I/O.
2. The same language can be used both on the back-end and the front-end
… so, both on the server- and the client-side. Needless to add that this can only lead to time-efficiency: practically your 2 teams, the front-end and the back-end developers, can easily merge into one team, since the language they use is the same. They get to easily send and synchronize data from back-end to front-end.
3. It “boasts” high running speed
No wonder, since Google's V8 engine powers this platform!
The really great news for you, as a developer, is that the code you'll write (just make sure you write it correctly!) runs considerably fast in Node.js. Practically, depending on your specific scenario, it can be even 20 times faster than its “rival”, Ruby on Rails.
If performance was the only criterion in a Node.js vs Ruby on Rails “competition”, the later wouldn't stand a chance to “dethrone” Node!
4. It's a full-stack web technology
Meaning that you get everything you need out-of-the-box, wrapped in a package! “Everything” from HTTP server to template engine.
5. It scales wonderfully
6. It lifts some of that heavy load off your servers
Since Node.js uses a lot fewer servers than Rails.
7. It's easy to deploy, monitor and support
8. It enhances code sharing
Thanks to its NPM packages web developers in your team get to reuse, update and share their codes with great ease!
And even apply them to the web projects that you're all working on, leveraging them for coming up with their own solutions to the web development challenges that might arise!
9. It's asynchronous
Enabling you to carry out several tasks while querying.
A major efficiency boost bubbling up to the web development process!
10. It excels at data streaming
So if it's a web project involving processing files while uploading (e.g. encoding audio or video in real-time), Node.js is perfect for the job!
11. It can be easily used as a proxy server
Here's another advantage inclining the Node.js vs Ruby on Rails balance to the former technology's side! You get to use Node.js to proxy certain services having different response times.
12. It's built to power real-time apps (in particular)
And it's all because of its built-in capacity to handle data streaming, multiple requests, like no other web technology that you could choose from (Ruby on Rails here included).
So, if your web project calls for a non-blocking or event-based server... go for it! Go for Node.js!
2 Disadvantages That Could Make You Think Twice Before Choosing Node.js
OK, so you get unmatched scalability, top-notch performance and the same codebase for both the client and server-side.Yet, no web technology's perfect!
Node.js, too, comes with its own drawbacks. Such as:
1. Its Unstable API
Keeping things running on the latest version is a tricky, nasty little challenge with Node.js: it takes multiple, tedious changes to apply to your codebase since Node API comes up with a new backward-incompatible way at pretty much every new release.
2. Its Incapacity to Handle CPU Intensive Requests
As already mentioned, Node.js can process multiple requests and big flows of data like no other. Yet, it doesn't do such a great job when it comes to processor intensive tasks.
6 Reasons Why Ruby on Rails Could Best Fit Your Scenario
The object-programming framework has been powering apps since 1993. And even if now it's “forced” to share its glory with “newcomers”, its significantly heavy load of advantages still makes it highly popular among web developers and companies.
Let's sum up the key ones:
1. It's a flexible framework
2. It cuts down web development time
And time efficiency, when developing using Ruby on Rails, is given by three main factors (or features):
- the Model-View-Controller, enabling several devs to work on the same project at the same time (some might focus on models/views, while their co-workers can simultaneously work on controllers); time-efficiency at its best!
- Ruby on Rails comes already packed with lots of ready-made solutions (models, plugins etc.). And “ready-made” and “out-of-the-box” sure are synonyms for “time efficiency” during a web development process, right?
- thanks to its consistent structure and methodology, devs are kind of “constrained” to be efficient in their work. There are rules to be followed, coding conventions to abide by, making developing in Ruby on Rails more streamlined, more... time-effective
3. Its language is highly expressive
A powerful feature, which enables developers to easily express their apps' logic in an intuitive manner. Ruby on Rails' language is simply... ideally readable!
4. It Takes Security Seriously
Ruby on Rails comes both with:
- pre-built security-related features (speaking of the “rules” that developers need to comply with, well they're not just boosting their efficiency, but putting security risks to a minimum, as well)
- and ongoing security-oriented support coming from its vast community of developers, who keep running tests on the new plugins
5. It can be easily migrated from one platform to another
6. It's easy to test, to read and to maintain
And this comes from the “Keep the code simple” philosophy shared across the Ruby on Rails community!
It's not just that the code is kept safe from unnecessary complexities, but Ruby on Rails also:
- comes with an easy to use tool: Minitest (providing them with BDD, TDD, mocking etc)
- makes testing your own project's code and building your ideally structured architecture a breeze
6 Disadvantages That Could Make You Reconsider Choosing Ruby on Rails
That's right, Ruby on Rails might still be powering the overwhelming majority of web apps out there, yet it does have its own “weak points”, too. Otherwise, we wouldn't be referring to a certain “Node.js vs Ruby on Rails” rivalry, right?
And here they are:
1. It does require outstanding programming skills
So, it's not precisely a “plug and play” web technology solution, do keep that in mind!
2. It “consumes” more processing power
3. It's slow
Compared to any other popular technology, not just to Node.js
4. It provides documentation for popular frameworks only
5. It's not as easy to work with when used on large projects
6. It comes with large stack frames
And this aspect will negatively impact all your future debugging tasks!
Node.js vs Ruby on Rails: Summing Up Their Pros and Cons
Don't expect me to advocate for one technology or another. This is not the goal I had in mind when I first started to write this blog post here.
You do the math yourself!
Sum up their advantages and disadvantages, see which ones (meaning the pros) are top priorities for your own current web project, which ones will make you more efficient in your work as a web developer, then examine their shortcomings, as well.
And see to which side the balance inclines!