Bridging the Gap: From Node.JS Novice to Expert Developer

by Sheila Mulholland
September 26, 2023
Node JS Developer - PTP

The average web developer earns around $80 K per year by making apps. The average person staring at a cool app on their phone asking, “Why couldn’t I do that?” earns $0K per year by wondering. The gap between the two isn’t as wide as you might think – by steadily building your understanding of environments like Node.JS that help power the modern web, you too can take steps towards a lucrative career in technology. Below, you’ll learn about the most important Node.JS skills for aspiring developers to develop, and how each skill will help you further your goal of working in tech.

  1. Node.JS Defined 
  2. JavaScript 
  3. Database Management 
  4. Version Control 
  5. Asynchronous Programming 


What is Node.JS? 

Node.JS is an open-source runtime environment that facilitates developers in deploying JavaScript for swifter, more straightforward server-side (and client-side) scripting. While Node.JS isn’t a “programming language” in the strictest sense, seasoned developers will attest that crafting a web app or program without it can be quite challenging.  

If an app requires impressive speed, vast scalability, or both, Node.JS is the go-to. Familiar apps like PayPal, Netflix, and Uber are just a few examples powered by Node.JS.

[RELATED: DevOps Decoded: Unleash the Power of Collaboration.]


If you noticed “JavaScript” cropping up a few times in the previous paragraph where we defined Node.JS, it won’t come as a surprise to you now that one of the most fundamental skills you need to work with Node.JS is JavaScript. JavaScript, which was created all the way back in 1995, is a programming language that’s widely considered to be one of the core technologies of the web; by some estimates, approximately 98% of all modern-day webpages make use of JavaScript, typically for client-side operations.  

To distinguish between the two, know that Node.JS is a JavaScript runtime environment. It takes JavaScript beyond the confines of a browser, enabling it to run as designated. Therefore, to excel in Node.JS, mastering JavaScript is paramount. The upside? Node.JS lets you manage server-side coding without the necessity of mastering an additional programming language. Convenient! 


Database Management 

Since two of the main concerns that led to the creation of Node.JS were scalability and speed, how can you as a developer make sure that your applications are up to par? While you could refactor and refactor and refactor your code in search of the most ‘optimal’ and minimalist solution possible, it’s often much more effective for new developers to learn the ins and outs of proper database management instead. In fact, Node.JS is perfectly positioned to help you grow here, shipping with a module intended to help with database management. 

When selecting a database management system (DBMS)—which oversees the storage, security, and foundational structure of databases—there are several contenders like MySQL, SQLite, and PostgreSQL. No matter your choice, deepening your knowledge is crucial. After all, an app disconnected from its primary database is basically inoperative. But as experts like the team at RisingStack point out, “…with proper logging, monitoring, in-depth understanding of platforms and tooling you can scale & serve millions of customers in real-time.”

[RELATED: Automation has the power to transform QA testing.] 


Source Control Tools 

This may prove to be a contentious tip since we know quite a few skilled developers who are up front that they don’t bother with source control (also called version control) at all if they’re developing a project entirely on their own.  

Some of these developers reason that since all the changes are coming from only one developer and not an entire team, it’s too much additional work to maintain an entire repository. And some simply don’t prefer it at all – like Tarn Adams, the creator of Dwarf Fortress: 

“I don’t even use version control. If you don’t know what that is then you’re not gonna yell at me. If you even know what version control is you’re gonna be like, ‘You don’t use version control? You don’t use source control? What is wrong with you? How can you even work?’” 

Yet for novices, it’s advisable to familiarize yourself with version control, even when working alone. As the experts at GitLab explain,  

“Version control (or source control or revision control) serves as a safety net to protect the source code from irreparable harm, giving the development team the freedom to experiment without fear of causing damage or creating code conflicts.”  

So, while it’s most often useful in team programming situations, it’s also a great way to test variant solutions, roll back to previous states and compare, and in general protect the integrity of your code. 


Asynchronous Programming 

Asynchronous programming, a cornerstone of Node.JS, is indispensable for anyone aspiring to become a developer. To quote the experts at Mozilla: 

“Asynchronous programming allows your program to commence a potentially long-running task, remaining responsive to other events in the interim, rather than awaiting the task’s completion.” 

For a simpler analogy, think of a bustling restaurant. As orders pour in, waiters don’t idly stand by waiting for each dish’s completion—they’re constantly on the move, ensuring a steady workflow. In a synchronous scenario, waiters would wait (and probably irritate the chef). 

In Node.JS, the event loop processes incoming requests continuously, managing your various asynchronous operations. Mastering this interplay between operations and events is pivotal to creating efficient apps. Hence, practice is crucial to understand its intricacies and troubleshoot effectively. 


Wrapping Up: Where To Next? 

Now that you know what concepts to prioritize as you continue exploring and learning Node.JS, we hope you feel inspired to get out there and create something amazing. If you can give yourself a solid foundation in JavaScript, get database practice, train yourself always to use source control, and master working asynchronously via the event loop, you’ll be much better positioned to turn your ideas into real-world applications.  


The tech world beckons—your move. 

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