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The Engineering Case for Node

Dan Shaw

  • Rich clients
  • Responsive services

Users expect experiences to be cohesive among all devices

  • Internet of things
  • Embedded devices

Javascript - An approachable, pervasive language that powers all platforms

Rapid cycle time from ideation to implementation

Other languages like Java require too much prerequisite scaffolding before you can even start tackling your problem domain

"By 2017, JavaScript will be the most in-demand language skill in application development (AD)." -Forrester Research 2014

History of Node.js

  • 2009: Hello, world! by Ryan Dahl to solve a problem
    • Node excels at the application development level
    • Golang excels at the systems level
  • 2010: early adopters, package managers (kiwi, npm)
  • 2011: it works (everywhere)
  • 2012: realtime all the things! (
  • 2013: enterprise proof (walmart, paypal)
  • 2014: large scale node.js

The Engineering Challenge

  • Monoliths
    • Slow--in responding to customer needs
    • Time--six months to two years behind
  • Shipping code wins
    • Customers don't care about the backend, only the experience

The Frontend Backend

  • Monolithic services in the backend (or a plurality)
  • Frontend user experience
  • Lightweight Node.js "Frontend Backend" (in the middle)

{} Backend Services <====> Node.js Frontend Backend <====> HTML5 Frontend

Some companies have tried Node.js for a "hack-day" and have been surprised that they were able to deliver an idea that had been a dream for years.

Benefits of a Frontend Backend

  • Frontline of Customer Experience
  • Enabling developers to be masters of their own destiny
  • Separate concerns
  • Avoid excessive abstraction
  • Avoid context switching (reduce mental fatigue)

Embracing Node.js

API or Die

  • Remove the multiple data storage abstractions from infrastructure
  • Allow you to focus on the important tiers of the application
  • Database-specific things in your data model creates noise

Proxies All the Way Down

  • Layers talking to other layers
  • Adapt more flexibly

Test Early and Often

  • Incorporate wholistic testing
  • Continuous Integration/Deployment because it requires developers to think about their code


  • Empower your developers
  • Focus on the meaningful portions of code



How do you convince your manager?

  • Shipping code wins--prove it with small projects first
  • The Business Case for Node

What do you do when the backend is SOAP?

  • NPM view SOAP
  • Proxy all the way down
  • Lightweight layer in front of the SOAP to convert XML to JSON