Choice of a back-end technology is one of the most critical decisions that an app developer has to make as that has long-term implications for your business. Both Node.js and Golang are popular choices for back-end technologies and have been around for quite some time.
In this article, I am going to present an objective comparison between Go and Node.js so that you can arrive at an informed decision regarding the choice of a programming language for your next app.
We'll carefully examine the pros and cons of these two programming languages to see how they compare on various parameters and answer the question, “Does Golang have a future?”.
Go is a statically typed, compiled programming language designed at Google by Robert Griesemer, Rob Pike, and Ken Thompson. It is syntactically similar to C, but with memory safety, garbage collection, structural typing, and CSP-style concurrency.
Go was designed at Google in 2007 to improve programming productivity in an era of multicore, networked machines and large codebases. The designers wanted to address criticism of other languages in use at Google, but keep their useful characteristics which are namely:
Node.js has an event-driven architecture capable of asynchronous I/O using callbacks, promises and async/await. These design choices aim to optimize throughput and scalability in web applications with many input/output operations, as well as for real-time web applications like real-time chat applications.
Performance as measured by app load and response times directly correlates to user experience. Go exhibits similar performance as C and C++ as it directly compiles to machine code. Hence, in terms of raw performance Go wins hands down over Node.js.
Both Go and Node.js feature a garbage collector, which prevents memory leaks and helps in reclaiming unused memory. Apart from providing effective memory management this also reduces security vulnerabilities.
Although Node.js is single threaded, Worker threads became stable in Node.js v12 LTS is a useful module if you need to do CPU-intensive tasks in your Node.js application. They provide the same behaviour as threads without sharing memory and, thus, avoid the potential race conditions threads introduce. Node.js uses the V8 engine for fast processing and boasts a robust tech stack too.
Both Go and Node.js are well suited for developing REST APIs and microservices. In real life, Golang and Node.js display almost equal performance.
Golang has built-in concurrency constructs: goroutines and channels. Goroutines are cheap, lightweight threads. Channels are the conduits that allow for communication between goroutines.
Both Node.js and Golang help developers code scalable apps, however, Golang does better in this regard.
Go does have some nice libraries and packages to use, but it doesn’t appear it will catch up with Node.js anytime soon. As a developer, you’ll be doing a lot more of the programming groundwork. Golang’s community is still small and new. It is definitely growing in popularity, but it has yet to reach its full potential.
Hence, when it comes to the availability of development tools and community size Node.js wins hands down over Golang.
In Golang, full-stack developers are required to learn everything from scratch about a new back-end framework like its specific processes, concepts, rules, pointers, strict typing, interfaces, coroutines, database connections and a bunch of other stuff. Hence, Golang has a steeper learning curve compared to Node.js.
Good Node.js developers are relatively easier to find and therefore cheaper to recruit compared to Golang developers. You’ll also be able to find good agencies with rich experience easily to help you with your project at a reasonable price.
With Node.js, you only use one runtime environment to code both the front-end and back-end of your proposed web application. You are hiring full-stack developers when you hire Node.js developers.
Given the edge that Golang has when it comes to raw performance and scalability there is the possibility that Golang may surpass Node.js in popularity and adoption in the near future.
Having said that, Node.js is not going down without fighting and is definitely here to stay for the near term due to its greater popularity and large and active community. Hence, Golang and Node.js are going to co-exist for quite some time in the future.
There is no clear winner here as the programming language to choose for building your app back-end depends on several factors. Some of these include:
Every choice of technology you make comes with trade-offs and you will need to decide based on both technical and business considerations.