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What Is NodeJS? - 09/05/2018

I'm an experienced web developer. I've been coding in VB.Net for over 15 years now. I'm familiar with IIS. I know my HTML and have a working understanding of CSS. But NodeJS has knocked me sideways.

IIS is a "thing" that serves up webpages. It's there on the server. You click a few things and enter a few settings and you're hosting a web page. Apache isn't too much different, the principal is the same, it's a web server. They both listen on port 80 (or port 443 for https). A request comes in, it looks at the URL, decides which file to send and whoosh! It sends it on its way.

Both IIS and Apache can be twiddled such that if a request ending in .php or .aspx (or whatever else you configure) rather than simply sending the requested file it will check the file for code then process that code before sending the file.

It's all very simple - well it is if you've been doing it for 15 years.

Now I'm asked to use NodeJS. Well it'll be another web server configured to process JavaScript code before sending the file out. Simples. Erm. Nope.

NodeJS is nothing more than a JavaScript interpreter...make things like that. Basically if you write a JavaScript file then tell NodeJS to run it it will run it. That's it. Kind of like installing old style basic onto your PC. Nothing more. Zip, nada, nowt.

So why the deuce are loads of blinking uber-nerds using it to do web server things? That...that I don't know because I haven't quite got the suss of it as yet.

NodeJS does have the backing of a lot of uber-geeks though who are busily writing "modules" for NodeJS. Modules? Yeah. Javascripts that can be "dropped in" to a folder and their functions can be called. THESE...THESE are the things that make NodeJS useful and can turn it into a web server. Sort of.

How why and what I will cover in another post but if you're new to NodeJS get this into your head. NODEJS is NOT A WEBSERVER! It's something that can process JavaScript scripts that's all.

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