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Deno vs. Node.js: All You Need to Know

Node.js vs. Deno? What to choose? Welcome to the discussion of this question.

Deno vs. Node.js

What is Deno?

Let’s begin our review with the delineation of the primary platform. So, what does Deno represent? It is a relatively new runtime environment based on JavaScript and TypeScript. The creator is one of the greatest intrigues about the platform. Meet Ryan Dahl. Yes, that Ryan Dahl who created the Node.js environment in 2009. 

What made him go rogue against his own platform? The famous programmer claims he wants to correct some big mistakes he has allowed during the creation of Node.js. What were those problems? 

  • Firstly, Dahl sought to fix package management issues inherent in Node.js. 
  • Secondly, he strived to provide more security for the platform. 
  • Lastly, the programmer also aimed to remove a set of outdated libraries based on his most popular runtime. 

So, Deno offers its users the ability to download packages from third-party providers, sandboxes all activities, and uses Rust (rather than C++) as its basis. This small platform is a perfect path to improve one’s developer experience.

What is Node js?

Now, let’s define the second participant of our competition. Node.js is a runtime environment developed by the aforementioned Ryan Dahl, which enables JavaScript back-end. Several essential features define Node.js development today. 

Above all, it is highly modular. Node Package Manager (npm) offers a centralized place for many libraries. You can download thousands upon thousands of packages to upgrade your work process. More importantly, the centralized nature of the platform makes it rather safe. The users typically don’t get any packages without at least some real-life testing. 

Another important thing about the platform is its ease of work with permissions. Instead of having to go through a wide range of authorizations, you can make decisions on the platform fast. Node.js rarely asks for explicit permissions, requiring little time for fast coding. Thus, it is perfect for dynamic projects of various kinds that need daily updates and require a large number of specialists.

The fact that C++ forms its basis is also a vital thing for performance. A development team of Netflix has, for instance, made their site very comfortable and fast with Node.js. So, it’s a platform with a proven track record.

The concentration on one of the most popular programming languages, JavaScript, helps the runtime too. Generally, the Deno vs. Node.js competition is bound to be very interesting. Both platforms offer some great capabilities.

Deno vs. Node: What is the difference?

For many newcomers, finding differences between the platforms may be challenging. Node vs. Deno competition is often a rather complex thing to understand. Still, let’s try to understand it more or less well. Preceding sections have already noted some points of criticism that led to the creation of Deno. Let’s take a look at them in detail and compare the runtime with Node.js.

  • Firstly, Deno differs regarding the platform at its core. While Node.js, as mentioned previously, uses C++ as its basis, Deno centers on Rust. Originally, Dahl wrote Deno code in Go but transitioned to another language after seeing some garbage collection problems. The approach allows the platform to resolve many issues with various dependencies and legacy libraries. Node.js, based on the rather old code of C++, needs more effort for development.
  • Secondly, one can’t do a comparison without mentioning the package managers. Node.js has a centralized package manager. Contrary to that, Deno allows using packages from multiple sources. Often, all you have to do is provide a link to the platform with the code you want personally. More importantly, it has a monolithic foundation in comparison to Node.js. While an average Node.js programmer has to literally construct their platform from the basics, Deno appears to be well-structured. If you use the existing Deno Foundations and Deno Core, you should have no significant issues with utilizing them as is. More importantly, the runtime has a strong dependency inspector. Thus, fewer dependency hell problems are present than in the case of Node.js. Even though the non-package-manager nature of the platform can be confusing for some people, it represents significant advantages that can positively impact development.
  • Thirdly, the contest also includes the problem of security. The platforms handle it differently. Deno concentrates on creating a very secure runtime. The runtime launches almost everything in a sandbox and doesn’t do anything without permissions. At the same time, Node.js has a more relaxed approach. Fewer permissions for environment variables are necessary, reducing the amount of time average development takes.
  • Lastly, Node.js vs. Deno competition also involves the programming language they use. The primary platform is mostly JavaScript-centric. Its basic modules concentrate on this development method. Deno Foundations are less prescriptive. You can use both JavaScript and TypeScript. Of course, no one prohibits you from using TypeScript in Node.js. Still, if you want a runtime with a higher level of adaptation, Deno is superior to Node in this regard.

Generally, as you may see, the differences between the platforms are rather significant. The main question is the following: do they really translate into some large-scale advantages?

Deno vs. Node.js: Performance

Ultimately, let’s transition to one of the most critical questions:

Is Deno faster than Node.js? Who wins the competition?

Here, the answer depends on what you want. If you need to get more information through HTTP, Node.js is a better choice. Its C++ basis handles large volumes of data a little bit more efficiently. 

At the same time, don’t discount Deno that easily. When it comes to latency, the platform is an unquestionable leader (albeit by some tiny and barely visible milliseconds). It can genuinely work with a lower number of delays. So, if you develop a browser-centric online game, using Deno may be an optimal choice. The runtime will give more tools to provide the average gamers with greater experience. 

Still, the overall impressions of the performance comparisons are inconclusive. Both platforms are high-speed, and no significant differences are present between them.

Is Deno more secure than Node.js?

There’s no clear answer for this question either. 

On paper, Deno without any major addons is a more secure platform. The Deno Foundations require a large number of permissions for different actions. More importantly, the runtime tries to start everything in a highly secure sandbox. In contrast, Node concentrates less on various permissions, opening up some potential loopholes. 

The problems with Deno arise regarding its package system (or its lack). While Node.js offers a centralized repository for most of its libraries, you can download packages for Deno from many places. There is no need to tell what this implies? Some social engineering can wreak a lot of havoc, right? Still, Node.js is far from being perfect in this regard too. The NPM stores compiled versions of the packages. As a result, controlling the things within them is far from easy. Some scandals when people inserted malignant code into certain packages happened in the past. With Deno, one can at least perform audits since they offer access to code rather than compiled options.

Thus, the Deno/Node competition begins to be rather tricky. Vanilla Deno with well-tested sources can be secure. Still, Node’s package manager is simply more reliable for complex projects. After all, if you develop something large, you need certain advanced libraries.

Is Deno better than Node.js? Will Deno replace Node?

As for the first question, Deno is undoubtedly better in some situations and worse in others. You have to take a look at your specific circumstances while making the decisions. 

Regarding the second one, Deno is unlikely to dethrone Node.  Ultimately, Deno isn’t a mere upgrade of Node even if Dahl wanted to correct some ‘errors.’ The famous programmer himself admits in specific interviews that his new platform is nothing but an alternative for Node rather than a replacement. Still, a minor chance for a revolution is possible: if the developers remove some barriers for migration to Deno, it can attract many people.

So, it features certain strengths and limitations outlined above. Deno has all the chances to grow into a robust platform once it gets as many frameworks as the competitor. Still, the new creation of Dahl will exist alongside Node rather than instead of it.

To wrap Up

In the end, the competition between the two platforms of Ryan Dahl will be interesting to see. Many programmers will use Deno for one set of tasks and Node for others. Therefore, if you want to upgrade your programming skills, don’t hesitate to learn both platforms. They are capable of giving you tremendous back-end development opportunities.

Are you still confused about the runtime environments?

You can always contact us to get some help regarding Node.js and Deno programming.

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