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Yaryna KordubaYaryna KordubaFull-Stack Software Developer

NodeJS vs Python: Choosing the Best Technology to Develop Back-End of Your Web App

We take courage in both hands and claim that one of these technologies is winning it. Which one?

node vs python
Thank you to Oleg Romanyuk for coauthoring this article.

Node.js and Python are among the most popular technologies for back-end development. The rule has it that there is no better or worse programming language, that everything depends on the preferences of a particular developer. Yet, in this article, I am going to take my courage in both hands and claim that one of these technologies – NodeJS vs Python 3 – is winning it. Which one? Let’s see.

The comparison criteria that I am going to consider are:

  1. Brief overview

  2. Architecture

  3. Speed

  4. Syntax

  5. Scalability

  6. Extensibility

  7. Libraries

  8. Universality

  9. Learning curve

  10. Community

  11. Apps it is best suitable for

Before I jump into detailed side-by-side comparison, you can have a look at the infographics to get some general understanding.

node vs python

Brief overview

NodeJS

NodeJS is not a programming language but an open-sourced runtime environment for JavaScript. It was initially released in 2009 by Ryan Dahl. The latest version – NodeJS 12.6.0 – was released in July 2019.

The most outstanding thing about Node.js application development is that it is based on Google’s V8 engine. It is a virtual machine with built-in interpreter, compilers, and optimizers. Written in C++, this engine was designed by Google to be used in Google Chrome. The purpose of this engine is to compile JavaScript functions into a machine code. V8 is well-known for its high speed and constantly advancing performance.

Python

Python is an open-sourced high-level programming language. It was first released in 1991 by Guido van Rossum. The latest version is Python 3.8, and it was released in October 2019. Yet, Python 3.7 is still more popular.

Python mainly runs on Google’s App Engine. Also developed by Google, the App Engine gives an opportunity to develop web apps with Python and benefit from numerous libraries and tools that the best Python developers use. 

NodeJS vs Python: 0 – 0


Architecture

NodeJS

Node.js is designed as an event-driven environment, which enables asynchronous input/output. A certain process is called as soon as the respective event occurs, which means that no process blocks the thread. The event-driven architecture of Node.js is perfectly suitable for the development of chat applications and web games.

Python

By contrast, Python is not designed that way. It does have the possibility of building an asynchronous and event-driven app with the help of special tools. Such a module as asyncio makes it possible to write asynchronous code in Python as it would be done in Node.js. Yet, this library is not built in most Python frameworks, and in any case, it requires some additional hustle.

The event-driven architecture brings Node.js the first point.

NodeJS vs Python: 1 – 0


Speed

NodeJS

First of all, since JavaScript code in Node.js is interpreted with V8 engine, which Google invests heavily into, the performance of this framework is remarkable. Secondly, Node.js executes the code outside the web browser, so the app is more resource-efficient and performs better. This also gives a possibility to use features that cannot be used in a browser, such as TCP sockets. Thirdly, the event-driven non-blocking architecture enables several requests to be processed at the same time, which accelerates code execution. Finally, single module caching is enabled in Node.js, which reduces app loading time and makes it more responsive.

Python

Both Python and JavaScript are interpreted languages, and they are generally slower than compiled languages, such as Java. Yet, Python still loses to Node.js. Unlike Node.js, Python is single-flow, and the requests are processed much slower. So, Python is not the best choice for apps that prioritize speed and performance or involve a lot of complex calculations. Therefore, Python web applications are slower than Node.js web applications.

Since Node.js is faster, it wins a point in terms of Node JS vs Python performance and speed.

NodeJS vs Python: 2 – 0


Syntax

NodeJS

Syntax, for the most part, is a matter of personal preference. If I start telling that one is better and the other one is worse, I am going to face a lot of criticism and skepticism from our readers. In fact, Node.js syntax is quite similar to that of browser's JavaScript. Therefore, if you are well-familiar with JavaScript, you are not going to have any difficulties with Node.js.  

Python

Python’s syntax is often called the greatest advantage of it. While coding in Python, software developers need to write fewer code lines than if they were coding in Node.js. The syntax is very simple, and it is free of curly brackets. Respectively, the code is much easier to read and debug. In fact, Python code is so readable that it can be understood by clients with some technical background. But again, it depends on personal preferences. 

Only because Python syntax is easier to understand and to learn for beginners than the syntax of Node.js, Python wins a point here.

NodeJS vs Python: 2 – 1


Scalability

NodeJS

Node.js development spares you the need to create a large monolithic core. You create a set of microservices and modules instead, and each of them will communicate with a lightweight mechanism and run its own process. You can easily add an extra microservice and module, which makes the development process flexible. You can easily scale a Node.js web app both horizontally and vertically. To scale it horizontally, you add new nodes to the system you have. To scale it vertically, you add extra resources to the nodes you have. Also, in terms of typing, in Node.js you have more options than in Python. You can use weakly-typed JavaScript or strongly-typed TypeScript.

Python

For the app to be scalable, multithreading needs to be enabled. Yet, Python does not support multithreading because it uses Global Interpreter Lock (GIL). Although Python has libs for multithreading, it is not "true" multithreading. Even if you have multiple threads, GIL does not let Python interpreter perform a few tasks simultaneously but makes it run only one thread at a time. Python has to use GIL even though it negatively affects performance because Python's memory management is not thread-safe. Furthermore, Python is dynamically-typed. Yet, dynamically-typed languages are not suitable for large projects with the growing development team. When growing, the system gradually becomes excessively complex and difficult to maintain. 

Evidently, Python somewhat loses to Node.js in terms of scalability.

NodeJS vs Python: 3 – 1


Extensibility

NodeJS

Node.js can be easily customized, extended, and integrated with various tools. It can be extended with the help of built-in APIs for developing HTTP or DNS servers. It can be integrated with Babel – a JS compiler, which will facilitate front-end development with old versions of Node or browser. Jasmine will be helpful for unit-testing, and Log.io will be helpful for project monitoring and troubleshooting. For data migration, process management, and module bundling, you can use Migrat, PM2, and Webpack. Moreover, Node.js can be extended with such frameworks as Express, Hapi, Meteor, Koa, Fastify, Nest, Restify, and others.

Python

Python was introduced in 1991, and throughout its history, a lot of development tools and frameworks have been created. For example, Python can be integrated with a popular code editor Sublime Text, which offers some additional editing features and syntax extensions. For test automation, there is Robot Framework. There are also a few powerful web development frameworks, such as Django, Flask, Pyramid, Web2Py, or CherryPy. 

So, both networks are easily extensible, and both win a point.

Node JS vs Python: 4 – 2


Libraries

NodeJS

In Node.js, libraries and packages are managed by NPM – the Node Package Manager. It is one of the biggest repositories of software libraries. NPM is fast, well-documented, and easy to learn to work with.

Python

In Python, the management of libraries and packages is ensured by Pip, which stands for “Pip installs Python”. Pip is fast, reliable, and understandable, so developers find it easy to learn to work with it.

Node JS vs Python: 5 – 3


Universality

NodeJS

Node.js is predominantly used for the back-end development of web applications. Yet, for front-end development, you use JavaScript so that both front-end and back-end share the same programming language. With Node.js, you can develop not only web apps but also desktop and hybrid mobile apps, cloud and IoT solutions. Moreover, it is cross-platform, meaning that a developer can create a single desktop application that will work on Windows, Linux, and Mac. Such universality is a great way to reduce project costs since one team of developers can do all the job. 

Python

Python is full-stack, so it can be used both for back-end and front-end development. Similarly to Node.js, Python is cross-platform, so, for example, a Python program written on Mac will run on Linux. Both Mac and Linux have Python pre-installed, but on Windows, you should install the Python interpreter yourself. Yet, while Python is great for web and desktop development, it is rather weak at mobile computing. Therefore, mobile applications are generally not written in Python. As for IoT and AI solutions, the popularity of Python as a language for writing these is growing.

In terms of universality, Node.js and Python go nose to nose. It would be fair to grant each with a point.

Node JS vs Python: 6 – 4


Learning curve

NodeJS

Node.js is JavaScript-based and can be easily learned by beginning developers. As soon as you have some knowledge of JavaScript, mastering Node.js should not be a problem. Installing Node.js is quite simple. Yet, Node.js introduces some advanced topics, and for example, it may be difficult to understand its event-driven architecture at once. Indeed, the event-driven architecture has an outstanding impact on the app performance, but the developers need some time to master it. Nonetheless, the entry threshold of Node.js is still quite low. At the same time, if a programming language has a low entry threshold, there might be a lot of unprofessional developers. For you as a developer, it poses a threat of being unable to find a job in such a busy employment market. However, if you are confident and have a great portfolio, you can easily solve this problem. For you as a business owner, it poses a threat of hiring low-quality specialists. Yet, you also can solve it by hiring a trusted software development agency.

Python

If you do not know JavaScript and you have to choose what to learn – Python or Node.js you should probably start with the former. Python may be easier to learn because its syntax is simple and compact. Usually, writing a certain function in Python will take fewer lines of code than writing this very function in Node.js. Yet, it is not always true because the length of your code greatly depends on your programming style and paradigm. Furthermore, you will like it that there are no curly brackets as in JavaScript. Learning Python also teaches you how to indent the code properly since this language is indentation and whitespace sensitive. The same goes for Node.js, however. The problem with indentation and whitespace sensitive languages is that a single indentation mistake or a misplaced bracket can break your code for no obvious reason, and a new developer may find it hard to troubleshoot such an issue. Installing Python is more difficult than installing Node.js. If you have Linux or Windows, you should be able to install Python with no problem. Yet, if you use macOS, you will see that you have Python 2.0 preinstalled, but you cannot use it not to interfere with system libraries. Instead, you download and use another version, and when configuring the development environment, do not forget to select the proper one.

Both Python and Node.js are easy to learn. You cannot answer objectively which one is simpler because it also is a matter of personal preference. So, once again both technologies receive a point.

Node JS vs Python: 7 – 5


Community

NodeJS

Node.js community is large and active. It is a mature open-sourced language with a huge user community. Ten years after the release were sufficient for the developers from all over the world to grow to love this technology. As a business owner, you can easily find Node.js developers. As a developer, you can always rely on peer support.

Python

Python is somewhat older than Node.js, and it is also open-sourced. The user community has an immense number of contributors with a different level of experience. Once again, should you be a business owner or a developer, you benefit from the large-sized community. 

Both Python and Node.js have great communities, so both receive a point.

Node JS vs Python: 8 – 6


Apps it is best suitable for

NodeJS

Due to its event-based architecture, Node.js perfectly suits applications that have numerous concurrent requests, heavy client-side rendering, or frequent shuffling of data from a client to a server. The examples of such apps are IoT solutions, real-time chatbots and messengers, complex single-page apps. Node.js also works well for developing real-time collaboration services or streaming platforms. However, Node.js is not the best option for developing applications that require a lot of CPU resources. 

Python

Python is suitable for the development of both small and large projects. It can be used for data science apps, which involve data analysis and visualization, for voice and face recognition systems, image-processing software, neural networks, and machine learning systems. Python can also be used for the development of 3D modeling software and games.

Both technologies let you develop a wide range of apps. Which one is more suitable depends exclusively on what you need. Therefore, choosing a better one does not have any sense. Here, neither technology gets a point because they do not compete.

Node JS vs Python: 8 – 6


To Wrap Up

Do you remember that I said I would prove that one technology is better than the other? Good! But you also should remember that each software project has its needs and requirements.


A language that works for one project may not work for another project at all.


Now, I can draw conclusions. With the 8 – 6 score, Node.js is slightly ahead of Python. Keep these results in mind when choosing Python vs JavaScript for web development. If you would like to hire Node.js developers, we are here for you!

Do you have an idea for a Node JS app?

Does it seem to you that Node.js is the framework you need? Please, find out more about Node.js development services that we offer.