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PayPal’s foray into Node.js development in 2013 caused a lot of commotion that is still being talked about today. The electronic payment giant inadvertently started a debate over the merits of both Node.js and Java after publishing performance benchmarks that some deemed questionable. Yet even as the developer community debated the veracity of PayPal’s claims, another company with just as much influence also embraced Node.js with very good results. That company is Uber.


Uber has almost single-handedly jump-started the on-demand economy with its ride-sharing app and service. Since 2009, the company has enjoyed astronomical growth to the extent that its services are now used in 68 countries serving millions of riders annually. They may not yet be processing the same number of transactions as an Amazon or Google, but their needs are still large enough to require a robust app that can deliver on performance even as developers are tweaking and bug-fixing. Enter Node.js.

Performance and Ease-Of-Use


In a July 2016 article, Baseline Magazine featured a story detailing Uber’s switch to the Node.js platform. According to that article, Uber’s reasoning was twofold: they needed a platform that could deliver performance at a lower price, and they needed one that was easy to use. Node.js fit the bill.


Uber began the transition by looking to hire every Node.js developer they could get their hands on. However, direct Node.js experience was not necessary. Why? Senior staff engineer Matt Ranney explained to Baseline Magazine that, “there was a bit of a learning curve because we hired people who had never used Node.js before, but the platform is surprisingly easy to learn, and our developers love working on it.”


As was the case with PayPal, Node.js developers at Uber quickly discovered a tremendous amount of functionality and usefulness within the platform that is hard to replicate in other alternatives. At the core of that functionality is built-in modularity. One Node.js developer can create a module specific to one function of an app while also making that module available to other developers for their use as well. The overall effect is one of simplifying the software development process by sharing modules that eliminate the need to create everything from scratch.


As for performance, Uber’s app needs to be able to process a tremendous amount of geolocation and transaction information in real-time, around the clock. As Baseline explains, Node.js is more than up to the task thanks to its extremely efficient and reliable long polling capabilities. Data can flow back and forth across the system as fast as Uber needs it to, making it possible to accommodate up to 5 million transactions per day.


The Strength of Open Source


One last thing Uber found attractive about Node.js is its open source status. The open-source model allows every Node.js developer to contribute to the overall evolution of the platform by sharing improvements, suggesting modifications, and even publishing the projects they have created using it. You might say that open source is to the software development world what Uber is to mass transit.


As Node.js continues to be developed in the months and years to come, we are likely to see many more big-name companies adopt it for JavaScript coding. It is an excellent platform that performs exceptionally well and saves money at the same time. It is a platform that outsourcing firms will take advantage of to win more clients and freelancers will embrace in order to better compete in the marketplace. Both Uber and PayPal have shown that good things can happen when software development embraces Node.js.


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