Chris Castiglione Co-founder of Adjunct Prof at Columbia University Business School.

Node vs. Django

2 min read

Node vs. Django
Node vs. Django

As someone looking to get into backend development, you might find yourself wondering whether you should choose Django or Node as your framework. In this article, we discuss the pros and cons of each. Both have been around for a while and have lots of support available on the internet with the backings of huge communities. However, they’re each suited to slightly different purposes, and this article will help you decide what’s right for you.

What is back-end development?

Before you understand Node.js vs. Django you first need to understand the difference between front-end vs. back-end programming.

In short, back-end development languages handle the ‘behind-the-scenes’ functionality of various applications – be they websites, mobile apps, desktop software, etc. Back-end code that connects the web to a database, manages user connections, and powers the web application itself. Back-end development works together with the front-end to deliver the final product to the end user.

The backend of an application is responsible for things like intensive calculations, business logic, database interactions, and performance.

Most of the code that is required to make an application work will be done on the backend. The back-end code is run on the server, as opposed to the client. This makes the applications more secure and allows for data validation in a manner that isn’t possible with frontend code.

What is Node?

Where to get started with Nodejs
Where to get started with Nodejs

Node.js is a framework that allows you to write JavaScript (a super popular front-end language) on the back-end. The real significance of this is that any web developer who writes in JavaScript (and most do) can now fairly easily use their skills to interact with a database, write user logic, and build full-stack websites.

Node was created in 2009 by developer Ryan Dahl, and has been continuously maintained by Node.js foundation. Node.js is known for its high performance and great availability of libraries (although this is sometimes considered a downside by some – since it’s sometimes hard to choose one out of dozens of libraries for a particular task).

Node.js is used to power backend systems of some of the biggest websites and apps in the world, such as Netflix, PayPal, and GoDaddy. To get started, you just need to know the basics of JavaScript, and you can keep learning along the way. You can also use Node to make command line applications – and even desktop apps with the help of Electron and NW.js.

What is NPM?

Node has a really popular package manager (What’s that? A package manager is a collection of software tools that makes your life easier. A package manager helps you install, upgrade, configure, and remove libraries of code). Node’s package manager is called “npm” (Node Package Manager).

With NPM you have the added advantage that if you know JavaScript then using Node.js you can write not only backend scripts, but also desktop software and command line utilities. Some examples of command line utilities built with Node include Zero Server, Zalgo and Node Pullquoter.

However, the concept of asynchronous programming is often difficult to work with for beginners. What’s asynchronous programming? In short, asynchronous programming is a means of programming in which code runs separately from the main application while seamlessly alerting the main applications of its completion, failure, and progress.

Finally, Node.js code is not great for CPU intensive apps due to its single thread restriction (wherein commands are processed one at a time).

What is Django?

what is Django?
Where to get started with Django

Django is a Python-based free and open-source web framework, which follows the model-template-view (MTV) architectural pattern. What the hell does that mean? In short, its primary goal is to ease the creation of complex, database-driven websites. It’s a process for making website creation easy, maintainable, and scalable. Django emphasizes reusability and “pluggability” of components, less code, low coupling, and rapid development. It was created in 2005 by developers Adrian Holovaty and Simon Willison.

Django is also often favored because it’s written in Python, and people love Python. Pinterest, Instagram, and Zapier are just a few of the many companies using Django.

Why Python? Well, the Python syntax is often said to be much easier to pick up than Node’s use of JavaScript. Python is very high-level, which means that you can actually focus on getting stuff done – instead of figuring out how the code will work on or interact with a computer.

One thing to consider is that Django is enormous! Django might not be the best option for small-scale apps. If you’re already using Python and just getting started with a smaller application you’ll likely want to use Flask instead of Django.

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Chris Castiglione Co-founder of Adjunct Prof at Columbia University Business School.