A web application project begins by deciding which technology stack will best fit its requirements. Not every application has the same performance needs, so this initial choice is important to ensure that your finished project will deliver a smooth user experience.
Choosing the Best Back-End Technology for a Project
It’s not always obvious which back-end to choose when more than one seems to fit a project. These factors, when taken together, can make those difficult decisions easier.
- Project size: Some back-end technologies excel at handling large business applications with dependency injection and testing tools, while others are designed to fill the needs of small web applications.
- Development speed: Back-ends are written in many different languages, some of which are designed with fast development in mind, while others require more consideration and have more stringent requirements.
- Level of support: Vendors who offer back-end technology range from large corporations like Microsoft who offer extensive support to open-source projects that have minimal documentation.
The Six Top Back-End Technologies Available Today
Each set of back-end technologies is based on a programming language.
- PHP: Used for small to mid-sized projects, PHP has been popular for many years in the web development community. The language has reached its seventh version but has been losing popularity as developers move to newer technologies, and it’s not the best suited language for real-time web applications.
- Python: As one of the simplest scripting languages to learn, Python’s ease of adoption has made it popular for building frameworks for mid-to-large size projects. It’s a language that excels at fast-development environments, but it sacrifices performance and scalability to achieve this.
- Ruby: This is another scripting language that has seen wide adoption through back-end frameworks like Ruby on Rails. It’s well-suited to rapid development at a low-cost for start-ups, but Ruby suffers some of the same problems as Python with scalability.
- Java: This is one of the oldest business application languages that was widely adopted for complex applications that needed to run on multiple platforms. It competes mainly with Microsoft’s Core/Asp.net technologies.
- C# / Visual Basic : Microsoft has built a pair of versatile business back-end solutions called Asp.Net and Core that are written in C# or Visual Basic.
What Types of Applications Use Node.js?
- The Internet of Things: Node.js excels at managing large numbers of connections with small transactions, making it a good fit for IoT applications.
- Real-time collaboration tools: The scalability of Node.js to handle large numbers of web users simultaneously makes it a good choice for these applications.
- Audio/video processing: Node.js uses asynchronous processing, resulting in efficient handling of audio and video uploads and downloads.
- Microservice-based architecture: Node.js is well-suited to Software as a Service applications that break down complex processes into many microservices that run asynchronously.
What Types of Applications Should Avoid Using Node.js?
- Complex architectures: Node.js is a single-threaded platform that isn’t well-suited to managing large, complex applications.
- Heavy CPU loads: For the same reason, Node.js isn’t an efficient back-end framework for applications that load the server’s CPU with time-consuming calculations.
- Financial software development: Node.js can’t perform financial calculations with the level of accuracy needed for financial applications.
The past three years has seen Node.js develop quickly into a full-featured back-end technology from its start as a runtime for communications. Today there are several web application frameworks built on top of Node.js such as Express, Next, Koa, and Nuxt. This adoption of Node.js in the web development community has made it an attractive solution for large organizations looking for the scalability and real-time interactivity it supports, such as Netflix, eBay, and Trello.
At the end of that day, however, no software framework is a perfect fit for every type of web application. Each is designed to solve a given set of problems, which is why it’s important to choose carefully which technologies you use for your project.