With the rapid evolution of artificial intelligence driving the rise of virtual AI-powered developers, you might think that the job of a software developer would soon be fading away. But in fact, demand for Web developers is expected to remain stable through 2019, with a positive outlook for years to come and, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Web developer employment "is projected to grow 15 percent from 2016 to 2026."
While the demand may be stable, there’s a perceptible shift in the technologies and programming languages that are sought after in potential hires. Analyses of current job trends and the direction in which the industry is moving indicate that Node.js developers are in increasingly higher demand than, for example, PHP programmers.
The shift is driven by three key factors:
- the growing popularity of products best built with Node.js—data-intensive real-time IoT devices and applications,
- the business benefits yielded by choosing Node.js for the development of said products,
- the convenience of using one language for both backend and frontend.
Looking for Node.js developers?
A bit of background
Before we get down to the nitty gritty, here’s a little primer.
Although directly comparing Node.js and PHP in terms of popularity is like comparing apples and oranges—after all, Node.js is not a programming language—it bears emphasising how often the developer community uses both.
And worry not, we’re not forgetting that 78.9% of all websites have backends written in PHP, and that PHP-based WordPress powers 32.7% of them.
A look at the job market
According to Indeed’s hiring lab, job searches for Node.js rose 57% over the past year, putting the runtime environment among the top 10 tech skill searches, whereas PHP took only 14th place in that same ranking.
Data from Gooroo, on the other hand, indicates that although the market still has more job postings for PHP developers than for Node.js devs, the latter tend to be offered a higher salary than the former, with a median pay of $105,236 and $81,346, respectively. Because companies are willing to pay more for Node.js developers, it may suggest that they are a little harder to come by.
In fact, a HackerRank survey on technology skills shows that demand for Node.js expertise is met only half of the time.
Where does this demand come from?
Free & Open-source toolset
Node.js has one of the largest libraries of tools and modules — the Node.js Package manager (npm). Most of the stuff available in the npm is free and open source, significantly decreasing production costs incurred by additional licenses or subscriptions.
With the npm, you can set configuration variables, manage and install dependencies, get development utilities, or download frameworks to further facilitate production.
However, as is often the case with big repositories, not everything is updated regularly and sometimes projects are dropped and discontinued. You should always keep that possibility in mind and thoroughly study a package before adopting it to learn how stable the team or the contributor behind it is.
Reduced development time
One of the biggest benefits of using Node.js is, obviously, using the same language across the whole project. When the frontend and backend speak one language, the time required to build a Web application is reduced and team cooperation and coordination skyrocket.
This is primarily because developers can reuse the code for common operations across the application’s entire ecosystem.
Extensive code reuse
One language — better efficiency with fewer resources
Node.js offers a couple of approaches to making a Web app scalable. Below, we’ll briefly cover two.
- Node.js has a built-in cloning module (cluster) to help effectively distribute the workload on a single server.
- Node.js also facilitates scalability via microservices. By decomposing the application logic into modules with different functionalities, adding new features becomes much faster. Rather than having a monolithic core, which in some cases might be troublesome and costly to scale later, Node.js apps can be easily expanded by adding more microservices specializing in specific tasks.
Netflix leveraged Node’s capabilities and observed a “70% reduction in startup time” thanks to which that dear content of yours is available right after you hop onto the website.
Smaller teams, lower costs
Ideal use cases for Node
One of the key reasons behind the soaring demand for Node.js developers is the growing popularity of products that perform really well when built with Node, especially real-time applications with intense I/O.
These may include:
- social networks
- instant messaging
- gaming apps
- live chats
- project management tools
- data-intensive IoT devices and applications
- broadcasting video and audio
Companies that already have Node.js in their stack:
Not suited for Node.JS
Node’s architecture limits its performance in Web apps that require heavy CPU usage — eg. graphics editing software or editors that work with audio or video files.
Also, for a large CMS-based website, instead of going with Node.js, you’d be better off with Laravel (PHP) for backend and Vue.js for frontend.
A look into the future
Node.js is here to stay and needs more devs
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