Python vs Node.js: Which Back-End Technology is Ideal?

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Python vs Node.js: Which Back-End Technology is Ideal?
vinaykhatri

Vinay Khatri
Last updated on February 21, 2024

    When it comes to web app or website development, the back-end plays a crucial role, as it is the driving aspect of any app or website. Being the backbone of web development, the back end includes handling the business logic, processing data, and managing databases and the front end or client side of an application.

    To facilitate the process of back-end development , it becomes essential for developers to choose the right back-end technology. It determines the scalability, reliability, ease of deployment, resource consumption, and overall performance of an application.

    The two main players of the back-end technology are Python and Node.js. Python is a server-side scripting language developed back in 1991. On the other hand, Node.js is a runtime environment for JavaScript , which executes JS code outside of a browser.

    According to a recent developer survey by Stack Overflow, 42.73% of total professional developers who took part in the survey use Node.js, and 45.32 % utilize Python .

    Many of you might wonder how it is fair to compare Node.js and Python, as one is an execution engine, while the other is a programming language. Well, it is pretty fair to compare them regarding back-end technology.

    This blog post will thoroughly compare Python and Node.js and help you choose the appropriate technology for your next web project.

    Python vs Node.js: Head-to-Head Comparison

    Parameter

    Python

    Node.js

    Type

    A programming language.

    A JavaScript runtime environment.

    Beginner Friendly

    Python’s simple syntax makes it ideal for beginners.

    Node.js is not beginner-friendly. It requires users to have knowledge of JavaScript.

    Learning Curve

    Lower

    Steeper

    Scalability

    Less scalable

    Highly scalable

    Speed and Performance

    Slower

    Faster

    Package Manager or Installer

    PIP (Package Installer for Python)

    NPM (Node Package Manager)

    Error handling

    Debugging is easy due to simple and clean syntax.

    Debugging is difficult due to its multithreading nature.

    Use Cases

    • Data science and data analysis
    • Data visualization
    • Web development
    • Artificial intelligence and machine learning
    • Scripting and automation

    • Real-time chat applications
    • High-concurrency and scalable applications
    • Single-page applications
    • Internet of Things (IoT) applications
    • Microservices
    • Streaming services

    Apps Developed

    • Facebook
    • Instagram
    • Spotify
    • Quora
    • Netflix
    • Uber
    • PayPal
    • LinkedIn

    What is Python?

    Python is a general-purpose, high-level, and multi-paradigm programming language. It is an object-oriented programming language that also supports procedural programming . Developed in 1991  by Guido Van Rossum, Python has been for more than 30 years.

    Being a versatile language, Python can develop desktop applications and web applications , perform data analysis, create data visualization, and much more. It is known for its simple syntax and ease of learning and is popular among developers and data professionals.

    According to the TIOBE Index of July 2023 , Python tops the list of the popularity of programming languages.

    What is Node.js?

    Node.js is a free-to-use, cross-platform JavaScript runtime environment that executes JavaScript code outside a browser. It enables developers to leverage JavaScript for server-side scripting and write command-line tools .

    However, it is important to note that Node.js is not a programming language . It is a runtime environment that runs on Google Chrome’s V8 engine.

    Moreover, Node.js represents the “JavaScript everywhere” paradigm. This means the runtime environment allows developers to leverage JavaScript for the back-end and front-end. This eliminates the need for separate programming languages for client- and server-side development.

    Difference Between Python and Node.js – 10 Factors to Choose Suitable Technology

    This section will compare Python and Node.js based on different parameters and help you choose the best back-end technology for your application or website.

    #1 Python vs Node.js – Scalability

    Scalability in development refers to an application's ability to handle the sudden increase in user base or business needs. This also implies the growth in resource consumption as an application starts scaling.

    In the initial stages of development, you create a minimum viable product (MVP), an early or basic version of your app with minimal features and functionalities. For this, any programming language or environment would work.

    However, when you incorporate complex features into your application, the choice of a programming language and environment becomes more critical. Some programming languages and development environments offer easy scaling of your application.

    Node.js

    This execution engine offers flexibility to create a set of microservices and modules rather than creating an MVP and scaling everything around it.

    Microservice architecture is an architectural style that supports creating an application as a set of services that are deployed independently and coupled loosely. It enables horizontal and vertical scaling to manage the increased load.

    Using Node.js, you can scale your application horizontally by adding more nodes or server instances to distribute the load equally. It also supports vertical scaling by adding more CPU and RAM resources to a single server.

    Python

    Python’s Global Interpreter Lock (GIL) does not allow multiple threads to run concurrently. It is a mutex lock that enables a single thread to have control of the Python interpreter.

    Though Python is dynamic, its inability to scale makes it difficult for developers to maintain code.

    Who is the winner?

    Node.js is a clear winner in terms of scalability.

    #2 Python vs Node.js – Syntax and Learning Curve

    A language’s syntax plays a vital role in the efficiency of executing instructions or code. The more compact the syntax is, the fewer the code lines. This is possible when a specific programming language offers built-in functions that perform certain operations.

    The learning curve depends on the syntax. The easier the syntax of a language, the lower the learning curve.

    Node.js

    Node.js leverages JavaScript as its primary language. So, if you are already familiar with JavaScript, you will find it pretty easy to learn Node.js.

    The point to be noted is that many developers find the installation and setup of Node.js tricky and complex due to its event-driven programming concept. Many novice developers struggle with this programming concept to understand.

    Python

    Python is known for its simplicity and ease of learning. The syntax is much similar to plain English and eliminates the need for complex delimiters, such as semicolons, curly braces, etc. Instead, it uses white-space indentation.

    Any beginner can get started with Python code easily.

    Who is the winner?

    Python is a clear winner. It has an easier syntax and a lower learning curve than JavaScript. Also, installing and configuring Python is much simpler than Node.js.

    #3 Python vs Node.js – Architecture

    Architecture is an underlying structure and design that represents how technology operates, and its components interact. It involves basic principles and guidelines that developers must adhere to while using a specific technology (programming language, framework , or development environment).

    Node.js

    Node.js follows a single-threaded, event-driven architecture. It handles multiple concurrent requests using an event loop and V8 engine. This event loop is responsible for asynchronous I/O operations. It implies that the input and output functionality does not block due to a certain process under the current execution.

    Hence, Node.js enables parallel processing, resulting in faster deployment of applications. Further, the event-driven nature of Node.js lets it perform actions only when a certain event occurs.

    Python

    As mentioned earlier, Python GIL restricts the feature of multithreading and parallel processing. It requires one process to be finished completely before starting another one in a queue.

    There are tools, like the asyncio library, that support asynchronous programming to execute concurrent I/O operations. However, the truth is Python itself lacks the feature of multithreading.

    Who is the winner?

    Node.js comes out on top in terms of architecture.

    #4 Python vs Node.js – Performance and Speed

    Speed and performance are vital to consider when choosing any programming language or environment. They help in scaling your application while reducing operational costs.

    Node.js

    We already discussed Node.js's single-threaded and event-driven architecture, which does not block I/O operations while other processes are in execution. Hence, it results in faster and simpler execution of processes.

    Another advantage of Node.js in terms of speed and performance is its ability to execute code outside a browser. This does not affect the speed of the app running inside a browser.

    Python

    With no capability to exhibit multithreading, Python falls short of executing multiple processes concurrently. This slows down execution speed, performance, and efficiency. Though Python has a lower learning curve, it is not optimized for speed and performance.

    Who is the winner?

    Hence, Node.js is again a winner.

    #5 Python vs Node.js – Libraries and Development Tools

    A library is a collection of prewritten code that performs a certain function or task. If prewritten code is available to accomplish a specific task, there is no need to write code from scratch for a similar task. You can simply import a library inside your code.

    On the other hand, development tools facilitate the development process. These tools can be in any form, like linkers, compilers, debuggers, etc.

    Node.js

    Node.js offers a comprehensive collection of libraries and packages. It has a node package manager (NPM) to manage around 1.3 million packages. It is the largest repository in the world.

    Python

    Python also offers a plethora of libraries, which are well-documented and easy to use. It has a package installed called PIP (Pip Installs Packages) that allows users to install and manage the libraries. However, new libraries are not well documented as the old ones.

    Who is the winner?

    Regarding libraries, both Node.js and Python come with plenty to choose from. Hence, it is difficult to choose the exact winner.

    #6 Python vs Node.js – Extensibility

    Extensibility is the ability to add extra features to a language, environment, or development tool using third-party apps or libraries. The more a language supports integration with third-party tools or libraries, the more you can extend its features.

    Node.js

    Node.js supports a variety of third-party applications, such as

    • Babel, a JavaScript compiler.
    • Jasmine, a unit testing tool.
    • Express.js, a JavaScript framework.
    • Log.io, a project management tool.
    • Webpack, a module binding tool.

    Python

    Like Node.js, Python integrates with diverse tools, as follows:

    • Robot, an acceptance testing tool.
    • Flask , a web development framework.
    • Django , a web development framework.

    Who is the winner?

    Again, there is no clear winner regarding extensibility. Both technologies support integration with a wide range of third-party tools.

    #7 Python vs Node.js – Community

    Community is another factor that you must consider when deciding on back-end technology. With a robust and large community, experts can help you when you get stuck in the development process.

    In addition, community members play a crucial role in keeping all libraries and tools updated and adding new features.

    Node.js

    Node.js is a pretty new technology compared to Python. What is more surprising is it has a large community of active and experience developers, despite being new. As a result, you can count on the community when you encounter any issues.

    Python

    As Python has been for more than 30 years, it has a strong and large community with countless junior to senior developers. Hence, you can easily find professional developers and seek help when required.

    Who is the winner?

    Both technologies have larger communities and have active, experienced developers.

    Solely considering the community as a factor and deciding on technology is not a good idea.

    #8 Python vs Node.js – Error Handling

    Error-free code is what every developer seeks. It results in improved code readability, allowing other team members to read and understand it easily. Hence, before choosing back-end technology, look for its error-handling capability.

    Node.js

    Though the multithreading feature of Node.js offers high performance, it results in frequent runtime exceptions as it processes multiple requests concurrently. In addition, generated errors can be challenging to resolve.

    Python

    Python’s clean and compact syntax and the ability to process each request at a time make debugging easier.

    Who is the winner?

    Hence, Python gains an edge over Node.js in terms of error handling.

    #9 Python vs Node.js – Universality

    The universality of a language or technology refers to its ability to be widely applicable across several use cases and domains. In short, it refers to the versatility.

    Node.js

    Node.js enables using JavaScript for both front-end and back-end development. Its asynchronous programming approach makes it ideal for developing real-time applications, chat applications, and other cloud and IoT solutions. Additionally, it is cross-platform, allowing you to download on macOS, Windows, and Linux systems.

    Python

    Python is a general-purpose language used for software and web development, data analysis , data visualization, and task automation. Also, it is cross-platform.

    Who is the winner?

    Both Node.js and Python are universal technologies.

    #10. Python vs Node.js – Use Cases

    Node.js and Python have different use cases due to their unique features and strengths.

    Node.js

    Use Node.js when you need to develop –

    • Real-time chat applications
    • High-concurrency and scalable applications
    • Single-page applications
    • Internet of Things (IoT) applications
    • Microservices
    • Streaming services

    Popular apps developed using Node.js –

    • Netflix
    • Uber
    • PayPal
    • LinkedIn

    Python

    The following are the use cases of Python –

    Popular apps developed using Python –

    • Facebook
    • Instagram
    • Spotify
    • Quora

    Conclusion

    This was all about the difference between Python and Node.js. Both are popular back-end technologies; hence, developers find it confusing to choose one. With the above clear differences between these technologies, you would be able to pick the best one suitable for your project.

    Choose Node.js if you have a data-intensive project and do not want to write lengthy codes. On the other hand, Python is ideal if you want to create a large project, as Python’s simple syntax helps you write clean code.

    However, if you consider the above parameters and check the winning score, Node.js outperforms Python.

    Ultimately, the choice is yours. Do let us know your choice in the comments!

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    FAQs


    While Python is a general-purpose, object-oriented programming language, Node.js is a runtime environment for JavaScript that runs on top of Chrome's V8 engine. Both are popular backend technologies when it comes to web development.

    Yes, Node.js is faster than Python because it is asynchronous, and Python is an interpreted language that does not support multithreading. Therefore, Python is slower than Node.js.

    Though it is possible to use Node.js with Python with some tools, it is always recommended to use Node.js with JavaScript.

    Both Python and Node.js are popular backend technologies for web development. While Python is a go-to language for backend development because of its vast collection of libraries and frameworks, Node.js is ideal for both front-end and backend development.

    Node.js outperforms Python in terms of web development. It offers high performance and comes with a large ecosystem for web development. Meanwhile, Python is general-purpose and widely used in the data science domain.

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