What is Node.js?

If you are in the web development or QA fields then you have likely come across Node.js. It is a must-have tool in modern web development.

Let me walk you through the basics of what it is and what it can do for you. You should be able to easily understand the importance of Node.js.

The simple answer to the question, “What is Node.js?” is the following. JavaScript is a programming language that is meant to be run on a web browser. Node.js allows you to run JavaScript without a browser.

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What can Node.js do?

As I mentioned, the primary thing that you can do with Node.js is that you can run JavaScript without a web browser.

The common main uses of Node.js are:

  • Package manager
  • Creation of back-end applications (express)
  • Utilities

Front-end frameworks

When you are developing in one of the modern frameworks such as React or Angular, you are most likely going to be using Node.js.

Node.js is going to be used primarily when you are running your code locally.

Using Node.js will do the following for these web frameworks:

  • Package management
  • Local webserver
  • Realtime updates on file change
  • Build the application

Front-end test frameworks

Testing frameworks such as Protractor or WebdriverIO are going to utilize Node.js.

The test frameworks are going to utilize Node.js as a package management tool and for executing the tests. Node.js will execute your tests and report the results out to the console.

Do I need to use it?

If you are going to be testing or developing in a modern development environment, then the obvious answer is YES!

You will find that once you have worked in a Node.js environment, it will be hard to imagine being without it.