My first Node.js experience

Recently I got a requirement to create a proof of concept web application. Something not too complicated, two types of users can register, login and after that enter and view some data with file upload/download functionality. There was also a requirement for an admin page which can view and approve registered users. I had my hands free to choose the technology and tools to build it. Oh, and did I mention the deadline was in four days?

Possible solutions

Since I had experience in Java web development and .NET client development and I like to say I’m technology agnostic, I was open for anything that would best suit the need. After some examination, I ended up with three options: Java, ASP.NET and Node.js. I always wanted to try Node, but didn’t think this was the right moment when I had less than four days to complete the project. And while I personally like the C# language the most, I didn’t work with ASP.NET. But the reason to dismiss it wasn’t that, but the fact I wasn’t able to create a free trial account on Azure, even if I gave my credit card number. Platforms like Heroku usually don’t support ASP.NET and I wasn’t ready to pay for hosting of an app that was only an MVP.

For all these reasons I decided I’d try Play framework using Java. Their documentation looked nice and it seemed I could do the job fast and easy using the language I know well. So I created a new project and followed the guidelines to get it configured and start working. But soon I ran into typical Java problems, I was stuck in project setup, configuration problems, guidelines didn’t work for me, something somewhere wasn’t installed properly. After fixing one problem, another would come up and I soon realized I could loose a lot of time just to get the project started. That’s when I decided I would give up on Java and try this hot new thing – Node.js.


I did know the theory behind Node.js, I also had some experience with JavaScript, but I was ready to learn a lot of new things. I started by following Heroku guidelines and had the project set up in a few minutes. I was really amazed how little code was needed to get the application running. I decided to concentrate on front end and didn’t bother with data persistence at first. I liked the Jade template engine and was able to do stuff quickly even if I haven’t seen it before. After I had the routing and screens set up, I turned to find a solution for data persistence. I knew there was a MongoDB option which works good with Node.js applications, but I thought a good old SQL would fit the need the best. Another reason was that I had enough new technologies for these few days. So I chose the PostgreSQL database and Sequelize ORM. I was able to get it working very fast, but I wish Sequelize had a better documentation. The Heroku part was easy enough, creating a database and connecting to it was all done in a few minutes.

So there it was, a production ready application built in four days in technologies I didn’t work with before. I don’t have to say I felt proud and also happy that Node.js exists and only look forward to building more applications like this. Well, with more reasonable deadline if possible.

This post is licensed under CC BY 4.0 by the author.

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