- RoR and Node.js in 2021
- Ruby on Rails
- What are the features that make Rails so special? RoR:
- Features that make Node.js special are:
- 2021: What’s ahead?
- Ruby on Rails vs Node.js
- Core Features of Ruby on Rails or Node.js
- Questions to ask yourself
- And a bonus: Cases of RoR replacement
- Summing Up
Some say these days that Ruby on Rails experiences a downfall and becomes outdated. Sooner or later, we might see RoR disappear and Node.js take over in this battle. Let’s investigate what’s going to happen to RoR, why Node.js is becoming so popular and, the most important question – which technology to choose if there’s going to be a choice among these two?
RoR and Node.js in 2021
Ruby on Rails
Ruby on Rails is an open-source application web framework. It was written in Ruby, a dynamic object-oriented server-side programming language similar to Python or Perl. Ruby was released in 1995 by Yukihiro Matsumoto, who wanted to make this language natural and practical. So, Ruby’s initial focus is simplicity and productivity. This feature is also characteristic of the framework. RoR framework allows a fun and easy way of web application building. Some of the well-known apps built with the help of RoR are GitHub, Shopify, Airbnb, Hulu, and the last but not least, Zendesk.
In 2020, about 7% of software developers in the world named RoR one of the most used web frameworks. Approximately 5730 contributors added their fair share into the Ruby code. Stack Overflow Survey 2020 shows that 49.3% of developers on the globe are fond of RoR due to its simplicity and engaging code.
What are the features that make Rails so special? RoR:
- enables you to write less code but accomplish more
- makes the development process of any web application more fun
- promotes the best way to carry out things
- increases your productivity
The latest version 6.1.0 of Ruby on Rails was released on December 9, 2020. So, it is not quite dead yet as some say, but evolves with newly added features to produce better developer satisfaction and enhance development processes.
Node.js builds JS apps on the server-side and works on the Chrome V8 engine, which makes it high-speed and top-performance. Node.js has a matching design with Ruby’s Event Machine – the Ruby library that is driven by events and has lightweight concurrency.
In 2020, 66.8% of developers named Node.js one of the most loved runtimes worldwide. Hence, you should remember that it is not a language and, surely, not a framework. At present, 2901 contributors help Node.js grow and advance further.
Features that make Node.js special are:
- heavy-load app-building
- fast performance and responses
- less employee involvement and relatively shorter code lines
- decreased number of files
- quick and top-notch solution-building
More background info about Node.js and its features can be found here.
2021: What’s ahead?
Source: Google Trends 2020
Throughout the past year, Google trends showed not a good picture for Ruby on Rails. Its interest over time has been almost two times lower than the one of Node.js. And this tendency is marching straight into the future. Does it mean, we will sooner or later see little presence of RoR on the software development market? And why is Node.js gaining more popularity in application development? To answer this question, let’s compare.
Ruby on Rails vs Node.js
The second difference is between the package managers used by Node.js and RoR. For example, Node.js uses the Node Package Manager (NPM), which is a repository of open-source Node codpieces. Here, RoR uses Ruby Gems package manager that has an essential format of distributing programs and libraries of the Ruby programming language.
Third, Ruby on Rails is easy to use and learn due to its simplicity. Being built on Ruby, RoR can migrate the database. To compare, Node.js is also easy to learn due to being written in JS. It is applicable on the backend and frontend. It’s lightweight, fast-growing, popular, and stream-based. That’s why it has 75.4k stars on Github, while RoR has only 47.2k stars.
While RoR is slower in app building with a long response time and high memory usage, Node.js is several times faster processing. RoR’s scalability can be questioned in comparison to Node. RoR isn’t worth applying to while deploying large projects and Node cannot build CPU-intensive apps. Node.js has more complex readability but a smaller codebase due to being a JS runtime and using its libraries in comparison to Ruby on Rails.
Core Features of Ruby on Rails or Node.js
1. Non-blocking I/O of Node.js (vs Ruby) makes apps scale quicker than the Rails blocking I/O framework. This feature becomes very handy in real-time applications, i.e. chats, collaboration apps, and video conferences. That’s why Node.js is event-based and suits perfectly here. If there is a concern for speed and scalability, Node.js is a better option than Ruby on Rails.
2. Node.js can engage in multiple simultaneous processes asynchronously, which are present in real-time apps. Rails, in its turn, has synchronous HTTP requests and a real-time functionality that was added not so long ago.
3. RoR has more advantages to be applied to while building CPU-intensive apps and in quick app development scenarios. Node.js has a single-thread environment and cannot cope with handling images and graphs. Making Node.js deal with large amounts of data can make it block all the other requests while managing to process just one.
4. In website development, rapid app development also requires to be built with Rails. Hence, you will have a prototype within a short time and little work is done. If you do the same with Node.js, there’s going to be stuff to consider. Even generator scripts won’t make Node as fast as Rails is in this particular case.
5. It is possible to manage UI quicker and easier with the help of Node.js as it can be used on the client-side – JS is a frontend and a backend technology, which makes Node compatible with the frontend through JS. However, RoR is also designed to deploy an outstanding UI in a more convenient and immersive way. But, as it is meant to power apps, all the UX features done with Rails will not be a good idea.
6. Object-oriented RoR can deliver a more consistent and stable architecture. What’s more, it was created to do it. On the contrary, Node.js has some limitations due to JS being frontend.
Questions to ask yourself
Choosing among technologies may be tricky sometimes. But depending on your true need you will be able to choose wisely. Ask yourself these questions before starting to build your app:
- What development speed is required?
- What are the server performance parameters?
- Are there going to be simple, concurrent requests in the app?
- Are there going to be complex, CPU-intensive requests?
If you’re in search of concurrency – Node.js is the one to give it to you. If, on the contrary, CPU-intensive apps are the matter of your focus, choose Rails without a doubt.
And a bonus: Cases of RoR replacement
We all know such a big giant and a public social network like Twitter. The public platform used to be built with the help of RoR but had to substitute it eventually. It wasn’t based on the fact that the Rails technology was wrong. On the contrary, Twitter evolved into another source with other priorities and goals than it was back at the start. Most of the features Twitter had could not be processed in real-time with Ruby on Rails at its core. Thus, Scala/Java became a better fit for Twitter now.
Also, another giant to shift from RoR was LinkedIn – a famous business platform for meeting creative and smart people, finding clients and services, and hiring talents. When Ruby on Rails’ performance wasn’t enough to handle the goal of the platform, the Linkedin development team chose Node.js to improve the platform’s performance. The need for a quick and accessible platform changed everything and node.js happened to be the best solution.
To conclude, RoR isn’t going to disappear from the software development market. There are RoR engineers that won’t simply let it happen. Node.js vs Rails comparison isn’t about technologies substituting one another: it’s a matter of understanding which technology suits which projects. Despite being on top now, Node.js has its drawbacks and gives in to Rails in cases of CPU-intensive apps, clarity and simplicity of coding, and fast website development. Node is applicable when there’s a need to process lots of requests in the app and be super fast in responses. Being a part of JS, Node.js gives the possibility to use one language at both backend and frontend sides. Some of the companies that once used RoR shifted towards Node.js and now stand by their choice. Node.js is the best technology to build scalable network-based apps.