Node Vs. Django Vs. Rails: The Most Demanding Backend Framework in 2021

Whether you’re a startup or SME or a leading enterprise, web applications definitely play a vital role in your business. Though there is a need to craft a feature-rich, robust web app that would cover all your requirements, there is always confusion while choosing the best, high-performing, scalable technology for web development.

To turn your vision into reality, you need to choose the right fit that will power your web application. The leading open-source backend frameworks, Node.js, Django, and Rails are often considered for their all-round performance. Though Node.js, Django, and Rails are used for web application development, they are unique in multiple ways.

This blog gives a brief comparison between these three backend frameworks on multiple factors. Let’s dive into the details.

Node.js

To begin with, Node.js is an open-source, cross-platform runtime environment and not a framework. The execution of JavaScript by Node.js is outside of a browser. To support this, a Google-designed V8 JavaScript engine is used. 

Node.js web developers don’t need to juggle between various programming languages for front-end and back-end development as Node.js allows the use of a single programming language throughout the project, eliminating the need for separation. 

Node.js has its presence in designing web applications that are executed in real-time such as communication tools, online games, IoT devices, real-time notifications, and many more. 

Background:

  • Developed by Ryan Dahl in 2009.
  • Node.js is developed in C, C++, JavaScript.
  • Node.js is a JavaScript runtime built on Chrome’s V8 JavaScript.
  • The latest version of Node.js is 15.8.0 from October 2020 and LTS is Version 14.15.5.
  • Node.js has its presence currently in 1,82,472 websites
  • Node.js uses an event-driven, non-blocking I/O model
  • Designed to build scalable network applications.
  • Node.js covers domains such as Media and Entertainment, Healthcare, Banking, Education, eCommerce, and many more.

Pros:

  • Node.js offers easy scalability of web apps
  • Node.js has easy learning curve and requires less time to work with it
  • A runtime environment that offers writing both the front-end and backend web application
  • Node.js offers the benefits of full-stack JavaScript as it serves both client-side and server-side application
  • Node.js is lightweight and offers high-performance as Node.js interpretes the code via Google’s V8 JavaScript engine
  • Node.js has a large community group and has a active community of developers
  • Offers the benefits of caching for higher loading of web pages and swift response to the user
  • Node.js offers higher extensibility and have customization capabilities as per the requirements
  • Top Node.js development companies leverage the benefits of Node.js for building and deploying microservices

Cons:

  • Unstable Application Programming Interface (API) due to frequent changes at frequent intervals
  • Lacks well-equipped and robust library system 
  • Adoption of asynchronous programming models is difficult. This is necessary to make applications more scalable. 

When to use Node.js?

Node.js is well-suited for real-time applications. Due to its single-threaded nature, Node.js is used for non-blocking, event-driven servers. Node.js can be used if you are planning for traditional websites and back-end API services. Also, Node.js is well suited for collaborative tools such as trello, or data streaming applications like Netflix.

Popular Web Apps using Node.js

Django

A python-based free and open-source web framework, Django is used to build high-level web-based apps to support various businesses, including eCommerce sites and SaaS solutions.

Django’s popularity for database-heavy apps is due to its existence with Python and Python’s affiliation to Machine Learning. 

Django encourages rapid development and clean, pragmatic design.

Background:

  • Django was developed by Adrian Holovaty, Simon Willison, Django Software Foundation, Jacob Kaplan-Moss
  • It was initially released on 15th July, 2005
  • The latest stable version is 3.1.5 that was released on 4th January, 2021
  • It is written in Python
  • It is under the license 3-clause BSD
  • Django is a Model-Template-View architectural pattern
  • Currently used by 79,713 websites
  • Django is mostly used by edutech, eCommerce, heavy industries and engineering websites

Pros:

  • Django is fast right from applications conception to completion
  • Django holds fully loaded extras for web development tasks
  • Django assures high security of web applications
  • Django has potential to scale as per the heaviest traffic demands
  • Django is highly versatile and is used for content management systems to social networks to scientific computing platforms

Cons:

  • Lack of conventions
  • Not-suited for small projects
  • It has steep learning curve
  • It has monolithic framework
  • It faces multiple request issue

When to use Django?

Django is well-suited for: 

  • Web Application or API Backend
  • Rapid Development of some web application
  • Deploying the application fast and scaling as per needs
  • A perfect ORM for working with database instead of database queries
  • Developing a secure single page application for either retrieving data or posting data

Popular websites that are using Django:

Ruby on Rails

A server-side web application framework written in Ruby under MIT license, Ruby on Rails makes programming web applications easier. 

Ruby on Rails focuses to speed up the entire code development process without any process-related hassles. This feature-rich framework forces the developer for component reuse as often as possible through the “Don’t repeat yourself’ rule. This further helps in effectively reducing the hidden dependencies within the code and reduces the possibility of a complexity that would arise when changes are applied.

Ruby on Rails web developers leverage the power of Rails to get maintainable, extensible, and less buggy code and build some fantastic applications. 

Background:

  • Rails is developed by David Heinemeier Hansson in 2004
  • The current stable release is version 6.1.1 released on 7th January 2021
  • Currently there are 3,76,255 websites using RoR
  • Rails is a MVC framework 
  • Ruby on Rails is open-source web framework
  • Programming languages used are Ruby, JavaScript, HTML
  • Works on two fundamental principles ‘Don’t repeat yourself’ and ‘Convention over Configuration’
  • It is a full-stack web framework used for writing real-world applications
  • RoR has marked its presence in domains such as education, business and consumer services, shopping, telecom, and many more 

Pros:

  • Relatively easy to learn the basics of this framework
  • Simplifies and accelerates coding experience with the tools the framework offers
  • Support of bigger community for more efficiency
  • ROR has a strong backing of web standards for every part of the application
  • Offers better code readability
  • Offers minimal coding
  • Web-centered framework that focuses to deliver optimal experiences through marvelous websites
  • ROR helps in adding various add-ons and plugins to websites
  • Time efficient as the coder requires less investment due to the rich repository of libraries and plugins called gems
  • Highly secure and resistant to vulnerabilities
  • Easy integration with popular front-end frameworks like Angular, React, and Vue

Cons:

  • Flexibility 
  • Continuous evolvement
  • Longer boot time
  • One mistake cost you the performance of your application
  • Decline in Ruby on Rails popularity

When to use Rails?

Ruby on Rails is best suited for startups that are looking for an early entry in the market, eCommerce platforms such as Groupon, Shopify, and SaaS products and applications such as GitHub, Zendesk.

Popular web applications built using RoR:

Wrapping it up!

As a business owner, picking up the right web framework is vital for building a viable application. A right pick can likely decide the fate of your product but will emphasize more on why your product differentiates from others in the market in unique ways. But you need to get an in-depth idea about the capabilities and limitations of each web framework and how the framework aligns with your business needs and product to help you to bet on the optimal stack for your goals.

Author Bio:

Jeevan is a technology enthusiast and strong believer in agile product development. He is a Senior Project Manager at Fortunesoft IT Innovations a leading custom software development company. A Computer Engineer by education and a technology adherent by passion. His interest in computers & the internet has made him a self-proclaimed geek.

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