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Node.js vs. ASP.NET for Enterprise Solutions - Which Stack to Choose for Advanced Web Applications

Even if ASP.NET has established a strong presence among industry leaders over the years, Node.js is quickly gaining traction as a viable alternative. Successful enterprises such as LinkedIn, Groupon, Uber, Netflix, and Ebay recently took advantage of Node.js in building their solutions.

No wonder: Node.js is versatile, packed with ready-made libraries, and scalable – offering developers great flexibility, performance, and stability. According to the Stack Overflow Developer Survey Results 2018, Node.js figures as the most popular solution in the Frameworks, Libraries, and Tools category.

And you can be sure that if the large players adopt Node.js, more people will become attracted to it. Once smaller companies get a hold of the technology, we'll see more projects and jobs appearing on the market – and the Node.js community will grow as well.

Interested to know how Node.js stacks up against ASP.NET for enterprise solutions?

Here are 8 key aspects that show the potential of Node.js in advanced, enterprise-level web applications.

Language

The new ASP.NET core is an open source successor of the old closed and Windows-related ASP.NET. While ASP.NET uses C# as its primary language, Node.js is based on JavaScript.

There's no denying that by offering a strict type system and compile-time error checks, C# is more potent than JavaScript, which relies on Facebook’s Flow static type checker or Microsoft TypeScript. Moreover, C# grows more efficient and expressive with every generation.

But JavaScript is more popular than C# today. Still, developers who want to master Node.js need to get a grasp on asynchronous programming, which might be challenging.

Ease and speed of development

In general, Node.js offers fewer abstractions than ASP.NET, allowing developers to write code using a multitude of small components rather than configuring a vast number of parameters. That's why Node.js offers more flexibility in tailoring the code for the solution. Developers also benefit from native and third-party libraries.

ASP.NET includes many conventions that help developers make their code readable and concise. However, diverting from these conventions means manual configuration, which isn’t really hard, but might require more work.

Scalability

Node.js is an excellent pick for the microservices architecture approach, which offers excellent scalability and stability because its elements are compartmentalized. Have a look a previous post where we explain in detail how your application can benefit from Node.js regarding scalability. Moreover, Node.js tools such as the PM2 process manager or Rollbar help detect and track errors easily, boosting developers' productivity.

A great example of ASP.NET’s scalability is Stack Overflow, which is written entirely in ASP.NET core. The framework allows for analyzing tons of user data efficiently, and the scaling-up process demands fewer additional machines than you might expect.

Support from the community

One glance at Stack Overflow shows that ASP.NET is surrounded by a broader community of developers. But take a look at the open source projects listed on GitHub and their activity, and you might change your mind, because Node.js clearly wins. Both frameworks have substantial and active communities where developers can get a lot of valuable support.

Availability of ready-to-implement solutions

The foundation of Node.js is small, reusable libraries that allow faster development with less code written on your own. Smart developers know that these packages differ in quality, but still contribute to and benefit from the practice of building and sharing these libraries.

The new ASP.NET core makes a decent scalable framework with many out-of-the-box solutions that help developers boost their speed.

Tools

Developers can make ASP.NET work with tools such as Sublime or Mono Develop – however, Visual Studio, ReSharper, and Web Essentials are the standard. ASP.NET core 1 & 2 also allow Visual Studio Code or Rider. Thanks to excellent code analysis support and comprehensive editors/IDEs, developing, refactoring and debugging is fast and easy. You can develop in Node.js using every text editor, but choosing Webstorm (IDE for Node.js) is a smart move that ultimately leads to higher productivity as Node.js has strong support from Webstorm.

Hosting

ASP.NET applications can be hosted on Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure, AWS, and Heroku. Developers can also take advantage of the integration with Docker. There are fewer choices for Node.js, and some developers simply set up Linux web servers.

App performance

50% of respondents in the Node.js 2017 User Survey pointed to improved application performance in comparison to other solutions.

Node.js is excellent at multitasking and works on the fastest JavaScript engine (V8). It also enables apps to handle more requests simultaneously than other solutions. Plus, Node.js won't weigh down your server when sending many requests.

The latest version of ASP.NET core 2.0 is 15% faster than the first edition, which was already several times faster than the old Windows-based version, making it the fastest option among widespread mainstream web frameworks.

Node.js or ASP.NET?

When choosing the framework for your enterprise application, it's also worth considering its future. While the hype around Node.js only seems to be growing, industry giants aren't choosing ASP.NET anymore – and many people believe that it indicates the framework's slow demise.

Want to take advantage of a dynamic ecosystem with plenty of ready-made elements that cover many different use cases? Node.js is a safe bet, especially for microservices, web apps, real-time apps (instant messaging, live chat), and e-commerce transaction software.

However, developers who want to enjoy the benefits of C# can go with ASP.NET which also includes a sizable collection of elements for building quality applications efficiently. With its open-source model, sizeable community and many free tools, ASP.NET will also be a good choice for small applications and MVPs.

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