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App Development
8 minutes read

Ruby on Rails Vs. Node.js Explained

by Jose Gomez
App Development
8 minutes read

One of the most important and difficult decisions that need to be made on any app development project is which technology to use. Today, we’re going to explore Ruby on Rails vs. Node.js in detail to help you understand both of these technologies, how they differ, and when to choose one over the other. 

Both of these web development technologies have their upsides and downsides, but they can both support complex web applications. In order to make the best choice possible, you need to understand your development project and end goals. 

An Overview of Ruby on Rails and Node.js

Comparing Node.js vs. Ruby on Rails is not completely straightforward because they are two different types of development technologies. Ruby on Rails is a development framework that is built on the Ruby programming language. On the other hand, Node.js is an open-source runtime environment that allows developers to execute JavaScript code on the server-side. 

The Ruby on Rails framework was created to reduce bottlenecks and inefficiencies in the development process. Rails was released in 2005, and it has become a favorite with developers because it reduces the amount of repetitive, boilerplate code that they have to work with, and it allows them to focus more heavily on the logic of the software they are creating. 

Node.js was released in 2009. Over time, Node.js has gained popularity with developers who are working on server-side scripting. Node.js makes web app development with a single programming language, JavaScript, possible. It runs on Google Chrome’s V8 JavaScript engine. 

Now that you have a basic understanding of what Ruby on Rails and Node.js are, let’s take a look at the specific advantages each one offers developers. 

The Advantages of Ruby on Rails

There are many advantages to working with Ruby on Rails. Key benefits of using this development framework include:

  • Fast development 
  • Comprehensive infrastructure
  • Simple database migration 
  • Large community 

Fast Development

Ruby gained a lot of popularity because it was a simple, easy-to-learn programming language. Ruby on Rails utilizes the simplicity already present in Ruby and delivers a development framework that can be picked up very quickly. Rails takes time-consuming development tasks and simplifies them. This leads to faster overall development and deployment times. Ruby on Rails also provides developers with a number of different tools and libraries to help them optimize, test, and debug their code.  

Comprehensive Infrastructure

Since Ruby on Rails was designed for rapid development projects, Rails comes loaded with a comprehensive infrastructure that includes an integrated web server and a rich database that includes generators and scripts. Developers can easily pull all the necessary pieces they need for a Rails application from the database and place them in their proper place. Not only does this infrastructure aid fast development, but it also ensures quality code. 

Simple Database Migration

Database migration can cause real headaches and take a lot of time. Ruby on Rails makes database migration effortless. Rails utilizes ActiveRecord, which easily mitigates the discrepancies between multiple SQL interactions. Instead of taking valuable time to write out cumbersome SQL code, developers can use Ruby on Rails to describe the changes to their database tables. Plus, Rails works in a variety of database environments.

Large Community 

One aspect of Ruby on Rails that cannot be overlooked is the large community of developers that support the framework. Since Rails is an open-source framework, developers from around the world are allowed to help support and further develop the framework. In the case of Ruby on Rails, this has led to a large online community where you can find help on any issue that may arise. This is particularly helpful when new updates are rolled out, or security issues pop up. 

The Advantages of Node.js

There are also plenty of advantages to using the Node.js runtime environment for your development project. Key benefits of using Node.js include:

  • Scalability
  • Quick processing 
  • One language solution
  • Extensive ecosystem 

Scalability

One thing that developers love about Node.js is its scalability. It is a very lightweight runtime environment that gives developers the ability and flexibility to break down the logic of the application into tiny microservices or modules. Since the logic of a Node.js application consists of small modules instead of one big core, adding more modules on top of the existing logic or removing modules is easy.

This gives developers the ability to be flexible and quickly scale up or down should the project require it. This architectural style has gotten popular and is used in combination with Node.js by some large companies, including Netflix and Walmart. 

Quick Processing 

Node.js is fast. It processes requests asynchronously, which means requests are processed without delay. Traditionally, requests are processed one at a time or synchronously. In addition to an asynchronous model, Node.js is also powered by Google Chrome’s V8 engine. This gives Node.js serious processing speed, especially when combined with the ability to process concurrent requests.

One Language Solution 

One of the challenges faced in any development project is finding skilled developers to handle the various aspects of a project. Since Node.js utilizes JavaScript, any developer who is proficient at using JavaScript for front-end development will be able to write server-side scripts using Node.js.

This gives you the ability to deploy smaller, more focused development teams that can complete entire projects using JavaScript. Code can also be reused in server-side modules too since everything is written in JavaScript. Keeping front-end and back-end languages aligned allows your development team to be more efficient and work faster. 

Extensive Ecosystem 

New libraries are constantly being published for Node.js. This creates an extensive technology ecosystem for developers to work with. Currently, there are over 800,000 libraries available for Node.js. This is a valuable resource for developers, and the large ecosystem of available libraries is one of the main reasons why developers choose Node.js. 

Projects Best Suited for Ruby on Rails

There are many good use cases for Ruby on Rails. If you’re trying to decide between Rails and Node.js for your development project, you need to understand what your needs are before you can make the best choice. 

Ruby on Rails is better than Node.js when it comes to CPU-intensive projects. Rails is more capable of handling apps with a lot of images, videos, and graphics since it is not a single-threaded environment like Node.js. If you’re also looking for rapid development, Ruby on Rails is the better choice. Node.js can be fast, too, thanks to its generator scripts, but it will never be as fast as Ruby on Rails in terms of development time. 

Rails is perfect for building apps and websites quickly. Ruby on Rails prioritizes convention over configuration. Organizations that are looking to get to market quickly or create a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) will likely find that Ruby on Rails is best suited to meet their needs. 

Projects Best Suited for Node.js

On the other hand, there are some projects that are more suited to the advantages of Node.js. If your organization is looking to develop a highly scalable application, Node.js is a better choice than Ruby on Rails due to its cluster module architecture. Node.js is better than Ruby on Rails when it comes to real-time apps that process a lot of data between the client and server. This includes messaging, collaboration, and video call apps. 

Node.js might not handle heavy graphics as well as Rails, but it is far more adept at processing concurrent requests. Plus, Node.js offers a lot more scalability than Ruby on Rails. If processing performance and scalability are your organization’s main concerns, Node.js is the choice you should make. 

Final Thoughts

It can be difficult to make an even comparison between Ruby on Rails and Node.js. After all, one is a development framework, and the other is a runtime environment. Still, there are times when you may have to make a choice between Rails and Node.js. If you’re unsure which path is the best for your needs moving forward, speak with an app development partner

A development partner can help clarify the situation and help you better understand your project’s needs. Lean on the industry experience and technical expertise provided by a development partner for your next project.

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