Node.js Architecture: Most Common Problems and How to Fix Them

by Tosho Trajanov

7 min read·

Get this:

According to Stack Overflow 2019 survey, Node.js is the most popular tool in the “Frameworks, Libraries, and Tools” category with 50% of answers.

However, despite its popularity, it goes without saying that Node.js does come with its own set of problems. 

Let's take a quick look at some of Node.js architecture best practices before we explore the most common problems you can come across. 

What Are the Main Parts of Node.js Architecture?

To handle more than one concurrent client, Node.js makes use of the “Single Threaded Event Loop” architecture. 

To sum up, each of the parts of Node.js architecture is explained below:

  • Requests: in respect to the particular tasks users desire to perform in a web application, incoming requests can either be blocking (complex) or non-blocking (simple). 
  • Node.js Server: node.js server, as a server-side platform, does not only take requests from a user. It also processes these requests and ensures that they are returned to the corresponding user. 
  • Event Queue: in a node.js server, the Event Queue does the storage of incoming client requests and passes those requests one after the other into the Event Loop. 
  • Thread Pool: Thread pool contains all the available threads for performing certain tasks that are needed to fulfill client requests. 
  • Event Pool: The event pool does receive requests randomly, process them and ensure the responses are returned to the corresponding client. 
  • External Resources: whether external resources are used for computation, data storage, etc., they are resources needed for dealing with blocking client requests. 

How Does Node.js Work?

Node contains libraries of functions (packages and modules) that users can import from npm (node package manager) into their code and utilize. This simply means that you have for yourself some installed basic modules when you install on your computer – this simple server is created. 

Benefits of Using Node.js Architecture

The Node.js architecture has some interesting benefits that make the server-side platform stand out among every other server-side language. The server you developed using node.js are always faster and better responsive compared to the ones created using other server development technologies

The advantages are:

  • Handling multiple concurrent client requests is fast and easy: the Node.js server ensures the efficient handling of many incoming requests all thanks to the event queue and thread pool. 
  • No need for creating multiple threads: you don’t need to create multiple threads because the event loop helps in performing the request one after the other. In conclusion, a single thread is enough to handle a blocking incoming request. 
  • Requires fewer resources and memory: due to the way node.js server handles the incoming requests; it doesn’t really require many resources and memory. This is made possible because the overall process doesn’t tax the memory that much due to the fact that the requests are being processed one after the other. 

Most Common Problems/Challenges with Node.js Application Architecture

As a Node.js developer, your work doesn’t just stop at developing web applications with node.js. Another important phase you should take seriously is the app maintenance part because problems and malfunctions can discourage clients from making use of your application. 

Therefore, you need to learn how to find these problems and know the right solutions in handling them so that your app can be a success. The common challenges with Node.js application architecture are:

  • Extensive Stack: there is no generally accepted convention for developing applications in node.js. If you find a framework that uses node.js, you would discover that it’s unopinionated. What does this mean? This simply means that these frameworks for node.js do not have any certain guidance for writing codes in them. This is the reason why every app needs an individual approach and an experienced developer with good development processes and code maintenance abilities. 
  • Technical Debt: the lack of good practices could be the reason for many problems in node.js today. As a newbie in this field, having the luxury of many ways of developing apps from the opensource community could be a problem thereby leading to application structure incongruency. This is why it’s advisable to make use of well-tested design patterns from more traditional environments (such as java) for code maintenance. 
  • Scalability Challenges: scaling in node.js doesn’t come easy and this is due to the fact that it’s a single-threaded process. You might need to divide building many complex applications into smaller microservices that handle different operations. You must never forget to always relatively keep your performant and scalable Node.js application small and scalable any time you are architecting it. 
  • Poor Documentation: the importance of documentation in the world of tech can't be over-emphasized. Documentation gives developers a hint of how an app operates. That's not all, it also tells you what its main components are made of and their relationship in respect to each other without leaving out the purpose why the app is built. In short, poor documentation could increase development time and make the entire process not an easy one to do. Once poor documentation occurs, your app could have performance issues or there could be a problem implementing new features.  

How Do You Solve These Problems?

Here are some of the Node.js architecture best practices for dealing with the problems outlines above:

Conducting code review any time you notice that something is not working properly in the application.

Irrespective of the stack you use, the first thing you must do is to run a review of your code. Code review gives information about code’s quality, the stack, and the application in general. A successfully run code review gives you a hint if the real problem lies within the performance, scalability, architecture, or flexibility.

Improving code quality.

Always clean up the file structure by dividing it into logical units once you notice that the overall code quality is relatively low or inconsistent. It’s always a good practice to implement both static code analysis tools (such as Codebeat) and a type systems (Typescript, Flow). Always perform code optimization on a regular basis and don’t forget to include code refactoring in your everyday development process. Lastly, always make it a habit to drive the deployment process with a properly configured Continuous Integration.

Updating stack.

You benefit a lot from keeping your node.js up to date. An up-to-date node.js helps you to boost the performance of your app. Not only does it do that, it gives you an opportunity to work with modern native solutions (such as async/await and other ES6/7 features) that can help to fasten development processes. Lastly, once you upgrade node.js, you won’t need to work with many third-party libraries anymore.

Improving documentation.

An app with good documentation is easily understood and it contains correct information that users need to get the best out of the software application. Ensure your app documentation is up to date and always endeavor to make it easily accessible to everyone in your team because good app documentation covers both good communication (among team members) and an efficient app development process.

Checking the roots of the problem if your app is not performing as it should. 

Investigate correctly if the problem lies with the architecture or some parts of the code are not written very well. At times, all you might need do is to implement autoscaling. Everything boils down to dig into the roots of the situation.

Conclusion

By now, you must be wondering:

Why do I need to know all these things about Node.js architecture?

Well, for one, being equipped with this knowledge can help you land a job at a great company.

Let's imagine that a tech company is looking to hire a Nodejs developer. Do you think you'll have better chances of landing the job by knowing everything there is to know about Node.js or by wishing not too many candidates apply to the job?

Yes, it's the former!

With that being said, it's time you use the knowledge you gained from this article to write reusable, testable, and efficient code.

Good luck!