Node.js vs Golang: Which One Fits Your Project Best?

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Yuliia Podorozhko
Market Researcher

Node.js and Golang are two very different development tools, they even belong to different technology classes. Go is a programming language and Node.js is a runtime environment. So, the Node.js vs Golang “showdown” might seem a bit controversial. 

However, both technologies are used for backend development, so sometimes you need to choose between Go or Node.js. Selecting the right technology is a key priority, but it’s not always easy, especially if you don't have an extensive tech background. In such cases, a Node.js vs Golang comparison is helpful.

At MadAppGang we use both technologies for various projects. In this article, we'll give you a basic overview of the advantages, limitations, and applications built with each technology. We’ll also look at the use of Go and Node.js in cloud storage and machine learning. Read on for the essential information you need to make an informed choice.

What is Go?

Golang (Go) is a programming language focused on simplicity and quick performance created by Google. Open-source, multipurpose, and statically typed, it quickly gained popularity upon its release for public use in 2007. The Go programming language combines the best features of several other programming languages. For instance, it's high performing like C/C++ and Java, and suitable for various purposes like Python.

golang vs node js tiobe

Programming language rating for Oct 2021. Source: Tiobe

According to the TIOBE (a programming community index), Golang is among the most popular programming languages in the world. Go provides dynamically formatted interfaces and advanced memory safety and is widely used for concurrent programming. These features make the technology a perfect fit for cloud interfaces, network apps, and microservices. 

Pros & Cons of Golang

Several of MadAppGang's projects, including Evergen, were developed with Go. The language is great to work with. However, like all its counterparts, it has both advantages and disadvantages. Below is a list of Go's pros and cons based on our experience:

golang pros and cons

Examples of use

Thousands of platforms are built with Go, including video converters, streaming services, aggregators, online stores, instant messengers, and on-demand apps. These are just a few examples of companies who have used Golang from the start or recently shifted to Go:

  • Google Google used Go to develop Chrome, Google Earth, YouTube and Google App Engine.

  • Dropbox The cloud storage service shifted to Golang to ease the management of its 500 million user network.  

  • Uber Used Go to create its geofence, a service that identifies the user’s location and service availability.

  • Netflix A major player in the video entertainment industry, Netflix used Go to rewrite the Rend service that manages tens of thousands of concurrent connections.

  • SendGrid The cloud-based email service uses Go to meet the company’s need for asynchronous programming.

  • MadAppGang Used Golang to build a fast cross-platform app for Evergen, a renewable energy startup. 

build apps on golang

What is Node.js?

Node.js is a server-side, open-source runtime environment that was introduced in 2009. The Node.js asynchronous input/output model is designed to create scalable server-side applications with JavaScript. The Node.js engine compiles JavaScript to machine code, allowing the use of the same programming language for backend and frontend development.

By establishing a two-way connection between a web server and a user's browser, Node.js achieves and maintains high throughput and low latency, making it an excellent choice if you need to build a real-time, two-way web application.

Pros & Cons of Node.js

Due to its benefits, Node.js is used for 1.4% to 2.2% of websites globally, with at least 30 million sites in the US only. However, like every technology, Node.js has some disadvantages too. In the table below we've highlighted the main pros and cons:

node js pros and cons

Examples of use

Node.js is suitable for various types of software — single-page applications, social networking apps, streaming services, fintech apps, and more. There are plenty of small and large companies using Node.js for its high performance and cost-efficiency. Here are a few examples:

  • GoDaddy The large web hosting platform switched from .Net to Node.js, a decision that allowed the company to build a Java-only development team for the frontend and backend and reduced deployment time to under one minute.

  • LinkedIn A famous social network for professionals, LinkedIn migrated from Ruby-on-Rails to Node.js to handle its ever-growing traffic. 

  • eBay for its performance, speed, good scalability, and the high level of control it gives developers. 

  • Trello The Agile project management tool built its server-side using Node.js. The technology was chosen for its high performance, real-time update possibility, code reusability, and fast development process.

Node.js vs Golang

Node.js and Go are two unrelated technologies that are used for backend development. Both solutions are equally good, so making the right choice between them can be tricky. However, let's try to compare Node.js vs Golang to see what technology suits your project best.

Maturity

First, let's compare the two technologies in terms of maturity. As both were introduced in the late ‘00s, Node.js and Go are equally mature and popular among specialists. According to Glassdoor, the competition for Go developers is less fierce (on average there are 2,000 job offers) than for Node.js specialists (11,000 job offers), so it may be easier to find Go experts.

Performance

Golang is lightweight and almost as fast as C and C++. It has exceptional raw performance and well-established computation processes. Meanwhile, Node.js is based on JavaScript, which has a slower performance compared to other languages. In other words, Node.js cannot deliver high performance or speed when it comes to working with CPU and memory.

However, when it comes to real-life performance, Node.js and Golang show almost the same speed for network and database communication, if we’re talking about a standard backend. As an example, let's compare the results of a synthetic test in The Benchmarks Game for both technologies:

node js vs golang benchmarks

Error-handling

There is no winner in this category. With Node.js, errors are handled with throw-catch, a traditional method where mistakes are ‘caught’ as soon as they occur. It's a simple and common method of handling errors that many programmers are familiar with, which reduces the amount of code produced and, in certain cases, can speed up the development process.

In Golang, the error handling must be explicit. So, the coding approach should be systematic and disciplined from the very beginning, which, in turn, improves maintainability. With Golang, you produce more code, but in the end, it’s easier to read over time.

Concurrency

Golang wins this round. It was created for large projects that require the simultaneous processing of numerous requests. With Node.js, as with Go, it’s possible to allocate to the database simultaneously. But unlike Go, Node.js is not adapted for the concurrent use of all CPU cores. 

Scalability

Both Node.js and Golang can be used to build scalable applications. It’s easier and faster to code with Node.js, but it’s single-threaded in CPU-tasks; sometimes the event loop gets blocked, which slows down the program. Golang offers better concurrency support and allows the parallel execution of multiple tasks called "goroutines." These goroutines mean programs built with Go can be more functional and faster as they’re more productive. As a result, Go is more suitable for coding scalable apps.

comparison table of node js and golang

Node.js vs Go for cloud computing

No winners here. Projects built with both Golang and Node can be hosted on almost any cloud server —  AWS, Google App Engine, Google Compute Engine, Azure, or Digital Ocean. So your choice is only limited by the size of your project and your budget. 

Node.js vs Go for machine learning (ML)

Teams working in machine learning don't typically use Node.js or Go. ML developers prefer Python as it offers numerous ready-made ML libraries. Still, in theory, it’s possible to use Go or Node.js for ML, but building your project will require lots of time and effort. 

In case your choice for ML is limited to the technologies in the discussion, Node.js might be an option if your focus is on small datasets. For handling big data, Go is better. Golang's concurrent nature allows multiple ML algorithms to run simultaneously and at high speed.

Final word

Golang and Node.js are two brilliant technologies that help to build reliable and highly efficient backends. Both have their clear benefits, as well as specific drawbacks. Node.js often tops the development rankings, yet Go does not lag behind. When it comes to intensive data processing and server-side development, Go has no equal.

In the battle between Node.js and Golang, who wins? After reading this article, it may seem that Go takes the prize. However, it's not that simple and there are no clear winners in the Golang vs Node.js battle. 

The only way to make the right choice between the technologies is to correctly evaluate the type and characteristics of your project. 

Go is a better choice for microservices and loaded enterprise-scale projects. Node.js can be a great tool for building server-side applications, complex single-page applications and intensive data streaming programs such as video chats, for example. In any case, you should always seek advice and help from a specialist before you choose a technical stack because only professionals can take all the nuances of a project into account.

The MadAppGang team is at your disposal for consulting and building web, Android and iOS applications. We use a wide range of technologies, including Node.js and Golang. We are happy to help you make the right choice for your project, or build your product from scratch. Contact us today and let’s get to work!