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Python vs Node.js: Technology Comparison

Nov 3, 202114 min read

Miłosz Kaczorowski

Co-founder at Ideamotive. Technological advisor and software consultant.

python vs nodejs ogimage

Most coders choose backend technology for their development projects based on their training or fluency in a particular technology. While this can be convenient, it is often the wrong approach to achieve the desired business results. The programming language, environment, and the entire technology stack must be chosen according to the nature of the project.

 

Moreover, using the correct server technology in conjunction with the project's use case is a must. It affects performance, resource consumption, ease of deployment, scalability, and sometimes even the very success of a project.

 

Between Node.js and Python, both are widely used server-side technologies, although both were developed at different times and are intended for different purposes. Python has been around since 1991.

 

It was designed as a server-side programming language that is ideal for web applications. In contrast, Node.js was introduced in 2009 as a JavaScript runtime that revolutionized the use of server-side JavaScript.

 

As a CxO or a product owner, you may wonder which one to choose for your project. Therefore, in order to make the right choice, it is important to examine their advantages and limitations and to look out for use cases in which one is superior to the other, and vice versa.

 

When comparing the two technologies in backend development, you will notice that various technologies differ in benefits and applications.

 

The inside of every web application is the root of every project and the outside depends on it. No matter how beautiful and attractive your interface is, its stability will always depend on it. So, every CxO should make a wise decision when choosing a technology for a backend project.

 

When it comes to the front-end, JavaScript has no competition. This is because of its versatility and ease of use. But as far as the backend is concerned, it remains a subject of controversy among developers about which technology is best to use: Python vs Node.js. This is due to the fact that these two technologies are used most often and are known to be the best in terms of server technologies.

 

Now the question is how to choose between Node.js and Python? What should you pay attention to?

 

To answer this question, we'll look at the differences between the two languages ​​and help the customer decide which technology to use based on the specifications.

What is Python?

Python is an open-source, high-level, object-oriented, dynamic programming language. Its syntax and interpreted dynamic typing make it an ideal scripting language.

 

The first version of Python was released in 1991 by Guido van Rossum, also known as the creator of the Python programming language. According to GitHub, it is now the second most popular language and the most popular language for machine learning.

 

Python takes advantage of various libraries and tools that are used and supported by developers around the world.

 

 

Python vs Node.js - infographic 1


Here's what Guido van Rossum (the Python creator) says about comparing Python to other languages:

If you're talking about Java, in particular, Python is the best choice of all other languages. And yet the funny thing is that from a technology point of view, JavaScript has a lot in common with Python, but it's kind of a limited subset."

 

Explore additional business insights by reading Ideamotive’s guide about Python development!

What is Node.js?

Node.js is an open-source, single-threaded, cross-platform runtime for building fast and scalable server and networking applications. Unlike Python, the programming language, Node.js is a runtime for running JavaScript outside the browser.

 

It is written in C, C++, and JavaScript and runs on the JavaScript V8 runtime engine. Node.js uses an event-driven, non-blocking I/O architecture, making it suitable for developing real-time applications.

 

Find out more about JavaScript in our comprehensive business guide!

 

 

Python vs Node.js - infographic 2

Why should we compare them?

Since every project has different needs and specifications, you must choose the right technology to code it.

 

When comparing Python vs Node.js, choosing a server-side technology is one of the main issues to solve before moving on to a development project.

 

You can get recommendations from friends about which technology to choose, ask the developers what they prefer, or find an answer on the Internet. You will get different opinions from different sources, but you will not know which option is best for your project.

 

Each technical framework and programming language is designed to meet specific project goals and this is the main criterion for determining your preference. Don't just go for the popular one. Your preferences in the technical stack should be conscious and should depend on your capabilities and requirements:

  • Budget;
  • Geography;
  • Product type;
  • Project type.

 

There may be more on this list, but you should consider every detail of your future product when choosing the technology you will use to develop your applications.

 

By comparing Python and Node.JS for server-side development, you will learn how technologies differ in their benefits and uses.

 

Below we will conduct an in-depth comparison between Python vs Node.js, taking into account a number of predefined factors so that you can better understand both competitors.

Speed of coding/easiness of coding

Python is easier to use, better covered, and therefore has better development speed. This gives Python an edge over Node.js, although both technologies are admittedly very fast to code in.

 

Node.js is a JavaScript implementation, a language with a long history, and a predominantly front-end tool. Therefore, solutions found for Node.js on the web may be inadequate for internal use or rely on inaccessible interfaces.

 

This cannot be overstated as every JavaScript or runtime tends to have slight variances in how it implements JavaScript. Admittedly, the situation has improved over the years, but it is still far from Python, where CPython, the only implementation, is used in the vast majority of Python projects.

 

Verdict: Python

Performance

Node.js executes code outside of the web browser. Thus, the application uses resources efficiently and performs better. The non-blocking nature of Node.js and the execution of the V8 engine make it even faster. Thus, Node.js is one of the preferred options for real-time applications.

 

Python lacks speed compared to Node.js. Python is an interpreted language, meaning it doesn't convert directly to machine code - instead, it compiles it to byte code first, which results in a longer runtime.

 

Moreover, Python is not the best choice for applications that prioritize speed and performance or involve a lot of complex computation.

 

Verdict: Node.js

Architecture 

The architecture defines the general practice/principles to be followed within the framework/environment or language. Node.js has a single-threaded architecture, processing multiple requests with a single thread. In contrast, Python follows a standard implementation called "cpython" using pluggable code modules.

 

As we noted earlier, Node.js is a server-side asynchronous programming runtime. This means that the I/O function is not blocked because a certain process is still in progress.

 

You can run parallel processes to deploy your application faster. 

 

Also, its event-driven architecture allows Node.js to take action as an event occurs.

 

When comparing Node js vs Python for backend, please, note that, unlike Node.js, Python does not provide such functionality. You must start and end one process before you can call others. This makes Python a little harsh.

 

While there are some tools that can help you create asynchronous applications using Python, they do not make Python inherently asynchronous. You will end up using workarounds in the project and don't actually get the asynchrony you want.

 

Verdict: Node.js (due to a more responsive and user-friendly architecture)

Documentation

The rapid growth of JavaScript libraries leads to problems with documentation, which, as a result, leads to poor quality Node.js. This is why the backend requires more experienced developers - getting it right requires prior preparation.

 

Here Python is a better option. Also, since this is not a new language, the documentation is quite extensive. So, when it comes to Python, you will have no shortage of knowledge if you are a software developer.

 

Verdict: Python

Popularity

Popularity is an important aspect to consider. The number of developers available for a given language depends on its popularity.

 

Popular languages ​​naturally lead to larger communities with more contributions and active development. This is especially important for businesses - it's easier to find the right talent if your technology stack is popular.

 

Node.js has grown in popularity in recent years as it is incredibly lightweight, highly flexible, and has an extensive set of libraries to make development easier. Plus, it's used by thousands of companies, including big names like Twitter, Spotify, Reddit, Linkedin, and many more.

 

Even on Github, Node.js has a whopping 75.9k stars, 19k forks, and 3k watchers. It is also the most widely used non-language, non-operating system, and non-database tool, according to a 2021 Stack Overflow survey.

 

Python is the second most popular language according to the Tiobe Index, which measures the popularity of programming languages. According to the Stack Overflow poll mentioned earlier, Python has been the most requested language for five years now. 

Python passed SQL to become our third most popular technology, and Node.JS moved to the sixth most popular technology,” says the report.

Python is also one of the top choices for data engineers and machine learning projects.

 

Verdict: Python

Community

Both Node.js and Python are supported by widespread and thriving communities. Node.js is one of the most active programming communities out there. There are all sorts of tutorials, videos, and modules created by the community for the community.

 

NPM has over a million packages, all of which are community-driven. Also, when you find yourself stuck on a problem, chances are good that someone has already solved it and shared the solution on Stack Overflow.

 

You can join the Node.js community and start looking for answers - or contribute your own whenever you want.

 

Python also has a large community with millions of developers. Since it is an older language, it naturally has a larger community than Node.js.

 

Python forums, including the Stack Overflow forums, are a good place to submit requests. The Python online community has fantastic resources for training and conferences held around the world, commonly known as PyCon.

 

Another benefit of such a large community is the ease of finding developers. Various companies using Python use the community to find good developers.

 

Verdict: Python

Talent pool

A talent pool is a group of users and developers who work with technology. As they are active, they will continue to look for new job opportunities and therefore, attract new vacancies in the field. 

 

You can think of Node.js as a relatively new form of technology and assume that its talent pool is small. However, you will be surprised to know that the pool of Node.js devs is quite large and active around the world with experienced Node.js coders. Finding talent in Node.js circles is very simple.

 

Python, being the older of the two languages, naturally has a larger number of devs. There is no shortage of talent in Python, from junior to senior contributors. And the active participation of Python devs leads to quick solutions and an overall improvement in the language.

 

Verdict: Python

Easiness to learn

Node.js is JavaScript-based and can be easily learned by novice developers. Once you have some knowledge of JavaScript, mastering Node.js shouldn't be a problem.

 

Installing Node.js is fairly straightforward, but it does cover some complex topics. For example, it can be difficult to understand its event-driven architecture at first. Event-driven architecture has a huge impact on application performance, but it often takes developers time to master it.

 

Even so, the entry threshold for Node.js is still pretty low. But that could mean there are many unskilled Node.js developers out there. This can make it difficult for you to find a job in such a busy market. But if you are confident and have a great portfolio, you can easily solve this problem.

 

On the other hand, if you are a business owner, you may face the problem of hiring low-quality professionals. But you can also fix this problem by hiring a reliable team of web developers.

 

Talking about Python, if you don't know JavaScript and need to choose between Python and Node.js, you should probably start with the first. Python can be easier to learn because its syntax is simple and compact.

 

Typically, writing a specific function in Python requires fewer lines of code than writing the same function in Node.js. But this is not always the case, because the length of your code is highly dependent on your programming style and paradigm. Another plus is that there are no curly braces like in JavaScript.

 

Learning Python will also teach you how to indent your code correctly since the language is sensitive to indentation and spaces (the same is true for Node.js.) The problem with languages ​​sensitive to indentation and whitespace is that a single indented error or misplaced parenthesis can break your code for no apparent reason. And it can be difficult for new developers to troubleshoot such issues.

 

Python is harder to install than Node.js. If you are on Linux or Windows, you should be able to install Python without any problems. If you are using macOS, you will see that you have Python 2.0 preinstalled, but you cannot use it as it will interfere with system libraries. Instead, you need to download and use a different version. When setting up your development environment, be sure to select the correct version.

 

As you can see, both Python and Node.js are easy to learn, so it's hard to tell objectively which one is easier. It's also a matter of personal preference. So again, both technologies get a point.

 

Verdict: Draw

Scalability

Scalability is a linear increase in resource requirements as a web application scales. Initially, when you create an MVP, you will have a lightweight web application, and almost any programming language/environment will work for the task.

 

However, as you scale the application with features and capabilities, the resource consumption of the language/coding environment will also grow in the same proportion.

 

Node.js gives you enough flexibility to avoid the core. So, instead of building a kernel and then scaling everything around it, you create a set of microservices and modules. As your application scales, these microservices and modules can dynamically start their own processes. Hence, you can scale your application horizontally by adding nodes to existing ones, and you can expand it vertically by adding resources.

 

Python has threading issues. It is built on a global interpreter lock that prevents it from working with multiple threads at the same time. This means that you cannot start another process until the sequential historical process is complete.

 

Although Python is dynamically typed, this is more of a scale-down disadvantage. Large teams can find it difficult to maintain code while scaling a project.

 

Given its flexibility and low maintenance costs, Node.js is definitely more scalable than Python.

 

Verdict: Node.js

Cost of development

Another important topic that we would like to discuss is Python vs Node.js in terms of pricing. How much does Python server-side cost? How much money should you spend on developing a Javascript interface? All answers to these questions can be found in the table below. Most of the prices depend on the geolocation of the agencies or freelance developers who provide the services.

Python vs Node.js -Table 3 - cost of development Python

Python vs Node.js -Table 2 - cost of development Node.js

 

Source: Glassdoor

 

What also impacts the costs is universality. Node.js is used in backend development. For front-end development, developers prefer JavaScript. This saves resources such as money and time since only one team is required to develop both the frontend and backend. This Node.js feature, in turn, has prompted many developers to choose it.

 

Node.js is cross-stage. This means that a developer can create one desktop application that will run on different operating systems such as MAC OS, Linux, and Windows. This will be a great advantage for the developer in terms of the cost of the project.

 

Python is a full-stack language. It is used in backend development and its frameworks in front-end development.

 

A Python program can be written on a MAC OS, and the same program can run on Linux, so Python is also an inter-stage language.

 

Python is a good language for both web development and desktop. But unlike Node.js, it is not primarily used when developing mobile applications.

 

Verdict: Node.js

Summary table with the TL;DR essence of the comparison

Python vs Node.js -Table 4 - Python VS. Node.js

Pros & cons

Python pros

While Python is not a language specifically for web development, there are some benefits worth mentioning.

Simplicity

Python syntax is very talkative, so the code files are easy to read. It takes 10-30 minutes to master simple tasks.

AI and machine learning development capabilities

Python has many built-in AI libraries (Pylearn2, Tensorflow for neural networks, and Scikit-learn for data analysis).

Multiple library locations

Many hosting providers have built-in support for Python code and allow you to integrate APIs and additional plugins. You can use AWS, A2 Hosting, TMDHosting, Digital Option, Heroku, and other popular platforms.

Python cons

Because of its versatility, Python is not the most efficient language for web development.

Low speed

A backend speed comparison of Java, Node.js, and Python showed that Python was much slower at processing server-side operations. There are many levels of abstraction in the language that take extra time to process to make it easier to read.

The battle for mobile development

Python is not the native language of Android or iOS, and it is also not the best choice for hybrid development. You can adapt the language for mobile development using frameworks and platforms, but performance will be slow.

Python vs Node.js - PYTHON PROS&CONS

Python vs Node.js - infographic 3

Node.js pros

Node was built with web development in mind, so it solves basic problems. Key benefits include high performance, regular library tool updates, flexible syntax, and efficient code sharing.

Powerful technology stack

Node.js is JavaScript-based, so you get access to the JS tech stack, resources, and community. Working with Node.js gives you the ability to develop projects with MEAN Stack - a combination of MongoDB, Express.js, Angular, and Node.js to meet all your web development needs:

  • MongoDB for data management;
  • Express.js for efficient backend development
  • Angular for frontend, running JS code to create dynamic UI;
  • Node.js for internal JavaScript development.

 

(To be fair, Python has the equally powerful Django).

Fast event model

According to Toptal's analysis of the speed and efficiency of server-side tools, Node.js is 2-3x faster than Java, PHP, and Go. Node.js uses event-driven programming to execute an algorithm of operations independently of the user's actions. When the user clicks the button, the program quickly presents a new page, sends a message, or displays new content.

Flexibility for developing microservices

Using a package manager with free modules, developers can edit multiple modules at the same time, perfect for a microservice architecture. PayPal and Netflix have used Node.js to move from monolith to microservices. This move has helped companies break down functionality into smaller pieces, improve testing and service quality, and allowed teams to update multiple features at the same time thanks to the non-blocking nature of Node.js.

Rich ecosystem

The Node.js Package Manager is also a collection of open-source JS plugins. NPM brings together over 840,000 libraries. JS and Node.js developers use NPM modules in over 97% of web applications.

Node.js cons

Along with the advantages of JavaScript, Node.js has inherited some critical disadvantages. 

Performance issues

Node.js is based on JavaScript syntax that handles tasks with low CPU usage. Since you are using Node.js for the internal runtime, CPU-related tasks appear much more frequently. The Node.js framework is sometimes incompatible with high CPU utilization processes, which limits developers and hinders performance.

Immature tools

Core features have been tried and tested by a large community of developers, so there are virtually no performance issues. Less popular NPM modules are poorly built, contain bugs, and lack documentation. Node.js is open source, so updates don't go through strict quality control, preferring an approach based on quantity over quality.

Callback hell

Node.js uses callbacks to keep track of completed tasks. As the project scales and the number of active processes increases, the number of callbacks increases. At some point, developers run the risk of getting lost in answers and missing out on important bugs or technical debt.

Python vs Node.js - NODE.JS PROS&CONS

Problems with Node.js

In general, we can distinguish three main problems that a business owner can face when working with Node.js:

  • Extensive technology stack. A large number of poorly controlled tools lead to instability and quality degradation.
  • Accumulating technical debt. Callback hell and low-quality NPM modules lead to code errors, readability issues, and technical debt.
  • Scalability issues. As the project grows, it becomes more difficult for developers to spot a faulty module or read callback hell. The testing and maintenance team must spend a lot of time cleaning up code over time and scheduling ongoing technical debt management sessions.

Python vs Node.js - infographic 4

Python vs Node.js -Table 1 - Pros & Cons

When to use & examples

What is Python good for?

Python has tons of talent, mainly due to its uncomplicated syntax. This is one of the reasons giants like Facebook and Google use Python extensively to develop their technology. Python is also used as the default language for many popular data science training courses.

 

In addition, the popularity of Python is driving its use, and therefore more people are trying to learn it. You can also build and deploy MVP quite efficiently using its rich libraries. Moreover, Python supports web development with some frameworks like Django and Flask.

 

For example, Reddit was written using Lisp; however, in 2005 the entire platform had to be rewritten using Python. This is only made possible by the extensive list of Python libraries and functions.

 

Plus, with a Python interpreter, you can execute codes efficiently. 

 

There are many famous names using Python. Some of them:

 

Python vs- Node-js Logos (1)

What is Node.js good for?

The Node.js runtime makes it ideal for those applications that require a persistent connection between the browser-side application and the server. For example, a chatbot will not work as expected if it is not connected to the server without issue.

 

In this case, he will not be able to effectively respond to customer requests. So, if live streaming is your priority on a project, you should choose Node.js.

 

It's also important to note that Node.js can be used both client-side and server-side. This dramatically reduces deployment time and allows teams to easily maintain code during coordination.

 

Many companies that often interact between a client application and a cloud server choose Node.js to handle it efficiently. There are many well-known companies that use Node.js, some of them are mentioned below:

 

Python vs- Node-js Logos (2)

Conclusion

 

Python vs Node.js - infographic 5

  • Scalability. Node scalability is easier to achieve due to its asynchronous structure, but Python performs better for complex data-intensive projects.
  • Learning. Python is easier to learn in the early stages, but it gets more complex in the later stages. Prior knowledge of JavaScript will speed up your learning of Node.
  • Application cases. Node.js is best suited for microservices and small platforms: real-time applications, chats, instant messengers, content channels. Python is more versatile - it is suitable for large projects and allows you to integrate AI and work with big data.
  • Memory intensive processes. Node.js supports multithreading for CPU-intensive tasks. Python is slower but can do more complex operations.
  • Performance. Although Node.js can integrate fewer technology stacks than Python, both platforms have nearly the same performance.

As you can see, both Node.js and Python are used internally in web development. However, Node.js is only focused on the server-side, whereas Python is a general-purpose language suitable for many areas and tasks. Node.js is fast, lightweight, and has full JS development. Python, on the other hand, has a simple structure, large AI and ML libraries, and an active developer community. 

 

If you like, you can also check out the comparison between Ruby on Rails and Node.js or Python vs PHP.

 

To decide which is best for your project, Node.js or Python, you need to know what technologies you want to implement and determine the basic functional requirements of the product. 

 

We can provide you with technical consultancy and with experts skilled in both technologies, matched with your product and your industry. There are hundreds of vetted developers in our talent network, ready to work on your project. 

 

Contact Ideamotive - we will review your concept and suggest the best technology stack.

Miłosz Kaczorowski

Co-Founder of Ideamotive. Highly skilled in Ruby on Rails, JavaScript and Linux System Administration. Experienced in implementing effective web apps.

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