Node.js and Ruby on Rails are two excellent choices for companies developing web-based applications. In most cases, either one of these two technologies will do the job. Ruby on Rails has recently been cited as the better option for smaller projects and teams, when speed of development and time to market are the most crucial aspects. Node.js can often do better when a large team wants to work on a project simultaneously by dividing it into modules, and to improve performance in specific cases. And sometimes, it’s the other way around. This article contains a breakdown of the main advantages and disadvantages of Ruby on Rails and Node.js, to help CEOs and startup founders decide which technology will better serve their business.
Web framework vs runtime environment
Ruby on Rails is a web development backend framework based on the language Ruby. It was created in 2004, and since then has become one of the most stable solutions trusted by web developers worldwide. Ruby on Rails code does its magic on the server side, which means that everything the user sees on their device is rendered by the server (and not the user’s browser). One of Rails’ main advantages has become a bit of a catchphrase: batteries included. It means that there are plenty of libraries (called gems) and ready-made solutions for almost any possible situation.
Speed of development
Ruby on Rails is perfect for rapid development carried out by a small team. Because there are so many gems (libraries) that offer ready-made solutions, developers can put together a lot of functionality in very little time - and at a very low cost.
An app built with Node.js will usually be be faster than a Rails app when carrying out simpler operations like rendering data from the database. This is good enough for many types of apps, from blogs to marketplaces and SaaS platforms. But if the project involves complex mathematical calculations and algorithms, Node.js offers no advantage in performance speed over Ruby on Rails. Both of these tools were created for building web solutions, not Big Data apps.
Clean code and testing
Loading time for single page apps
In terms of performance, Node is a bit faster for typical web apps, and it will scale better and use less memory. When it comes to team scalability, Node.js also might work better. Because Rails apps are usually built as monolithic applications, a smaller team can create a full app much faster. But in a large corporation or a large team, building an app in this model is inefficient, as developers will get in each other’s way. It makes more sense to use a service oriented architecture with a smaller team responsible for each service. This approach works better with Node.js than with Rails. Rails is thus usually better for startups and small teams, or at the early stage of a project, while Node.js will work nicely for bigger teams.
Ruby on Rails has the advantage here as the more mature technology. There are fewer changes and updates to the language, framework and its many libraries. This means that, once you find a library that suits your needs, you don’t need to worry too much about it being compatible with your project months down the line. Because the community is so robust and productive, Rails resources are generally kept up-to-date. Documentation for Ruby/Rails is generally going to be more useful, as well.
Community and resources
Ruby on Rails vs Node.js - conclusions
Ruby on Rails is often better for startups that need to quickly verify an idea and put a working app out there. It allows for a faster time to market for a typical web app or a SaaS app, which can be a huge advantage for small companies. Corporations can also take advantage of Ruby’s good qualities. A certain project in the fintech industry benefited a great deal from iRonin’s Ruby on Rails outsourcing and the approach to coding promoted by Ruby. The code was really mature and the team took full advantage of how easy Rails is to test. In another project, this time in the real estate industry for Propertyware Maintenance, iRonin’s team was able to quickly introduce enterprise-level functionalities with Rails and make sure that the platform would be stable even with a large number of users.
The most important thing is to choose the best solution for your particular project. Neither Ruby on Rails nor Node.js is universally superior.
If you need help choosing the perfect technological stack for your application, take advantage of iRonin’s years of experience on the market. We choose our tools based on the task at hand and the client’s business goals, not personal preference.