Node.js is a modern back-end technology for building web applications, particularly real-time ones. The technology’s goal is to be efficient and lightweight, and to allow for building fast, scalable products. It’s being used across industries, including fintech, social media and e-commerce. Node’s many advantages apply particularly well to SaaS platforms. Here’s how.

Take any given web project - there’s a good chance that Node.js has been used for it. According to developer surveys, Node.js is the most popular technology in the world, and JavaScript the most popular language. Many well-known companies use it, including Netflix, PayPal, NASA, Uber, LinkedIn and eBay. It’s no wonder that SaaS projects can benefit from it, as well.

The frameworks

Node.js comes with several powerful web frameworks that can be used for a SaaS project. Express is the most popular among them, used for web and mobile apps, while KOA (created by the same team) is smaller and more expressive. Sails is a bit like a Ruby on Rails alternative, the ultimate web framework for Node.js that supports fast development and puts emphasis on reliability. Meteor is flexible tool aiming for ease of use - it functions as both a front-end and a back-end framework. All of these (and more!) frameworks make it easy to tailor your tech stack to your project’s exact needs.

Rendering time

While Netflix’s streaming service is built primarily with Java, they’ve leveraged Node.js to speed up rendering. Many websites render on the user’s side. This means that a JavaScript file needs to be sent from the server, then the code is ran and the page is rendered within the browser. With Node.js, it’s possible to send pre-rendered views to the user, speeding up loading times and smoothing out the whole experience. If your SaaS platform will be used in a busy environment, e.g. as a work tool at a competitive company, even less than a second of waiting time can cause frustration for users. By reducing it to the minimum, you can make huge strides towards customer loyalty and user satisfaction.

Finding the best talent

According to recent surveys, JavaScript is the most popular programming language among developers. Because of this eagerness to work with the technology, it’s easy to find talented people who’ll make your SaaS platform truly great. It’s also good to remember that team member might need to leave and be replaced midway through the project, which is another reason to appreciate the flexibility of a robust talent pool. SaaS products tend to require heavy maintenance as customers’ companies grow and evolve. Custom modules might also need to be developed for certain customers. Work on an actively used SaaS platform never ends, so maintaining a solid team is a priority.

The full-stack revolution

In older development models, teams were strictly divided into front-end and back-end developers, based on their skills and preferences. This wasn’t a bad approach, but it made communication difficult and could often unnecessarily lengthen work on even simple tasks. This was the case at PayPal, and after deciding the old approach no longer worked for them, they moved on from Java and used Node.js for their back-end. This decision helps them keep their team more flexible, speed up development and lower costs. According to their own blog, they work almost twice as fast now, with a smaller team. Their code and infrastructure are also more manageable, with fewer lines of code and files. Their apps’ performance skyrocketed as well. Clearly, if you want to build a complex web application and would prefer not to bloat your team, Node.js is the way to go.

SEO-friendliness

Remember how Node.js allows you to take care of rendering on the server side? Turns out that this is perfect for search engine optimization. Google’s bots don’t alway render everything perfectly when they visit your website (in an extreme case we’ve witnessed, the bot saw a blank page!), but if pre-rendered data is delivered to them on a platter, you have a guarantee that they will see what you want it to see. No matter what industry you’re in, organic search results matter. And with the amount of competition you’re likely to face when introducing a SaaS product to the market, you need to position your website well.

Conclusions

Node.js is one of the most popular web technologies in the world for a reason. Developers love it for its capabilities, such as server-side rendering and good performance. Additional benefits include SEO-friendly code, a whole bunch of available resources, and great ease of finding and maintaining a good development team.

Building a SaaS app with Node.js on the back-end can be quick and efficient. A team of experienced developers can turn your idea into a beautiful product ready for launch. Let’s find out whether iRonin’s experts will be the right fit for your company.