Node.js and - how far can they go with real time web applications?


I am going to build a web application to manage notes (think of something similar to Evernote). I have decided to use Backbone.js+JQuery client side. Server-side, I haven't decided yet: either pure PHP (that I know very well) or (completely new to me).

I am considering because I would like to have my web application being real-time (i.e: if a user updates a note, that note gets updated instantly for a collaborator who shares that note, without reloading the page).

I was also considering, as a third alternative, to use Node.js and for the UI and PHP for the REST API (I feel more comfortable to build an API with PHP). The PHP and Javascript code will share the MongoDB database.

My question is this: if I develop the REST API for my web application with PHP and a new note for the user gets created through the API (i.e.: the Android app sends an API request to create that note), will Node.js, and Backbone.js be able to instantly update the UI of the user and show the new note on their screen? I think that can be called "push notification".

I hope I was clear enough.

Also, is there any alternative outstanding technology to build real time web applications?

Problem courtesy of: dan


Yes Node.js + Socket.IO will do a very good job of this. Node uses an event-loop, this means upon a request it is entered into a queue. Node deals with these requests one-by-one. Traditional web servers deal with a 'Thread-per-request' approach where a thread is created to handle that requests.

The benefit of Node here is that it doesn't need to context switch so often, this means it can deal with these requests very quickly... most likely faster than your PHP server. However Node runs as a single process, on a single CPU core. If your application is CPU intensive it could be that it blocks, meaning the time for each requests will be slower.

However it sounds to me like your application isn't CPU intensive, meaning Node.js will work well.

Decision If your time is limited, and you don't want to learn a new skill (Node), PHP will be fine. If you have the time I recommend learning Node.js, as it is very strong when it comes to I/O intensive tasks such as a REST API for creating Notes.

Updating the UI If your intended use is through a mobile device, I recommend using WebSockets but having a fallback such as long-polling. It is possible to update the Client UI using either Node or PHP. However from my experience it is much easier to do so using Socket.IO on Node.js.

Example Updating the client using Node.js /


  socket.on('new-note', function (data) {


socket.emit('new-note', data);

Getting Started With Node: How do I get started with Node.js

Please also note, if you want to build a native Android mobile app which uses WebSockets... you will need to use: Java client

Solution courtesy of: Jack


Using Node.js for both web server and push server is of course the best way. Especially since if you are going to use Node.js anyway then you have to learn it, so learning how to make a web server is only natural (I advice using the most famous Express framework).

Now you can use PHP for web server and Node.js for push server. To make them communicate with each other you would probably want to add Redis to your application. Redis will allow you to push notifications to any client connected to it, like PHP server or Node.js push server (and it scales well). From that point push server will push the data further to the client's browser.

Alternative technology would be for example Twisted server. Of course you'll need to learn Python in order to use it. And I don't know whether it supports WebSockets correctly. I think you should stick with Node.js +

Discussion courtesy of: freakish

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