Difference between JavaScript and NodeJS

JavaScript is a scripting language which is used to develop HTML pages that are interactive with users. It is usually run on web browsers. NodeJS is a platform or runtime environment using which we can run JavaScript in a system rather than a browser.

What is JavaScript?

JavaScript is a front-end programming language used in web development. It is a lightweight object oriented scripting language that make the web page dynamic and interactive with users. HTML creates website (structure layer), CSS makes it more attractive (design layer) and JavaScript allows the users to interact with these websites rather than simply viewing (logical layer). Pop up screens, live updates, etc., are all done with the help of JavaScript.

Previously, it was only used in developing websites. But JavaScript has a wide range of applications. It can be used to develop various applications for Android, iOS and windows. One can even develop games using JS.

JavaScript is more complex and in order to make it simple, developers created frameworks for JavaScript. JavaScript frameworks are improved version of pure/vanilla JavaScript. They have their own concepts and syntax along with the original JavaScript.

Most popular frameworks of JavaScript are ReactJS, AngularJS and VueJS. These are front-end languages, whereas ExpressJS is the framework of NodeJS that allows us to use JavaScript for backend. Hence JavaScript is used on both client side (front- end) and server side (back- end).

Advantages of JavaScript

  • It is open source and lightweight language

  • JavaScript executes fast as it requires no compilation. It is an interpreted language and connects to the server faster.

  • It is used for both front-end and back-end development

  • It can be used with other languages

  • Interactive interfaces can be made using JavaScript

  • One can develop a complete application using only JavaScript

What is NodeJS?

JavaScript was originally developed to use on client side. It can be run only by the web browsers. The engine that runs the JavaScript code is only present in web browsers. SpiderMonkey was the first JavaScript engine developed by “Netscape communications” and was later taken by “Mozilla”. Later Google developed its own engine named V8. It is the most popular JavaScript engine. As these engines are only present in web browsers, JavaScript can be run only in web browsers.

Later, many developers wanted to use this JavaScript on server side. So they used V8 engine to develop a runtime environment that will work on the machine rather than that of a browser. This runtime environment is named as NodeJS. It was developed by “Ryan Dahl” in 2009. So, using NodeJS we can run JavaScript on the standalone machine.

NodeJS has a number of modules in which some of them are inbuilt and some of them can be downloaded from internet. HTTP is one such NodeJS module which allows us to use NodeJS on server side. ExpressJS is the NodeJS framework that is used for developing web applications.

NodeJS is often misunderstood as a framework of JavaScript. Instead, it is an open-source runtime environment that can run on almost all operating systems such as windows, Unix, Linux, Mac, etc., it is written in C, C++ and JavaScript.

Features of NodeJS

  • It is a cross platform application i.e. it can run on windows, Unix, Linux, mac etc.,

  • As it is developed using V8 engine, it is very fast in code execution

  • A NodeJS based server doesn’t wait for data from API. It moves to the next one once it access the previous API. In order to keep track of responses of previous APIs it uses a notification mechanism called Events.

  • It is single threaded and uses event loop model. A single thread is used to handle multiple requests. The thread processes the first request and then moves to the next one. But in the background, I/O operations are performed for that 1st request. Once the requested data is ready to send, it sends a message called event queue. Node continuously monitor this event queue in the background. Once it finds it event in the queue, it processes it. This makes Node the best for developing I/O intensive apps.

  • NodeJS is asynchronous, i.e., non blocking. If a request needs to access the database, it doesn’t wait for single request until the data is processed. In the meanwhile, thread checks for the next request.

JavaScript vs NodeJS

The following table highlights the major differences between JavaScript and NodeJS &minusl;



It is an open-source and light weight scripting language which is used to make dynamic web applications

It is an open-source, cross- platform runtime environment that allows JavaScript to use outside the web browsers

It is a programming language

It is a runtime environment

JavaScript is only run web browsers

One can run JavaScript outside the web browsers using NodeJS

It is used in client side

It allows JavaScript to use on server side

JavaScript is used to make dynamic web pages

Using NodeJS we can built real-time applications

AngularJS, ReactJS, VueJS are some of the popular frameworks of JavaScript

ExpressJS, AdonisJS, MeteorJS are some of the frameworks of NodeJS


JavaScript is a client side programming language that enable us to create a dynamic web page. Whereas NodeJS is a runtime environment for JavaScript outside the browser and allows it to use on server side. So using JavaScript we can develop both front end and back end applications.

Updated on: 19-Apr-2023


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