Technology

Ruby on Rails vs Node JS – pros and cons

Marlena Walburg

If we want to create an application or other web solution, we have a wide range of possibilities when it comes to the available technology. Over the years, many solutions have been developed to meet the growing needs of Internet users. Among them are Ruby on Rails and Node.js. Both have gained extraordinary popularity, and the choice between them may not be easy at first glance. However, these are not frameworks that replace one-to-one. Actually, they are intended for slightly different web development needs. Therefore, before deciding which one will form the basis of your project’s technology stack, it is extremely important to understand all the pros and cons, use cases and nuances of Node.js and Ruby on Rails. Both can work very well in complex web applications, as long as they are well suited to individual project needs. So get to know RoR and Node.js better to choose the optimal solution for you. 

What is Ruby on Rails?

Ruby on Rails is a web app development framework written in Ruby, a general-purpose, interpreted programming language.  It is used for the server-side of web development and is based on the Model-View-Controller (MVC) pattern. Ruby on Rails supports and encourages the use of web standards such as JSON, XML HTML, CSS and JavaScript. It also promotes industry patterns and paradigms widely recognised in software development, such as the Convention over Configuration approach and the Don’t Repeat Yourself principle. Due to its design and reliance on these principles, the Ruby on Rails application code is shorter and more concise, affecting developers’ productivity and increasing project development speed. The framework is broken down into various packages, including ActiveRecord, Active Support, Action Pack. In addition to these standard tools, Ruby on Rails can also be extended with your own plugins. In addition, Ruby on Rails is prized for its affordable, English-like syntax. When it appeared in 2005, it had a significant impact on the direction of web app development, and many of its innovative features at that time were adopted by other frameworks. Many of them are the industry standard to this day.

Advantages 

Ruby on Rails pros are:

  • Speed of development – app code written in Ruby on Rails is compact, requires fewer lines. A convention over configuration approach that RoR supports helps you get started faster by minimising the time it takes to set up your environment.
  • Accessible syntax – the Ruby programming language is one of the most straightforward to learn;
  • A wide range of libraries – Ruby on Rails contains a lot of gems -libraries with various functionalities that allow developers to extend applications with multiple functions.
  • Great community – as an open-source framework, Ruby on Rails is actively supported by its community and constantly updated. Moreover, you can find a lot of tutorials, solutions and other sources of knowledge that RoR developers created.  

Disadvantages 

Some cons of RoR:

  • Scalability issues – with extensive RoR projects that should expand even further over time, problems may arise in handling such an increasing number of queries. Therefore, when deciding to use Ruby on Rails in a project, you should plan the entire architecture of this application well and remember about good practices.
  • Slower performance – as the project scales, which can already be problematic with Ruby on Rails, degrading application performance is also noticeable. It is not entirely the framework’s fault; it is often caused by a whole list of factors such as server architecture or poor implementation by developers. Hence, it is vital to hire a really good development team.

What is NodeJS?

The second of today’s stars, Node.js, is an open-source, cross-platform, backend JavaScript runtime environment. Node.js runs on the V8 JavaScript engine and executes JS code outside a web browser. It represents the JavaScript paradigm everywhere, allowing developers to use JavaScript to write command-line tools and to execute server-side scripts. Hence, with Node.js, you can build the app using one language for the frontend and backend. In addition to JavaScript, which Node.js is the only language natively supports, many JS compiled languages are available, such as Dart and TypeScript. Node.js features an event-driven architecture capable of asynchronous I/O. This is to optimize bandwidth and scalability in web applications with multiple I/O as well as real-time web applications. In addition, Node.js is mainly used for web servers and other network programs. It contains a collection of modules that support various essential functions that use an API designed to reduce the complexity of writing server applications.

Advantages 

Node.js is valued for:

  • JavaScript everywhere makes it a full-stack solution – using the same language on both the server and client-side facilitates application development and significantly accelerates it, as well as affects its greater efficiency.
  • Speed and lightness – the solutions used in Node.js make it a very light runtime environment. It can handle more requests simultaneously, optimizes memory utilization, and requires relatively few computing resources.
  • Highly scalable – Node.js is well suited for creating scalable applications thanks to, among other things, event-driven architecture. So it is a good choice for applications that will gradually gain more and more users.
  • It is constantly evolving – Node.js is growing very fast and gets a regular new version. There is a wide selection of tools and libraries available to build advanced, functional software. The Node.js community is also growing, which positively affects the further implementation of technology improvements and easier obtaining support.

Disadvantages  

  • Relatively new technology – Node.js is not a mature technology yet, so some of its nmp packages are undocumented and can be a problem for users. In addition, some of them are still not fully developed and leave space for security issues.
  • It does not support multi-threading – Node.js can handle requests simultaneously, but no multi-threading. It can slow down real-time applications that will be unskillfully coded.

Which is better, Ruby on Rails or Node JS? Comparison 

In the case of Node.js vs Ruby on Rails comparison, we need to look at several issues. 

Ruby on Rails vs Node.js performance

Node.JS is famous for its speed. It can handle thousands of threads simultaneously. Moreover, it allows you to write asynchronous code, which also positively affects the efficiency and faster processing of operations.

Rails fare worse in this comparison. Despite its advantages, the framework is not considered to be the fastest web development technology available. It allows components to be reused, but this, in turn, can contribute to creating a monolithic architecture that slows down the performance of the application. It also doesn’t fully support asynchronous code. However, Ruby on Rails has the advantage that by giving you all the tools you need out of the box, it allows you to start a project and develop it just as quickly. Ruby on Rails performance is clearly lower than Node.js but well suited to the project; it can still be an effective technological choice.  Using RoR skillfully can help avoid performance issues. 

Ruby on Rails vs Node.js popularity

There is a tendency to be seen; namely, Ruby on Rails has gradually declined in popularity in recent years. Besides, it is older than Node.js, and therefore, the number of websites using RoR is higher. The opposite is true with Node.js; it is more and more often used in the development world. Being a JavaScript technology certainly contributes to this. Ruby on Rails is a specific framework with many unique solutions that not every developer may like. 

Ruby on Rails vs Node.js languages and tools

In the case of Node.js, we are dealing with ultra-popular JavaScript. In addition, as mentioned many times, it can be used for both the backend and frontend of the application. So Node.js takes all the goods and disadvantages of JS. Ruby on Rails is a framework that uses Ruby language, that is easy to understand thanks to its syntax. Moreover, it is object-oriented, which supports building a stable application architecture and better code quality.

Both Ruby on Rails and Node.js contain modules, packages and libraries that enable reuse and easier code management. RoR has Ruby Gems, Node.js uses NPM packages. Both solutions help avoid repetitive programming and provide components for multiple tasks to build feature-rich applications.

Ruby on Rails vs Node.js threading 

Node.JS runs on a single thread, leveraging it for maximum performance. It runs on a single-threaded event loop, using non-blocking I/O calls, so it handles tens of thousands of events simultaneously without spending resources switching thread context. However, Node.js may not be optimal for applications that are CPU intensive on each thread. There are methods to get around this, but they can make the development process longer.

Ruby on Rails supports multithreading. The framework automatically allows various operations to be performed at the same time. However, performance can be degraded with more complex applications as it is more challenging to process threads in such an application. It is due to the need to reconsider the context, which is costly. A well-implemented RoR, in a well-matched web application, can adequately use the processor time, thanks to which the application will be great and work flawlessly.

Ruby on Rails vs Node.js stability and maturity 

Both Ruby on Rails and Node.js can boast of big players who use them in their products or business tools. Such support often results in better quality and care for the framework, which cannot fail. However, you should also pay attention to the language issues that use RoR and Node.js. JavaScript is versatile but requires more lines of code to write a function that will be much shorter in Ruby, with its English-like, concise syntax. It, in turn, makes Rails less prone to errors. Node.js requires more focus and thorough testing. Of course, this is also advisable when using RoR. Node.js has one more risk – not all available modules are of the highest quality, which also affects the stability of the application being developed. In terms of maturity, Ruby on Rails is a few years older than Node.js, but both technologies have been well established and are regularly developed and updated. Hence, they are on par with each other in this case.  

Ruby on Rails vs Node.js development process 

Among the most significant advantages of the framework, Ruby on Rails developers will undoubtedly mention the ease of code creation, its readability and comprehensibility. Rails have a lot of out-of-the-box tools that reduce the time needed to configure the environment and the entire web apps development process. Hence, the opportunities for rapid development are valuable and very important from a business point of view.

Node.js has another advantage in terms of the development process. It allows you to limit the development team by using JavaScript both on the client and server sides. Thus, finding the right developers to handle the entire process can optimize your development cost.

Is Ruby better than Node JS?

Both Node.js and Rails have a lot to offer. 

Using Ruby on Rails makes the development process much faster and easier. It comes with every library, powerful web server and components that web developers need to get started quickly and conveniently. It is a handy and suitable tool for MVP development. If you want to present your web application concepts swiftly to investors and early adopters, Rails might be your way to go. Of course, it also allows you to build full-fledged websites. It works great for data-heavy platforms like Content Management Systems. 

If Node.js pros convince you, it will be instrumental and beneficial in developing real-time web apps, single-page apps and microservices platforms, to name a few. You can create both client and server sides of the applications, which will have high scalability possibilities. The environment allows Node.js developers to use only one language to achieve a complete solution so it can visibly shorten the development time. Unlike Ruby on Rails, Node.js is gaining popularity. So it can be assumed that this is quite a future-proof choice. However, do not dismiss Rails if your web application suits it, as the pros of Ruby are also very significant.

Is Node faster than Ruby?

In most cases, Node.js outperforms Ruby on Rails. It is mostly caused by architectural dependencies. Simply, Node.js was designed to be lightweight and efficient, while Ruby on Rails emphasizes code readability and convention over configuration. However, this is not a 100% settled case because Node.js may also have some problems with speed if it is poorly implemented. The same with Ruby on Rails, in the hands of capable developers, this framework can also give satisfactory results in performance and speed. 

Conclusion

If you plan web development and search for the best web application framework, both Node.js and Ruby on Rails are worth considering. What is essential is to learn about the most important features, advantages and disadvantages of each technology and compare them with the requirements of a specific project. Lots of experts are ready to help you implement your idea and transform it into a real solution. If you are not sure about what technology you should choose for your web development project, BinarApps consultants are ready to help you with the whole process.

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