Web Applications: What is a Node.js App?
Generally, these applications do well to provide a memorable user experience, but it’s important to maintain good practices.
Why Do We Use Node.js for a Web Server?
Node.js was created in 2009 by Ryan Dahl, and it performs well on online websites and is an ideal platform for private and public apps. Node.js also performs well for data-heavy use cases.
Node.js is preferred by many web developers because:
- Audio and video synchronized on Node.js tend to be better because the browser and the server use the same code base.
- The Node Package Manager (npm) has thousands of packages available for imports, so developers can use them whenever they need more features.
How Do You Deploy a Node.js App Safely?
Let’s dive deeper into the process of deploying a Node.js app, starting with basic steps. We’ll explain more as we continue through the article. Note that once you’ve set up the application in your local environment, you’ll need to check your deployment structure. Also, consider using a load balancer to handle influxes of traffic and a reverse proxy to handle other server concerns.
Don’t forget to initiate automatic restarts in your code base too. Last, but not least, don’t assume your application is secure. Make sure you use an npm for better security management. These steps are important for success when you deploy Node.js.
What is a Deployment Service?
When preparing to deploy a Node.js application, there are many ways to do it. Developers can divide these paths into four main groups:
Overall, deployment involves packaging your Node.js application and setting its configuration files. Once you’re ready, you can confirm the process, and the command line will run it.
Different Deployment Services
There are various deployment pathways to choose from, but finding a good service depends on your business needs and whether you’re looking for free or paid services.
- Heroku — A free service that started as a Ruby deployment platform that eventually expanded to other languages like PHP and Python.
- GitHub — With a GitHub account, any user can deploy their practice applications in their GitHub repository to the internet.
- Docker — Using this service, web developers can create a “docker image” of their Node.js app and everything inside it so it functions correctly.
These are just a few of the deployment pathways when you aim to deploy a Node.js application. Once you’ve decided on which platform you want to deploy Node.js, you’ll need to know the prerequisites.
Prerequisites for Your Node.js Application
Before moving on to the guide itself, you need to inspect everything so that you deploy a working application to production. If you’re following this guide, it’s assumed that you have:
- Node.js is installed on your server.
- Your local machine is equipped with a functional development environment.
- You created a working application ready for deployment.
- You installed dependencies in your application, such as Express or PM2.
When all prerequisites are ready, then you can begin the process.
Prepare the Application by Creating a .json File
Using Node.js applications requires an understanding of how to create package.json files. A .json file contains all the essential data about your applications, such as the name, description, and dependencies required by your design. With this information, the npm understands how to handle your dependencies.
A .json file is necessary for your application, and the npm won’t work unless you have a working .json file. A .json file contains the necessary elements for your application to work after deployment, such as:
- Repository locations for the source code structure of your application.
- The dependencies or the “heart” of your Node.js app.
- The scripts contain the data that provide functions to the app you built.
- The file also contains keywords, which help the npm find the packages it needs.
Developers will often use an npm to manage them, which allows easier management and less opportunity for errors in your files.
What is a Node Package Manager?
Using the commands npm install and npm install <package>, developers can add packages that can function as a local dependency, dev dependency, or system-wide dependency, influencing how they operate and where they are accessed within the system.
What is an Express Web Framework?
A Node.js application is open source. So, customization comes naturally to the language, and developers can adjust the code base to serve their needs. With that in mind, Express is a flexible framework, ideal not just for API development, but for a wide range of internet and mobile device applications. It acts as an additional layer of code that makes Node.js faster and more economical. The express web framework uses npm to quickly develop node applications in half the time.
Installing the Dependencies by Running the NPM
Start in the CLI and type in the npm_installcommand, which will add all the default dependencies to your .json file. If you need to install your project’s dependencies, then try using npm_install <package name>. If you need to install your developer dependencies, then you’ll use a command like npm_install <save dev>, which adds the npm’s library to your package file.
Deployment Using Process Manager (PM2)
By using an npm, developers can install PM2, a process manager for Node.js apps. PM2 makes it easier to manage and even run your applications as a service.
- Start the command line and type in pm2 start to start your app.
- Then type pm2 start server.js –name myApp, which launches your server in the background.
- To set up your server to restart with PM2, use the command pm2 restart <app_name>.
- You can modify your restarting strategies using PM2, which uses an ecosystem.config.jsfile.
- To begin deploying your app, use the ecosystem.config.js file, but be sure that PM2 has the correct permissions to copy your GitHub repository files.
- Start deploying your app by typing in the pm2 deploy production setupcommand.
- Finally, use pm2 deploy production. You may need to add --force to make the change happen.
With these PM2 steps in mind, you should know some other considerations for a successful Node.js deployment.
When deploying a Node.js application, it’s best to use techniques to create a reliable application. You may need to use load balancing and reverse proxy servers to make your websites more stable.
Load balancing refers to evenly distributing the incoming web traffic into a pool of servers that makes it easier for your websites to accept the millions of requests that could come through. The load balancer is a gatekeeper that directs traffic to various servers that can handle the traffic instead of crashing a server. Load balancing reduces downtime, improves efficiency, increases redundancy, and is scalable.
Implementing load balancing, however, requires additional setup or the use of cloud-based solutions that provide this feature.
What Is a Reverse Proxy Server?
Load balancing is achieved by using a reverse proxy server. This means that a reverse proxy server is a go-between and directs requests to different virtual servers.
Usually, these specialized servers provide an additional layer of security, acting as an intermediary for requests from clients seeking resources from servers. These reverse proxy servers maintain security by capturing traffic to your backend server and forwarding it to where it needs to go.
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