What is Node.js?
A server, with use of a representational state transfer application programming interface (RESTful API), is an event-driven backend that uses endpoints to perform logic whose result will be transferred to the frontend so that the frontend developer can use it on the client side.
Why Should You Learn Node.js?
We use Node.js on the server-side to test our applications outside of a browser environment. Learning Node.js works great in the creation of real-time streaming apps and those network applications that require significant use of a database.
For these reasons, it is a popular choice to include in our tech stack for our backend service.
How Long Does It Take to Learn Node.js?
Consistency is key as you are developing a habit to learn new things and think like an engineer. How long it will take for you to learn Node.js well enough to set out on a career of your own really depends on the time you can devote to learning.
Ultimately, though, the learning will never truly end. You will eventually become an expert as long as you keep learning. The language and the runtime environment is ever-evolving and learning about those changes will take continued reading and education.
Step-by-Step Plan to Learn Node.js for Free
Step 1: Determine your motivation
Is there a particular reason why you want to learn Node.js specifically?
Do you have an end goal in mind?
What purpose will Node.js serve for your project or career?
What does the future hold as far as job prospects go?
If web development, particularly backend development, was part of your answer at all, you’re on the right path!
- Learn how to create a small program to test Node.js Environment
- Learn the difference between let, const, and var when it comes to variables
- Use typeof to learn differences between data types
- Arithmetic Operations, including add, subtract, multiply, divide, and modulo
- Comments, both single line and multi-line
- Traditional For Loops (ES5)
- Advanced Array Methods, including map, reduce, filter, and forEach (ES6)
- Named Functions
- Anonymous Functions
- Higher Order Functions
- Use npm or yarn to install node modules that can be used in your backend server
- What is an HTTP Request and how it works
- Express.js and other Node.js frameworks to use on as part of your backend application
- Cross-Origin Resource Sharing (CORS)
- Difference between SQL and NoSQL Databases
- Learn how to create a RESTful API
This list is by no means comprehensive.
There are many other topics in the Node.js world that can be learned. These topics are the absolute bare minimum you should master to become a well-rounded Node.js Developer. In the next section, after the step-by-step guide, we’ll take a look at some of the more popular free Node.js tutorials to get you started.
Step 3: Build Projects
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Create a RESTful API that has endpoints to create, read, update, and delete entries in a directory of some sort. Use a NoSQL database to store your information.
- Add on to the first project by adding registration and login endpoints. Allow only logged in users to create, update, or delete an entry.
- Use Socket.io to create a chat application between two people.
Step 4: Progress to More Difficult Projects
Progress towards more difficult projects by adding a frontend to your already created backend project and make it work so it looks great when a user interacts with it online. Try using all kinds of databases to practice using the different types so you know when to choose one over the other. Lastly, take a look at projects you have already created to see if they can be made more efficient.
More advanced project ideas:
- Collaboration tool like Zoom or Google Hangouts
- Web Scraping a Website to Get Information
- URL/link shortener
- Work on an open-source project and create a Pull Request for it
After you have completed these four steps, the world is yours when it comes to creating Node.js applications! In the next section, we will take a look at some of the tutorials and guides to help you get to this point.
Free Online Node.js Tutorials
“So easy your human companion could do it too!”
This prepares you for interviews that require you to describe your methods, for instance, the difference between a variable declaration with ES5 keyword “var” vs. a variable declaration using the ES6 keyword “let”.
In addition, Freecodecamp offers an API and Microservices Certification that includes a curriculum on using npm, basic Node and Express, and more. Node Package Manager (npm) is just that – a package manager that allows you to add modules to your application. Express is a Node.js framework that makes setting up a server on the backend incredibly simple.
Freecodecamp works well in this regard with its presentation of the material. The learning platform uses testing to make sure you have mastered the material before it shows that you have completed it.
It is in an online book format with a built-in IDE for end-of-chapter exercises. If you prefer an actual tangible product, there is an option for purchasing as well.
Introduction to Node.js, Node.js Tutorials
Node.js provides a basic one-page introduction to the runtime environment as part of its documentation on its website. The sidebar here lists topics that can be of some interest to a Node.js developer and primers on how to get started with those topics. There are many guides available from Node.js to help you become proficient!
This YouTube playlist is a pretty comprehensive first look at Node.js and how it works. The first couple of videos start completely from installation on your respective operating system to diving directly into concepts that will help you to create a server to handle multiple HTTP requests. Really great, free resource!