React js vs Node js: Which framework to choose for your next web application?

Posted by ongraph · September 1, 2020 · 12 Min read

Brendan Eich, a Netscape Communications Corporation programmer, created JavaScript in September 1995. It started out as Mocha, then became LiveScript, and then became JavaScript. Its global adoption in an alarmingly short period of time made it World’s most used programming language. It is a paradigm shift in the programming world. 

To cope up with the lacking areas of JavaScript such as Client-side security, Browser-support, and sometimes Performance, JavaScript Frameworks were created. Frameworks help developers with some of the heavy lifting.

If we look into the frontend development, we realize that the advent of 333333 has changed the scenario. JavaScript frameworks are emerging as quickly as possible, concluding that today we have constantly updated versions of Angular js, Node js, Vue js and React js .

Whenever the question arises which JavaScript framework is better to use for frontend website development projects — React js vs Node js, there’s no perfect answer. As both these JavaScript frameworks are similar in terms of syntax, in this article, we will discuss their pros and cons to decide which one to include in your technology infrastructure. Let’s discuss these two JavaScript frameworks in detail to decide which one to choose for your next web application

React js

Why React js?

React js is more of a JavaScript library than a framework that is developed and maintained by Facebook. Initially released in May 2013, it is a tool for building UI components. React js has an MVC or Model View Controller architecture. Facebook introduced it proposing to solve rendering issues of massive datasets in the JavaScript framework. React js is a declarative, efficient, and flexible JavaScript library that is used for building user interfaces. A react js application is made of multiple components, each responsible for providing a small, reusable piece of HTML. 

Here is how React js works: 

Instead of manipulating the browser’s DOM directly, React js creates a virtual DOM in memory, where it does all the necessary manipulating, before making the changes in the browser DOM.

React js finds out what changes have been made, and changes only what needs to be changed.

You will learn the various aspects of how React js does this in the rest of this tutorial.

Main benefits of using React js

  1. SEO-friendly- Compared to other JavaScript Frameworks, React js renders code from the server right to the browser, as a regular web page. 
  2. Best in performance- It creates its own virtual DOM, that loads only a part of the web page.
  3. It uses components- You get to create your own components and display, reuse, import, and integrate them into your core content as needed. 
  4. Updates faster- React js handles all the regular updates in the DOM.
  5. Less code, more output- React js enables you to write less code and do more. 

Who uses React js?

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Netflix
  • Yahoo! Mail
  • WhatsApp
  • Dropbox
  • Tesla
  • Github
  • Khan Academy

Node js

Node js is an open-source Google Chrome v8 JavaScript framework. The main idea of developing applications in Node js is to execute JavaScript on the server-side.

Node js is used to simplify and streamline the development of complex applications. Node js creates multiple types of applications such as command-line interface, real-time chat application, REST API, web applications, etc. Node js technology is used to build the back-end of applications with JavaScript. This JavaScript framework is lightweight and effective because it uses event-driven and non-blocking I/O models. This framework is used by developers for hosting APIs, serving HTTP requests, and accessing the database. 

Why Node js?

Here is how Node js handles a file request:

  1. Sends the task to the computer’s file system.
  2. Ready to handle the next request.
  3. When the file system has opened and read the file, the server returns the content to the client.

Node js dismisses the waiting and simply resumes with the next request.

Node js works single-threaded, non-blocking, asynchronous programming, which is quite memory efficient.

Main benefits of using Node js

  1.  Node js package manager- having a dedicated CLI at your disposal, to access and to install all the packages that you might need during your app’s development process, it is a true time-saving tool.
  2.  Server-side proxy- What if you need to retrieve data from various multiple sources or to multiple services with different response times? How do you do that? You simply use Node js as a server-side proxy.
  3.  Data streaming- It treats HTTP requests and responses as data streams (instead of isolated events, like in the buffering model).
  4.  Highly extensible- Just consider Node js’s ecosystem of thousand’s of package modules.
  5.  Real-time web apps- It handles massive loads of data and files in real time.  

Who uses Node js?

  • Netflix
  • Walmart
  • Linkedin
  • Trello
  • Uber
  • PayPal
  • Medium
  • eBay
  • NASA
  • Groupon

React js vs Node js: The Comparison


1. Learning curve

React js

React js has an easier learning curve compared to others for, developers don’t need to spend a lot of time re-learning the programming language. In other words, React js is built on what developers already know– JavaScript. Thanks to its simple design, use of JSX (an HTML-like-syntax), and extremely accurate documentation React js is the best library that makes web development easier to execute and iterate. 

Node js

In contrast, the Node js may be easy to learn, but it takes more effort to implement web applications with it. What makes it difficult is the asynchronous programming that executes the non-blocking code. However, this does not stop the implementation of a piece of code. That’s why, sometimes, it is difficult to program.

2. React js vs Node js– Microservices

Microservices architecture is an entirely new approach to revolutionize scalable backends. According to the definition: It’s an approach to develop a single page app as a suite of small services, each running its process and communicating with lightweight mechanisms, often an HTTP resource API. The main idea was to allow different teams to work efficiently on separate features of a web app. Such an approach increases developers’ productivity and decreases time-to-market.

Let’s compare how this approach can be used with Node js and React js:

Micro Frontends in React js

The concept of micro frontends introduces a way to disintegrate a scalable frontend into smaller and more manageable chunks. Over time, a separate team of developers work on these chunks until the code is ready to be deployable assets of loosely coupled applications. Moreover, each team is then responsible for a separate set that primarily serves different content. Micro frontends in React js are a more friendly and less bulky team. 

For instance, an eCommerce platform built with React js can be divided into different sets of features that can be handled by separate teams such as the shopping, frontend, DevOps, and backend team (microservices). 

In more advanced stages, the teams can be divided at a deeper level.

React js allows micro frontends to communicate indirectly, minimizing direct coupling. Choosing React js is also a good solution that makes the process of passing callbacks and data downwards. This solution makes the contrast more explicit.

Microservices in Node js

Node js truly complements microservices since both as a tech stack enables organizations to achieve agility, security, and superior performance. Using microservices with Node js allows you to develop apps without complexities. This powerful combination can also power highly-scalable apps and handle thousands of concurrent requests without slowing down the system.

Using microservices in Node js based eCommerce app empowers multiple services and lets them update and scale separately. Cadenza, a subscription-based eCommerce platform, migrated its Node js app from MEAN stack to microservice-based architecture. Microservice architecture based on Node js allowed Cadenza to overcome challenges like API integration, continuous app crashes, and huge costs.

By switching to a microservices architecture pattern, Cadenza got an opportunity to integrate several features of their app into independent services. It also eliminates long-term commitment to any tech stack. What’s more, it also helped them to cut down the huge costs. Likewise, eBay also moved to the microservice architecture and scaled beyond 1 billion users.

3. Community Support

For your developer to work efficiently on a project, it is essential to have vast community support around the framework.

React js

Founded and maintained by Facebook, React js is undeniably backed by a huge team, which regularly supports it. The best thing about it is its frequent updates that make developers work efficiently without breaking the application. This way, developers can be continuous learners. Popular websites like Netflix, Airbnb, PayPal, Uber, Khan Academy, and Asana use React js in their production. 

Node js

Like React js, Node js is also an open-source that means its community are actively engaged in improving the languages and fixing bugs. A large community means a lot of developers have the best tips and tricks at their disposal when they communicate around the community.

4. App Size & Performance

The app size and performance are two aspects that drastically impact the quality of your web app, having a direct effect on the load and response times. Thus, it impacts customer satisfaction with web apps. Let’s compare how React js and Node js stand against each other in terms of performance aspects:

React js

React js is efficient in handling frequent UI updates, all thanks to the Virtual DOM feature. It works like this: for every DOM in React js, there is a copy of Virtual DOM. But here’s the catch: although Virtual DOM possesses the same properties as a regular DOM, it lacks the power to update the UI directly. In fact, for every UI update, React js updates Virtual DOM and compares it with the regular DOM regularly. This way, it figures out what changes need to be made to the regular DOM. Upon analyzing the changes, React js updates the UI. 

Now this entire process is so fast that sometimes developers face UI rendering related performance issues. However, there is a workaround to solve almost every performance issue in React js. We even covered these workarounds in our previous article on React js performance. 

Node js

According to Node js 2018 user survey, Node js is continuing to have a positive impact on many users due to increased productivity and satisfaction, reduced development costs, and increased app performance.

Here’re some reasons that make it a robust backend and highly performing:

  • It possesses asynchronous and non-blocking nature because of the event-loop feature.
  • The code of Node js is reusable, which is mainly useful for event-based applications that update data in real-time. 

PayPal is one of the biggest examples of companies that benefited the most in terms of performance by using Node js. The company said that after migrating to Node js, they experienced a 35% decrease in the average response time, and their pages served 200ms faster. One major factor that improves Node js performance is its event-driven architecture. We’ve talked about it in-depth in our previous blog on Node js for eCommerce. 

5. React js vs Node js – Use Cases 

Both React js and Node js are used by many companies and have several clients like Netflix, Airbnb, Uber, and PayPal. Often, Node js and React js are used in conjunction to build web apps that support real-time updates.

React js

Being a frontend library, React js is best suited for Single page applications. 

Since React js is best-suited for single-page apps, choosing it alone for large or complex apps might be an overkill. For building complex apps, using React js with another tech-stack is mandatory as React js only caters to an application UI.

Node js

A packaged compilation of Google’s V8 JavaScript engine, Node js, is a core library, which is primarily written in JavaScript. Taking into the account of advantages of Node js such as its rich ecosystem and asynchronous non-blocking I/O, we’ve compiled a list of the use cases of Node js:

  • Data Streaming Apps: Node js is used to build some data streaming features. For example, there is a possibility to process the files while they are still being uploaded. When data comes in through a stream, it can be processed online without being interrupted. This can be done for real-time audio or video encoding. 
  • Chat Rooms: High traffic capacity, lightweight, and intense data flow requirements are necessary for building real-time apps like Chat rooms. These requirements can be fulfilled by using Node js combined with some JS framework like Express.js on the backend. 


React js vs Node js


React js


Node js




It’s a JavaScript runtime framework It handles the view layer of web and mobile apps
Universal JavaScript


With Next js, developers can implement SSR to React js When used along with other UI libraries, Node js helps in SSR


UI development library Holistic JavaScript runtime environment
Scalable web apps


Yes, it’s possible to build scalable web apps with Ant Design (React js UI library) Yes, by applying the features like cluster module
Learning curve


Easy to learn Very easy to adapt by JavaScript developers
Community and companies



Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit


Netflix, Trello, LinkedIn, Uber, PayPal

App size and performance


Competitive, optimized with virtual DOM




Use cases
  • Dynamic apps
  • Complex architecture
  • Data streaming
  • API server
  • Microservices
  • Real-time apps
Data binding


UI components


External, Material UI


React js vs Node js: Conclusion

Both Node js vs React js are modern technologies applied by many successful businesses. You can use both technologies for your web app. You can create the front-end of the web app with React js and back-end with Node js, as Netflix did.

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