3 Jun 2012

Node: References and Resources

During my explorations of Node.js, I came across many excellent resources, references, tutorials, and various other online publications related to the technology. I had planned on incorporating this material into an appendix for Learning Node but decided it would make a better online resource than a book chapter.

Every person interested in Node should start with the Node.js web site, as well as the web site for npm, the application that manages Node module installations:

If you're interested in Node in a Windows environment, you might a little extra help in getting set up. I recommend the following resources:

There's an enormous number of resources for the Node.js newbie, including basic tutorials and entire online books. I know there are more than what I discovered, but the following is a good start:

One person, Felix Geisendörfer, has provided several excellent online resources for new and experienced Node folks:

As you learn Node, you'll hear about the Node event loop. The following are a couple of good articles on the event loop:

REPL is the Node interactive stand alone application. REPL stands for Read-Eval-Print-Loop. Following are good REPL resources:

Modules are the heart and soul of Node.js. It can be an interesting experience finding Modules, because you need to look carefully among the many available to see which are the ones currently supported, and which have, more or less, been abandoned. Luckily, there are good Node module resources:

A good rule of thumb about which module to use is check for recent activity in the module's repository. Are there outstanding issues? Pull requests that have gone unanswered for a long time? Also do a Google search, see who is using the module, for what, and how recently.

For more on npm, itself, do check out the Developer guide. Also spend some time understanding the differences between global and local installation of modules.

Node is based on the CommonJS model. If you want to learn more about CommonJS, I recommend Taking baby steps with Node.js--CommonJS and creating custom modules.

The heart of the module system is the package.json file. Nodejitsu provides an article and a couple of good cheat sheets related to package.json and npm:

Peter Krumin did a great series of articles on Node.js Modules you should know about. Several of my favorite are included in the list.

If you work with Node, and you write modules, chances are you're going to become intimately involved with EventEmitter. The following are good EventEmitter resources and references:

Control flow is a big topic of interest for Node developers:

There are good frameworks for Node, but I focused on Connect/Express. I felt that Express was more Node-like, and requires less upfront time than the other frameworks. That's not to say there weren't challenges with Express, as it went from Express 2.x to Express 3.x and then back down to Express 2.x, but one adapts. I focused on Express 3 in the book.

Connect is the middleware layer for Express. TJ Holowaychuk provides an introduction to Connect 2 at Connect 2.0. The Express web site is at Express.com, though note that the documentation is still focused on Express 2. For the Express 2 developer, check out the Migrating from 2.x to 3.x guide. Mike Valstar writes specifically about Express error handling and 404 pages.

I grew fond of Redis when working with Node.js. The Redis site is at redis.io. Redis is nicely documented, at the site and in the Little Redis Book.

Following are other articles and links of interest, in no particular order or grouping:

Hack Sparrow article on running Express application in a production environment http://www.hacksparrow.com/running-express-js-in-production-mode.html. Charlie Robbins provides a how-to on distributing Node.js apps with Hook.io at http://blog.nodejitsu.com/distribute-nodejs-apps-with-hookio. More on the Hook.io module at http://ejeklint.github.com/2011/09/23/hook.io-for-dummies-part-1-overview/.

Rasmus Andersson wrote a Template for setting up Node.js-backed web apps on EC2 at http://rsms.me/2011/03/23/ec2-wep-app-template.html. Another writing on setting up Node on Amazon EC2 from Ben Nadel at http://www.bennadel.com/blog/2321-How-I-Got-Node-js-Running-On-A-Linux-M....

A XSS (Cross Site Scripting) Cheat Sheet can be found at http://ha.ckers.org/xss.html. Another cheat sheet, this time on SQL Injection at http://ferruh.mavituna.com/sql-injection-cheatsheet-oku/.

Heroku provides instructions on how to create a self-signed SSL certificate at https://devcenter.heroku.com/articles/ssl-certificate-self. Another tutorial on the same subjec. at http://www.akadia.com/services/ssh_test_certificate.html.

I don't cover backbone.js in the book, but an article on combing it with MongoDB, Mongoose, and Restify can be read at http://backbonetutorials.com/nodejs-restify-mongodb-mongoose/.

A comparison of Redis and Cassandra http://hammerprinciple.com/databases/items/redis/cassandra. More on Apache Cassandra at http://cassandra.apache.org/. Redis is compared with Memcached at http://webdevrefinery.com/forums/topic/8221-memcached-vs-redis/. The Memcached web site is at http://memcached.org/.

Guillermo Rauch's Use Jade Blocks, not Layouts, at http://www.devthought.com/code/use-jade-blocks-not-layouts/.

Curl is your friend when testing RESTful applications. Some helpful examples at http://www.yilmazhuseyin.com/blog/dev/curl-tutorial-examples-usage/.
The Ruby on Rails routing guide applies equally well to Node: http://guides.rubyonrails.org/routing.html.

Charlie McConnell wrote an article on "How to use stream.pipe" at http://docs.nodejitsu.com/articles/advanced/streams/how-to-use-stream-pipe.

One of the better, more thorough answers I've seen at Stack Overflow is the answer to "What is the Difference between proxy server and reverse proxy server" at http://stackoverflow.com/questions/224664/difference-between-proxy-serve....

Guillermo Rauch wrote a multipart tweet filtering proxy, beginning with Part 1 at http://www.devthought.com/2012/01/24/filtering-tweets-for-your-favorite-....

Shravya Garlapati at LinkedIn, wrote a very helpful article, Blazing Fast node.js: 10 performance tips from LinkedIn Mobile http://engineering.linkedin.com/nodejs/blazing-fast-nodejs-10-performanc....

The Async module can be found at https://github.com/caolan/async. More on the creation of Async at http://caolanmcmahon.com/posts/asynchronous_code_in_node_js.

The Step module is located at https://github.com/creationix/step.
There is promise support in Node with Q at https://github.com/kriskowal/q, and deferred https://github.com/medikoo/deferred, as well as Futures https://github.com/coolaj86/futures.

Yes, you can use Node modules with client-side JavaScript with help from RequireJS at http://requirejs.org/. And you can scrape web pages using Node, jQuery, and Jsdom, with a little help from this article http://liamkaufman.com/blog/2012/03/08/scraping-web-pages-with-jquery-no....

Since Node is based on the CommonJS model, read more about CommonJS at http://www.commonjs.org/. An interesting article on Node, CommonJS, and custom modules by Jan Van Ryswyck can be found at http://elegantcode.com/2011/02/04/taking-baby-steps-with-node-js-commonj....

A Nodejitsu article on using the Process module can be found at http://docs.nodejitsu.com/articles/getting-started/the-process-module. More on Node and processes by at http://dailyjs.com/2012/03/22/unix-node-processes/.

More on TCP Socket Programming in Node.js at http://www.hacksparrow.com/tcp-socket-programming-in-node-js.html. A general article on TCP vs. UDP can be found at http://www.skullbox.net/tcpudp.php. More on UDP Networking at http://twistedmatrix.com/documents/current/core/howto/udp.html.

If you're curious about the performance differences between using process.nextTick and setTimeout, you can view benchmark tests at https://gist.github.com/1257394.