Chapter 2

Introducing Node

WHAT’S IN THIS CHAPTER?

  • What is the event-driven programming style and what are the advantages of using it
  • How Node.js and JavaScript make event-driven programming easy

Traditional programming does I/O the same way as it does local function calls: Processing cannot continue until an operation finishes. This programming model of blocking when doing I/O operations derives from the early days of time-sharing systems in which each process corresponded to one human user. The purpose was to isolate users from one another. In those systems, a user would typically need to finish one operation before deciding what the next operation would be. But with widespread use of computer networks and the Internet, this model of “one user, one process” did not scale well. Managing many processes places a big burden on the operating system — in memory and context switching costs — and the performance of these tasks starts to decay after a certain number is reached.

Multi-threading is one alternative to this programming model. A thread is a kind of lightweight process that shares memory with every other thread within the same process. Threads were created as an ad hoc extension of the previous model to accommodate several concurrent threads of execution. When one thread is waiting for an I/O operation, another thread can take over the CPU. When the I/O operation finishes, that thread can wake up, which means the thread that was running can be interrupted and eventually be ...

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