Developer Automation Tools Bootcamp

Learning about development tools and automation

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Introduction to Node.js + MongoDB

"for easily building fast, scalable network applications" Node.js is sponsored by Joyent

Install Node.js
On OS X/Ubuntu check out nvm - Node Version Manager
Node.js Documentation

Node.js is *NOT* just for server-side apps. The Adobe Anyware Components team uses Node.js + Grunt as their build process. Node will uglify, minify and test their js code, but there's no "server" in those commands.

Node.js dependency management with npm

The real power for Node, like other contemporary languages, comes from dependency management. This enables rapid prototyping and experimentation. Node.js dependency management is in the form of 'npm' - Node Packaged Modules

Like I said with Chef in the previous meeting - it's all been done before!
But some libraries are better than others. Check for key stats like

  • Number of downloads
  • Number of stars
  • How often it is dependened upon
A npm search for log4j returns a page full of results. But this isn't Google, the first result may be most recently updated, but that doesn't mean it's the standard. I liked the log4js module. It is popular and frequently downloaded (>20k times a day), but not the top result!
Soooo - npm makes you work for it a little bit.

How to install a module?
  • npm install local or -g global install a single module
  • A local package is in the node_modules folder in your project
  • A global install will put the binary from npm in your $PATH
  • Your project's package.json file
  • --save-dev or --save will update your package.json file and then npm install
  • Sometimes you'll have to delete your node_modules folder when you're refactoring code

YOUR node_modules ARE YOUR node_modules, NOT MINE!

Several modules will compile themselves for your machine. So - checking the node_modules folder in to Git is a bad move. Windows modules will not work on OS X. OS X modules will not work in Linux.

That said, if your build server (Jenkins) is running the same platform as you are deploying your application too, feel free to scp or rsync the node_modules directory when deploying your app.

Long story short. You'll have a line for node_modules in your projects .gitignore file.

Benefits of Node.js

  • Generally all code in the app, client and server-side will be JavaScript. Familiarity with JS enables developers to look at the whole stack.
  • Vibrant community - npm libraries are *generally* kept up to date. Or someone will fork it and pick up the torch.
  • Like Chef community, modules are mostly open source and on GitHub! Need a feature, ask for it or create it and send the Pull Request.
  • Downside: JS developers (as a stereotype) *love* to reinvent the wheel...

Developing with Node.js

What's the life cycle for doing Node.js server-side app?

  • Run your app with with node. node app.js
  • Until you make your first error...
  • Bring on nodemon and forever. Which one is better? The one that works for you.
  • And in Production environments? You'll want Passenger from Phusion. Which will hook in to nginx or Apache and ensure your node process is running and served out by a proper webserver.

Further Node.js learning

Cuddle up with a nice book.

Benefits of MongoDB

  • Free! *cough* Oracle *cough*
  • Rapid application protoyping
  • Stores documents like JSON, so plays very well with JS apps
  • Scales vertically and horizontally
  • Replication
  • Sharding

Setting up MongoDB

You love your terminal right? Because MongoDB doesn't do much with GUI interfaces.

  1. Install MongoDB
  2. Getting started with MongoDB

Querying MongoDB

Your data is in MongoDB. You'll want to get it out.

With Node.js I use the mongodb module. A query (find) looks like this
string_collection.find() string_collection.find({stringCode:'developers',localeCode:'en'})

Further MongoDB learning

Enroll (for free) at The MongoDB University.

Self-paced learning to use MongoDB in your preferred programming language (Node.js or Java), or learn to adminster a server.


We are going to complete the following actions

  1. Check out the example app
  2. Start up the Vagrant box. vagrant up and let Chef install Node.js and MongoDB for you.
  3. SSH in to your Vagrant box. vagrant ssh
  4. Install your Node modules and start the app
    cd /apps/node
    npm install
    node app.js
  5. Install nodemon as a global module on the VM. Run app.js using nodemon
  6. Add your name to the 'developers' section of the app/routes/index.js file query the REST API for it. Developers string group
  7. Send your file change back as a Pull Request where you forked it from!