Which JavaScript Runtime Should You Choose for Your Startup?by@mayankc
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Which JavaScript Runtime Should You Choose for Your Startup?

by Mayank ChoubeyMarch 7th, 2024
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The world of front-end & back-end development has fundamentally changed a few years ago. Gone are the days of specialized & siloed front-end and back-end teams. The specialized teams & people have been replaced by full-stack developers who can do both effectively. This approach is cost-effective for startups, as they need fewer people to realize their visions. However, a critical question often comes: which JavaScript server-side runtime should you choose as the foundation for your next venture or a significant project?
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The world of front-end & back-end development has fundamentally changed a few years ago. Gone are the days of specialized & siloed front-end and back-end teams. The specialized teams & people have been replaced by full-stack developers who can do both effectively. This approach is cost-effective for startups, as they need fewer people to realize their visions.

However, a critical question often comes: which JavaScript server-side runtime should you choose as the foundation for your next venture or a significant project?

There are two major contenders in the JS runtime space: Node.js, the undisputed king, and Deno, the rising star. Node.js, the battle-tested environment, powers industry titans like Netflix, Uber, PayPal, and NASA. Its vast ecosystem, packed with mature tools and libraries, is evidence of years of complex real-world deployments.

Additionally, NPM enjoys 85 million downloads per week, with over 1.5 million published packages available. This complete ecosystem arms developers to rapidly build and deploy applications, making Node.js their primary choice for fast-paced startup work.

Of recently, Deno has recently emerged as a worthy challenger, built grounds up with a focus on security, modern design, developer productivity, and cutting-edge features. Deno showcases itself as a reliable and innovative contender.

Deno has been ideated and developed by the creator of Node.js, the great Ryan Dahl, making it a credible choice for serious projects.

Though, nowhere near Node.js in terms of popularity, Deno has witnessed a 5x user growth surge in 2023.

Whether you’re starting to build a product or new services, choosing the right JS runtime that supports your long-term vision is extremely important. In this article, we’ll try to find the answer to this critical question: Which runtime should I choose for my next venture or a significant project?

There are certain situations where Node.js is perfect, while there are other cases where Deno’s innovative features are more useful.

When Should You Choose Node.js?

Node.js, the emperor of the server-side JavaScript runtimes, has been reliably helping startups and big players since its inception in 2009. Conceived by Ryan Dahl, it led to a transformative era, pioneering the concept of event-driven, non-blocking I/O architecture within the JavaScript domain.

This new design empowered developers to build real-time, scalable applications, a stark contrast to the synchronous designs of that time.

Throughout its evolution, Node.js has consistently risen to the challenges, solidifying its position as a leading runtime choice. Its robust ecosystem, an ever-expanding NPM registry with over 1.5 million packages, provides a collection of pre-built modules and tools, that serve diverse development needs.

The NPM package repository, downloaded over 85 million times weekly, proves Node.js's widespread adoption and versatility.

Beyond its extensive ecosystem, Node.js offers key features that prove highly advantageous for startups that like to start quickly and stay competitive:

  • Lightweight and Scalable: Node.js's single-threaded, event-driven architecture minimizes resource consumption, enabling efficient operation on minimal hardware. This scalability makes it an ideal choice for startups requiring cost-effective solutions during their initial growth phase.

  • Real-Time Capabilities: The non-blocking architecture facilitates real-time interactions and data exchange, making Node.js ideal for building chat applications, streaming services, and interactive dashboards.

  • Rapid Development: The availability of numerous NPM packages enables rapid application prototyping and development. Startups benefit from accelerated development cycles, allowing them to quickly test and iterate on their ideas, gaining a crucial edge in the fast-paced tech market. Not only startups, but giants like PayPal have also used Node.js for creating rapid prototypes.

Furthermore, Node.js powers a diverse range of successful companies, showcasing its practical applications across various industries. Giants like Netflix, Uber, and PayPal leverage Node.js’s strengths to deliver seamless user experiences and handle complex backend operations.

This industry validation serves as a reassuring indicator of Node.js's reliability and real-world effectiveness.

Sir Isaac Newton, the famous English scientist, once said, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” If Node.js has been a trustworthy & reliable warrior for tech giants, then it’d surely help the startups.

Regarding reliability, Node.js excels in uptime and stability, as shown by Netflix's 99.99% uptime rate, achieved in part through Node.js's efficient handling of concurrent requests.

On the plus side, Node.js's rich ecosystem makes it the best choice for startups seeking agility, scalability, and rapid development. Its widespread adoption (used by over 50% of professional developers), impressive uptime statistics, and industry validation further reinforce its reliability and trustworthiness. As a startup founder, you can trust Node.js with closed eyes.

While Node.js offers numerous advantages, it's important to consider alternatives like Deno, particularly due to concerns about a noticeable lack of innovation in the Node.js world. In recent years, Node.js has rapidly gone from being an innovator to playing the catch-up game with Deno (or Bun).

To get an idea about what Node.js has been up to in the last two years, here is a list of the most notable features from their major and minor release notes:

  • V8 software updates
  • Web API support
  • Experimental permissions model
  • Integrated test runner
  • etc.

While the number of features itself has been modest, most have been introduced to catch up with Deno.

In conclusion, as a startup founder, if you are satisfied with Node’s direction, reliability, and trustworthiness, you should choose Node.js for your next venture, project, or service. However, if you’re looking for a modern, reliable platform, backed by credible names, that could also offer you innovative features, you should take a look at Deno.

When Should You Choose Deno?

In contrast to Node.js, Deno leads the innovation in the JavaScript server-side field. Deno introduced a permission model that secured the runtime from the ground up. Its revolutionary "no modules by default" philosophy eliminates entire classes of vulnerabilities.

By requiring explicit permission to access resources like the file system or network, Deno shields your applications from many potential attacks.

This inherent security advantage gives startups peace of mind, allowing them to focus on building their vision without the constant shadow of cyber threats. The innovative permission model isn’t the only thing that Deno has brought to the world.

Deno also champions modern design principles. Built upon Rust, a blazing-fast and memory-safe language, it offers exceptional performance and stability. Furthermore, its innovative use of TypeScript eliminates the need for transpilation, streamlining the development process and leading to cleaner, more robust code.

These advances, coupled with Deno's commitment to staying ahead of the curve in terms of standards and features, ensure that your startup remains equipped with cutting-edge tools for building resilient and future-proof applications.

Despite its relative youth, Deno has witnessed a meteoric rise in adoption. With over 90,000 GitHub stars and a 5x user growth in 2023, it's visible that developers are recognizing its potential.

Leading technology companies like PayPal and Dropbox have adopted Deno for internal projects, further validating its reliability and practicality. The most techie name using Deno for their next-gen project is Slack.

Not limiting innovation to the Deno runtime, the Deno company also introduced a serverless JS runtime called Deno Deploy. Deno Deploy, a revolutionary cloud platform built upon the Deno runtime, elevates the game for startups seeking agile and secure deployments.

It removes the complexities of server management, offering a serverless environment where your code runs directly on the edge locations closest to your users.

Additionally, Deno Deploy seamlessly integrates with the core Deno ecosystem, guaranteeing familiar tooling and a smooth development experience.

With its built-in authentication, deployment snapshots, automated rollbacks, and a list of exclusive features, Deno Deploy provides a robust and secure foundation for your startup's journey.

Beyond its core strengths, Deno continually offers an innovative array of features tailor-made for the fast-paced startup environment:

  • Web API support: Deno seamlessly exposes the web APIs your developers are already familiar with, minimizing onboarding friction and accelerating development cycles. Deno originally came up with the idea of supporting the browser web APIs in server-side runtimes that enabled developers to use the familiar APIs in server-side code immediately.

  • KV: Deno KV, a distributed key-value database built on Deno, empowers startups with lightning-fast data storage and retrieval. Its globally distributed architecture ensures low latency and high availability, making it ideal for caching user data, storing application config, or powering real-time applications. Startups benefit from Deno KV's effortless scalability, allowing them to handle surges in traffic without infrastructure headaches.

  • Cron: Deno cron empowers you to schedule tasks with precision. It is like a cron service in the cloud. It is intelligent enough to skip overlapping tasks.

  • Queues: Deno Queues elevates your startup's development game by orchestrating background tasks with ease. This built-in queuing system allows you to offload time-consuming processes like data processing, email sending, or image resizing, freeing your main application thread for smooth user interactions.

    Queues scale effortlessly, ensuring your startup can handle surges in demand without compromising performance.

  • Fresh: Deno Fresh, a server-rendered framework built for Deno, empowers startups with lightning-fast performance and developer agility. Its minimal, component-based approach enables clean, maintainable code. Server-side rendering delivers SEO-friendly content and avoids client-side dependencies, ideal for initial growth and global reach. Hot reloading enables instant updates without page reloads, boosting developer productivity and user experience.

While Node.js remains a dominant force, Deno's rapid rise demonstrates its potential to disrupt this world. Its commitment to security, modernity, developer needs, and continual innovation offers startups a worthy alternative, one that empowers them to build with confidence, agility, and a secure foundation for the future.


Node.js, the emperor of server-side runtimes, has amassed widespread acclaim for its reliability and robust ecosystem.

Its longstanding presence within the industry gives inherent trust and confidence in its capabilities, further strengthened by its adoption by industry leaders who leverage its power in powering mission-critical products.

However, off recently, Node.js seems to have a lack of visionary direction and innovative momentum.

Deno, a recent entrant to the arena, was initially viewed as a direct competitor to Node.js. However, Deno has strategically distinguished itself by prioritizing the implementation of out-of-the-box functionalities characterized by novel and innovative approaches.

Deno Deploy, a serverless platform facilitating swift and secure deployments, serves as a prime example of this commitment to cutting-edge solutions. Deno Cron, empowering the automated orchestration of tasks, and Deno Queues, fostering seamless asynchronous workflow, further exemplify Deno's focus on enhancing developer flexibility and facilitating project scalability.

These integrated tools present a compelling proposition for startups seeking agile development methodologies and robust, future-proofed solutions.

Ultimately, the optimal choice between Node.js and Deno relies on a critical analysis of the particular demands and aspirations of each project. While Node.js offers the reassuring comfort of established reliability and industry validation, Deno boasts a refreshing wave of innovation and built-in functionalities tailored for agile development and rapid growth.