Node JS – Notes

Core Concept

Defining feature of Node: Event-driven / asynchronous programming

Here, instead of using the return value, you define functions that are called by the system when interesting event occurs (event callbacks). this is accompanied by an event loop – it’s a continuous loop which performs event detection and event triggering.

“Event-driven programming is a programming style whereby the flow is determined by the occurrence of events. Programmers register callbacks to be used as event handlers for events they are interested in, and the system invokes these handlers when those events occur. This model of programming has some advantages over the traditional blocking paradigm where, to scale, you have to use multiple processes or threads.
JavaScript is a powerful language, which is well suited for this style of programming, mainly because it has first-class functions and closures.”

prints the message to the console
console.log('Hello World!');

NPM (Node package manager) – centralized repository of public modules

NPM modes of operation: global / local
Default – local, i.e. doesn’t make system wide changes – always use the default local mode if you are in a doubt.

NPM – The Global Mode

All packages will be installed into /usr/local/lib/node_modules, uses –g flag for Global mode.

# insalling sax module globally
sudo npm install -g sax

Now in any script file, you can then use sax module by using var sax = require(‘sax’);

NPM – The Local Mode

Default mode, downloads the modules into node_modules directory of your current working directory.

# installing sax module using local mode
sudo npm install sax

NPM – Installing specific version of the module

# install 0.2.5 version of sax module
sudo npm install sax@0.2.5 

# installs the latest release of the 0.2 branch
sudo npm install sax@0.2.x

# latest version before 0.3
sudo npm install sax@"<0.3"

# you can have more complicated requirements
sudo npm install sax@">=0.1.0 <0.3.1"

NPM – Uninstalling a Module

# remove a module locally
sudo npm uninstall <package name>

# remove a module globally
sudo npm -g uninstall <package name>

NPM – Updating a Module

# updates an installed module
# if the package was not installed the command will install it
npm update <package name>

# update a globally installed module
npm update -g <package name>


You can use package.json one to define the dependencies and packages which you want to install. Later, you can use the “npm install” command which will read the contents of the package.json file and install accordingly.

Example of package.json file:

    "name" : "MyApp",
    "version" : "1.0.0",
    "dependencies" : {
        "sax" : "0.3.x",
        "nano" : "*",
        "request" : ">0.2.0"

Loading Modules

You can load module by referencing: file path / name.

# including the module in your code, which exposes it's public API for use
var module = require('module_name');

Exporting a Module

# exports the instance type Circle
function Circle(){ }
module.exports = Circle;
# exports function printA
function printA(){}
module.exports.printA = printA;

Loading Core Modules

loads the core http module
var http = require('http')

Using Buffers

# creates a binary buffer from the utf-8 encoded string
var buf = new Buffer('Hello World!');

# creates a binary buffer from base 64 encoded string
accepted encodings: base64, utf8, ascii
var buf = new Buffer('8b76fde713ce', 'base64');

# creating a 1024-byte buffer
var buf = new Buffer(1024);

# accessing an element within the buffer array of bytes

# manipulating contents of the buffer (setting the byte at the position 12 to 125)
buf[12] = 125

# slicing a buffer - obtaing the bytes from the position 8 to 20 of the original buffer
buf.slice(8, 20)

# copying a buffer buf from bytes 5 to 10, to the buf2 starting from position byte 0 of the buf2
var buf2 = new Buffer(10);
buf.copy(buf2, 0, 5, 10);

buf.copy(buf2, targetStart, sourceStart, sourceEnd);

Decoding a Buffer

# converting the buffer into a utf-8 encoded string
var string = buf.toString();

# converting the buffer into a base64 encoded string
var b64Str = buf.toString('base64');

Event Emitter Pattern

Event emitters allow programmers to subscribe to events they are interested in. Asynchronous programming uses the continuation-passing style (CPS) – where style takes as an argument an explicit continuation – a function of one argument.

Example of callback after finishing reading the file:

var fs = require('fs');
fs.readFile('/etc/passwd', function(err, fileContent) {
    if (err) { throw err;
    console.log('file content', fileContent.toString()); 

Response object is an event emitter here, and it can emit the data and end events:

var req = http.request(options, function(response) { 
    response.on("data", function(data) {
        console.log("some data from the response", data); 
    response.on("end", function() {
        console.log("response ended");

Use CPS when you want to regain control after the requested operation completes and use the event emitter pattern when an event can happen multiple times.

Event Emitter API

Any object that implements the event emitter pattern will implement a set of methods.

.addListener and .on — To add an event listener to an event type

.once – To attach an event listener to a given event type that will be called at most once

.removeEventListener – To remove a specific event listener of a given event

.removeAllEventListeners – To remove all event listeners of a given event type

Inheriting from Node Event Emitter

Here we say that MyClass inherits from EventEmitter – i.e the method of MyClass will be able to emit events.

util = require('util');
var EventEmitter = require('events').EventEmitter;

// Here is the MyClass constructor: 
var MyClass = function() {

util.inherits(MyClass, EventEmitter);
MyClass.prototype.someMethod = function() { 
    this.emit("custom event", "argument 1", "argument 2");
var myInstance = new MyClass(); 
myInstance.on('custom event', function(str1, str2) {
    console.log('got a custom event with the str1 %s and str2 %s!', str1, str2); 

Majd Arbash


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