6 Reasons to Choose ASP.NET Over Node.js

Node.js is probably the most popular backend technology in the industry. Companies like Twitter, LinkedIn, Uber, and many others use Node.js as their primary server technology or combine it with other languages. It has a lot of things going for it like a huge community, a great ecosystem, and it uses the same language in the front end and back end.

Since C# and .NET are my main programming languages, I’m trying to figure out if I’m using an underrated technology or if the market trend has a point. ASP.NET, the .NET server framework, is popular in its own right. Ever since the .NET runtime became open source and cross-platform, it’s been improving and gaining popularity, but it’s still far from Node.js, especially among startups.

Here are 7 reasons for startups to consider choosing .NET over Node.

1. .NET has better Performance

Performance is the biggest weakness of Node.js. Not to say that Node.js is unbearably slow, but when you need any sort of computation on the backend or a high throughput of requests, Node.js isn’t a good choice. The main reason is that the runtime is single-threaded, which is a big waste with today’s multi-core processors that allow executing many operations in parallel. Recent benchmarks in techempower show Node.js is far behind ASP.NET Core.

.NET is not the fastest tech. That title would probably go to some minimalistic Rust or C++ implementation. But out of the mainstream web frameworks (excluding niche projects like Just or may_minihttp), it’s one of the fastest.

Single query benchmark:

Multiple queries benchmark:

Fortune cookie benchmark:

2. C# is an awesome!

It’s hard to argue about which language is better. Everyone has their preferences and biases. But I’d claim C# is one of the most powerful, productive, and popular languages in the industry right now.

  • It’s a high-level c-style object-oriented language, which will be familiar and productive for most developers.
  • Despite being a high-level language, it allows low-level control over sensitive code when needed for performance optimizations. You can work with pointers and direct access memory access if you choose to.
  • It has rich functional language capabilities like LINQ and extension methods.
  • It’s type-safe, much more so than TypeScript, but it also has dynamic capabilities like JavaScript when you need them.
  • It has great documentation and a sizeable community. Not as big as in the realm of JavaScript development, but still very big.

A few examples of projects using C# are the Bing search engine, StackOverflow, and Unity (the most popular game engine) which lets you use C# as the programming language.

3. Easier built-in development loop

In Node.js you can build your development environment pipeline in any way you want with tools like Babel, WebpackESLint, etc. You can use different JavaScript versions, bundle everything into a single file or to many slices, minify, and more. This is a very customizable process. There are many different tools for every part of the pipeline. Webpack can be replaced by Rollup or ParcelESLint can be changed to prettier, etc. There are a million different ways to build your JavaScript project and every single company seems to have its own unique setup. A setup that requires a whole lot of development and maintenance. Although I have to admit there are modern ways to get a rich development environment up and running quickly with tools like Vite.

The situation in .NET is quite the opposite. There are not many technological choices in your build setup because you’ll always be using Microsoft’s MSBuild, .NET SDK, and Visual Studio. You can do some customization, sure, but it’s nothing like a JavaScript project. The only “choices” you’ll be doing are which .NET version to use, which is always going to be the latest, and which type of project you’re building: ASP.NET Web API or ASP.NET MVC, which should be an obvious choice depending on how you want to develop the front-end.

So you can consider the flexibility of Node.js an advantage, which is reasonable, but you can also look at it as a liability. In .NET development, there’s not much that needs to be done with the development environment except in very big projects or special cases. Visual Studio and MSBuild just work and they can handle huge enterprise applications and servers without too many problems.

4. Stable ecosystem

As just mentioned, Node.js and JavaScript have a very rich ecosystem. That includes development tooling, libraries, documentation, etc. For better or worse, this ecosystem is mostly open-source and developed by the community. In many cases, a library you depend on is developed by a small team or even a single person. If that person decides to stop working on the project, you’re screwed. Sure, someone else could pick up the work, or you can fork it yourself and add whatever missing piece you need, but that’s a big hassle for a startup that sprints to create its first product. It’s not the only problem with small open-source projects. What happens when they introduce bugs or security breaches? The maintainers aren’t exactly accountable if their hobby project caused damage to your startup, are they?

I’m not saying big companies don’t have bugs in their products. They might have more for all I know. But you can complain, open a ticket to Microsoft. You can be certain that a project will continue to be supported for a very long time, and if it stops being supported, you’ll get a notice a few years in advance. As far as stability and reliability, I’m betting the Microsoft .NET runtime and all its tooling are better tested than most open-source libraries for Node.js. This might cost in slower version releases, but it will be more stable.

Having said that, there are plenty of well-maintained libraries that have many contributors and are well-backed by big companies.

5. Best tooling available

I’d argue that C# has the best tools in the world. The best IDEs, the best debugging experience, and the best profilers.

JavaScript or TypeScript doesn’t have the strongly-typed nature of C#, so advanced code navigation and refactorings aren’t possible. In many cases, it’s not feasible to know who implements your interface or who references your class’s function. Often Node.js has to rely on basic text search, whereas in C# IDEs you can navigate to usage and implementations with a shortcut key. The same goes for powerful refactor capabilities, like implementing interfaces, adding parameters, and extracting functions or classes. If you’ve been using Visual Studio or Rider for a long time, you’ll probably experience a real loss in productivity moving to Visual Studio Code.

6. Compliance, privacy, and security

You might not consider compliance issues as important or particularly interesting when beginning a startup. I’d imagine founders are focused on making a product, hiring, raising funds, and choosing the company’s logo. But it’s one of the most important aspects of your product. In some industries, like healthcare, military, and government, it’s crucial that your app will be secure, protect personal information, and comply with standards like HIPAAGDPR, and ISO 27001. Even if you’re not working in such an organization, you probably want the big customers that do care about these things.

Going back to our choice of technology, does it matter for compliance/privacy/security if you choose Node.js or ASP.NET? Applications running on both technologies can be compliant with standards or not, secure or not, and protected for privacy or not. But when you choose Node.js, you also choose to use open-source libraries and ecosystems. There’s a bigger chance that some library has security or privacy breaches. And there’s a much bigger chance these projects don’t adhere to the crazy standards Microsoft sets for itself in terms of compliance. And even if you’re taking the best steps to secure your application, doing penetration testing and whatnot, you can’t compete with Microsoft’s reputation. If a government customer knows you’re using Microsoft tech stack from top to bottom, they’ll be more likely to trust your app.

Wrapping Up

Both are good programming language here, I believe that there are many arguments who has better tooling or programming language. What’s your opinion? Which one do you like? Node.js or ASP.NET?

For your information, we do support Asp.net and Node.js on our shared hosting environment. If you are looking to host your website, please feel free to visit our site at https://www.asphostportal.com.

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