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Discussion on: Explain Node.js like I'm five.

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Ben Lovy

Gotta go in reverse order for these!

V8 is a program that understands JavaScript. When you write a source code file, that's human readable. It's got specific syntax, but it's still designed to be read and edited by humans. To get a computer to do what you want, you need to feed your JS into some sort of program that understands our language and knows how to talk to a computer. That's what V8 does, it translates your JS into instructions that a computer process can understand, like your web browser.

Generally, a web browser is where you'll find tools like V8, where it makes web pages interactive. However, it's also useful to be able to run JavaScript programs without a browser. Node.js is a program that embeds V8 in a standalone way, outside of a web browser. This means your computer can understand and run JavaScript on its own. A web server is just a computer somewhere, so Node allows you to write a web server in JS as well as a client application. This way your whole project gets to speak the exact same language. On the server, Node is processing your JS for the computer, and on a client, any code you serve up is interpreted by V8 in your browser ( if you use chrome).

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Ali Abbas Author

Great Thanks Mate

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Alan Solitar

Good overview. I'll also just add a few interesting bits of info.

  • v8 is written in mainly in c++.
  • It's actually extensible, meaning you can write your own addons for v8 in c++.
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Keith Greer

Great explanation Ben. I have struggled to understand the use for node until now.

Duly followed.