Different Metrics Of Node.js Performance And Its Improvement Techniques

Techniques for measuring and improving Node JS

Although Node.js has many benefits, you should have a better understanding of how complex the Node.js ticking machinery is. Here we shall discuss the issues of Node.js performance.

Nature of Node.js Performance, How Is It Unique?

Node.js runs on Google’s V8, one of the fastest javascript engines in existence.

Single-Threaded, Run To Completion Behavior

Now let us know the concept of single threading. Within an application, threading allows simultaneous processing, but Node.js is not capable of such concurrent processing. Alternatively, we have asynchronous code and event loop to write applications that are capable of multi-tasking.

Hunting Down Memory Leaks

As we have already discussed in another blog “Memory Leaks in Java“, If a program is allocated some memory in RAM and not cleared after its operation, the objects in the heap pile up continuously until the working memory resource is exhausted and leads to a crash. Garbage collector clears up the working memory, yet it is most likely that the memory leaks take place in our applications.

Hence it is important to observe keenly and set up some alarming or warning capabilities to the system.
V8 engine allows you to dump the current heap and expose it to JavaScript.

Uniquely, the V8 engine follows two types of garbage collection to overcome the limitations
1. Mark Sweep – slow compared to scavenge but clears all the garbage from the working memory.
2. Scavenge – fast but doesn’t clear all the unreferenced objects. i.e. Incomplete.

With Node.js profile via javascript using V8 profiler, you can collect the debugging performance data and work on javascript performance optimization.

The event loop

What Is An Event Loop?

The event loop is the special procedure of breaking down the long-running processes into small blocks. It can be considered the substitute for threading. The procedure is like pulsation, in the range of milliseconds, Node.js checks the work queue and starts new tasks. In case there’s any work, Node.js leads them onto the call stack and conducts the run-to completion.

The event loop helps Node.js to multitask i.e other works can start and don’t have to wait for the first work to end.

Node.js Performance And The Event Loop

It is important to understand the single-threaded nature of Node.js to avoid long-running synchronous tasks like writing files, making network requests, and performing heavy calculations.

Let us take an example: You want to build a Node.js application with two endpoints, one for uploading files and the other for user profile searching API.
In general, the user profile fetching API will be requested more often than the file uploading endpoint. In case it doesn’t respond sooner than expected, it will keep on blocking the page load for all users. Users expect the file uploading API to take time, but they will not be comfortable with long page load times.

If you write your Node.js program without applying the event loop procedure, the Node.js may hog the user profile API while the users interact with the file upload API.

Node .Js System

Steps To Set Up, Run, And Analyze A Performance Test Of Your Node.js Application

We will now see the step by step process to set up, run and analyze a performance test of your Node.js application

1. Choosing A Tool For Node.js Performance Testing: You can find many tools for Node.js performance tuning with different pros and cons. Whether your performance testing tool is written in Node.js or not, this doesn’t matter when it comes to testing the performance of the Node.js across the network from the outside world.

    • Let’s choose a straightforward performance testing tool: Artillery, It is written in Node.js.
    • Artillery will make frequent requests to your Node.js application as you configure.
    • You can instruct Artillery which endpoints you want to request, at what rate, and for how much time, etc.

Let us see a basic test configuration.

Config:
target: 'https://artillery.io'
phases:
- duration: 45
arrivalRate: 15
defaults:
headers:
x-my-service-auth: '987401838271002188298567'
scenarios:
- flow:
- get:
url: "/docs"

Here we are instructing the Artillery to request your endpoints for a duration of 45 seconds and at a rate of 15 i.e similar to 15 users arriving at the URL.
And then to run the test, execute the following :

artillery run your_config.yml

2. Creating A Node.js Performance Test Profile: A performance test profile is a precision of how your performance test will run.
For example: If you are running an e-commerce website you can have uniform customer traffic throughout the day. Alternatively, in case your application is for booking tickets, you will have a lot of traffic for a little while. i.e the opening time of ticket booking.
So your performance test profile should mimic the same environment. You can create as many test profiles as you wish and run them in combinations.

3. Duplicating Large-Scale Distributed Systems: creating the behavior in this manner loses flexibility if the application reaches a certain size after which the traffic volumes could be so high and unpredictable. You can even test your Node.js application with the desired percentage of users and if you identify performance degradation, you can swap back to your previous execution i.e at normal traffic levels. The main advantage of this procedure is that you can test on your real production application so you need not worry about the test results not imitating the real production.

You need data to understand why your application is running slow. After getting the data we need to proceed to analyze your application using Node.js performance monitoring

4. Setting Up Your Monitoring: All applications which are good and competent at their job use some or the other form of monitoring solutions. These monitoring tools enable you to have better insights into the key metrics of your application performance.

Before running a performance test you should have a better understanding of what performance benchmark your application is expected of? Your Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)? Which key metrics can help you better in unraveling an issue in performance?

  • Running With An API: APIs are available at different price tags and features. It’s important to find the best tool for your needs. Preferably, you need as much data as possible to analyze the performance.

The following can be the best place to start with :

  • Infrastructure insights: You will likely want to have the data from the host on which your application runs. If your application runs on a cloud you can get this data in crude form. This data will cover the CPU Usage, Memory Usage of your host, and connection data.
  • Application Monitoring: Tools of this kind rests within the code of your application and are capable of capturing insights about how the functions are called/performed and what errors we throw, etc.
  • Aggregated Logs: Aggregated logs allow you to easily search and envision your logged data. You can record the performance of each of your APIs and plot graphs.

5. Creating Node.js Performance Test Infrastructure: Using cloud hosting can be the best way to create an efficient test infrastructure. Cloud hosting ensures the same machine and same location every time you run the test to avoid request latency and data skewing.

6. Running Your Tests: In this step, you will encounter requests to your Node.js application after you start your command line configuration. With the selected monitoring solutions, you can check whether the event loop is performing properly, whether the requests to the Node.js are taking longer than expected and whether the connections are timing out. Experimenting with performance tests with the tools like Artillery and Retrace for testing Node.js speed and performance helps you spot performance regression.

How To Improve Node.js Performance

Now let’s explore different ways to improve Node.js performance.

Javascript Performance optimization techniques:

1. Caching:

Caching is a general performance improvement technique, It is done on both the server-side and client-side. Caching on the client-side includes storing contents such as Java scripts, HTML pages, and CSS stylesheets, etc temporarily.
Example: The browser stores the frequently used data on a Content Delivery Network. So that when a user visits a site frequently and returns to it, the site need not be downloading all resources again.

2. Optimizing Data Handling Methods:

Optimization amplifies the overall app efficiency by simplifying system processes. Generally, data fetching in Node.js applications is done through API requests for which a response is returned. Node.js performance optimization techniques such as pagination, where the responses are separated content-wise to simultaneously optimize the responses while processing a large amount of data to the users.

3. Load balancing:

Building a Node.js application that is capable of handling a large number of incoming connections is important. A reasonable solution can be the distribution of the traffic to balance the connections. You can balance load by distributing incoming connections using the cluster module according to a round-robin strategy where the new request is forwarded to the next server in the list.

4. Secure Client-Side Authentication:

Central storage solutions like Redis can be used to store session data or in a load-balancing case, you can use the IP hash method to make certain users always reach the same server. But the stateful approach has some limitations. Assume there’s a need for some sort of maintenance to a server and the users limited to that server may face interruption.

5. Stateless Client-Side Authentication :

Using JSON Web Token (JWT) for stateless authentication can optimize Node.js speed. Unlike stateful authentication, here the data is always available and doesn’t take the machine serving the user into consideration.
In this procedure a web token is generated when a user performs login activity, this web token contains all the necessary user details. Then this token is sent back to the user to be useful for authenticating all API requests.

6. Implementing HTTP/2 And SSL/TLS:

Using HTTP/2 in building a Node.js application can boost the speed of web browsing and also minimizes the usage of bandwidth. The main focus of HTTP/2 lies in performance optimization and solving issues related to HTTP/1.x. HTTP/2 includes features like Header Compression and Multiplexing. Header compression ensures that all HTTP headers are sent in compressed formats.

7. Frontend Tooling:

It is crucial that whatever is transferred to the browser on the front end is as small as possible. Especially, including CSS files, JavaScript and images. You have to use module bundlers like Parcel, Webpack to perform complex transforms like using a shorter syntax that’s equivalent to original code, shortening multi-character variable names and merging JavaScript files into one, and minimizing the number of network requests.

8. Using WebSockets For Effective Server Communication:

Customarily, the internet has evolved around the HTTP request/response model. HTTP is useful for occasional data sharing but WebSockets can be a great alternative. Websockets enable you to communicate in a bidirectional, long-lived channel. Both the client and server parties can share data with low latency at any time.

9. Using PM2 Process Manager To Face Code Change Errors:

Using PM2 can avoid downtime due to reloading the app in case of a code change error. You can keep the Application alive forever. PM2 is a cluster of features, these features allow you to run multiple processes simultaneously without concerning about code changes across all cores and grants you good flexibility.

10. Avoiding Memory Leaks:

Memory leaks will slowly exhaust your available space until the CPU usage is overstretched. A memory leak happens when a DOM has been removed but some variables are still referenced to them. So it’s preferable to avoid removing the DOM values without setting them to null. You can also use chrome dev tools to analyze if your web application has any memory leaks and catch, debug them.

Why do enterprises love Node.js performance?

Today, not only the startups but the big establishments are turning towards technologies like Node.js. It is not like any other game-changing technology which passes into oblivion after a few months. Even in the job trends, Node.js comes ahead when compared to the job growth in peer-group technologies. It adds functionality more smartly by providing the basic building blocks like protocol support, system access, cryptology, and a few basic utility functions.

Node.js grows because of modern web apps that need to gather data from many sources, consolidate and push it to many users in real-time. Node is the best bridging technology for systems in existence.

Conclusion :

Gaining popularity because of dramatic changes in requirements for network-connected software systems, Node js has a wide range of utility in performance. However, like any other technology it needs to undergo maintenance and performance optimization. In this blog, we have discussed many optimization techniques that can boost your Node.js application performance.

If you are wondering what we do at Seagence, we help software developers and enterprises with the production and defect monitoring solutions that uncover all defects with the root cause in real-time. Feel free to contact us for your inquiries. Our experts will be in touch within 24 hours and will assist you with the best guidance.

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