I don’t really hate NodeJS

I don’t really hate NodeJS. Yes, a while ago, I said I hate NodeJS. But I didn’t really mean it. I was just suffering from unrealistic expectations. I learned to Let Go of my idea that JavaScript on MacOSX ought to be as easy as JS on Windows.

Since then I have adopted NodeJS pretty strongly. I use it for all sorts of tasks, from tools that automate Apigee Edge (nod to my employer) to API load generation utilities.

I write more code using NodeJS these days, than in anything else.

Recently I had occasion to write a little utility that computes TP99 for a set of API transactions being managed by Apigee Edge.

What it does is retrieve the transaction records logged from the Edge Analytics database, sorts them, and emits a computed TP99 (and TP95, TP90, TP50) to a Carbon server, which is backing Graphite, which then serves up charts of that data. A sample is below.

Sample TP95 chart from Graphite

For this tool, I chose NOT to use NodeJS but instead relied on good-old PERL. I didn’t want asynchrony, and I did want easy file I/O, pattern matching, and sorting. Also I wanted it to be maintainable by old-school sysadmins who no-doubt have not been following the finer points of using Q’s promises in NodeJS. Perl was the obvious choice. The sort required to compute TP99 will run on 60000 records or more, and needs to occur every minute, for all transactions logged during that minute. A cron job running a perl script was perfect for this.

But, recently I wrote another tool… this one automates the provisioning of EC2 instances in AWS, then installs Java and Apigee Edge on them, and configures them into a cluster. I wouldn’t want to do that in perl or Bash. NodeJS was the right tool for that much more complicated job. And of course there are NPM libraries for AWS, and for ssh and scp. Really helpful.

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