What to look for in hiring a Node.js developer

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Node.js’s speed, accessibility, data streaming and sharing capabilities have made it an incredibly popular choice for creating intuitive, responsive and robust web applications — and one of the best-loved technologies according to the StackOverflow 2017 developer survey.

But what should you look for when hiring Node.js talent? And how can you assess a developer’s competency with the framework?

First, it’s important to understand what sets Node.js apart, says Tracy Hinds, education community manager of the Node.js Foundation.

“What sets Node.js apart is the ecosystem we have around it,” Hinds says. “Node is open source; it’s the core language that lives on the server side, and JavaScript lives on the web side. That means there’s a pretty good chance, no matter what your language, that you’ll use JavaScript at some point if you’re developing for the web.”

Node.js offers code packages and modules – code written by other developers and made public — that any developer can use to help build certain aspects and functionality in the web applications they’re developing, which makes it easier and faster to build web apps, she says.

Another key feature developers love is that Node, via JavaScript, makes it possible for developers to write applications for a full technology stack and not have to switch when shifting from front-end to back-end development, Hinds says. “This is a great thing for developers who’ve worked with other back-end languages, because they don’t have to do ‘context switching,’ back and forth, or worry about compatibility,” she says.

What should you look for when hiring developers with Node.js experience? Besides looking for the usual design thinking, logic, collaboration and communication skills you’d need when hiring any developer, there are some things that are unique to Node developers, says Jeff McAffer, director of open source engineering at Microsoft.

“Because the Node ecosystem is huge, and there’s so much code; so many modules already written, one of the first things any Node developer asks when they’re programming is, ‘Is there an NPM for that?’” McAffer says. NPM (node package manager) is an open, online repository for publishing open source Node.js projects and a command-line utility for interacting with that repository. “In other words, developers ask themselves, ‘Has someone already solved this problem and written code that I can use in my own project?’” McAffer says.

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