Last week’s “Lunch and Learn” — an hour on Wednesdays dedicated to sharing new things — introduced Node.js to our team. For a few techies here, Node is a trusted friend for connecting systems and solving unusual problems, for the rest of the team it’s essentially unknown. This is partly due to Node’s technical roots, but it’s still approachable. It’s fair to say that Node is both opache almost to the point of hostile to nubes, which is unfortunate because once you get past the basics it’s actually suprisingly easy to work with and amazingly powerful.
We initailly used Node for serveral Labs projects. Having gained confidence using it, we’re starting to roll it out in more large-scale client projects. We’ve just finished an experience for tradeshows and kiosk, where the creative idea goes beyond a simple touch screen. And that’s where Node shines. Want to control a giant screen from an iPad or trigger an animatronic sculpture from a web page? Node’s the way to go.
For the purposes of lunch seminar we started with the basic installation and creation of the most basic program, “hello world.” From there we spent the balance of our time creating and playing with a simple web chat server. The chat server rapidly delolved into a game, as various team members logged onto the system to one up each other with creative or smart aleck responses, which is perfect example of what Node is great at. It connects people and allows for them to create the experience.