Node.js Performance Monitoring

Node.js Performance Monitoring

Stackify Developer Tips, Tricks & Resources

Software developers use the Node.js environment to develop robust and innovative applications. But the bigger the goal, the higher the risk. Learn about Node.js performance monitoring to ensure quality and risk-free software products.

Part of diligent software development is making sure all system applications work well individually and as a whole. Alongside functionality tests and quality assurance procedures, it’s imperative to establish application performance monitoring to track integral software performance metrics

In essence, application performance management encompasses activities concerned with sufficient and functional application performance. One of these activities is application performance monitoring, a process by which developers are able to:

  • Track the software application behavior
  • Detect errors and trace where they occur
  • Gather application performance data and provide analysis
  • Apply appropriate fixes so issues encountered will not persist

Because of such importance, application performance monitoring (APM) tools have become a necessity in every developer’s toolbox. Some examples of APM tools include Netreo Retrace and Microsoft Systems Center Operations Manager (SCOM). While most tools offer the same functionality, they differ in compatibility.

In the Node.js development environment, the same principles apply. However, there are certain intricacies that need consideration for environment-specific monitoring. In here, we will learn about:

  • Node.js Performance Monitoring
  • Metrics for Node.js Performance Monitoring
  • Top Node.js APM tools

New call-to-action

Node.js Performance Monitoring

We should know that Node.js is an open-source and cross-platform runtime environment. This environment is used to develop server-side and networking applications. Developers and businesses use Node.js for its numerous advantages. For one, its runtime environment allows for fast delivery of scalable network applications. Other advantages include:

  • Lightweight, event-driven, non-blocking I/O model fit for data-sensitive and real-time processes
  • Hosts a rich pool of JavaScript libraries and modules
  • Compatible with multiple platforms and operating systems such as OS X, Windows and Linux

Aside from these advantages, the Node.js platform is popular among software architects and developers for its distinguished features.

  1. Very fast. Code execution of its libraries is fast since it is built on Google Chrome’s V8 JavaScript Engine
  2. Asynchronous and event-driven. All APIs developed in the Node.js environment do not block any event. For multiple API calls, the servers distribute them to the concerned APIs and the Events mechanism collects the responses
  3. Does not buffer data. Simply, the Node.js environment does not delay any data, and sends out responses in bulk as soon as they’re available
  4. Highly-scalable. Despite being single-threaded, the event looping mechanism allows for much more scalable server responses. The single-threaded program accommodates the number of requests made between servers
  5. High performance. Because Google Chrome’s V8 and Node.js regularly update the environment, you’re sure to produce optimal application performance. Moreover, this applies to the multiple operating systems Node.js is compatible with
  6. Allows cross-platform development. Node.js libraries and components allow developers to build cross-platform applications

Given the above-mentioned features, Node.js provides an established runtime environment for innovative application development. That said, an application is only as good as the developers that build it. To ensure optimal Node.js application performance, you need to employ performance monitoring measures in your application development.

Metrics for Node.js Performance Monitoring

Following QA and testing procedures is not the only way to see if your application works well. Beyond these procedures you can guarantee that there would be minimal issues encountered during the testing phase when your application servers work smoothly. That said, you need to monitor relevant application performance metrics. 

In this article we will discuss the following metrics:

  • CPU usage
  • Memory usage
  • Garbage Collection
  • Event loops
  • User-facing latencies
  • System health and downtime

1. CPU Usage

Being single-threaded means that Node.js is using one core of the system’s CPU per instance. Additionally, because Node.js is asynchronous and non-blocking it really does not utilize much CPU.

However, monitoring CPU usage is essential to assess how to optimize this particular metric. By tracking the CPU load and usage, you can find out which processes are CPU-intensive. Then, you’ll be able to resolve any potential risks by creating child processes or forks to minimize bottlenecks.

2. Memory Usage and Leaks

Memory leaks are common in Node.js development and occur if values are stored longer than needed. With the V8 engine used to run Javascript, Node.js performs garbage collection. If you don’t monitor released memory from the garbage collection cycle, you’re bound to encounter memory leaks. To focus on preventing this scenario before it happens, monitor the released memory, process heap size and process heap usage.

3. Garbage Collection

By monitoring the garbage collection cycles, you can determine the time consumed during the collection cycle. Moreover, you’ll see how much memory was released. Given this information, you’ll be able to compare the released memory from the overall heap size, giving you an idea on your application’s memory status and making it easier to forecast possible memory leaks.

4. Event Loops

Node.js processes are fast because its events are performed asynchronously with event loops and prevent requests from blocking one another – thus non-blocking I/O. Requests processed outside the main thread come back as responses. However, certain processes may cause the event loop to lag, such as long-running synchronous events and incremental increases in tasks per single loop. Make sure to monitor event handling speed and average speed of overall loop latency.

5. User-facing latencies

In application performance monitoring, one must always be mindful of the user-facing components of the application. This is also known as HTTP Request/Response Latency. Make sure that pages are optimized and load fast for improving the user experience and customer retention. You’ll need to monitor request/response size, response times, request rates and error rates.

6. System Health and Downtime

Sudden application downtime is very costly, negatively impacting customer relations and opening systems to data security issues. It’s important to monitor your Node.js application’s behavior at all times to ensure that all servers are up and running, event loops are optimized and memory is released regularly. You can use APM tools to keep track of your system behavior to avoid system crashes and downtimes.

Top Node.js Performance Monitoring Tools

As mentioned in the first part of this article, Node.js APM tools are essential in a developer’s toolbox. Software developers and architects can trace the above metrics by using these APM tools, which also yield efficiency when monitoring Node.js application performance. 

Here are 5 popular Node.js application performance monitoring tools:

  1. Retrace by Netreo is a popular cloud-based APM tool that offers centralized logs and basic server metrics plus error and log integration. Ideal for pre-production and production applications, Retrace proactively identifies issues before applications are launched into production, traces changes done after deployment and provides feedback on the deployment status. Retrace monitoring components provide actionable insights, helping developers quickly identify, assess and fix problems.
  2. PM2 is a process management tool that ensures your applications are always running. Also a user-friendly Node.js performance monitoring tool, PM2 is for deploying and monitoring live production workloads from a web interface and includes log management, container integration and other features.
  3. Express Status Monitor is an open-source tool for monitoring ExpressJS, a framework that exists within the Node.js environment. Express Status Monitor tracks response time, CPU and memory usage, status codes and more.
  4. App Metrics is an open-source performance monitoring tool managed by IBM. This tool focuses on providing raw data measurements from various application processes, including garbage collection and database query performance metrics.
  5. Prometheus is one of the most popular tools for Node.js performance management and a huge community powers it. Among its key features are crisp visualization, availability and integrations, wide client libraries and optimal storage.

Get the best out of Node.js performance monitoring

Be proactive when it comes to Node.js application development. By employing application performance monitoring tools around your development, you can avoid potential risks and downtimes with irreversible consequences.

Retrace is a robust APM solution that covers performance and availability monitoring and one of the most used Node.js performance management tools by developers. Aside from monitoring your application, Retrace also provides code profiling, deployment tracking, error tracking, transaction tracing, centralized logging and user monitoring.

Get your FREE 14-DAY TRIAL with Stackify Retrace today.