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What is Deno?
Deno is still in its early stages. Interfaces, architecture, and design decisions have not yet been set in stone, and will certainly change during the course of development. As such, a direct comparison with the aforementioned Node.js is difficult. The developer of both platforms previously created a rough comparison in the following YouTube video:
There are similarities, but, in contrast to Node, which is written in C ++, Deno uses the innovative and much more secure programming language Rust from Mozilla Research. Deno thus enables the direct writing of statically typed code, which is practically a selling point on its own.
The features of Deno: out of the box
Deno has two functions that lead to a much simplified workflow: For one, the runtime environment relies on a simple module system in which URLs and modules directly correspond with one another. In addition, Deno enables TypeScript codes to be executed freely.
More freedom for developers usually means a higher security risk. Deno is fully developed in terms of security. Scripts are usually run in a sandbox that is separate from the operating system. Developers have limited ability to add more features.
As a comparison, Deno is much closer to the user experience on the Web. Access to the system is blocked by default, and the user must first allow an application to access the system, otherwise the two are completely isolated from one another. This is comparable to the behavior of a browser when, for example, a web video conference requests access to a computer’s webcam and microphone. The resources can only be accessed with the consent of the user. Put simply, Deno behaves like a browser for command line scripts.
When it comes to package management, Deno offers some surprises: One of Node’s success factors is the package manager npm. Although npm is part of the GitHub community, and is not an integral part of Node, the combination is considered an unofficial standard. Deno, on the other hand, does not need an external package manager, and can basically be considered its own package manager. The modular system can resolve packages via file system paths or URLs and directly download the required resources.
How does Deno work?
Deno is only just getting started. The focus is clearly on security and basic architecture. This begins with installation, which does not run conveniently via an installer package, but only via GitHub, shell scripts, or the package manager of the operating system. To check whether the installation was successful, the very old-school command deno - version must be entered in the command line. This also gives you an overview of the installed Deno version, and the versions of V8 and TypeScript. If you don’t want to install Deno on a system, you can also set it up and run it in a Docker container.
Once Deno is installed, there are two types of executions. The runtime environment can either be used interactively as a shell or with a file as input. The former is useful for smaller applications and for experimenting with the Node.js alternative. The latter is the most common use of Deno. The name of a file is transferred to the platform and the user can then begin working with Deno.
Deno offers all standard modules. The community has provided additional, experimental and useful add-on modules that expand its range of functions.
Deno: advantages and disadvantages at a glance
The greatly simplified workflow still has its disadvantages: Deno is not always compatible with existing ecosystems. A Node module cannot simply run on Deno or vice versa. However, if the platform continues to prove itself, there will certainly no longer be any serious compatibility problems in the long term. For example, Deno already has a Node-compatible require function.
Deno is still in the project phase, that is, it is being actively developed. However, the first solutions to some of the biggest weaknesses of Node.js are promising.
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