LearnSeven Awesome Things You Can Build with Node.js

Andrew Chalkley
writes on November 12, 2014

Node.js is not just for making simple websites, but awesome, dynamic, real-time experiences.

1. Gif Chat Room

Node.js is built for making chat applications. Here’s a novel twist. Chrome and Firefox have an API to access a computer’s camera. Images from the camera get processed around the submission of a chat message and a gif is sent to the room.

Here’s of the sample of a gif produced in the chat.

Visit meatspaces here and browse the source code here.

2. Remote Control for a Car

When I took apart a remote control car and was able to programmatically control it, I knew I had to put a web interface on it and I built it in Node.js.

When you mouse over the arrows on screen in the browser or press the arrows on your keyboard, the commands get sent over WebSockets to the Node.js server and then that server sends those instructions in real-time over USB to a small computer called Arduino. The Arduino sends the key presses programmatically to the remote control to control the car.

Here’s some of the Treehouse staff having some fun with it.

I also used JavaScript APIs to detect gyroscope sensors in mobile devices. So you can open up your iPhone and you steer it in the browser! And not to discriminate against devices, you can use the Wii U’s gamepad to control it like a steering wheel!

3. We Play Pokémon

This is more of a proof of concept than anything else, but a cool one at that. Node.js is able to stream the out put of applications in real-time to web browsers and take input, over web sockets.

This means you can stream your favorite Gameboy games and play them in the browser. Which is fun by yourself, but insanely fun (and frustrating) when everyone else who visits the site at the same time controls it too!

Vist weplay.io to play and take a look at the source code.

4. Remote Control a Computer

Building things in Node.js doesn’t always have to be for recreation, there’s utility in it too. In this example you can take control of another computer over the internet.

Try out the socket.computer here and take a look at the source code here.

5. Build your Own Hangouts

With other modern Web APIs like WebRTC being supported by more and more browsers, Google Hangout-like applications are going to get more common. Talky.io is one of those.

You (and a friend) can visit their website in a compatible browser and try it out for yourself!

6. Collaborative Drawing Tool

I showed Treehouse students how to build a simple drawing application in jQuery in the course jQuery Basics.

I extended the functionality with Node.js so that multiple people can draw on the same canvas!

Why not visit send this link to a friend and draw with them!

7. Desktop RSS Reader

With Node.js you could build cross-platform applications to run on your desktop. Here’s an example of an app called Sputnik. It’s an RSS reader.

You can check out Sputnik here and node-webkit, the framework used to build this app, here.

You can check out more applications here.

Conclusion

Hopefully seeing these examples built with Node.js shows you exactly what it’s capable of.

Also, look out for my upcoming course Node.js Basics. It’s releasing sometime in December.

4 Responses to “Seven Awesome Things You Can Build with Node.js”

  1. 张彦磊 on October 21, 2015 at 6:36 am said:

    looking forward to your course too!

  2. Good Article to Read.

  3. Cool post, Andrew. I’m looking forward to the node.js course.

  4. chris salvi on November 12, 2014 at 4:22 pm said:

    Andrew you should try to hack amiibos when they come out and find some cool ideas for Nintendo. Seems like you’re a dedicated fan judging by your wiiU purchase. Also post your FC I’d love to play you in smash or kart sometime! I live in PDX also and love this site. Has been the best investment of my life (way better ROI than college).

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