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X-Team

7 Most Popular Node.js Frameworks in 2019

tdmoor profile image Thomas De Moor Originally published at x-team.com ・4 min read

Node.js is an open-source, cross-platform, runtime environment that allows developers to run JavaScript outside of a browser. Ryan Dahl introduced Node to the world back in 2009, and it's since grown into one of the most popular and well-liked technologies.

One of the main advantages of Node is that it enables developers to use JavaScript on both the front-end and the back-end of an application. This not only makes the source code of any app cleaner and more consistent, but it significantly speeds up app development too, as developers only need to use one language.

Node is fast, scalable, and easy to get started with. Its default package manager is npm, which means it also sports the largest ecosystem of open-source libraries. Node is used by companies such as NASA, Uber, Netflix, and Walmart.

But Node doesn't come alone. It comes with a plethora of frameworks. A Node framework can be pictured as the external scaffolding that you can build your app in. These frameworks are built on top of Node and extend the technology's functionality, mostly by making apps easier to prototype and develop, while also making them faster and more scalable.

Below are 7of the most popular Node frameworks at this point in time (ranked from high to low by GitHub stars).

Express logo

Express

With over 43,000 GitHub stars, Express is the most popular Node framework. It brands itself as a fast, unopinionated, and minimalist framework. Express acts as middleware: it helps set up and configure routes to send and receive requests between the front-end and the database of an app.

Express provides lightweight, powerful tools for HTTP servers. It's a great framework for single-page apps, websites, hybrids, or public HTTP APIs. It supports over fourteen different template engines, so developers aren't forced into any specific ORM.

Meteor logo

Meteor

Meteor is a full-stack JavaScript platform. It allows developers to build real-time web apps, i.e. apps where code changes are pushed to all browsers and devices in real-time. Additionally, servers send data over the wire, instead of HTML. The client renders the data.

The project has over 41,000 GitHub stars and is built to power large projects. Meteor is used by companies such as Mazda, Honeywell, Qualcomm, and IKEA. It has excellent documentation and a strong community behind it.

Koa logo

Koa

Koa is built by the same team that built Express. It uses ES6 methods that allow developers to work without callbacks. Developers also have more control over error-handling. Koa has no middleware within its core, which means that developers have more control over configuration, but which means that traditional Node middleware (e.g. req, res, next) won't work with Koa.

Koa already has over 26,000 GitHub stars. The Express developers built Koa because they wanted a lighter framework that was more expressive and more robust than Express. You can find out more about the differences between Koa and Express here.

Sails logo

Sails

Sails is a real-time, MVC framework for Node that's built on Express. It supports auto-generated REST APIs and comes with an easy WebSocket integration.

The project has over 20,000 stars on GitHub and is compatible with almost all databases (MySQL, MongoDB, PostgreSQL, Redis). It's also compatible with most front-end technologies (Angular, iOS, Android, React, and even Windows Phone).

Nest logo

Nest

Nest has over 15,000 GitHub stars. It uses progressive JavaScript and is built with TypeScript, which means it comes with strong typing. It combines elements of object-oriented programming, functional programming, and functional reactive programming.

Nest is packaged in such a way it serves as a complete development kit for writing enterprise-level apps. The framework uses Express, but is compatible with a wide range of other libraries.

LoopBack logo

LoopBack

LoopBack is a framework that allows developers to quickly create REST APIs. It has an easy-to-use CLI wizard and allows developers to create models either on their schema or dynamically. It also has a built-in API explorer.

LoopBack has over 12,000 GitHub stars and is used by companies such as GoDaddy, Symantec, and the Bank of America. It's compatible with many REST services and a wide variety of databases (MongoDB, Oracle, MySQL, PostgreSQL).

Hapi logo

Hapi

Similar to Express, hapi serves data by intermediating between server-side and client-side. As such, it's can serve as a substitute for Express. Hapi allows developers to focus on writing reusable app logic in a modular and prescriptive fashion.

The project has over 11,000 GitHub stars. It has built-in support for input validation, caching, authentication, and more. Hapi was originally developed to handle all of Walmart's mobile traffic during Black Friday.


What Node frameworks do you prefer? Why? Let me know in the comments below!

Discussion

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chrischenyc profile image
Chris Chen

Used express, meteor, and nest in my projects.

Express.js: for small-scale projects or side projects, I prefer sticking with this good old framework because of its minimal footprint and mature ecosystem (for every problem I likely run into, there is a decent solution)

Meteor.js: I like how easy it is to get email/social authentication up and running, as well as its realtime data pub/sub mechanism. I felt it lacks of active community support, just check when was the last post on themeteorchef.com/

Nest.js: I find writing unit test has more overhead (all the module DI and mocks 🤦‍♂️). Using third-party libraries might take more effort to look for the Nest.js version, e.g.: bull and nest-bull. I would consider Nest.js only for mid-to-large-scale projects, plus the dev team are all on board with DI, modulization, and things

Played with LoopBack for a little while then switched to Meteor

BTW: shoutout from Melbourne mate

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tdmoor profile image
Thomas De Moor Author

Interesting, thanks for the reply! And hi from Tbilisi, Georgia!

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morenomdz profile image
MorenoMdz

Missed AdonjsJs there

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orelkan profile image
Orel Kanditan

Nice article. I use Express in my job, it has the great advantage of being the most popular one so it has the widest community support and documentation. However I like Koa (that has async error handling unlike vanilla express) and am also interested in Nest JS

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gpietro profile image
Pietro Ghezzi

no one mentioned moleculerjs, which I consider the best js framework to create a micro-service architecture

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salmanmalik profile image
Salman Malik

I have never heard of this framework, thanks for pointing it out.

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selahattinunlu profile image
Selahattin Ünlü

I wonder that why "feathers" is not so popular in nodejs world. I'm gonna check sails. it seems similar to feathers

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dasdaniel profile image
Daniel Poda 🇨🇦

feathers is just the express server extended, but then again, so is nest and loopback.

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antogarand profile image
Antony Garand

Nest is actually platform-agnostic, for which the server which can be express but also fastify, or any other server for which you make an adapter.

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mr_bertoli profile image
Andrea Bertoli

Consider also Fastify, a great and lightweight framework

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ferovolar profile image
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vbelolapotkov profile image
Vasily Belolapotkov

What about Next.js?

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zpwebbear profile image
Dmitriy Braginets

I think when we say “node js framework” we mean backend frameworks. But next/nuxt are extended front end frameworks for SSR