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Choosing Best NodeJS Frameworks

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What is the best Node.JS framework? well, choosing a framework is never been easy especially when you are a newbie. In this tutorial, we will find out how to choose the best framework for your projects.

Before choosing a framework for Node.JS you might be interested to have a look on why you should learn Node.JS in the first place.

Choosing a NodeJS Framework

Each project is different and requires unique approach with due regard to technical requirements and clients’ expectations

Now, you can find a lot of NodeJS frameworks out there. Each of them has built to help you with a particular problem. There is no ALL IN ONE framework that can answer to all of your solutions.

First of all, let’s start with asking yourself what you trying to accomplish and what problem you want to solve by NodeJS. Here are a few questions you can think of:

  • Are you building a Monolith or a Microservice?
  • Is it an API based solution or it needs to render views from server side?
  • Do you need any real-time features like live chat or real-time notifications?
  • Are you writing this project for Mockups, Quick builds or a full-fledged sustainable system?

In addition, here are few facts for choosing a framework

  • Performance and Scalability
  • Simplicity of development and testing
  • Community Support
  • How good their documentation is
  • Uses of system resources
  • Customization

Finally, let’s have a look into few of the most popular and modern Node.JS frameworks available today.

1. Express.JS

Express is a minimal and flexible Node.js web application framework that provides a robust set of features for web and mobile applications.

— ExpressJS

Express is the most popular and widely used web framework for NodeJS. Beginning with a simple CRUD application and REST APIs you can build a complete MVC website with ExpressJS.

ExpressJS written by TJ Holowaychuk, one of the members from NodeJS project

Express has a large community to back this project. It offers a bunch of common tools to build web applications fast and easy. Noteworthy to mention that many of node.js frameworks actually has built on express.js

Pros

  • Easy and powerful route features
  • Huge community support and tons of resources are available for free
  • Good documentation, easy learning curve
  • Easy to integrate with template engines like Jade, EJS etc.

Cons

  • No fixed and universal rules to organise things
  • May not be the a good choice for large-scale applications

2. Koa.JS

Koa.js is more lightweight and more modular than Express.js

Koa is another Node.JS framework, introduced in 2013 and one of the best alternatives to ExpressJS. This framework is said to be a next-generation, futuristic framework for NodeJS. Furthermore, Koa promises to provide simplicity in creating web applications and APIs with improved performance.

Pros

  • Very lightweight framework
  • Usage of ES6 generator to avoid callbacks
  • Component-based building blocks
  • Easy for beginners

Cons

  • Unstable and lack of community support
  • Somewhat difficult to learn.

3. Hapi.JS

Hapi was introduced by Eran Hammer 2011 at Walmart while trying to handle the traffic on black Friday.

Hapi is a powerful framework bundled with lots of built-in features. You will love the configuration base functionality, input validation, logging, error handling, caching. It was built to support a large team working on multiple tasks simultaneously

Pros

  • Hapi allows you to write maintainable and organized code
  • It is backed by Walmart and used by major corporations
  • Built with large applications in mind.

Cons

  • Requires lots of boilerplates

4. StrongLoop Loopback

Loopback offers an open-source enterprise version of Node.js

Loopback is a highly extensible Node.js framework for creating APIs. It was built on top of ExpressJS but LoopBack offers a lot of built-in features and modules out of the box. Hence, It allows you to avoid most of the redundant code you write in other frameworks. Therefore, it makes the development faster and easier.

Pros

  • Loopback a very mature framework
  • Seriously cool stuff and ideal for APIs.
  • Built-in models ready to use.
  • Detailed documentation.
  • Mobile SDKs for Android and IOS
  • Built-in  ACL (access-level controls)
  • Excellent API explorer and API documentation with Swagger
  • Built-in ORM/ODM with Juggler with various drivers

Cons

  • Due to its comprehensiveness, learning curve is pretty steep

5. Sails

Sails.js is a web framework that makes it easy to build custom, enterprise-grade Node.js apps

SailsJS

Sails.js is a MVC (Model-VIew-Controller) framework which is built on top of ExpressJS. Sails is considered to be a realtime MVC framework which has seamless support for handling real-time chats, multiplayer games and data-driven applications. 

Pros

  • Easy to build production-ready application with a very short time.
  • Best suited for creating data-heavy enterprise-grade apps
  • Compatibility with several front-end frameworks
  • Auto-generation tools for models
  • Lots of database adapters, such as MySQL, MongoDB, PostgreSQL, and Redis.

Cons

  • Mostly it suits better for browser based application

6. Meteor

With Meteor, developers can accomplish more job with less code

Meteor is one of the most popular full stack frameworks of Node.js. The most awesome thing about meteor is that it allows you to use the same API for both frontend and backend. This is why meteor is the perfect choice for creating cross-platform applications running on different devices. Above all, It also gives you an extremely lightweight structure and enormous flexibility of choices.

Pros

  • Same code runs across different devices.
  • Lots of buit-in modules out of the box
  • Large community support

Cons

  • Meteor is a relatively heavy
  • It is very specific about what it does
  • Not recommended for lots of concurrent users.

7. Nest.JS

A progressive Node.js framework for building efficient and scalable server-side applications.

NestJS is relatively new among Node.js frameworks. What makes it different from other frameworks is use of Typescript. Thus, it allows you to write clean and structured code. If you are familiar with Angular you will get this tool pretty straightforward. 

8. Mean.io

MEAN stack is well-known in the developers community

Mean.io is another full-stack framework. Acronym of MEAN is MongoDB, Express, Angular and NodeJS. However, MEAN doesn’t always refer to Mean.io. This framework is just packed everything you need to ease your configuration process.

My choices

For most of the cases, I would choose the frameworks given below for my projects. Certainly, this can vary for different projects and requirements and there is a big place for debates. Maybe, you can consider this as a generalized list for the beginners.

Best Node.JS framework for small and medium web applications or CRUD APIs

  • Express.JS
  • Koa.JS
  • Hapi.JS

Best MVC framework for Node.JS

  • Sails.JS
  • Express.JS

Best Node.JS framework for large and enterprise applications

  • Loopback
  • Sails.JS

Github popularity stats

Most popular node.js framework from Express.js, Hapi.js, Loopback, meteor, kora.js, nest.js, sails.js, mean.io
As of 22th September, Github stats of Node.JS frameworks

Conclusion

Every day a new solution is being developed and they are meant to ease the development process. This article contains a comprehensive list of the most popular node frameworks that are used by developers, but not all.

So which is your favorite Node.js framework for web development? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the comments below.

Choosing Best NodeJS Frameworks
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Ikrum Hossain

Live in code, Love in backend. A blogger by passion, a backend developer by blood and enthusiastic to explore new technologies.

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