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Comparison of 5 Best Node.js Frameworks

Discovering top Node.js frameworks and finding out how they can boost developer productivity and app performance

There are many trendy technologies in the world of web development. But if we are talking about Node.js, don’t you wonder how the framework became so popular in the short term?

The explicit benefit of Node.js is that it’s one of the fastest server-side web app platforms. Using it, the companies get the ease of building scalable apps on a single programming language. It’s an open-sourced JavaScript framework incorporating cross-platform features. Clean codebase, agile development, vast ecosystem providing open-source libraries are compelling advantages. Our aim is not to highlight the best Node.js framework but provide you with top Node.js frameworks, among which you can make your choice by yourself.

Is Node.js a Framework?

Many argue what Node.js is: a framework or a language. Let’s dig up the basic concept. In Node.js, “JS” stands for JavaScript and should be somehow connected to it. If Node.js comes from JS, it may be the framework of JS. It’s the rule we note with other languages and their frameworks. However, if it’s that simple, you wouldn’t read an article like this on our blog.

There are two types of languages.  The programming language requires a compiler to compile the code, and the scripting language needs the interpreter to produce code in run time. Initially, JS was created to “alive pages” and interact with the user. However, with technical advancement, we got new terminology, Node.js. Based on the definitions provided above, Node.js can be neither a framework nor a language.

The interpreter executing the code is included in Node.js separately. Node.js uses the chrome v8 engine to run JS on a platform. The engine is a combination of an interpreter and multiple tools that allow v8 to work on a server without a browser. Using Node.js, we can do many things (input/output, file processing) that aren’t possible with JS.

At last, Node.js is neither a framework nor a language. It’s an open-source development platform for producing JS code outside the browser.

Why Node.js Frameworks 

Node.js frameworks deliver easy scalability, excellent functionality, a low learning curve, full-stack JS benefits, a large active community, and a single codebase, increasing the overall performance.

Creating the entire app from scratch is a complex and time-consuming task. As developers, we need to build apps faster and efficiently. So, the frameworks provide us with a set of useful functions and tools facilitating the work. Using frameworks, we benefit from a more straightforward API, a clean code, and the ability to structure our app correctly. With specific functions of frameworks, we can implement the right solutions. 

Types of Node.js Frameworks 

In web development, a significant number of frameworks may overwhelm you. For this reason, it’s easier to learn the types of Node.js frameworks, understand their philosophy, and move to the list of the best frameworks for Node.js you can use in web development.

  • HTTP server frameworks are based on Express.js, assisting you in creating applications based on HTTP routes.
  • MVC frameworks provide Model, View, Controller architecture. MVC splits the functionality of the app into three parts. Models manage data logic and show the way the data is stored. Views control the way the information is presented to the user. Controllers manage requests flows and handle information between the model and view. In turn, the controller gets the data from the model and transfers it into the view.
  • Full-stack MVC frameworks use JS on the client and server sides. They incorporate many features, including WebSocket libraries, templating engines, and ORM programming technology.
  • Rest API frameworks are used to drive a fast Node server or manage CRUD requests.

Top Frameworks for Node.js You Should Know About

You can picture Node.js as external scaffolding with plenty of frameworks that extend the Node.js functionalities. They also help simplify app prototyping and its development.

Instead of reinventing the wheel over and over, we’ll review time-tested Node.js best frameworks used widely in web development. We’ll compare their functions, selling points, and companies using them in web development. Our list involves Express.js, Nest.js, Next.js, Nuxt.js, and Fastify.

  1. Express.js: the most popular among others

Express.js tops the list of most popular Node.js frameworks. Developers consider it to be a minimalist, flexible framework with an extensive set of functions to build web and mobile apps. The framework presents a layer of web apps’ key functions allowing you to work with Node.js functionality. Express.js development, allows using both relational (MySQL) and non-relational (MongoDB) databases. Additionally, you can use various modules for verifying and formatting data.

Its fast, simple, and robust coding architecture aligns well with Node.js technology. If you have basic competence in the Node.js environment, you’ll efficiently deal with Express.js. It has a more reliable app UI with better-organized client-to-server requests and transparent interactions with users. Express.js powerful functions allow taking backend development to a new level. Tech giants such as Twitter, Uber, Accenture, BlaBlaCar, and Stack deploy apps using the framework.

With Express.js, you can easily reuse code for data processing, store user sessions, control cookie files, and manage payloads. Express.js is a clear favorite for dynamic content. It produces quick responses to the user requests like uploading text, audio/video content, and other content to the page.

It continues to gain more popularity among users. With each passing year, the number of websites built with the framework is increasing.

Its main benefits are: 

  • fast app development
  •  input-output requests
  • open-source community
  • ease of use and learning
  • promising stable technology.
  1. Nest.js: a framework for building streamlined and scalable backend apps

Nest.js has become the fastest-growing Node.js framework due to its incredible features. It’s an open-source and versatile framework helping to create demanding systems. Developers use Next.js to make efficient and scalable server-side apps written in TypeScript.

Nest.js architecture is based on several simple components like controllers, modules, and providers, helping easily to split apps into microservices. Moreover, Angular and RoR inspired its architecture. Nest.js uses TypeORM that is a popular and promising ORM often used even without Nest.js. Being a mature ORM, it’s available for TypeScript. Using Nest.js development, you can write scalable applications. Also, it takes Node.js servers to a new level. Here, you can use several databases like MongoDB, MySQL, and PostgreSQL.

It has a good rating position on GitHub, and it encourages more developers to learn and test the framework. Nest.js is extensible, and it’s one of the benefits. It’s universal thanks to its fully-fledged ecosystem and can be used with other libraries.

The developers consider the framework is easy to master. It has a robust command-level interface making app development faster and simplified. Nest.js is an open-source framework under MIT license showing its reliability. It also has well-written and maintained documentation, active codebase development, and control. Adidas, Autodesk, Roche, Decathlon, Capgemini, Societe Generale have already used the framework in their development. 

  1. Next.js: a framework for building superfast and user-friendly apps

Next.js is a promising developing Node.js framework that requires discussing it. Using Next.js is a reasonable solution since you can test many benefits for clients and the development team. Improved development process, app performance, and SEO refer to the benefits you get. In turn, using the framework, you can save costs and time and get faster and more indexable SEO-friendly apps.

Initially, Next.js positioned itself exclusively as a “backend for frontend” or “middle-end”. Though, the latest versions of the framework have functionality allowing to use Next.js as a full-fledged backend framework. In this way, the framework brings developers another explicit benefit. One of the beneficial features it delivers is authentication. Automatic code splitting boosts the performance of the user’s browser and allows users to see page content faster.

The critical benefit not as much for the users as for the developers is hot module replacement. It helps developers see all changes in real-time. Unlike usual real-time updates, it reloads only the modules that were changed during development. Netflix, Uber, Starbucks, Nike widely use the framework.

Another point to be mentioned here is that Next.js was built on top of React. Thanks to React, Next.js should have become an easy-to-use development framework. Next.js is smart enough to load only the JS and CSS needed for a specific page. It significantly decreases the loading time of the page. The users shouldn’t waste time waiting for JS and CSS downloading, which they don’t need.

  1. Nuxt.js: a framework for building single-page and universal apps easily

Nuxt.js is getting more popular and progressive today. Furthermore, the framework was introduced before Next.js, and it’s a worthy competitor for Next.js.

Nuxt.js is a high-level frontend framework built on top of Vue. It incorporates efficient features like rendering on the server-side, automatically made routes, improved SEO, and control of metatags and SEO. Nuxt.js has plenty of features to enhance developer productivity and interaction with the users.

The framework simplifies the creation of single-page or universal Vue.js applications. Using Nuxt.js, you can focus only on web app development. The framework is flexible, simplifying the developer’s work and allowing them to use the framework as the main project base. 

Nuxt.js development helps to create universal applications without effort. Building universal apps is a tedious process. It usually requires making a lot of configuration on the server and client sides. Nuxt.js solves this issue. The framework easily shares the code between server and client, and the user can focus more on app logic. Moreover, thanks to properties like isServer and isClient provided by Nuxt.js, the user can quickly and easily decide where to make rendering. A special component no-ssr allows the user to prevent rendering on the server-side. 

The framework provides a starter template with organized folders showing all details of how to start the project. The Nuxt.js community on GitHub can help you a lot. To get the maximum benefit of the framework, you can check all categories given by the community and choose the one that fits your purpose. 

  1. Fastify: a framework with the least overhead costs

Fastify is a Node.js web framework focusing on delivering the best developer experience. The framework is highly performant, extensible, schema-based, developer-friendly, TypeScript ready. Fastify introduces itself as a fast low-overhead Node.js framework with a strong plugin architecture. It’s inspired by Express and Hapi.

Though Fastify.js doesn’t provide all solutions for everything, it actively develops and improves its functions. It’s an analog to Express.js but with faster capacity and less overhead costs. The framework was originally designed as a general-purpose framework, but when it comes to fast HTTP APIs, Fastify.js is excellent. Compared to Express.js, Fastify.js works twice as fast. The speed difference comes from Fastify.js having a better user base and managing empty requests more efficiently than Express.js. Full encapsulation for plugins, quick routing, faster rendering, cleaner syntax, faster performance, progressing language, and runtime – these are the core features of Fastify.js.

Final idea

As you see, successful adoption and enhancement of Node.js frameworks allow users to cut expenses, increase developer productivity and app performance. Technologies are going to change, and new frameworks will appear. Yet, a proper analysis of your business needs and resources will help you choose the right framework for your project.

KeenEthics team is ready to collaborate with clients 24/7. We provide them only with fresh information concerning the practical use of technologies, including node development services in a web environment. If you need extra help, the KeenEthics node js web development company is always at your service. Our developers will consider your ideas and advise you to implement the advantageous solution.

Do you still have doubts as to which framework to choose?

If you need extra help, KeenEthics is always at your service. Together we can analyze your goals and visions and come up with the best solution. Are you ready to start?

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