top 6 Node JS frameworks: which one to choose

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The EPAM Anywhere Editorial Team is an international collective of senior software engineers, managers and communications professionals who create, review and share their insights on technology, career, remote work, and the daily life here at Anywhere.

The EPAM Anywhere Editorial Team is an international collective of senior software engineers, managers and communications professionals who create, review and share their insights on technology, career, remote work, and the daily life here at Anywhere.

When it comes to web application development, Node.js remains the most popular technology among developers. In fact, according to a StackOverflow survey, 42.65% of developers surveyed said they use Node.js, which makes it the most used backend JavaScript runtime environment.

most-used web frameworks worldwide in 2023
Source: Statista

It is a cross-platform, open-source, single-threaded runtime environment giving Node.js developers unique tools for web application development.

And thanks to the ever-increasing fame of Node.js, a large community of developers has emerged, constantly developing and suggesting new backend Node frameworks.

You see, despite its growing popularity, Node.js still has some drawbacks. Indeed, Node.js can slow down your application when handling a lot of computational work, and the unstable API can force a lot of code changes.

You can deal with these problems by choosing specific frameworks that are better equipped to handle such problems. In this article, we will present a list of 6 Node.js popular frameworks and discuss how they can cover the specific disadvantages of the Node.js environment.

Express.js

Express.js, also called "Express," is a minimalist, fast Node.js backend framework. The software is open-source and is released under the MIT license.

Features

To help you better understand the framework, here is a list of features you will find on Express.js.

  • The framework has a Model-View-Controller (MVC) to break up large applications into sections that each serve a different purpose.
  • Its function is similar to a routing table or a collection of routing libraries.
  • It also allows packet injection of heavy loads. This feature is useful, especially for managing the expansion of the framework's capacity.
  • Express.js provides over 14 engine templates, HTTP methods, and synchronization for better performance.
  • It has a debugging function that is designed to help show developers where the problems are.

Advantages

If you want to develop web applications, Express.js is a suitable Node.js web application framework that offers many advantages in terms of implementation, cost, and user experience.

  • Express.js API integration makes developing web applications easy and fast.
  • Developers can better organize client-server requests with a more reliable application user interface (UI).
  • Express.js is easy to use and learn. Developers with basic knowledge of the Node web framework environment will be able to handle this framework efficiently.
  • The framework is open source, which allows companies and startups to reduce development costs.
  • The community of Express.js users is very large. Developers can easily find help on how to use the framework and be more efficient in application development.
  • The framework supports middleware. This allows developers to install useful tools to improve speed, response, and performance.

Disadvantages

Even if Express.js is popular, the framework also has drawbacks, which can affect your web application's development.

  • Security is not good enough. Express.js does not dictate how security is implemented and will depend on how the application was coded. To put it simply, it is up to the developer to manage the degree of security they need depending on the application being developed.
  • Error messages are generally not very useful. Express.js doesn't always indicate when or where a bug appears. So, developers often have to find a debugging solution by themselves.

Companies that use Express.js

Here is a list of companies that use the Express.js environment for their websites:

  • Uber
  • Fox Sports
  • Accenture
  • Myntra
  • Quizup
  • Taskade
  • Twitter
  • BlaBlaCar

When to choose Express.js

Thanks to these features, Express.js could be considered the best Node.js framework for enterprise-grade or browser-based apps.

The framework is very useful for website development services and building scalable backend applications that can be used to build backend services like web sockets, web APIs, and others.

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Meteor.js

Meteor is a Node backend framework that is well-defined for JavaScript. It functions as an open-source database that is integrated into a framework and is sufficient to automate client modifications without the involvement of developers.

According to BuiltWith, about 77,937 websites are Meteor.js customers, and 24,179 active websites still use Meteor.js.

Meteor usage statistics
Source: Trends.builtwith

Features

Here is a list of Meteor.js’ features and functions to help you understand the framework better.

  • This Node.js web app framework can work with other JavaScript frameworks such as Mango, React, and Vue.
  • The cross-platform feature provides rapid prototyping of the build with CLI.
  • Meteor.js lets you create JavaScript applications for mobile devices, an application server, and a web browser.
  • Through the Cordova PhoneGap alliance, Meteor.js enables the development and deployment of iOS and Android applications.
  • Meteor.js comes with a number of built-in features, such as reactive templates, automatic CSS and JS minification, and hot code reload.

Advantages

The Meteor.js framework allows companies and startups to easily develop web, desktop, and mobile app development services in JavaScript. Here is the list of advantages of using Meteor.js.

  • Meteor developers can create a single cross-platform source code that is compatible with Android, iOS, the web, and desktop computers.
  • The framework is open-source, which means businesses can save money on application development.
  • There is a huge community of Meteor.js users. This makes it easy for developers to find tutorials and help.
  • Meteor.js can be integrated with the relational database MongoDB, which aids in data synchronization.
  • Meteor.js's LiveReload feature lets you see your code logic without having to rebuild the project or refresh the browser page.
  • Meteor.js has a platform for developing reactive UIs.
  • You can make live updates to the website because the application uses a single language consistently throughout.

Disadvantages

Here is the list of disadvantages of using Meteor.js.

  • No reactive joins. If developers want to select data from different collections and join it on some particular property, they have to invoke the external packages trickery (and even then it's not as robust and functional as a standard SQL join).
  • The way of deployment to your own server is not so obvious. The process of developing applications for your custom hosting is difficult and requires some scripting work.
  • No native server-side rendering. Meteor.js does not implement server-side rendering by default. So, if you do not take care of it on your own or, more likely if you use plugins, your application stands a good chance of being completely useless to SEO crawlers.

Companies that use Meteor.js

Here is a list of companies that use the Meteor.js environment for their websites.

  • Deloitte
  • Accenture
  • Mazda
  • Shelf
  • Rocket.Chat
  • Digital Services
  • Esri
  • Nordstrom
  • NetApp
  • PolicyBazaar.com

When to choose Meteor.js

With a large user community and an open-source framework, Meteor.js is a good option if you know JavaScript and apply it in application development. Moreover, Meteor.js allows the development of mobile applications.

Indeed, the framework can provide the same code that works for web applications. Finally, it is important to mention that it is easy to get live updates for installed applications without having to interrupt the user's current session.

Koa.js

Koa.js is another open-source Node.js backend framework. The creators of Koa.js are the same ones who created Express.js. Koa is also very popular, as the framework has about 1 million downloads per week and around 90 companies use it for their website.

Features

Koa.js stands out above the crowd by the use of asynchronous functions, which eliminate callbacks and improve bug handling. To facilitate the creation of a web application, Koa.js uses various tools and methods that promote interoperability, robustness, and ease of coding.

  • Koa.js has been built using ES6 directives, which provides a large number of new classes and modules. This simplifies the creation of any sophisticated program.
  • The framework integrates tools to limit the use of callbacks and allows better management of errors.
  • Koa.js middleware is packaged as a bundle in its core. This makes server-side programming faster and easier.
  • Synchronized programming is simplified due to easier management of upstream and downstream controls.

Advantages

Here is the list of advantages of using this Node.js web development framework.

  • Web application development is faster, as Koa.js is a lightweight and flexible framework. This futuristic technology allows developers to build web applications quickly and easily.
  • Smart error management. Koa.js features make it easy to find errors during the development phase. So developers can create web applications with minimal problems or crashes occurring.
  • Plugin options. Developers have the ability to extend the framework with plugins and add a wide variety of modules.

Disadvantages

Here is the list of disadvantages of using Koa.js.

  • Koa may not be the best choice for you if you are unwilling to experiment with the more recent JavaScript ES6 syntax. This framework won't be suitable if your application requires an earlier version of JavaScript.
  • The community using Koa.js is relatively small. So it can sometimes be difficult for developers to track down help or instructional information for the improvement of a web application.

Companies that use Koa.js

Here is a list of companies that use the Koa.js framework in their tech stacks.

  • Bulb
  • GAPO
  • Paralect
  • Pier
  • Shimo Website
  • LetzChange
  • AirCloset
  • PathMotion
  • Loveholidays

When to choose Koa.js

Although Koa.js and Express.js were developed by the same team, the two frameworks have different functions.

Express.js provides functionality to "augment Node," while the goal of Koa.js is to "fix and replace Node."

Koa stands out for its ability to simplify error handling and free applications from callback hell.

Thus, Koa.js is the ideal framework to use if you want to get rid of callbacks, while Express.js is suitable when you want to implement Node.js and conventional Node.js style coding.

Sails.js

Sails.js is a Model-View-Controller (MVC) framework of Node.js adhering to the principle of "convention rather than configuration." This backend Node.js framework, inspired by Ruby on Rails, is used for backend development to quickly create REST APIs, real-time applications, or single-page applications.

Features

Sails.js makes extensive use of code generators, which allow you to create your application with minimal code writing, especially for common elements that can be scaffolded. Here is a list of other Sails.js features.

  • Sails.js uses Express.js to process HTTP requests.
  • Relational object mapping provides all the data desired by Sail.js users.
  • Blueprints allow a high capacity for code generation.
  • The ORM/ODM feature allows Sail.js to be database-independent.
  • Sail.js provides real-time WebSockets support.

Advantages

Here is the list of advantages of using Sails.js.

  • Sails.js is linked to the Express.js framework, which allows the developer to create RESTful APIs in a very short time.
  • The use of code generators in Sails.js also allows the beginner developer to save time by writing less code and thus be more efficient in the development.
  • Sails.js is also linked to Socket.io, a JavaScript library. So developers can add different functionality like real-time and event-based transmission to the system features. This system allows them to add a live chat function to their websites, a feature that benefits ecommerce sites, for example.

Disadvantages

Here is the list of disadvantages of using Sails.js.

  • Sails.js requires a huge amount of memory compared to other frameworks, which makes it slow to use and may waste your time on your web development project.
  • Asset management in Sails.js is disorganized and lacks transparency. It takes more time for the developer to allocate the right resources to the right place.

Companies that use Sails.js

Here is a list of companies that use the Sails.js framework for their websites.

  • Lithium Technologies
  • Greendeck
  • Postman
  • Microsoft
  • Amazon
  • Tesco
  • Verizon
  • Solarwinds

When to choose Sails.js

Sails.js is a good framework for creating custom chat applications due to its accurate and streamlined data and reusable middleware features.

If you are comfortable with Sails.js you can easily create gaming and social media applications given Sails.js' compatibility with Socket.io. The framework is also used for custom, enterprise-grade Node.js applications.

Nest.js

The Node.js web framework called Nest.JS is designed to be combined with TypeScript. This feature allows the developer to create scalable and efficient server-side applications.

Nest downloads
Source: Npmtrends

Features

Nest.js is built using a simple and unambiguous design (controllers, modules, and providers), which makes decomposing applications into microservices much easier. In addition, the main features of Nest.js are:

  • The framework uses TypeScript, a free and open-source programming language, to create clean, readable, standard JavaScript code that can run in any browser or host that supports JavaScript.
  • Nest.js uses a powerful command line interface (CLI), which improves productivity and facilitates development.
  • Contains an integrated DI (Dependency Injection) container that makes applications modular and more efficient.
  • Lazy Loading modules allow you to load things when needed.
  • Supports dozens of Nest.js specific modules that help you easily integrate common technologies and concepts such as TypeORM, Mongoose, GraphQL, etc.

Advantages

Here is the list of advantages of using Nest.js.

  • Angular developers will be able to easily use Nest.js because of familiarity.
  • Nest.js' structural development approach allows large teams of developers to build complex backends more consistently.
  • Nest.js is also similar to Spring and .NET. This allows developers who already know these technologies and associated best practices to save time on web application development.
  • Nest.js is also platform agnostic. Thus the framework easily supports REST, GraphQL, Websockets, gRPC, etc.
  • The documentation for using Nest.js is detailed, which allows the developer to get a better grip on the different features.

Disadvantages

Here is the list of disadvantages of using Nest.js.

  • In Nest.js, everything has a highly defined structure, which generates a lot of files and sometimes makes it difficult for developers to navigate.
  • Lack of functionality compared to frameworks in other languages, such as Spring in Java or .NET in C#.
  • Lack of clarity and confusion about how it works. Some things like adding a route or a controller are easier to do with Express than with Nest, and when a developer encounters these obstacles, they need someone more experienced to help them.

Companies that use Nest.js

Here is a list of companies that use the Nest.js framework for their website.

  • Adidas
  • Neoteric
  • Sanofi
  • Autodesk
  • Kevin
  • MAK IT
  • Postclick
  • Software Engineering
  • Productboard
  • Unibuddy

When to choose Nest.js

The Nest.js framework is ideal for fast and efficient application development with simple structures.

Indeed, Nest.js is an excellent choice if you are looking to create scalable and easy-to-maintain applications. Moreover, the Nest.js support system is very active, and the community of users of this framework is large. This will allow you to find the help they need to meet any current development challenges.

Hapi.js

Hapi.js is an open-source Node.js framework for backend suitable for developing high-performance and scalable web applications.

In terms of usage, Hapi.js has about 400,000 downloads per week, with over 76 organizations stating that they use Hapi.

The framework is widely regarded as a superior alternative to Express.js due to its server-side and client-side intermediation capabilities.

Features

Hapi.js has a lot of unique features that help developers make applications that are safe, powerful, and scalable. A portion of these highlights include:

  • End-to-end code hygiene enables developers to write code that is distributable, controllable, and manageable.
  • A comprehensive collection of official plugins designed to take the place of middleware in frameworks like Express.
  • Secure defaults that are frequently updated. Hapi blocks error messages that could transmit exploits or leak information.
  • The most extensive Node.js authorization API is the Integrated Authorization and Authentication Architecture.
  • Cookies that are signed and encrypted, secret or key rotation, and HTTP security headers are all designed to make applications more secure.

Advantages

Here is the list of advantages of using Hapi.js.

  • When you use the framework, security is not an issue. Hapi.js is a leading Node.js framework that does not require any external code. Some of the security features and processes include regular updates, end-to-end code hygiene, a high-end authentication process, and in-house security architecture.
  • There is a wide range of official plugins. Without exerting too much effort, you can find a trusted and secure module you might require for basic functionalities. Thus, you don't have to risk your project's safety by relying on third-party middleware because of its extensive plugin collection.
  • Hapi.js is one of the frameworks for Node.js that performs better than many others regarding quantifiable quality metrics. Hapi stands out when considering parameters like code clarity, coverage and style, and open issues.
  • The framework enables friction-free development. As a developer-first platform, it has advanced features that can help you speed up some processes and get more done.
  • It makes the development process easier and lets Hapi.js developers use what works immediately. You won't have to waste time trying different things because the code does exactly what it was designed to do.

Disadvantages

Here is the list of disadvantages of using Hapi.js.

  • Code configuration is sometimes difficult. Indeed, developers have to determine the structure of the code without the support of the community.
  • Hapi.js has compatibility issues with Express/Connect regarding specific modules and plugins such as Catbox, Joi, Boom, etc.
  • Lack of automation forces developers to create endpoints or do manual testing.

Companies that use Hapi

Here is a list of companies that use the Hapi.js framework for their websites.

  • Gozova
  • Boodle
  • Commercetools
  • Brainhub
  • Beam
  • PayPal
  • Clinlife

When to choose Hapi

Hapi is sufficient for the creation of scalable, secure, real-time social media applications. As a result, developers use it to build proxies and API services.

Additionally, Hapi.js is our recommendation if you want to use Express in your web app.

Conclusion

You can deal with any inherent problem of using Node.js by choosing your framework wisely.

  • Express.js is the best Node.js framework for enterprise and browser-based applications.
  • Meteor.js is ideal for developing mobile applications.
  • Koa.js will be the best choice if you want to get rid of callbacks.
  • With its accurate and streamlined data and reusable middleware features, Sails.js is a good framework for creating custom chat applications.
  • The Nest.js framework is ideal for the fast and efficient development of applications with simple structures.
  • Scalability, security, and real-time social media applications are all possible with Hapi.js.

FAQ

published 09 Feb 2024
updated 24 Feb 2024
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written by

The EPAM Anywhere Editorial Team is an international collective of senior software engineers, managers and communications professionals who create, review and share their insights on technology, career, remote work, and the daily life here at Anywhere.

The EPAM Anywhere Editorial Team is an international collective of senior software engineers, managers and communications professionals who create, review and share their insights on technology, career, remote work, and the daily life here at Anywhere.

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