Engineering

What Are Node.js Frameworks?: How To Choose the Best Node.js Framework for 2023

7 min read

Node.js powers many of the modern real-time web applications you’re likely familiar with. It’s a scalable JavaScript runtime environment widely used to build online games, messengers, video platforms, and more. Technology companies like Netflix, Uber, Trello, and others use Node to create both rich user interfaces (UIs) and server-side environments. 

Node derives a lot of its versatility from Node.js frameworks. But with countless frameworks available, which one is the best choice for your project? Read on to find out.

What Are Node.js Frameworks?

Node.js frameworks are pre-built tools and accelerators that further extend the functionality of Node.js. These frameworks are built by the Node developer community itself to aid fellow developers in their projects.

Node frameworks not only reduce development time and effort but also provide additional functionalities and dimensions to your projects. Moreover, they ensure a standardized codeset across your development team and enhance productivity. 

Not all Node frameworks are built equal. They excel at different functions and choosing between them involves assessing your unique project requirements. 

Types Of Node.js Frameworks

Depending on their support of a particular use case in the development lifecycle, Node.js frameworks are primarily of three types:""

1. MVC

Model-view-controller (MVC) frameworks adopt a unique design pattern by splitting the application logic into three interconnected elements, namely models, views, and controllers. MVC frameworks separate the application’s business logic and display to produce a better division of labor. As a result, this enhances the scalability and maintainability of the application.

2. Full-Stack MVC

Full-stack MVC frameworks offer the tools to build both the front-end and back-end of applications, eliminating the need to work with multiple frameworks. They also offer capabilities like libraries, scaffolding, template engines, and more to offer a fully developed interface to the user.

 

3. REST API

Representational state transfer (REST) API frameworks offer a fast and flexible build experience by using REST APIs. These APIs enable seamless client-server interaction and allow developers to easily add additional functionalities to an application.

Top 14 Node.js Frameworks To Use in 2023

Based on their popularity and usage by Node developers, we have shortlisted the top frameworks for Node.js. These are some of the most widely-used frameworks, as shown in the Node.js Web Survey Report 2018

1. Express.js

Express has more GitHub stars than any other Node.js framework, hinting at its substantial popularity. The MVC framework is fast, robust, asynchronous, and useful for designing single, multi-page, and hybrid web applications.

Express combines the best of API frameworks with browser-specific APIs that aren’t normally supported by Node.js. By connecting the back-end code to the browser, you can store files directly in the browser, which makes Express a top choice for dynamic content. It allows fast client-server interaction and aligns well with the single-threaded nature of Node.

Key Features

  • Rapid server-side development packages

  • Highly performant due to multiple processes executed asynchronously

  • Exceptionally high test coverage 

  • Supports multiple template engines

  • Easily integrates with SQL and NoSQL databases

  • Easy content negotiation with URLs and HTTP protocol

2. Nest.js

Nest is a Node.js framework used for building extremely efficient server-side applications. It supports TypeScript as well as JavaScript, integrates well with Express.js, and supports elements of functional programming, object-oriented programming (OOP), and reactive programming.

You can use Nest to build multi-layered enterprise applications owing to its extensive collection of libraries. Nest is a fairly popular Node framework, though it is ranked second to Express in GitHub stars. 

Key Features

  • Easy integration with frameworks like Express 

  • Compatibility with Angular on the front-end

  • Large developer community 

  • Small learning curve for beginners

  • Highly systematic and easy-to-use external libraries

3. Meteor.js

Meteor is an open-source and isomorphic Node framework specific to JavaScript. It allows rapid prototyping and the production of cross-platform codes. The framework is compatible with multiple operating systems like Android and iOS, making it ideal for developing simple yet modern and efficient web applications.

Meteor has a huge developer community offering support for new developers. Another important feature of the framework is its ability to process automatic changes to the front-end without any intervention from the developer. Meteor is known for being able to provide seamless data transfer between the client and the server. Such a feature is essential for high-streaming, real-time applications.

Key Features

  • Cross-platform framework 

  • Rapid prototyping with command-line interface (CLI)

  • Full-stack solution

  • Easy integration with other frameworks

  • Lightweight yet feature-rich

  • Isomorphic framework

4. Koa.js

Koa is developed by the same team behind Express.js. Referred to as a lighter version of Express, Koa is highly effective in creating web applications due to its cascading middleware. With this feature, you can maintain different versions of the same webpage content for different users. 

Many of Express’s plugins and libraries have been adapted to Koa, allowing you to enjoy the flexibility of Express and the lower complexity of Koa. With exceptional error handling and high customization, Koa is a contemporary framework that’s actively growing in scope.

Key Features

  • Increased personalization through cascading middleware

  • Resolution of code inconsistencies to increase maintainability

  • Ability to leverage Express’s rich ecosystem of libraries and packages

5. Sails.js

Sails is an MVC framework that supports modern, data-oriented development. Known for its compatibility with multiple databases and easy integration with Node Package Manager (npm), Sails is suitable for building high-end and complex web applications.

Sails isn’t tied to any specific front-end framework and uses Express for HTTP requests and Socket.io for WebSockets. It integrates well with other JavaScript frameworks and is also famous for its ability to auto-generate REST APIs. Sails doesn’t have the huge community support of Express but it’s a great option for developing custom, enterprise-scale applications.

Key Features

  • Reusable security policies

  • Object-relational mapping for compatibility with databases

  • Integration with Express and Socket.io

  • Support for Angular

6. Feathers.js

Feathers is a simplistic real-time framework built on top of Express for designing advanced web applications. Customizability and rapid development of robust and lightweight applications are a few of Feathers’s useful features. Feathers is a popular back-end framework that provides flexibility with not just Node but React Native as well.

Feathers is designed to simplify web and mobile app development. Developers using Feathers need not get into the complexity of RESTful APIs. The framework makes it easy to implement and connect features for web applications while also enabling you to execute SMS, authentications, and email messaging.

Key Features

  • Extremely lightweight codebase

  • Reusability in terms of services and functions

  • Command-line interface

  • Automatic RESTful APIs

7. Hapi.js

Hapi.js is a security-focused Node framework that doesn’t compromise functionality. The team behind Hapi focused on code quality control and verification when designing the open-source framework.

Developers often use the framework for building proxy servers, REST APIs, and other rich desktop applications. Hapi checks each npm package when installed and defines clear, immutable ownership. This enables developers to easily diagnose issues given the well-structured code.

Hapi also offers a lavish set of built-in plugins to eliminate any need for third-party  middleware.

Key Features

  • Support for secure defaults

  • Rich ecosystem of libraries 

  • Fast and easy debugging

  • Minimal overhead

  • High scalability

8. LoopBack.js

LoopBack.js is an open-source Node.js framework offering effortless connectivity with any other Node framework and different API services. Developers can enjoy reduced development time and excellent compatibility with a wide range of devices, browsers, databases, and operating systems when they use LoopBack.

LoopBack uses built-in modules to connect to different HTML5, iOS, and Android APIs. Another powerful feature of the framework is its ability to convert web applications to mobile apps. Loopback does this due to its support of SQL and NoSQL databases. 

Key Features

  • High extensibility

  • Rich built-in modules

  • Well-structured codebase

  • Support for multiple databases

  • Built-in client API explorer

  • Full-stack development

9. MEAN.js

MEAN is not a framework, but an end-to-end development solution featuring a combination of open-source technologies. of dynamic web applications from scratch. Using MongoDB, Express, Angular, and Node.js (MEAN), engineers can develop secure, robust, maintainable, and dynamic applications.

Other important features of MEAN include isomorphic code generation for enhanced extensibility and single-language development.

Key Features

  • Lightweight and easy to use

  • Huge collection of libraries 

  • Sizeable community support

  • Low memory overhead

10. Total.js

Total started as a Node.js framework for real-time applications, REST services, ecommerce platforms, and IoT projects. Now its use is versatile, operating as a content management system (CMS), HelpDesk,eShop, and more. 

Total does not rely on dependencies through third-party tools and libraries. One of the key focus areas of the framework is the integration of applications with IoT services, REST services, and other super-fast applications. Total offers more than 100 services for JavaScript development, code sharing, cloud computing, and UI development. 

Key Features

  • Real-time tracking

  • Compatibility with multiple databases

  • Rapid development and low maintenance cost

  • Inclusion of API testing

  • Integration with multiple front-end frameworks

  • Active, open source community

11. Socket.io

Socket.io is a JavaScript library for configuring real-time response updates and requests between applications. By establishing bidirectional communication between clients and servers, the library underpins real-time applications such as WhatsApp. 

Applications that need to continuously refresh in the background require WebSocket development. Socket is especially ideal for such development projects. It also offers real-time analytics in a compact codebase. 

Key Features

  • Binary support between clients and server

  • Auto-reconnection support

  • Multiplexing support

  • Error detection and auto-correction

  • Similar APIs for client and server-side development

12. Adonis.js

Adonis.js is an MVC Node framework focusing on an organized structure and stability. It reduces development time by focusing on a few essential development elements like out-of-the-box support for WebSocket, lifecycle dependency management, development speed, and productivity. Adonis consists of multiple packages that run on the server side of the application.

Key Features

  • Highly customizable template engine for delivering dynamic content

  • Native support for JSON APIs

  • Customization for WebSocket, ORM, JWT, routing

  • Native support for Express, MEAN, and Koa

13. Derby.js

Derby.js is a full-stack MVC development framework prioritizing ease of development. Creating real-time applications is a breeze with Derby as it allows the same code to run on Node.js (server) and the browser. 

Derby uses the Racer engine that automatically syncs data between browsers, servers, and a database. This enables real-time synchronization between the user, application, and back-end. It also supports offline usage with a simple scripting feature.  

Derby mitigates the delay in content delivery with client-side view rendering on the server. This makes applications SEO-friendly and enhances the user experience. 

Key Features

  • Data synchronization through Racer engine

  • Support for offline use 

  • Codeset customization

  • Bidirectional script development 

14. Keystone.js

Most commonly used for content-heavy web development projects, Keystone is a Node framework for static and dynamic content management. Content management systems, online editorials, forums, social media platforms, and e-commerce platforms are some examples of applications that work great with Keystone.

Keystone consists of a collection of modules, supporting core functionality for back-end development, UI tools, and web protocols.

Key Features

  • Provides easy handling for large pieces of content 

  • Decentralized modules

  • Smart data models 

  • Real-time framework for managing, tracking, and publishing updates

  • Native add-on for image editing, storage, and management

How to Choose the Best Node.js Framework for 2023

Choosing the right Node.js framework for your development project becomes much easier if you’re able to define your standard for quality early on in the project. Clarity on what features and approaches are essential to your project’s success makes the choice much more objective.

For instance, if you value flexibility in your Node framework, then stay away from opinionated frameworks like LoopBack. Frameworks like Express, Koa, and Meteor will work best in this scenario. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a framework that is flexible, lightweight, and supports the auto-generation of REST APIs, you won’t go wrong with Sails or Feathers.

Whatever your choice of Node framework, you’ll need a talented team of Node.js developers to see your project to fruition. Trio provides you access to industry-leading and thoroughly vetted Node developers without inflated recruitment cycles. The process is fully streamlined and Trio even handles all the HR responsibilities for you, leaving you free to take your project to success.

Conclusion

Node.js is a powerful web development environment and its frameworks only enhance its capacity. Hiring the right people to make the most of your Node.js framework is essential for a productive and efficient development process.

Contact Trio to find out more about how you can find the best Node.js talent for your project. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Node.js?

Node.js is a JavaScript runtime environment that enables developers to employ JavaScript on the back-end. 

What are Node.js frameworks?

Node.js frameworks are pre-built tools and accelerators that extend the functionality of Node.js.

How do I choose the best Node.js framework?

The best Node.js framework depends on what's most effective for your business needs. Frameworks like Loopback are notably opinionated while Koa and Express are more flexible. Choose wisely!

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