Top 10 Node.js Frameworks to Use in 2021

In 2021, businesses increasingly aim to deliver a better user experience. With this, the demand for web applications also increases. Thus, developers keep up a good pace when testing different frameworks that offer advanced features to create quality web applications. 

When it comes to building web applications, one cannot simply ignore the existence of Node.js. Node.js frameworks offer unique toolsets to develop various use cases without wasting precious time, which is one of the main reasons software engineers like them so much. 

When you have technology as popular as Node.js, it’s normal to have a large and active community of developers that don’t stop working on it. That’s why choosing the perfect framework can be a tough decision, especially with such a wide variety. 

In this post, we will explain what exactly Node.js is, why it’s so popular, and its ups and downs (nothing is perfect). We will also provide an updated list of 10 great node Frameworks with some details around them. Let’s start!

Table of Contents:

What is Node.js?

Node.js is an open-source, Javascript runtime environment on Chrome’s V8. It lets you easily develop fast and scalable web apps. Node.js is best described as incredibly customizable and scalable technology. The server engine utilizes an event-based, non-blocking Input/Output (I/O) model. Thanks to that, the adaptation of Javascript is easier to the machine language providing execution of the code super fast.

Because of Javascript and Node.js, the code operates faster in server-to-client direction and thus enhances the web applications’ performance ability to the next level. Web application development in Node.js guarantees a secure and steady non-blocking I/O model while simplifying the code beautifully.

The Popularity of Node.js

According to the Statista report, 51.4% of developers have used Node.js, leaving aside all the other frameworks in early 2020. Additionally, the runtime environment was placed at the top position by StackOverflow Developer Survey 2019. Some big companies that rely on Node.js are Microsoft, IBM, Walmart, and Netflix. Those facts are pretty hard to ignore, right.

However, here are some more stats and facts, in case you are not yet convinced about the awesomeness of Node.js:

Why You Should Use Node.js for Building Web Apps

Node.js thoroughly simplifies the job when it comes to web app development, offering a lot to the developers. The platform is a perfect choice for those businesses that aim to indulge in the real-time application and cross-platform runtime environment. 

The javascript support plays a big part in why developers love using Node.js for web app development. It gets a bit technical for a novice to go into product development using the environment, but that doesn’t mean it’s too complicated. Since Node.js can easily get the job done by integrating a two-way client/server communication, it’s the go-to option for web development companies. Because of its ability of workload distribution to several service providers and client requests, Node.js offers a lot. 

So, in case your goal is to generate the dynamic content of creating and reading/deleting files on servers with ease of data modification, look no further than Node.js.

Node.js Advantages & Disadvantages

JavaScript is probably with the highest regard when talking about different programming languages available. Only a few tools can stand up to JavaScript and its glory when it comes to client-side programming languages. For web development, it’s crystal clear that JavaScript has a crucial role.

However, JS is not content to be put aside to just one side. There are also server-side programming languages, which is where JavaScript is currently headed. Thanks to Node.js, the shift has been facilitated easily, and thus it’s essential to learn all about the platform – how it works and the pros and cons of using it.

Node.js Advantages

There are several different advantages of Node.js. Using this variant of server-side programming will definitely help you with developing many different web applications with minimal effort. Now, let’s go over the most significant benefits of Node.js.

Easily Scalable

With Node.js, it’s effortless to scale your web applications, whether the scaling is horizontal or vertical. Additionally, you have the option to add different resources to the single nodes while vertically scaling your apps. That’s one of the reasons Node.js is a better option than other servers that use JavaScript.

Quick Learning Curve

Since JavaScript is quite popular, using Node.js simply makes sense. It’s a programming language deriving from JavaScript. Thus, if you have experience using JavaScript for front-end applications, you will also have an easy time learning Node.js for your back-end applications. The ease of learning makes it so that you won’t have to spend too much time getting up to speed. Everything will be much more efficient as you are able to work in a familiar environment.

Single Programming Language

When writing the applications on the server-side, Node.js allows you to use JavaScript. This is the most common programming language, so it makes sense that if you use Node.js, you will be as comfortable as possible. Thanks to using the same JavaScript language, you can do things on both the front end and the back end without having to change languages, making your work more efficient. The simplicity of this also works because when you develop web applications using Node.js, you actually create apps that work in web browsers. After all, most browsers support JavaScript.

High Performance

As with anything you do, you want things to perform well, and with Node.js, you get some excellent performance, but it is important to dig into how this is made possible. The reason Node.js works so well is that it reads JavaScript code through Google’s V8 JavaScript engine. This engine matters because it compiles the JavaScript right into the machine code, which means that it is implemented quickly and with greater efficiency. Furthermore, the code’s execution speed is much faster because non-blocking I/O operations support the runtime environment.

Node.js Disadvantages

Node.js is like anything else – there are parts to it that work great, but other things may not be optimal. Such issues with Node.js are something you should be aware of when using it.

API Instability

A big negative for Node.js is most developers deal with the API changing often and the lack of stability that comes with those changes. Many new API appearances feature a lack of backward compatibility, which means you have to do more work than you would like just to engineer the solutions needed to work with the API. The bottom line – Node.js needs to be more consistent with its API and API updates, and this system will quickly become omnipresent.

Lack of Library Support

Compared to other programming languages, JavaScript lacks a robust library system compared to the other programming languages. What ends up happening is things like Object-Relational Mapping (ORM), database operations, or parsing XML end up using the common library to do the jobs. This leads to developers having a more difficult time than usual implementing all of these programming tasks and more when using Node.js. It is also notable that because Node.js is based on JavaScript, JavaScript’s weaknesses are also weaknesses of Node.js. The library system is emblematic of these issues with Node.js.

Asynchronous Model

The key to having scalable applications is using an asynchronous programming model. However, developers will note that this method is a bit more difficult than linear blocking I/O programming. Anything more difficult requires more time investment as well. In addition to being more difficult, there is an associated clunky feel. Programmers have to depend on nested calls, which makes using Node.js a bit more difficult.

What are Node.js Frameworks?

Every web-app technology offers different frameworks, each supporting a specific use case in the development lifecycle. Node.js frameworks are mainly of three types — MVC, Full-Stack MVC, and REST API frameworks.

MVC Frameworks

These frameworks offer a valuable design pattern that splits application logic into three essential parts: models, views, and controllers. Separating development concerns makes it quite simple to maintain and scale the app. Express.js is a classic example of an MVC framework.

When building a real-time app, Full-Stack MVC frameworks offer a great deal with scaffolding, libraries, template engines, and a range of other development capabilities. Additionally, they can take care of both the frontend and backend development of applications.

REST API (Representational State Transfer)/REST API frameworks (H3)

Node.js frameworks have a firm reference to building apps faster with a ready and well-known REST API built experience. This means you don’t have to worry about the architectural styles of network applications.

Most of these frameworks provide a ready programming interface that saves a lot of time developing apps requiring an internet connection.

Node.js has increased developer productivity by 68%, reduced development costs, and enhanced app performance to a great extent. This is According to the Node.js web survey report 2018. It’s a result of the successful adoption and deployment of Node.js frameworks. 

Looking at the current development needs, CTOs are leaning towards frameworks that help them minimize resource consumption and reduce marketing time.

The frameworks we are listing are leading this trend with characteristics that are most suited for the development needs of 2021.

Express.js

Express.js Logo

When talking about Node.js frameworks, Express is at the top of the list. It has a minimalistic approach which seems to be a classic and straightforward framework for coding architecture. Express.js officially launched in 2010 and was called the de facto standard for Node.js under the MIT license.

Express.js does not require you to go steeper in the learning curve. A basic understanding of the Node.js environment and programming skills will suffice. Its fast, robust, and asynchronous architecture works pretty well with Node.

Express aligns with the high-speed I/O operations and Node’s single-threaded nature, making it a default requirement for apps built with the Node.js platform.

A more robust Application User Interface (API) means a more streamlined form of client-to-server requests and visible user interactions. Using Express.js, these software engineering principles are excellently executed.

Improving communication between client and server provides a thoroughly enjoyable experience to a web or mobile user. Companies like Twitter, Uber, Accenture, and other tech giants like IBM deploy applications built with Express. 

Express offers some powerful features that take backend development to the next level. 

Express.js Features:

  • Rapid server-side programming packages;
  • High performance;
  • High test coverage helps build applications with maximum testability; 
  • Lots of HTTP helpers that make programs more intelligible and reusable;
  • Better content negotiation that provides HTTP headers to URLs;
  • MVC Architectural pattern.

When to use Express.js

The framework has almost readily available grounds for API generation, and thus you can develop web apps faster with it. You can use Express.js for any enterprise-grade or browser-based app because of the robust routing, templating, security features, and error handling provisions.

It’s quite suitable for mobile application development — from small to large scale. Because of its outstanding community support available, Express is the best choice for development teams at beginner levels.

Koa.js

Koa.js Logo

Koa is one of the more dominant Node.js frameworks. It can work wonders when creating different APIs. With Koa.js, building APIs becomes fun and easy since it can efficiently deal with HTTP middleware with a stack-like method.

Furthermore, the framework normalizes Node flaws constructively. You can maintain multiple forms of content represented to the users with the same URL. These include translating a page, personalizing content in eCommerce websites, having different formats for images, and much more with this framework. 

Another advantage of using Koa.js is that it’s quite similar to Express.js. You can enjoy the flexibility of Express with more freedom and fewer complexities while writing code with Koa. This helps minimize the scope of errors across the entire stack of the application.

Koa.js Features:

  • A Customizable & Futuristic framework (A lightweight version of Express.js);
  • Handles errors exceptionally ;
  • Has cascading middleware (Personalizing user experience);
  • Normalises node inconsistencies clean and helps maintain code; 
  • Cleans cache, supports content negotiation and proxy;
  • Has many options for Customization;

When to use Koa.js

When performance is a critical demand from your web application, Koa is what you need. Especially for a big project, the framework can build extensive apps with large and experienced development teams. Under certain circumstances, Koa has proven to be a faster framework than Express.

However, it may seem to be a difficult choice for beginners because it’s still in the community’s growth stages and is less popular as a result. 

Sails.js

Sails.js Logo

Sails.js resembles the MVC architecture pattern from frameworks like Ruby on Rails and provides support for modernized, data-oriented development. It is compatible with all databases and flexible in integrating Javascript frameworks.

Hence, it’s the most suitable framework to build high-end customized applications. Its specific code writing policies help in reducing the amount of required code, allowing integration with npm modules by being more flexible and open. 

Sails is a frontend-agnostic-backend platform. However, this lightweight framework uses Express for HTTP requests and Socket.io for WebSockets.

Plus, you can share the same API used by another web service or development team, which again saves time and effort. 

Features: 

  • Auto-generate REST APIs
  • Reusable security policies
  • Frontend Agnostic
  • ORM (Object Relational Mapping) for framework compatibility with databases
  • Integration of Express for HTTP requests and Socket.io for WebSockets 

When to use Sails.js

Owing to its accurate, streamlined data and reusable-middleware functions, you could build customized chat applications with this framework.

It has excellent compatibility with Socket.io making it a suitable integration for gaming and social media apps. Sails.js is preferably used for custom, enterprise-scale Node.js applications. 

It can build production-ready apps in weeks and resembles Ruby on Rails MVC architecture pattern. However, developers might not prefer it for small apps.

This is because Sails has some flexibility limitations when it comes to high-end customization like with Express. 

Socket.io

Socket.io Logo

While all these real-time apps are connected and have the essential feature of real-time updating of responses and requests, we need Socket.io to configure the functionality.

Socket.io is a Javascript library used in building real-time apps and establishing bidirectional communication between web clients and servers. 

With this library framework, you can develop applications with requirements for WebSocket development. For example, chat applications like Whatsapp continuously run for live updates and refresh the background process for updates or messages. It also offers real-time analytics in fewer lines of code.

More than a thousand companies, including Bepro, Barogo, and Patreon, use Socket.io.

Socket.io Features:

  • Binary support (with a client-side library and a server-side library)
  • Multiplexing support
  • Reliability
  • Auto-reconnection support
  • Error detection & auto-correction
  • Similar APIs for a client and server-side development

When to Use Socket.io

Socket.io develops real-time applications like chat room applications, video conferencing apps, multiplayer games, and others, where servers are required to push the data without being requested from the client-side. For example, live video calling apps like Zoom need to communicate real-time bidirectional data to several participants, and Socket could come in handy with similar apps.

Total.js

Total.js Logo

Among all these frameworks, Total.js is the only one that offers a CMS-like experience and has pretty much everything you need in a Node.js environment. It’s a full-fledged open-source framework granting maximum flexibility to developers.

The framework is available in different versions, such as Eshop, CMS, and HelpDesk. With these variants’ help, your application has wider scope in the future for the Internet-of-things integrations, REST service, and super-fast applications with low maintenance costs and stable service.

The framework is best known for its accurate real-time tracking in modern apps.

Total.js Features:

  • Real-time tracking;
  • API Testing;
  • Auto-discover projects;
  • Multiple-database compatibility;
  • Flexible with different frontend frameworks;
  • Speedy development & low maintenance cost;

When to use Total.js

Total.js is a complete framework for customized development, visual programming interfaces in the Internet of Things, eCommerce web development, cloud services, and real-time collaboration, among other things.

If you need to develop apps within a steep deadline, say Total.js can help you speed up the development and prevent monetary loss. 

Nest.js

Nest.js Logo

This is a progressive Node.js framework building dynamic and scalable enterprise-grade applications and offering complete flexibility with its extensive libraries.

It’s a perfect example of a backend productivity booster. You can use this framework to build multilayered enterprise applications since Nest.js won’t stop you from its libraries’ extensive use. 

Because the framework preserves compatibility with a subset of Javascript (i.e., built with Typescript), it sticks to the clean-code architecture while maintaining the code complexity of large-scale applications. Moreover, nest offers excellent integration with sister frameworks like Fastify and Express. 

Nest is the best combo of object-oriented and functional reactive programming(FRP). Hence, it potentially doubles developers’ productivity and application performance while saving valuable time. 

Nest.js Features:

  • CLI for a modular structure & features
  • Smooth learning curve 
  • FRP to simplify complex graphical user interfaces (ex. games, robotics)
  • Easy-to-use external libraries due to systematic code arrangement
  • High compatibility with Angular on the frontend

When to use Nest.js

Nest.js builds efficient and scalable web applications. Since it’s written with TypeScript, much like Angular, the framework solves the main problem of Node.js.

It organizes the architecture pattern and keeps it clean and modularized, helping developers build more scalable and easily maintainable applications. 

Hapi.js

Hapi.js Logo

Hapi is a commercially available server and open-source framework for web applications. It is known for developing proxy servers, and REST APIs, and other desktop applications since the framework is reliable and rich in its security aspects. It has a lavish set of built-in plugins, so you don’t have to worry about using unofficial middleware. 

Hapi.js Features:

  • Scalable applications
  • Minimal overhead
  • Secure defaults
  • Rich ecosystem
  • Fast & easy bug fixing
  • Compatible with MySQL, MongoDB, and other databases
  • Compatible with Rest APIs & HTTPS proxy apps
  • Default caching, Authentication, and input validation

When to use Hapi.js

Hapi.js works like a charm in developing more secure, scalable, real-time, and social media applications. Developers mostly use it to build proxies and API servers. 

Feathers.js

Feathers.js is a popular Javascript framework for backend development, providing flexibility with Node.js and ReactNative as well as on multiple databases. It is a Node.js-microservices framework with real-time functionality designed to simplify the modern web-app and mobile app development.

It decodes the programming in a much more straightforward, intelligible manner, so developers need not get into the complexity of RESTful APIs. Feathers.js makes it easier for developers to implement, connect, and communicate features for web apps.

Feathers.js Features:

  • Super lightweight;
  • Reuse of services;
  • CLI;
  • Automatic RESTful APIs;
  • Default plugins for authentication and authorization.

When to use Feathers.js

The platform supports all frontend technologies, and its database-agnostic works best with Node.js environment since the framework supports both Javascript and Typescript. It builds production-ready apps, real-time apps, and REST APIs all within a matter of days.

You can create a full-stack web app using services and hooks provided by the platform. Complex applications can be simplified, and development time is reduced to a great extent using Feather. 

Loopback.io

Loopback.io Logo

Loopback.io offers better connectivity with any Node.js framework, and you can integrate it with several different API services. The platform works best at creating REST APIs with minimal development time.

It provides excellent flexibility connecting with a wide range of devices, browsers, databases, and services. The structured code in the framework helps maintain app modules and development speed.

Loopback has better documentation that allows even novice developers to work with it. 

Many tech companies have already reaped the benefits of Loopback, and it’s proving to be a brand-new, extensible framework for server-side apps. 

Loopback.io Features:

  • Fully-functional support for networked apps;
  • Built-in Client API explorer;
  • Highly extensible;
  • Multiple-database support;
  • Clean & modular codes;
  • Full-stack development;
  • Data storage, third-party access, and user management.

When to use Loopback.io

Loopback is exclusive to building powerful end-to-end APIs and handling API requests. It can also be used as an external API service to accelerate the delivery of solutions, add security, authenticate, and more.

Meteor.js

Meteor.js Logo

If you are looking for a specific JavaScript framework that uses only one language, Meteor.js is the ideal pick.

Officially launched in 2012, startup software, Meteor developed Meteor.js — an open-source, isomorphic, Javascript web framework. It propagates automatic data changes to clients without the developer’s efforts. Most importantly, it’s comfortable with variants of device-operating systems, including Android, iOS for mobile devices, and desktop applications, all wrapped in one language- Javascript.

Meteor has comprehensive libraries and testing features to keep up with the client-server communication. The framework is known for its smooth running of data between client and server, which most applications of high-streaming, real-time functionalities require. 

Meteor is a perfect Node.js framework to build simple, efficient, and modern web applications. 

Meteor.js Features:

  • Writing of code in modern JavaScript, Isomorphic framework.
  • A cross-platform framework, building rapid prototyping with CLI.
  • Extensive community support, open-source framework 
  • Full-stack solution 
  • Superfast interactions – fast results 
  • Easy integration with other frameworks

When to use Meteor.js

If your development team is good to go with Javascript, Meteor.js is a splendid choice. It is straightforward to learn and super fun to program in. You can use it to build apps in no time since the framework allows you to use the same code written for a web app or mobile app. With Meteor, you can also deploy live updates even on the installed apps without disrupting an on-going user session.

The framework builds real-time applications with its built-in core. Without a doubt, it’s a perfect solution for collaboration with real-time app projects, short deadlines, and cross-platform products.

Node.js Friendly Hosting

To run Node.js on a typical hosting with Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP (LAMP), you will need Node-friendly hosting. While the majority of web hosts offer Node.js hosting only on their Cloud VPS or Dedicated Servers, FastComet is one of the few web hosting providers that can offer you node-friendly shared hosting. It’s perfectly fine to go for shared hosting when starting with a fresh Node.js application.

We have optimized our FastCloud shared hosting servers for Node.js and even tested and documented our easy Node.js setup. If you are interested, you can check our Node.js Tutorial. It will help you grasp how to use the cPanel Node.js Selector, how to manage your Node.js apps, how to use the Node Package Manager, etc. We also have a helpful blog post on Why we Love Node.js.

All our FastCloud Shared Hosting plans are fully compatible with the above-mentioned Node.js apps. To setup Meteor.js, you’ll first need to install Node.js, which is our JavaScript interpreter, and Meteor’s core. Note that setting up a Meteor.js web application requires Apache and MongoDB, a popular NoSQL database. When you need to use the MongoDB database type in particular, our experience shows it requires a server solution with more resources and a higher level of private access, such as our Cloud VPS and Dedicated CPU Servers. This way, you would be able to accommodate the operation in an environment suitable for coding with Mongoose on top of the MongoDB driver for Node.js servers.

Conclusion

Node.js frameworks make developing apps exceptionally easy with their immense capabilities at advancing web and mobile apps development. With continually evolving technologies, scrutinizing our project requirements and resource availability is key in choosing the right framework that delivers the best results.

We hope you learned something helpful and are now more confident at choosing Node.js frameworks suitable for your future projects.

Joseph

Joseph is part of the FastComet Marketing team. With years of content writing experience behind him, it's one of his favorite activities. Joseph takes part in the SEO of the FastComet website and blog. His goal is to write comprehensive posts and guides, always aiming to help our clients with essential information. Joseph also has a thirst for knowledge and improvement, which makes the hosting environment a perfect place for him.