Updated on Oct 9, 2023
Not everything in Node.js has to be programmed from scratch; each line of code written from the beginning, and each application created from the ground up. Numerous open-source projects online for Node.js are pre-packaged and ready to use, and all you have to do is install them. We explained what open source is in a different part of this tutorial, but we will do it again for those who have yet to read that part. Open source generally means that anyone is free to use, modify, and distribute the item in question. In the context of Node.js, it would be the code for the project.
Being open-source, these projects are flexible in their functionality. Once downloaded, you can make any changes you need to the code to get it to work the way you want. Not only that but projects like these typically have communities around them. They can provide further assistance if you face an issue you can’t resolve or need advice on getting the project to do a specific task within its capabilities. Since anyone can modify the code, the community is made up of people like you who want to enhance the project for their own needs.
There are so many open-source projects on the internet, and we can’t discuss them all. Still, we can tell you about a few widely recognized as some of the most popular. They each do something fundamentally different and essential.
These are the open-source projects we will discuss:
As the name suggests, SheetJS is a project used to manage spreadsheets in Excel format. It can be used to create or export whole workbooks or convert whole HTML tables, arrays, or JSON into downloadable xlxs files, to name a few things it can do. It has two editions: Community and Pro. The latter has more features than the Community edition, such as the ability to edit complex templates, style them, or even automate common spreadsheet tasks.
While SheetJS’ only purpose is to manage spreadsheets, it does so with excellence, and you will not need any additional libraries that do that for your Node.js application. It is an excellent all-in-one solution for most spreadsheet needs.
Another document management project, but PDFKit focuses on PDF files instead. With it, you can easily generate complex, multi-page, and printable PDF documents. Additionally, this project supports font embedding, text formatting, vector graphics, and annotations, among many other features. Like SheetsJS from above, this library is excellent for any PDF needs your application may have.
However, its GitHub repository is hidden (not on the front page), and we wanted to include it here and encourage anyone who likes it to contribute. With that said, though, the website has a neat interactive demo that can show off PDFKit’s capabilities.
This open-source project is something we recommend anyone starting out with Node.js to give a try. ESLint is a linting tool for coding that actively checks your code to find errors or other ill-fitting lines of code. It compares your code against conventional guidelines to help you code better on the fly. As you can imagine, such a tool can be vital to preventing issues from occurring even before you’ve started your application.
The project has a set of rules, but the extensive documentation explains how to change them to your preference.
We have already mentioned this project several times in the tutorial, so it goes without saying we will include it in our list of top open-source Node.js projects. ExpressJS is a Node.js web application framework. In other words, ExpressJS is a software framework designed to support the development of web applications, including web services, web resources, and web APIs: a piece of software that allows you to create and run web applications, which is why we used it in our tutorial for the to-do list. We wanted the application to appear online but needed a web framework, so we chose ExpressJS.
ExpressJS’ is capable of URL routing via HTTP methods, supporting various plugins to enhance its capabilities and straightforward database integration further. We strongly recommend this project if you need your application to be online.
Socket.IO is an open-source project that enables a client and a server to communicate. It offers real-time, bi-directional, and event-based communication between the two for every platform, browser, or device. The most common use of this project is chat applications with instant messaging and presence notifications, not just as standalone apps but within video games as well. Other common applications built with Socket.IO are project management or collaboration tools or real-time dashboards.
Its documentation goes into extensive detail to explain how the communication between the client and server happens, what is necessary for that to occur, and how to get started.
If you are building a website with Node.js, then Strapi is something you should consider. It is a headless content management system (CMS) with built-in file upload, email, and JSON web token authentication functionalities, to name a few. Being a headless CMS, Strapi doesn’t come with a frontend as more conventional CMSs might. It is solely a backend; however, it can connect to any frontend you have developed with Node.js via APIs. It offers a more user-friendly and straightforward way to develop a backend for a website instead of doing it the conventional way.
Websites are just one of the things you can develop with Strapi, as the backend can be connected to the front end of mobile applications or other digital experiences. Check out their documentation for a starter guide and developer docs.