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Best 15 Node.js Frameworks for App Development

Best 15 Node.js Frameworks for App Development

By Sunila Goray, a well-experienced writer with a passion for crafting compelling stories for a wide range of industries that captivate audiences and help businesses fast-track their growth.
  • Published in Blog on February 08, 2024
  • Last Updated on February 08, 2024
  • 13 min read
Top 15 NodeJS Frameworks for Development to Use in 2024

Node.js has emerged as a leading platform for scalable network applications using JavaScript. Its event-driven, non-blocking I/O model simplifies the development of fast and efficient web apps, APIs, real-time services, and microservices. The ecosystem boasts several frameworks and libraries, streamlining full-stack development.

This blog explores the top Node.js frameworks in 2024, widely adopted by companies and developers for building high-performance backend services, web servers, REST APIs, real-time apps, and full-stack JavaScript applications.

What Is Node.js?

Node.js, introduced in 2009, is a cross-platform, open-source JavaScript runtime environment enabling server-side execution of JavaScript. Utilising an event-driven, non-blocking I/O model and powered by Chrome's V8 engine, Node.js is lightweight and efficient. Its core modules, such as HTTP, DNS, and FS, simplify file and network operations. Node.js allows developers to use a single language (JS) across the full stack.

Node JS frameworks complement Node.js by providing essential features for building robust applications. These frameworks, written in JavaScript, run within the Node.js environment, offering benefits such as easy request routing, built-in security, templating support, and database integration helpers. By streamlining the development process, Node JS frameworks empower developers to focus on app logic, avoiding repetitive rebuilding of core infrastructure.

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Is Node.js a Framework?

No, Node.js is not a framework. It is a runtime environment that allows developers to execute JavaScript on servers. Node.js provides a JavaScript environment on top of which frameworks can be built upon.

Some popular Node.js frameworks include Express.js, Sails.js, Hapi, Koa etc. These frameworks simplify the building of web applications and sites using Node.js. They provide helpful functionality and conventions on top of raw Node.js.

What Are the Different Types of Node JS Frameworks?

Node.js web frameworks can be grouped into three main categories: MVC frameworks, full-stack MVC frameworks, and REST API frameworks.

MVC Frameworks

MVC frameworks like Express.js follow the model-view-controller software design pattern to separate application logic into three parts for easier maintenance and scaling. The model represents the data and business logic, the view handles presentation and UI, and the controller manages interactions and flows between the two.

Full-Stack MVC

Full-stack MVC Node JS frameworks offer comprehensive tools and capabilities that cover both the frontend and backend aspects of web development. They provide scaffolding, libraries, template engines and other features tailored for building real-time, dynamic applications.

REST API Focused

REST API-focused frameworks optimise for rapidly developing internet-connected apps with established REST APIs. This enables seamless integration without extensive architectural overhead, allowing developers to build out the backend and connect to frontends swiftly.

What Is Node JS Framework Used For?

Here are some of the top reasons to use a Node.js framework:

  • Simpler Web Server: A Node.js server on its own has no native routing capabilities. Frameworks provide easy APIs to map app routes, middlewares etc.
  • Reduce Boilerplate Code: Useful abstractions that help reuse code and follow best practices for the organisation.
  • Built-in Security Features: Protection against common web app attacks like CSRF, XSS, Parameter Tampering etc.
  • Active Open Source: Regular updates and fixes from large developer communities committed to the project.
  • Wider Feature Set: Caching, request validation, localisation, template engine - features that accelerate app development.
  • An Ecosystem of Libraries: 1000s of complementary packages to further extend capabilities as per custom needs.
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General Features of Node JS Frameworks

While Node frameworks have specific advantages based on their purpose and philosophy, most share some common and useful capabilities:

  • Routing - Map app endpoints and REST API patterns easily
  • Middleware and Modules - Extend with independent building blocks of code
  • Database ORM/ODM - Simplifies data model and queries
  • Templating Engine - Supports reuse of frontend markup code
  • Data Validation - Automatic sanitisation and validation helpers
  • Authentication and Authorisation - User login, access control and roles
  • Event Listeners - Useful triggers across the lifecycle of an application
  • Asset Bundling - Optimisation of JS, and CSS assets
  • Internationalisation - Multi-language and localisation support

These shared general-purpose features allow developers to start new apps faster without reinventing the wheel.

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Best 15 NodeJS Frameworks to Choose in 2024

Now let's look at some of the leading and most widely used Node.js frameworks:

Express.js

Express.js is the cornerstone of Node.js web frameworks, renowned for its simplicity and ease of use. It provides robust routing, middleware capabilities, and seamless migration options for apps from other platforms. Express.js boasts an extensive ecosystem with support for over 1400 add-ons via middleware. While it excels in building regular web and mobile apps swiftly, managing boilerplate code can be tedious for complex cases. Express.js is the most widely used node framework.

Advantages of Express.jsDisadvantages of Express.js
Simplicity and ease of useManaging boilerplate code can be tedious
Robust routingLess suited for complex cases
Extensibility with 1400+ addons via middlewarePotential learning curve for beginners
Vast community supportLimited built-in features
Adoption by major companiesStiff competition from other frameworks

Use When:

  • To quickly build regular web and mobile apps.
  • Migrating apps from Django, Rails, etc.

Companies Using:

  • Uber 
  • PayPal
  • IBM
  • Netflix
  • Oracle

NestJS

NestJS, utilising expressive OOP patterns, is a Node.js framework fully supporting TypeScript. It offers a structured development approach similar to Angular, making it ideal for highly scalable server-side applications. Despite being relatively new with a smaller community, NestJS excels in integration flexibility and has gained adoption from companies like Adidas, Drift, Philips, and OpenClassrooms.

Advantages of NestJSDisadvantages of NestJS
Expressive OOP patternRelatively new with a smaller community
Full TypeScript supportPotential learning curve
Integration flexibilityLimited maturity and stability
Structured development approachDependency on TypeScript
Growing adoption by companiesMay lack some advanced features

Use When:

Highly scalable server-side apps with an Angular-like structure.

Companies Using:

  • Adidas
  • Drift
  • Philips
  • OpenClassrooms

Koa.js

Koa.js represents the next generation of Node.js frameworks, leveraging async/await for cleaner code and providing a small footprint with an elegant middleware flow. It focuses on better error handling through ES6+ support, making it suitable for building progressive next-gen Node applications. While it's relatively young and may have stabilisation issues, Koa.js has gained adoption by several companies.

Advantages of Koa.jsDisadvantages of Koa.js
Async/await for cleaner codeRelatively young with stabilisation issues
Small footprint with elegant middleware flowLimited maturity and ecosystem
Better error handlingMay require additional features via middleware
ES6+ support for modern developmentPotential learning curve for beginners
Active adoption by companiesLimited community support for troubleshooting issues

Use When:

Building progressive next-gen Node applications with ES6+ support.

Companies Using:

  • Algolia
  • Tapad
  • BugSnag
  • YLD

Sails.js

Sails.js is an MVC framework that facilitates rapid prototyping with auto-generated APIs and supports websockets for real-time communication. With a very organised structure out of the box, Sails.js is ideal for working solo or achieving fast full-stack development. While it offers rapid development, documentation improvements are needed, and it may lack some advanced features.

Advantages of Sails.jsDisadvantages of Sails.js
MVC patterns for organisationsDocumentation improvement is needed
Rapid prototyping with auto-generated APIsMay lack some advanced features
Websockets support real-time communicationDependency on built-in generators
Very organised structure out of the boxPotential learning curve for beginners
Efficient HTTP handling and streamlined development processStiff competition in the framework landscape

Use When:

Ideal for working solo or achieving fast full-stack development.

Companies Using:

  • GE
  • Cisco
  • NBC
  • Oracle
  • Uber

Hapi

Hapi stands out with a strong configuration foundation, a building block approach, and a focus on input validation. It is great for lean yet robust and enterprise-grade applications. However, it comes with a steep learning curve for some developers and is not a battery-included system. It's best suited for highly scalable and fault-tolerant backend services and JSON APIs.

Advantages of HapiDisadvantages of Hapi
Strong configuration foundationThe steep learning curve for some developers
Building block approach for flexibilityNot a battery-included system
Input validation for reliabilityDependency on external modules for some features
Scalability and fault tolerance focusMay lack certain convenience features
Enterprise-grade application developmentA potential challenge for beginners

Use When:

Highly scalable and fault-tolerant backend services & JSON APIs.

Companies Using:

  • Mailchimp
  • Walmart
  • Disney
  • Instacart

Meteor

Meteor is a full-stack framework designed for rapid prototyping and MVP development, offering shared code between the client and server. While efficient for such purposes, it may not be the most suitable choice for complex and highly structured applications.

Advantages of MeteorDisadvantages of Meteor
Rapid full-stack prototyping and MVPsNot ideal for complex and structured applications
Shared code between client and serverLimited customisation in some areas
Efficient for small to medium projectsMay face scalability challenges with large projects
The easy learning curve for beginnersThe potential learning curve for advanced features
Great for real-time applicationsLimited scalability potential for larger projects

Use When:

Rapid full-stack prototyping and MVPs.

Companies Using:

  • Mazda
  • Honeywell
  • Socure

FeathersJS

FeathersJS is an open-source framework tailored for building REST APIs and real-time apps with a focus on speed. It excels in quickly developing chat and real-time application backends.

Advantages of FeathersJSDisadvantages of FeathersJS
Great for REST APIs and real-time appsNot ideal for complex business logic
Easy development of chat functionalityLimited customisation in some areas
Active community supportMay lack advanced features
Ease of getting startedThe potential learning curve for some features
Well-documented featuresCompetition from more established frameworks

Used When:

Building chat and real-time application backends.

Companies Using:

  • Getty/AIGA
  • Del

Socket.io

Socket.io facilitates real-time bidirectional communication between clients and servers via websockets. Known for its ease of use, it's ideal for adding real-time data sync capabilities to applications requiring fast messaging.

Advantages of Socket.ioDisadvantages of Socket.io
Easy real-time bidirectional communicationExtra optimisations are needed for large concurrent connections
Active community supportLimited features compared to some frameworks
Great documentation for beginnersMay face scalability challenges in certain scenarios
Compatibility across devicesCompetition from more specialised tools
Versatile application in various domainsThe potential learning curve for advanced features

Use When:

Adding real-time data sync capabilities to apps requiring fast messaging.

Companies Using:

  • Microsoft
  • Trello

Fastify

Fastify is renowned for its blazing-fast performance, efficient memory usage, and strong support for TypeScript. It's an excellent choice for building high-performance APIs supporting thousands of concurrent connections. Fastify is the fastest web framework for NodeJS.

Advantages of FastifyDisadvantages of Fastify
Blazing fast performanceStill building its ecosystem compared to Express & Koa
Efficient memory usageThe potential learning curve for some developers
TypeScript support for type safetyLimited features compared to Express & Koa
Rapid API developmentMay face competition from larger ecosystems
Excellent reliabilityMay require additional modules for some features

Use When:

Building high-performance mobile APIs supporting thousands of concurrent connections.

Companies Using:

  • NearForm
  • LetzDoIt
  • ValueStream

Restify

Restify is a lean framework with low overhead, enforcing REST best practices and efficient handling of server workloads. While it may have fewer features than Express and Koa, it's steadily improving and is suitable for developing high-performance REST APIs.

Advantages of RestifyDisadvantages of Restify
Lean and low overheadFewer features than Express, and Koa but improving
Enforces REST best practicesMay lack some convenience features
Efficient for server workloadsStiff competition from more comprehensive frameworks
Steady improvement in the feature setPotential learning curve for beginners
Active community supportDependency on external modules for certain features

Use When:
Developing high-performance REST APIs that match modern standards.

Companies Using:

  • GoDaddy
  • Mozilla
  • Modberry

LoopBack

LoopBack serves as an open-source API framework, offering a toolkit for the rapid creation of dynamic end-to-end REST APIs with minimal coding. It is praised for facilitating rapid backend CRUD services and external API development, although advanced customisations can introduce complexity.

Advantages of LoopBackDisadvantages of LoopBack
Rapid backend CRUD servicesAdvanced customisations can get complex
External API development with easeMay lack certain advanced features
Modular development approachDependency on LoopBack's built-in conventions
Ease of learning for beginnersPotential learning curve for advanced topics
Active community for supportCompetition from more comprehensive frameworks

Use When:

Rapidly building backend CRUD services and external APIs.

Companies Using:

  • Symantec
  • Linode
  • Trainerize

AdonisJS

AdonisJS positions itself as a fully featured framework highly focused on developer ergonomics, stability, and confidence. Although it's gaining users, the community is still evolving, and it may lack some advanced features.

Advantages of AdonisJSDisadvantages of AdonisJS
Excellent documentation and code organisationStill gaining traction with a smaller community
Developer ergonomics focusMay lack some advanced features
Clear code organisation for readabilityDependency on AdonisJs' conventions
Structured development approachPotential learning curve for beginners
Growing user adoptionCompetition from more established frameworks

Use When:

Building server-side applications where stability and structure are critical.

Slim.js

Slim.js positions itself as a lightweight web framework with robust routing and a terse syntax. While excellent for clean and concise code, it may require custom building for complex cases.

Advantages of Slim.jsDisadvantages of Slim.js
Lightweight web frameworkSimplicity requires customisation for complex cases
Robust routing for efficient developmentMay lack some advanced features
The terse syntax for clean and concise codeDependency on Slim.js' built-in conventions
Ideal for microservices and REST APIsPotential learning curve for advanced topics
Used by recognisable companiesCompetition from more feature-rich frameworks

Use When:
Quickly building microservices, REST APIs, and web applications.

Companies Using:

  • Red Ventures
  • Creflo Dollar Ministries

Total.js

Total.js positions itself as a modular web application framework suitable for server or desktop deployment. With an inbuilt multi-process architecture, it prioritises efficient performance for scalable cloud-ready apps.

Advantages of Total.jsDisadvantages of Total.js
Modular web application frameworkNot beginner-friendly, examples are needed
Inbuilt multi-process architecture for enhanced performanceMay lack some advanced features
Efficiently deploys scalable applications in cloud environmentsDependency on Total.js' conventions
Versatile deployment options on both servers and desktopsPotential learning curve for beginners
Adopted by startups across the Asia-Pacific regionCompetition from more established frameworks

Use When:

Building efficient and scalable cloud deployment-ready applications.

Companies Using:

  • Adopted by startups across the Asia-Pacific region

Derby

Derby stands out as an MVC framework that facilitates real-time synchronisation of data across connected browsers and servers. While excellent for multi-user real-time collaboration apps, it may be overkill if such features are not required.

Advantages of DerbyDisadvantages of Derby
Follows the MVC pattern, facilitating organised developmentAs a full-stack framework, it may be overkill without real-time features
Enables easy synchronisation of data across connected browsersMay lack some advanced features
Excellent for multi-user real-time collaboration applicationsDependency on Derby's conventions
Ideal for applications in chat, audio, and video platformsPotential learning curve for beginners
An active community provides ongoing supportCompetition from frameworks specialised in specific areas

Use When:

Suitable for multi-user real-time collaboration applications like chat, and audio/video platforms.
 

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How to Choose the Best Node.js Framework?

With so many options, here are some criteria you can use to determine the right Node framework:

  • App type: Blog, e-commerce store, real-time app, API server?
  • Skill sets: JS skills of your team and ease of uptake
  • Performance needs: Request volumes/second, response times expected
  • Scalability plans: Growth stages of your user base over time
  • App complexity: Simple MVP or extensive business logic?
  • Security needs: Level and type of vulnerabilities to protect against
  • Codebase reuse: Integrate legacy code written with some platform

Once the technical and business requirements are well understood, you can use the framework comparison above to pick the one that best fits your needs.

Within the options above, Express.js and Koa.js stand out as the most popular and battle-tested frameworks for a majority of use cases. Both have fantastic dev communities constantly improving them making them reliable platforms for today's needs.

Node.js Development Services and Choosing the Right Framework

For businesses seeking to leverage the power of Node.js for web application development, partnering with a reputable Node.js development company is crucial. A specialised Node.js development company can provide expertise in choosing the right Node.js framework based on your specific project requirements, ensuring efficient web development and successful project delivery. These services may also extend to Node.js CMS development, Node.js backend development, and Node.js API development.

Node.js Microservices and Cross-Platform App Development

In the rapidly evolving landscape of web development, the adoption of Node.js microservices has gained prominence. Leveraging lightweight and modular microservices architecture with Node.js enables scalability, flexibility, and ease of maintenance. Moreover, when considering cross-platform app development, the combination of Node.js and React or Angular and Node.js becomes a powerful choice. This approach allows for the development of cross-platform applications with shared codebases, reducing development time and effort.

In the realm of mobile app development, React Native app development and Angular web development are prominent choices. These frameworks enable the creation of high-performance, native-like applications across multiple platforms, enhancing the user experience.

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Final Thoughts

Node.js offers a fast and efficient runtime to build scalable network applications using JavaScript libraries end-to-end. Node frameworks build on this environment by providing simpler APIs, useful patterns, and essential features so developers can focus more on app-specific code.

Express, Koa, Sails, Hapi, Fastify, etc are the widely used Node JS web frameworks - each with specific advantages based on the use case at hand. Evaluating them against your needs will help pick the right framework to accelerate development and deliver on business goals! At Webandcrafts, we provide you with Node.js experts who will assist with your development needs. Contact us right away!

FAQs

Node.js stands out as a runtime environment, enabling server-side JavaScript execution, while Node.js frameworks, such as Express.js, enhance this by providing ready-to-use structures for building robust web servers, APIs, and microservices.
A Node.js development company brings specialised expertise in crafting scalable web applications, offering services like Node.js CMS development and backend/API development, ensuring businesses harness the full potential of this runtime environment.
Node.js microservices, characterised by lightweight and modular architecture, assist developers to scale and maintain applications efficiently. This approach, coupled with frameworks like Fastify, caters to the demand for high-performance APIs supporting thousands of concurrent connections.