Node.js is an important tool for developers.
So important, in fact, that Twitter, LinkedIn, PayPal, Forbes.com, and many other famous businesses have used Node.js to develop software. That’s not the mention the tens of thousands of startups and medium-sized companies that have also taken advantage of the benefits of using Node.js.
As a result, more and more entrepreneurs are opting to used Node.js for their software development projects. Naturally, their thoughts quickly turn to try to find robust tools for Node.js development.
In order to help you find the top 10 tools for Node.js, we have put together a list of our favourites.
What is Node.js: An overview
While relatively new, Node.js is highly popular. As a SimilarTech report shows, 4.87% of websites use it, and the usage is growing. The high demand for Node.js skill continues, as this Quora Q&A thread shows.
Benefits of using Node.js
A software developer gets multiple benefits from using Node.js, as follows:
- Programmers can use it for asynchronous event-driven programming. This kind of programming eliminates blocking processes, making it easier to add capacity. Read more about it in “Understanding asynchronous event-driven programming”.
- js is performant.
- A vibrant developer community adds valuable tools and shareable open-source modules. There are thousands of modules in “Node Package Manager” (NPM), and that‘s likely to grow.
- Many modern-day use cases require data streaming, which becomes easier with Node.js.
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How to install Node.js?
The first step to build applications using the Node.js runtime is to download and install the required framework. You can do this in various ways, as follows:
- Visit the js download page. You will find download options for all key operating systems like Windows, macOS, Linux, etc.
- Developers can also install Node JS using “Node Package Manager” (NPM). For e.g., Chocolatey is the package manager for installing Node.js on Windows. There are easy instructions available for either option. You can read “How to download & install Node.js – NPM on windows” for instructions specific to Windows.
When you install the “Long Team Support” (LTS) version of Node.js, you also get NPM with it. NPM is a famous package manager. It‘s also the largest software registry for Node.js, where you can find packages of reusable code. At the time of writing, their website claims to have 800,000 building blocks for the use of developers.
If your development team needs some guidance on developing the Node.js app you are planning, they can use the following tutorials:
- Learn and understand Node.js: This is a comprehensive Udemy course where programmers can learn how Node.js works, how to connect to SQL or NoSQL databases, building a web server, etc. The tutorial also covers structuring a Node.js app. It elaborates on the working of buffering, streaming, etc.
- All about NodeJS: A highly popular Udemy course, here you can learn how to build performant and scalable Node.JS apps. This covers using MongoDB, building a web server, using popular frameworks like “Express 4”, managing dependencies using NPM, etc.
- The definitive Node.js developer course: This popular Udemy course teaches Node.js in detail. It covers creating servers with Node.js, working with NoSQL databases, using the “Express” framework, etc. There are projects for practising.
- The complete Node.js developer course (2nd edition): Presented by renowned instructors, this Udemy course is very popular. Learners will learn to build, test, and launch Node.js apps. The training covers the storing of data using Mongoose and MongoDB. Mongoose is an object modelling tool (ODM) for MongoDB. Programmers learn to create “Express” web servers, APIs, etc. The course also includes Node.js app deployment to production.
Top 10 Node.js development tools
Let‘s review the top 10 tools a programmer can use for software development.
Express.js is a popular Node.js framework. It offers the following advantages:
- It‘s a minimalist framework for developing web applications.
- Express.js is fast and helps in achieving scale.
- It offers a wide range of HTTP methods, therefore, developers can quickly create APIs.
- Express.js uses Node.js features in its’ foundation and provides a lightweight layer for creating web applications. This makes the apps performant.
Open-source community developers have used Express.js to create many more Node.js frameworks. You can get a list of them here.
Coders can use the Express.js comprehensive documentation for help, for e.g.:
- A “Getting Started” guide;
- Documentation covering aspects like routing, response methods, etc.;
- API references.
Microsoft Office, Yammer, Zendesk, Trello, etc. are few well-known products that use Socket.io framework, as their website states. Developers can implement the following features easily with Socket.io:
- Real-time analytics modules can push data to clients for real-time graphical representation.
- Programmers can code instant messaging and chat features.
- Binary streaming of audio, video, image etc. can be implemented easily.
- Developers can create apps that facilitate concurrent editing of a document.
Socket.io offers comprehensive learning resources to developers, as follows:
- Their “Getting started” guide covers web framework, serving HTML, integration, broadcasting, etc.
- Programmers can access their documentation, which covers installation, guidance for using the Node HTTP server, instructions for using with “Express”, and much more.
- There are documents explaining the server APIs.
- Developers can view guides concerning their client APIs.
Meteor is a Node.js-based framework. There is potential that developers can use it for cross-platform development, i.e., they can code for Android, iOS, and web. Meteor offers many advantages, as follows:
- There is a robust integration with MongoDB.
- Developers see an improvement in their productivity since Meteor reduces their coding effort. They need to write less code.
- Meteor works well with existing popular development tools.
- It’s a faster, and easy-to-use platform. Whether accessing the database or accessing business logic on the server, you will be able to develop performant and scalable applications.
Honeywell, IKEA, etc. are examples of big businesses using Meteor, as their website states.
Programmers can make use of the following learning resources:
- Installation instructions for various operating systems like OSX, Linux, and Windows;
- Tutorials, with example projects, and open-source apps;
- Detailed guides for developing apps using Meteor;
- Meteor API documentation.
Keystone.js is an open-source web framework. Developers can use it to build websites, web apps, and APIs on Node.js. It’s a “Content Management System” (CMS) framework too and uses Express.js.
Developers can get the following advantages:
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- They can easily connect to MongoDB, after configuring their “Express” web server. The integration between Express.js and MongoDB uses Mongoose, the well-known Node.js-based ODM for MongoDB.
- Programmers find it easy to manage their templates, views, and routes with Keystone.js.
- With Keystone.js, it‘s easier to create real-world database fields like name, email address, etc.
- CMSs require a robust admin UI, and Keystone.js makes it easy to create one.
- Asynchronous coding becomes easier with Keystone.js.
- CMSs need to provide easy form-processing abilities to website owners. This is easy to do with Keystone.js.
- Programmers can easily implement session management, authentication, and encryption for the password field with Keystone.js.
- Email marketing is important for entrepreneurs, and Keystone.js makes it easy to set up template-based emails.
Programmers can take advantages of the following learning resources:
Koa.js is a popular web framework built using Node.js. It provides a robust foundation for web apps and APIs. The advantages of using Koa.js are as follows:
- It facilitates asynchronous programming.
- js doesn‘t depend on the middleware.
- There are ready-made plugins supporting routing, caching, compression, and many more such common tasks.
- js helps in improving error-handling.
Developers can follow their website, and get the required guidance for using it. The guidance covers all the key aspects, e.g.:
- Coding asynchronous functions;
- Building applications using Koa.js;
- Handling of requests;
- Handling of responses;
- Error handling.
PM2 is a Node.js-based framework, which is also a production process manager for Node.js apps. It has a built-in load balancer. PayPal uses PM2, so do several financial software companies. It‘s a feature-rich framework that offers the following:
- Behaviour configuration;
- Container integration;
- Watch and reload;
- Log management;
- Cluster mode;
- Hot reload.
With more and more businesses embracing the Internet economy and cloud computing, “Platform as a Service” (PaaS) is gaining prominence. PaaS is a cloud computing model where entrepreneurs only bring code and data. The PaaS providers address cloud infrastructure, networking, storage, operating system, middleware, runtime environment, and 3rd party API integration. I have earlier explained PaaS in “Top 10 PaaS providers for 2019”.
A key advantage of PM2 is its‘ ease of use with PaaS providers. It offers the following features towards that:
- Development workflow;
- Start-up scripts;
- Deployment workflow;
- Key metrics monitoring.
Developers in your team can use the following learning resources to work with PM2:
Walmart Labs has created Electrode.js, which is a framework for web and native apps. Electrode.js has high popularity, moreover, it‘s suitable for both React.js and Node.js. Developers can expect the following advantages:
- This platform has a standardized structure.
- It incorporates modern technologies and best practices, resulting in improved productivity.
- Developers can code performant apps.
- Programmers find it easy to deploy their app to cloud platform providers.
- Component reusability is a key feature.
Developers have the following resources for learning this framework:
- Electrode web framework;
- Electrode native framework;
- “Getting started” guide;
- Comprehensive documentation.
- The tool helps in transforming the syntax, moreover, developers need to code less.
- Babel offers support map, therefore, programmers can easily debug the code.
Coders can learn to use Babel using the following resources on their website:
Broccoli.js is a Node.js development tool, providing the following advantages:
- The tool provides a fast and reliable asset pipeline for build management.
- js supports constant-time rebuilds, moreover, it helps with compact build definitions.
- The ease-of-use of this tool is very valuable to developers.
- It also offers a “Command Line Interface” (CLI).
Developers can go through their GitHub repository, and learn the following quite easily:
- How to install it;
- How to use the “Brocfile.js”, i.e., the file containing the build specification;
- Using plugins;
- Programmatic use of Broccoli.js;
- Running Broccoli.js;
- Plugin API specifications.
Webpack module bundler
Webpack module bundler helps in deployment. It offers the following advantages to developers:
- It bundles and serves assets for deployment faster than most other tools.
- Developers find it easy to use.
- The overall effect is to simplify the deployment process.
- With the popularity of Agile software development, processes like testing and deployment need automation. These improve the productivity of the team. Webpack, by simplifying deployment, has a significant positive impact on the overall development cycle.
Developers can learn Webpack by utilizing the following resources:
Undertaking an important Node.js development?
If you are undertaking a strategic Node.js development project, then you are certainly looking for robust tools. However, tools are one of several critical success factors in a software development project. A skilled team and the right project management processes make a big difference, which is why it’s best to hire expert Node.js developers. You also need a competent project manager for end-to-end project management.
Strategic projects involve more complexity, therefore, you might need to take professional help. Engaging a competent development partner could help. Read our guide “How to find the best software development company?” before you engage a development partner.
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