Created by Ryan Dahl in 2009, Node.js is an open-source platform built using the Google Chrome JavaScript runtime. It enables software and app developers to build fast and scalable web applications using just a few lines of code.

The official website of Node.js described it as:

“Node.js® is a JavaScript runtime built on Chrome’s V8 JavaScript engine. Node.js uses an event-driven, non-blocking I/O model that makes it lightweight and efficient. Node.js’ package ecosystem, npm, is the largest ecosystem of open source libraries in the world.”

The world of custom software development constantly evolves with new trends, techniques, and languages. But, with the Node.js library of modules, app development is significantly simplified. It provides quick and efficient solutions for back-end development and it integrates well with front-end platforms.

Web and network server applications written using Node.js are becoming more and more prevalent. Independent app and software developers, web design agencies, IT companies, and businesses both small and large utilize Node.js for various projects and applications.

We’ve collated a comprehensive guide on the top frameworks, tools, and IDEs for Node.js to further streamline your workflow.

 

Frameworks for Node.js

Node.js frameworks are increasingly gaining prominence in web programming and application development. Their main objective is to get you up and running as fast as possible by providing functionality that is not available in Node.js out of the box. These features come in many flavors and most frameworks will try to envelop all you need to deliver your project.

Here are the latest framework innovations that expand the features and functionality of Node.js.

 

1. ActionHero

ActionHero is a Node.js API server and framework that offers custom packages for companies of all sizes with high-end customer support.

At it’s core it allows you to write a RESTful API that you can consume either via HTTP, WebSockets or plain TCP Socket connections. You can also do this by using a front-end ActionHero Client that’s based on Primus that the framework provides.

You can use it to easily provide a real-time information to your users and even allow them to talk to each other using chat rooms that are natively supported by this framework.

This framework also provides scalability out of the box, as such, it relies on Redis in order to communicate with other nodes in the network.

Top companies such as Riot Games, Samsung, Task Rabbit, and Madglory utilize the ActionHero framework.

ActionHero

 

2. Derby.js

Derby is a full stack MVC framework used for modern web applications. A differentiating feature of Derby is that it allows you to sync JSON and text data between browsers, servers and databases for real-time collaboration.

If you have a heavy front-end then, then this framework is for you, as it supports server side rendering.

Additional features include offline usage, conflict resolution and template bindings to simplify writing multi-user applications.

Derby JS

 

3. Express

Distributed under the MIT license, Express is one of the most fundamental Node.js frameworks. It offers a flexible structure for processing requests. It integrates well with several community developed modules that cater to most project requirements.

This minimalistic framework is very lightweight, as such, it’s focused on performance above all. It also allows you to easily scaffold a project using a generator so that you can jump right into writing code.

Its features include simplified multiple routing, template engines, middlewares, and more.

MySpace, Geekli.st, Klout, Segment.io, and Yummly all use Express.

Express JS

 

4. Hapi

Hapi is capable of building full websites and enterprise level functions. Walmart developers encountered extensibility and maintainability issues from the Express framework as their application grew in size. They needed another framework that can accommodate the  the Black Friday influx of customers. Thus, Walmark developers created Hapi.

However, developers commonly use this rich framework for building services that pull data from the back-end and serve it efficiently, all while keeping well maintained code base.

Features include input and response validation, server-side caching, sessions, cookie-parsing, logging and others. Hapi also developed dozens of API development plugins for documentation, authentication, and other functions. Big brands such as Macy’s and Disney use Hapi.

Hapi JS

 

5. Keystone

Keystone is another full stack, open-source framework based on Express, with a few other libraries. It can be used to create database-driven websites, applications, and APIs in Node.js. It’s stack includes the Express framework and MongoDB as a database.

It’s main selling point is that it provides an auto-generated Admin UI to manage your database driven website. With Keystone, you get the best features of Express and Mongoose combined, resulting in a robust CMS framework.

Keystone JS

 

6. Koa.js

Dubbed as the “next generation web framework for Node.js”, Koa.js followed in the footsteps of Express. It provides a lightweight Node.js framework for building efficient web APIs and applications.

Koa.js utilizes generated-based control flows to eliminate callbacks and minimize errors. Unlike most frameworks, Koa is more modular and relies less on middleware. However, plugin packages are also available for routing, compression, caching and more.

Koa JS

 

7. Meteor

Meteor is a full stack framework for web and mobile applications. It boasts of a subscription-based cloud deployment service called Galaxy, which enables developers to easily deploy their applications in the cloud.

Global companies using Meteor include Mazda, Ikea, Qualcomm, and PGA Tour.

Meteor JS

 

8. Sails

Sails is an MVC framework ideal for customized, data-driven web APIs for businesses and enterprises. It’s known for its capability to simplify processes for real-time chat applications, dashboards, and multiplayer games.

This framework comes bundled with an ORM that boasts support for any database. It also provides an easy way to generate RESTful APIs.

Sails JS

 

9. Total.js

Total.js is a full stack MVC framework written in pure JavaScript. It has everything other frameworks have and more. What sets it out from the crowd is it’s native support for processing media like images and video streaming.

It’s also compatible with client-side frameworks such as Angular.js, Polymer, Backbone.js, Bootstrap, jQuery, D3, as well as other frameworks mentioned above.

Total JS

 

10. Restify

Restify is a Node.js module designed to create APIs by the book, allowing you to create an application that strictly conforms to all the rules of developing a correct REST web service. It focuses on debugging and profiling so that you can isolate systems and optimize your server performance.

Restify JS

 

Tools for Node.js

Node.js tools are used by web developers and software programmers for a wide variety of applications and workflows. These tools make it easier for developers working with Node.js.

Whether you’re an amateur or an expert developer, these Node.js tools will be useful for you.

 

1. Babel

Babel is a JavaScript transpiler commonly used as a tool for front-end development. It allows you to use all ES6 features while compiling ES5 for production. As a result, code readability is improved.

Babel supports the latest version of JavaScript so that you can use the newest syntax without waiting for browser support. It can also be integrated with other JavaScript tools.

Babel JS

 

2. Broccoli

Broccoli is a Node.js build tool running on an ES6 module that boasts of blazing rebuild and compile speeds, chainable plugins, and a flexible ecosystem. Broccoli dubbed itself as “the asset pipeline for ambitious applications.”

Broccoli JS

 

3. Electrode.io

Electrode.io is another tool built by developers of WalmartLab. It’s a universal platform for building both React.js and Node.js applications using the most standardized structures, advanced technology, and best practices.

With Electrode.io, greater focus is placed on consistency and universality instead of configuration and customization. This ensures reusability and performance.

Electrode JS

 

4. Log.io

It can be difficult to monitor hundreds of files spread across various computers. Log.io is a real-time log monitoring tool to help you monitor your deployments and troubleshoot quickly. It exposes a stateless TCP API where you can write your logs to. You monitor your log messages in a single browser session, so you can address issues and bugs immediately.

Log JS

 

 

5. Migrat

Migrat is a simple, yet pluggable, data migration tool that uses plain text. Designed for a variety of stacks and processes, Migrat runs migrations once globally or per server.

Migrat is not tied to any database engine, and can be found on GitHub and NPM.

Migrat JS

 

6. PM2

As an advanced production process manager for Node.js, PM2 monitors all launched processes to determine whether they’re running properly.

According to Full Stack Developer, Mariusz Dybciak, “You don’t need to worry about restarting applications after they’ve crashed, PM2 does it for you.” The finance software company, Intuit, and the online payment gateway, PayPal, use PM2.

PM2 JS

 

7. Webpack

JavaScript module bundling has been around for several years now, and helps developers and programmers save countless hours of manual labor.

Webpack is a JavaScript module bundler that simplifies deployments by creating bundles, and asynchronously loaded to reduce the loading time. With Webpack, bundling and serving assets are easy, quick, and painless.

Webpack JS

 

Integrated Development Environment (IDEs) for Node.js

An Integrated Development Environment (IDE) is a collection of tools used for a myriad of Node.js web applications. Most IDEs are used as a source code editor, automation tool builder, and a debugger. It lets web and app developers edit and debug their codes accurately and quickly.

We’ve picked out 15 modern and advanced IDEs for Node.js.

 

1. Aptana Studio

If you like Eclipse, then you should check out Aptana Studio. It’s an Eclipse-based IDE that was trimmed down to focus on web application technologies and popular frameworks.

With Aptana Studio, you can develop and test applications in a single environment, as it supports the latest browser languages such as HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, Ruby, Rails, PHP, and Python.

Aptana Studio

 

2. Atom

Atom is a modern, open-source text editor built with HTML, JavaScript, CSS, and Node.js integration. Its features include cross-platform editing on OS X, Windows, or Linux, a built-in package manager where you can search, install, and create new packages, and smart autocompletion to help you write codes faster.

The best thing about Atom is that it’s fully hackable and customizable. Even the core packages can be changed.

Atom

 

3. Brackets

Created by Adobe Systems, Brackets is a lightweight but powerful text editor with advanced features that include inline editing, live code previewing, preprocessor support, code folding, and command line integration.

It utilizes visual tools and preprocessor support that make it easy for both front-end developers and web designers to work from the browser.

Brackets

 

4. Cloud 9

With Cloud 9, web and API development becomes much easier. It combines a powerful online editor with a full Ubuntu workspace in the Cloud so you can write, run, and debug your code.

Its key features include a built-in terminal, language and code completion tools, debugger, split view, and more. These functionalities can also be extended using a quite simple extension manager.

Name brands such as Soundcloud, Atlassian, Heroku, Mailchimp, and Mozilla work with Cloud 9.

Cloud 9

 

5. Codenvy

Codenvy also provides cloud workspaces for web designers and app developers to write, run, and debug on premise or in the cloud.

Developers can easily collaborate on a single project by using a shared URL. The team can work with their local IDE or the beautifully designed Eclipse Che cloud IDE.

Codenvy

 

6. CodeLite

An open-source IDE that fully supports Node.js, CodeLite specializes in programming languages such as C, C++, PHP, and JavaScript. Some features include Node.js debugger, intelligent code completion, lightweight memory footprint, and compilers.

CodeLite

 

7. Eclipse

Known for its Java Integrated Development Environment (IDE), Eclipse is one of the most popular cloud-based IDEs for web developers. It’s capable of combining language support and other features into any default package. Because it has a very active community, you can find open source plugins and developer tools in the Eclipse Marketplace.

Eclipse is highly-customizable and extendable, with features such as built-in debugger, error checking, source code generation, code refactoring, help window as toy type, and more.

Eclipse

 

8. Intellij IDEA

Maximize your productivity with Intellij IDEA by Jetbrains, a robust IDE compatible with various technologies such as Node.js, Angular.js, JavaScript, HTML5, and more. Intellij IDEA offers intelligent code completion, code analysis, and refactoring tools.

Another advantage of Intellij IDEA is its productivity-boosting features for Java EE, Spring, GWT, Grails, Play, and other frameworks.

IntelliJ IDEA

 

9. Koding

Koding is yet another open-source, cloud-based IDE that offers a smart interface that enables dev teams and managers to streamline their workflows. What’s great about it is its data analytics features for CTOs to locate bottlenecks and loopholes in the process to optimize efficiency and productivity.

Other features of Koding include syntax highlighting, keyboard shortcuts, collapsible panes, cloud workspace, auto indenting, code folding, and code preview using a built-in browser. Koding is ideal for large teams of hundreds or thousands of developers.

Koding

 

10. Komodo IDE

Komodo IDE is a cross-platform, polyglot IDE that provides a complete set of tools, integrations, and frameworks for a hassle-free web and application development. It supports over 100 programming languages such as Python, PHP, Go, Perl, Tcl, Ruby, NodeJS, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and more.

Additional features of Komodo IDE include syntax and highlighting, code intelligence, debugging, markdown viewer, and DOM viewer. Komodo also offers multi-cursor support so that you can edit at the same time.

Komodo IDE

 

11. NetBeans

NetBeans is a free, modern IDE that supports multi-language programming for desktop, web, and mobile applications. Because it’s an open-source IDE, NetBeans allows developers to work on both the web and the desktop by building their own plugin to meet specific needs and functions.

NetBeans IDE

 

12. Sublime Text

As an innovative text editor for code, markup, and prose, Sublime Text provides a state-of-the-art user interface that allows developers to easily jump to characters, symbols, lines, or words using keyboard shortcuts.

You can also use other advanced features such as split editing, project switching, and multiple selection to rename variables and manipulate your files quickly.

Sublime Text

 

13. WebMatrix

Created by Microsoft, WebMatrix is a simple and lightweight IDE for Windows. It is ideally used for ASP.NET WebPages development and even PHP, HTML, and CSS. WebMatrix includes features such as code completion and built-in templates.

In October 28, 2016, Microsoft announced the discontinuation of formal support for WebMatrix starting November 1, 2017. Community support will continue in its forums.

WebMatrix

 

14. WebStorm IDE

Jetbrains popularized another powerful IDE for modern JavaScript development. WebStorm IDE offers intelligent code completion, rapid error detection, navigation and refactoring for JavaScript, TypeScript, stylesheet languages, and other popular frameworks. The newest version of WebStorm can be integrated with Jest, and supports Vue.js and standard JS.

Developer teams of popular brands such as Yahoo!, Reuters, Soundcloud, Intuit, Wix, Expedia, and BMW use this robust IDE.

WebStorm IDE

 

15. Visual Studio Code

Microsoft created Visual Studio Code to replace WebMatrix. Visual Studio Code is a free, open-source editor that runs on OS X, Windows, and Linux that supports operations such as debugging, embedded Git control, task running, and version control.

Other features include syntax and highlighting, IntelliSense code completion, and code refactoring. It supports more than 30 programming languages.

Additional tools and extensions are also provided for Node.js, TypeScript, JavaScript, ASP.NET 5, and more.

Visual Studio Code

 

Final Words

Node.js is becoming increasingly popular for web and app developers worldwide. Frameworks, tools, and IDEs are useful for both beginners and professional users alike. It makes writing and testing codes a lot easier and faster

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