Top 10 ExpressJS Alternatives

This article will explore ten of the best ExpressJS alternatives. The list includes Koa, Fastify, EmberJS, Nest, VueJS, etc.

ExpressJS is, and has been for many years, the de-facto standard, and the most famous library in the Node.js ecosystem.

With Express, Node presented JavaScript developers with an opportunity to use JavaScript on the server-side for the first time. It unlocked a new backend functionality for the language, as they could publish Node.js apps as websites.

While Express brought a new era of JavaScript development and changed the way developers build websites, other JavaScript libraries have been gaining popularity due to the slew of features they bring.

Moreover, Express 5, the next major update, has been in alpha for 7 years now, with developers still waiting for a way to handle async functions.

In the following post, we take a look at some of the pros and cons of using ExpressJS for various projects. Next, we explore some of the top alternatives to ExpressJS and their top features.

If you have been looking to use ExpressJS for your upcoming project, this list should help you make an informed decision regarding the best framework that will suit your project.

Keep reading to discover some competitors to ExpressJS.

What is ExpressJS? 

ExpressJS is a free and open-source backend web app framework for Node.js, designed to allow developers to build single-page, multi-page, and hybrid web apps and APIs using JavaScript.

Essentially, it is a layer built on top of Node.JS that helps manage routes, middleware, template engines, and static file servers. It is minimalistic, unopinionated, and powerful, ensuring that the radical I/O performance of Node is not compromised.

An Express app is essentially Node.js with several middleware functions. Express lets developers build their apps with their own preferences, which comes in handy when creating a highly unique niche project with no historical burden.

It does not consider database integration as an important aspect of the package and therefore is designed with no specific database usage in mind.

Please read Hosting a NodeJS Web App to know more of how Back4App can accelerate application hosting.

Keep reading to discover some Express JS alternatives.

Advantages of Express JS

  • Scale quickly

By breaking the application logic into smaller modules (or microservices) instead of creating a monolithic core, Express enables better flexibility and provides the foundation for future growth.

You can easily add more microservices to the existing ones later to implement additional features to your app.

  • Easy to learn

Express is one of the most well-documented frameworks in the JavaScript environment, making it quite easy to learn and adopt into workflows.

It is supported by a large community, meaning you can easily find help with your projects if you ever run into issues.

If you are already familiar with JavaScript, you can quickly get started with Express development for both frontend and backend.

  • Community support

It is no surprise that Express is also one of the most supported Node frameworks with a robust and enthusiastic open source community reviewing and improving the code.

If you ever face any problem while working with Express, you can easily ask for help from a highly supportive community.

Keep reading to discover some alternatives to Express JS.

Disadvantages of Express JS

  • Callbacks

The single-threaded asynchronous nature of Express and Node makes it rely heavily on callbacks, which basically are functions that are executed after each task in the queue is completed.

Keeping queued tasks, each with its own callback leads to an event called “callback hell,” which entangles the code and hampers its quality.

  • Code Organization

Although Express APIs are quite stable on their own, several tools in the npm registry are not thoroughly tested and are hence of inadequate quality.

The registry itself is not structured well enough and can make it difficult to find the best solutions for your requirements. With Express, you will need to pick your approach and stick to it.

  • Middleware

Express is basically a low-scope routing library with middleware support and lacks several functionalities of a full-stack framework, which might be needed in specific scenarios.

It is built on the concept of middleware and developers need to be familiar with its pros and cons before they use Express to build their apps.

Top 10 ExpressJS Alternatives 

Here are ten of the best ExpressJS competitors.

Koa

From the same team of creators behind ExpressJS comes Koa, which is a much more customizable alternative to existing NodeJS frameworks.

It is perfect for projects that require flexibility and interoperability. With async functions, Koa allows you to ditch callbacks, which is one of the main points of criticism against Express.

The main difference between Koa and Express is in the way they handle middleware; Koa comes without any bundled middleware and requires modules for routing and templates.

Fastify

Fastify is another popular open-source web framework for the Node environment that is primarily famous for its speed, i.e., it is up to 20% faster than Express in almost every request.

It provides full encapsulation for plug-ins, parses incoming requests into JSON with faster rendering, and provides quick routing. Fastify also has a cleaner syntax for writing async codes for use as controller code.

Nest 

NestJS is a free and open-source Node.js framework that is used to build scalable and efficient server-side applications.

It is inspired by Google’s Angular and is built with TypeScript, a typed superset of JavaScript that allows you to use the concepts of functional, functional reactive, and object-oriented programming.

Nest makes it easier to divide the apps into microservices, thereby offering a clearer architecture than Express with fewer components.

Ember JS

Ember JS is one of the most popular JavaScript frameworks used by some of the top companies like Apple Music, Vine, Twitch, and LinkedIn.

It is considered one of the best in distributor logic; it follows the model-view-ViewModel (MVVM) architecture and allows developers to build highly scalable web apps using common idioms.

If the development team behind your project is big, Ember is the ideal JS framework you can use.

BackboneJS

Initially released in 2010, Backbone has grown consistently in popularity as one of the most viable competitors to Express in the Node.js environment. It is a free and open-source JavaScript library with a RESTful interface based on the MVC paradigm.

Backbone is highly lightweight and flexible as it is dependent on only one underlying library, i.e., Underscore.js, making it extremely easy to build apps and their front ends using JavaScript.

Vue JS

In the list of JavaScript frameworks, Vue is one of the newer alternatives to Express but has been consistently rising in the popularity ranks.

It is also based on the MVVM architecture and offers much more core functionalities despite being one of the lightest JS frameworks available to developers.

Vue offers a familiar templating syntax, which makes integrating and migrating existing projects to it smoother and quicker.

Knockout JS

Knockout is a pure JavaScript library and a standalone implementation of the MVVM pattern that works with any web framework.

It provides an easy and clean way to handle complex data-driven interfaces with the help of Templates, which helps developers build complex UI structures easily.

Some of the most sought after features of Knockout includes declarative bindings, deep browser support, built-in templating support, etc. 

Angular

The current iteration of Angular is a complete rewrite of Angular JS, which was one of the first full-stack web frameworks in the JavaScript environment.

Angular 2.0, as it is called, is written in TypeScript and is a client-side framework that is primarily used to create single-page web, desktop, and mobile apps with HTML strings.

The update also decoupled the DOM from the framework and introduced the use of multiple renderers, which enabled rapid development and faster app loading.

Meteor

MeteorJS is another full-stack JavaScript framework that is primarily preferred for frontend development like Angular.

It offers developers a complete collection of interdependent libraries that can be used to build websites and web apps rapidly and easily.

Meteor provides a database template and takes care of Express with the help of its template system and Blaze, enabling the same capabilities as the MEAN stack.

Sails JS

Sails JS is one of the most popular MVC frameworks for the Node JS environment that emulates the MVC pattern of frameworks like Ruby, but with the support for the requirements of the modern apps.

It is essentially a lightweight framework that sits on top of Express and enables a uniform API irrespective of the underlying database. Like Rails, Sails JS provides an ORM interface which abstracts the database interaction.

Conclusion

Express is mainly suitable for highly interactive web projects as it allows developers to build quicker and scalable web apps easily.

If you are going to develop a large project that will be supported by a large team of developers, the lack of standardization can be a bottleneck in the productivity of your teams.

So, you will need to thoroughly consider the needs of your project before selecting a web framework for your project.

If you cannot conclude the decision among the best alternatives to ExpressJS on your own, consider getting in touch with the experts at one of the leading app hosting companies.

They can help you make an informed decision by carefully assessing your needs and suggest you the best software solutions for your upcoming projects.

FAQ

What is ExpressJS?

Free and open-source backend web app framework for Node.js

What are the pros & cons of ExpressJS?

Pros: Scale quickly, easy to learn, community support
Cons: Call backs, code organization, middleware

What are ten of the best alternatives to ExpressJS?

– Koa
– Fastify
– NestJS
– EmberJS
– Backbone
– Vue
– Knockout
– Angular
– Meteor
– Sails


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