7 Best Node.js Libraries for Your Project in 2023

The best developer isn't the one who knows how to do everything, but the one who knows how to look for answers. We recommend these 7 Node.js libraries to help you find your own solutions.

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by Matias Emiliano Alvarez Duran


Your next web development project might seem unique, but it surely needs components that are similar to every web-based software. You probably need to build and use APIs, add a user authentication component, or manipulate information from a database. That’s when Node.js libraries come into play. 

Software libraries give you access to packages of pre-written code to simplify web app development. Node.js libraries are like shortcuts to coding, but there are thousands of different options. So, which one do you need? 

We’ve narrowed the list down to the seven best Node.js libraries we use and recommend. This list will empower you to choose a powerful library for your next JavaScript development project. 

Ready to build your own custom software with a team that cares about you and your processes? We’re not code monkeys, we care about you. 

Table of contents

How many Node.js libraries are there?

It’s hard to say exactly how many Node.js libraries exist. Node.js is an open-source runtime environment (RTE) forJavaScript, which means it’s community-based and its available tools are frequently evolving. But, in 2023, the official Node.js package repository (npm), has almost two million packages—and many are Node.js libraries. 

That doesn’t mean that all libraries that exist are updated or active. But, it’s safe to say there must be thousands of Node.js libraries on the internet.

What are npm packages? 

npm is Node.js’s built-in package manager and the biggest JavaScript code repository. That means, it makes the RTE have a command line and a broad components bank of paid and public packages—the npm registry. npm is particularly useful for building Chrome platforms. This tool isn’t a Node.js library, but the registry contains JavaScript frameworks and libraries. That’s why it’s not mentioned in the list below.

The 7 Node.js libraries we use the most

Libraries are general-purpose pieces of software that are bundled together. You can’t ever copy and paste library code, but you can use it to improve your code-writing speed or to spark ideas. We asked our development team to rate these Node.js development tools based on usability. Here’s what they said:

1. Express.js—for developing web applications APIs

Express.js is the Node.js library that lets you connect your application to multiple others easily using APIs. Source: Geekflare.com

This is the library we use the most at NaNLABS for developing web apps in Node.js because it’s minimalistic and lightweight. With Express.js, developers can get inspired and use code components to write features, APIs, and microservices for web applications. 

At NaNLABS, we like to use Express.js because it lets us build APIs fast. But, we’d choose a fully-fledged framework for large-scale Node.js enterprise application development


What makes Express.js relevant is that it’s highly flexible, minimalistic, lightweight, and easy to use. Plus, it has several built-in middleware packages and templates that allow developers to code web apps fast. 


Express.js’s minimalistic approach is both its main advantage and disadvantage because you’ll likely need to install packages to perform additional functionality. This can make the setup more extensive and complicated. 

2. Mongoose—for handling MongoDB databases

Mongoose makes it easy for Node.js to handle document-oriented databases like MongoDB. Source: FreeCodeCamp.org

Mongoose is, primarily, a MongoDB Object Data Modeling (ODM) library for Node.js. It provides you with an intuitive way to interact with MongoDB databases in Node.js applications. With Mongoose, you access an easy-to-use modeling solution based on schemas for your software data. Basically, Mongoose lets you model databases in your code. Plus, this library comes with multiple out-of-the-box in-app features like type casting and query builders. 


One of Mongoose's biggest advantages is that it lets you easily define schemas and models for individual files. This ODM library also comes with a large suite of methods for building queries and handling MongoDB databases. Mongoose supports middleware and data validation, so it enables you to write strong and trustworthy applications.


Since Mongoose is almost an intermediary between your database and your software, it can be harder to write complex queries. This usually happens only when the database schema is complex or when you need one database to interact with multiple others. And, while it’s possible to write advanced queries, the learning curve becomes a bit steep. 

2.1. TypeORM—for handling relational databases like MySQL

Like Mongoose, TypeORM simplifies data handling in Node.js applications using relational databases. Source: GitHub.com

TypeORM is pretty similar to Mongoose in the sense that they’re both JavaScript and TypeScript libraries that simplify interaction with databases. The main difference is that Mongoose is for object-document mapping (ODM) and handles document-oriented databases like MongoDB. But, TypeORM is an object-relational mapping (ORM) tool, so it handles relational databases like MySQL or PostgreSQL on Node.js applications. 


TypeORM is one of the only solutions in the market that is compatible with patterns such as active records and data mappers. This library is also simple to install and use, and it simplifies using TypeScript classes to determine database entities and relationships. 


While TypeORM helps you manage relational databases, it’s not the best way to write queries with ManytoMany relations. This library can also become an incremental level of abstraction between your app and the data, so it can be hard to solve queries—this can also hurt performance. 

3. Passport.js—for user authentication

Grant access to your users with Passport.js and add authentication components with no sweat. Source: GitHub.com

Passport.js is a middleware that authenticates Express.js requests and one of the most complete libraries for Node.js. It comes with a large range of in-app plugins which makes this library modular and adaptable for Express-based web apps. Just like your local passport lets you travel and access different countries, Passport.js lets you add user authentication to your web-based apps so they can access their accounts.


One of Passport.js’s biggest benefits it’s that it has an active community that keeps the library updated. Also, developers usually go to Passport.js because it supports a big pool of authentication strategies that simplify connections to popular authenticators like Facebook, Google, and Twitter. The strategies include: 

  • Local authentication

  • OAuth

  • OpenID

Since Passport.js is modular, developers have the ability to choose which strategy to use and build a custom authentication flow. 


Passport.js can be kind of niche, so many developers might find it hard to set up. Especially for applications with complex authentication needs—like enterprise-level solutions. 

Another downside to Passport.js is that if you want to add code for user registration or password reset, you need to do it manually. 

4. Day.js—for handling different dates and times formats

Use Day.js to turn your Node.js app’s dates into numbers that you can use for mathematical operations. Source: GitHub.com

Day.js is a minimalistic and lightweight JavaScript library that makes it easy for developers to handle date and time formatting for their web development projects. Developers who need to work with multiple dates and times formats, usually choose Day.js or Moment.js to simplify date and time management—but Day.js is newer and has better support. 

Day.js comes with a simple and easy-to-use API. It also admits several date and time formats like ISO 8601 and Unix timestamps. 


Day.js API is intuitive and easy for parsing, handling, and changing dates and times formats in Node.js applications. It’s also fast-loading and high-performing due to its modular architecture. Day.js also comes with a wide range of built-in features that let you make arithmetic operations with date and time and use a localized format for presenting them.


While Day.js is smaller than Moment.js, it lacks some functionality. So, you might find yourself having to download additional plug-ins to work with multiple time zones, for example.

5. Axios—for making HTTP requests from Node.js apps

Axios is a widely downloaded library from the npm package as it helps you manage HTTP requests and answers. Source: GitHub.com

Axios is an HTTP promise-based client library for Node.js. This tool makes it easy for developers to make HTTP requests from a browser or Node.js platform and manage the responses. With Axios, you can make all of the most common HTTP requests: GET, POST, PUT, and DELETE. Axios is similar to other libraries like Request, but it’s more lightweight and fast. 


Developers usually like that Axios comes with an intuitive and easy-to-use API for HTTP requests. Other advantages to Axios include its wide range of features such as response interceptors or request cancellations. Plus, it supports asynchronous and await syntax for tidier code. Axios is also compatible with multiple browsers—including old ones like Internet Explorer 11.


Since Axios isn’t natively included in JavaScript, you need to install it separately and it can be slower than other promise-based libraries like Fetch. Also, when you install different add-ons and features, they can make the platform heavier. 

6. Ramda—for working with functional programming paradigms

Use this Node.js library if you’re using a functional programming method for your web app development. Source: GitHub.com

Ramda is a Node.js library that’s similar to Lodash. We use it when we want to follow a functional programming approach instead of an imperative one. And, at NaNLABS, we always follow this paradigm when we write in JavaScript. We also like to use Ramda to access different features to set up arrays and objects. 

Functional programming is one of the things that we like to share with our clients as they can get an understanding of the flow even when they’re not developers themselves. “Functional programming makes the readability of the code easier to trace,” shared the founder of a client relationship management firm. “You can track all the different front- and back-end elements. I can see how the page was built-up and review all its different components.” 


If you’re thinking of using Ramda, you might be pleased to know that it comes with an API that’s reliable and user-friendly for writing functional code. Ramda focuses on currying and immutability. It also comes with a large pool of features and the code is highly modular.


But Ramda isn’t perfect. In fact, it tends to slow down when you work with big files. It also comes with a somewhat steep learning curve, especially for developers who are new to functional programming.

7. Socket.IO—for bidirectional communication between the client and server

Build bilateral connections so the server and the client can communicate in real time. Source: Socket.IO

Socket.IO is a Node.js library that builds real-time, bidirectional client-server communication systems—usually event-driven and low latency. This library is best suited for developing web applications on JavaScript or TypeScript. Socket.IO uses WebSockets or HTTP long-polling to handle HTTP requests and answers. Socket.IO is so complete that it's often referred to as a Node.js web framework.


Socket.IO has many benefits. It lets you develop interactive functions like real-time dashboards, multiplayer games, and chat rooms. And also, lets you build a bridge between the server and the client for bilateral node communication.


Downsides to Socket.IO include that it can become heavy and slow when you’ve opened multiple connections. Socket.IO is also hard to debug in complex applications connected to various client nodes. 

TL;DR: Choosing the best Node.js library 

Node.js libraries come in different shapes and sizes—and in thousands of GitHub stars. Here’s a summary of the ones we covered: 

LibraryGitHub stars*Used for
Express.js60.3KDeveloping web applicationsAPIs
Mongoose25.4KHandling MongoDB databases
TypeORM30.8KManaging relational databases like MySQL
Passport.js21.3KUser authentication
Day.js42.5KHandling different dates and times formats
Axios99.2KMaking HTTP requests from Node.js apps
Ramda22.8KWorking with functional programming paradigms
Socket.IO57.8KBidirectional communication between the client and server

*GitHub gives developers the option to "star" their favorite code repositories. The more stars, the more popular the library!

Each one of these libraries covers a different aspect of Node.jsweb development. So, we can’t choose one over the other or recommend one for you if we don’t know what you’re trying to build. But, we rarely do Node.js development without Express.js.

If you’re struggling to determine the right tools and programming languages for your next project’s software stack, we’re here to help. At NaNLABS, we have over 10 years of experience in JavaScript and Node.js development services. As part of our consultancy services, our senior developers and founders will advise you on the right technology to use on your software project. That way, you’ll be building high-performing Node.js web applications in no time.

Ready to build your own custom software with a team that cares about you and your processes? We’re not code monkeys, we care about you. 

Frequently asked questions about Node.js libraries

  • What is a Node.js library?

    A Node.js library is a tool that has a set of pre-written and reusable JavaScript code and components that you can use to build Node.js applications.

    With Node.js libraries, you can simplify multiple actions, such as:

    • Manipulating databases

    • Making HTTP requests from Node.js

    • Making operations with date and time despite the formatting

    • Building API connections

  • Is Node.js still relevant in 2023?

    Node.js is still highly relevant in 2023. This RTE is frequently used by web developers from all over the world and is still being updated. We can’t predict the future of Node.js, but we can guess that as long as developers are creating server-side web apps, Node.js will continue to be useful.

  • Which framework goes best with Node.js?

    There are many frameworks that go well with Node.js, these are the best Node.js frameworks we use and recommend: 

    • Meteor.js

    • Express.js

    • Nest.js

    • Adonis.js

    • Hapi.js

    • Sails.js

    • LoopBack

    • Koa.js

    • Serverless Framework

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