9 Node.js Web Frameworks For Faster, More Efficient Software Development Projects

Node.js web frameworks provide a structure for building your application and organizing your workflows. Use this guide to choose your next web framework.

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by Matias Emiliano Alvarez Duran


When your big idea becomes an actual software development project, suddenly everything gets complicated. You've got a growing list of development tasks to manage, bugs to fix, and a timeline to stick to. It's a lot to work out on your own.

Node.js web frameworks provide a structure for developing your application, a set of best practices, and a standard way of organizing the code. Paired with a skilled team of developers, a good framework is essential for getting your product launched.

We spoke with Julian Alessandro, co-founder at NaNLABS, about the most popular Node.js web frameworks and how they can help you achieve your development goals. We’ve also thrown in a few JavaScript libraries to give you more control over your application!

Table of contents

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9 Best Node.js web frameworks of 2023

Like a superhero and their trusty sidekick, a powerful runtime environment is nothing without the perfect web framework to complement it. Here are some of the best Node.js web frameworks in the market:

FrameworkGitHub stars*Best suited forLicense
Meteor.js43.3KFull-stack, real-time web development for startups and small businesses.MIT license
Express.js59.9KFast, unopinionated, minimalist web framework for startups and small businesses.MIT license
Nest.js54.3KEfficient, easy-to-maintain and scalable MVPs.MIT license
Adonis.js13.6KMVC framework inspired by Laravel for large and small businesses. MIT license
Hapi.js14.2KExtensible and configuration-centric framework for medium and large businesses.Other
Sails.js22.4KRealtime MVC Framework and scalable APIs for small and medium businesses.MIT license
LoopBack4.4KComplex integrations for businesses of all sizes.Other
Koa.js33.6KExpressive middleware using async functions for small and medium businesses.MIT license
Serverless Framework44.2KCloud-native solution for businesses of all sizes.MIT license

*On GitHub, developers can “star” their favorite code repositories. So, the more stars, the more popular the framework!

1. Meteor.js

Meteor.js is an open-source platform for building and deploying web, desktop, and mobile applications in Javascript or TypeScript. It uses a single language for both client-side and server-side development. The best Node.js development companies use it since the code is MIT licensed.

Meteor.js top features

  • Integrations with popular front-end frameworks like React, Svelte, and Blaze.

  • Supports any database like MongoDB with Node.js driver.

  • Offers Meteor cloud to host, monitor, collaborate, and manage apps from a central dashboard.

  • Built-in security like encryption, HTML escaping, and secure browser storage.

  • Github Meteor Community Packages maintain packages of high quality.

Who should use Meteor.js?

Meteor is ideal for projects with multiple developers or large codebases. Start-ups and small businesses looking to launch a new product quickly can benefit from Meteor's built-in features and ease of use.

2. Express.js

Express.js is the de-facto standard for Node.js development tool, much like Batman is to the Justice League. “It’s a fast development framework that allows you to build a server (with its API) in a couple of hours,” says Julian Alessandro, co-founder at NaNLABS. 

Express.js is especially well-suited for building REST APIs, single-page applications, and server-side rendering applications. It’s highly customizable and a popular choice here at NaNLABS. We used it to help a cybersecurity enterprise client improve its processes and infrastructure.

Express.js top features

  • Flexibility to integrate with any compatible modules as it doesn't follow a standard structure.

  • Single-threaded event loop architecture for high performance.

  • Routing settings within the JavaScript library help preserve web pages through URLs.

  • Debugging mechanism removes bugs from the application without disrupting the overall settings.

  • Dynamic HTML templates provide suitable outcomes.

Who should use Express.js?

Express.js is ideal for startups and small businesses that want to build an MVP that’s scalable and easy to maintain.

3. Nest.js

Nest.js is a fully-fledged framework to build robust applications. We can also build microservices with it. It’s great for having well-defined rules for security and audit,” says Julian.

It's designed with a few components—controllers, modules, and provides that easily divide apps into microservices. At NaNLABS, we used Nest.js for Popr.ai to build back-end applications that support REST APIs and GraphQL.

Nest.js top features

  • Supports any database like PostgreSQL, MongoDB, and MySQL.

  • Inbuilt Dependency Injection (DI) container helps build loosely coupled apps with clean architecture design.

  • Powerful Command Line Interface (CLI) makes creating, managing, and building applications easy.

  • Testing module helps create tests that are easier to maintain and run.

  • Large community of developers maintains high-quality packages.

Who should use Nest.js?

Nest.js is ideal for developing Node.js enterprise applications, as you can define your validation rules and authorization policies. 

4. Adonis.js

Adonis.js has an MVC pattern, similar to the Laravel framework in PHP, that organizes and separates the application code into manageable parts. It focuses on stability, speed, and developer experience. While Adonis.js calls itself a "back-end framework for Node.js," it can be used for both back-end and front-end development.

Adonis.js top features

  • Lucid Object-Relational Mapping (ORM) quickly builds queries, creates and manages migrations, and hosts data modeling capability.

  • Express Router hosts basic HTTP route handling.

  • Supports three types of authentication—HTTP, web sessions, and API-based tokens.

  • Mail package depends on the Nodemailer module and supports AWS, Mailgun, and Sparkpost.

  • Templating engine, Edge, inspects templates and has a built-in debugging tool.

Who should use Adonis.js?

Adonis.js is ideal for both large and small businesses. For large enterprises, Adonis.js can provide a scalable, reliable, and efficient solution. And for small businesses, Adonis.js offers an easy-to-learn, streamlined, and cost-effective way to build web applications.

5. Hapi.js

Hapi.js, short for HTTP-API, is most commonly used to build Application Programming Interface servers, websites, and HTTP-proxy applications. It was created by Eran Hammer and his mobile team at Walmart Labs to manage peak traffic during the Black Friday sale. Hapi.js was originally built on top of Express.js, but due to certain limitations, Walmart eventually evolved Hapi.js into a standalone framework.

Hapi.js top features

  • Plugin system makes it easy to add new features and fix bugs quickly.

  • Secure framework blocks error messages and prevents unsecured loopholes.

  • Built-in continuous caching tools improve web application performance.

  • Integrated authorization gives accessibility to pre-defined authentication techniques.

Who should use Hapi.js?

Hapi.js is ideal for medium to large organizations with complex and demanding requirements for web applications.

6. Sails.js

Sails.js is an MVC framework based on Socket.IO and Express.js for building customized enterprise-level applications. While it's compatible with many front-end frameworks, its API structure generates RESTful JSON models and supports HTTP and WebSockets. Plus, it provides a command-line interface for quickly generating boilerplate code, allowing developers to focus on writing business logic and avoid spending time on repetitive tasks.

Sails.js top features

  • Built-in ORM allows developers to write database queries without learning specific syntaxes.

  • Asset pipelines compress and minify code in the background.

  • Customizable authentication policies give developers fine-grained control over their application’s security.

  • Plugin system allows for plugging in third-party applications, databases, or services.

Who should use Sails.js?

Sails.js is ideal for small and medium businesses and startups building data-intensive web applications like chat, collaboration tools, and gaming platforms that require real-time data updates.

7. LoopBack

LoopBack is an open-source framework for creating APIs in Node.js. It's built on top of Express.js and is designed to make it easier for developers to create RESTful APIs with little to no overhead. Loopback is a developer-centric middleware that provides easy-to-use APIs with generalizable components and modules.

LoopBack top features

  • Integration with databases such as MongoDB, Oracle, MySQL, and PostgreSQL.

  • Model definition simplifies data access and enables REST APIs to be quickly built.

  • Code generation makes it simple to create new models, controllers, ACLs, and relations.

  • API Explorer provides interactive documentation for developers while debugging applications.

  • Built-in scaffolding helps developers quickly build prototypes for exploring and testing new ideas.

Who should use LoopBack?

LoopBack is ideal for businesses of all sizes—from small projects to large enterprise applications and use cases looking to build an API.

8. Koa.js

Koa.js is a lightweight web framework for Node.js based on callbacks, generators, and async functions. It was created by the developers of Express.js and is designed to be more minimalist than other frameworks. While the core doesn't have any middleware, it has an elegant collection of plugins and extensions to write servers quickly and easily. 

Koa.js top features

  • ES6 specification simplifies the development of complex application logic.

  • Built-in catchall for errors helps developers prevent website crashes.

  • Cascading middleware reduces the amount of code written for complex applications.

  • Koa-router module creates static and dynamic routes with a single command.

  • Identifies HHTPs methods like POST, GET, PUT, and DELETE

  • Context systems allow developers to use a single object for passing and receiving information.

Who should use Koa.js?

Koa.js is ideal for small to medium businesses looking for a modern, efficient, and customizable framework to build their web applications on.

9. Serverless Framework

“Serverless Framework is ideal for building serverless projects independently from the underlying infrastructure, like AWS, Azure, and GCP. We use it to build serverless functions without dealing with the cloud services configuration”, says Julian. So developers don't need to worry about the hardware and software setup or CPU idle time costs as the code is executed in a cloud platform.

At NaNLABS, we used Serverless Framework for Fifth Wall, a venture capital firm that focuses on real estate and construction technology. We helped them develop a platform with proprietary technology that connected to multiple third-party APIs and used data from their existing platforms. 

Serverless Framework top features

  • Integrates with cloud providers like AWS and Azure.

  • Event-driven architecture triggers functions in response to specific events.

  • Code encapsulation helps developers manage their functions in one place.

  • Supports multiple programming languages like JavaScript and Python.

  • Built-In plugins add additional functionalities like authentication, monitoring, and analytics.

Who should use Serverless Framework?

Serverless Framework is ideal for businesses of all sizes that want to deliver applications to customers without worrying about the underlying infrastructure.

What are the advantages of Node.js web frameworks?

Node.js web frameworks are ideal for building dynamic web applications, developing microservices, and handling large amounts of traffic and data. Here are a few advantages of working with Node.js web frameworks:

Scalable and high-speed applications

Julian says, “Node.js uses a non-blocking I/O model, which makes it fast and efficient for building scalable network applications.” So, it can handle concurrent connections and process multiple requests simultaneously, resulting in faster performance. The easy-to-use API makes it an ideal choice for building fast and efficient applications.

Full-stack development 

Full-stack development is the ability to build the entirety of an application, including the front-end and back-end, using a single language and framework. “Node.js allows developers to use JavaScript on both the front-end and back-end, which makes it a popular choice for those already familiar with the language,” says Julian. Full-stack frameworks help keep a consistent design and codebase through the front and back ends. 

Suited to building microservices 

Microservices require scalable, low-latency, and high throughput systems. And since Node.js has a lightweight architecture, it can easily meet these requirements. Express.js, Hapi.js, and Nest.js are popular frameworks for building microservices. 

Community support 

Node.js has a large and active community, which means there is a wealth of resources, tutorials, and support available,” says Julian. Developers and contributors help maintain library packages and help users improve and fix bugs. This makes it easier to add new functionality and speed up development. You can see which frameworks are popular, and therefore more likely to come with plenty of community support, on GitHub.

Simplify development and minimize errors

Node.js frameworks like Express.js, Hapi.js, and Nest.js offer pre-written and tested codebase. They help structure code and handle common web development tasks like routing, request pipelining with middleware, and error handling. They minimize how much code must get written and reduce the risk of bugs or errors. 

4 JavaScript libraries to use with Node.js frameworks

Pre-written codes make it easy for developers to build, debug and deploy dynamic applications quickly. As Julian says “The choice between using a framework or a library depends on the specific requirements of your project and your personal preferences.”

Here are four JavaScript libraries to consider when building with Node.js frameworks: 

1. Socket.IO

Socket.IO provides fast and efficient server-side applications or environments for real-time applications. Julian says, “At times when building an SPA, we need to send notifications to users within the app or create a channel to communicate with them. That’s impossible without WebSockets.” With the support of the Socket.IO library, Julian and his team can use WebSockets to create a bi-directional channel to go back and forth with the front end. Companies like Trello and Zendesk use Socket.IO for quick updates, notifications, and messages.

2. React

While Node.js provides a server-side environment. React provides a client-side interface. “It’s our go-to technology for building SPAs. It’s a front-end library that helps us build web apps with different complexity and size. The good thing about React is that we’re using the same language in the whole project, JavaScript,” adds Julian. 

3. MongoDB

MongoDB is a NoSQL database that provides a scalable and flexible solution for data storage and management. “MongoDB has a good relationship with Node.js and Javascript since the way the information is represented is with a JSON (Javascript Object Notation),” says Julian. This makes it easy to work with collections and documents. 

MongoDB’s indexing capabilities to search, sort, and filter data also make it ideal for complex data processing and analysis. That’s why we helped HyreCar use MongoDB to migrate, store, and manage its data. 

4. Lodash

Lodash makes it easier to write efficient and readable code. It provides utility functions for common programming tasks, such as manipulating arrays, objects, and strings, making it ideal for large-scale applications. Microsoft uses Lodash in products like Visual Studio Code and TypeScript. 

Empower your next project with the right Node.js framework

Node.js web frameworks provide a structure for your application and define how it should be built and organized. At NaNLABS, our go-to frameworks are:

  • Express.js, a minimalist framework known for its simplicity and flexibility.

  • Nest.js, a scalable and modular architecture.

  • Serverless Framework, a cloud-native solution perfect for deploying serverless applications.

Ultimately, the choice of which Node.js web framework to use depends on your needs and resources. We can help you choose the right framework for your project and get started on development quickly. Whether you want team augmentation or more hands-off consultancy,  we’re happy to help.

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 web frameworks

  • What is a Node.js web framework?

    A Node.js web framework is a pre-built library or set of libraries to build server-side web applications using JavaScript and the Node.js runtime environment. Some popular Node.js web frameworks include Express.js, Meteor, and Koa.js.

  • Is Node.js good for web development?

    Node.js is good for web development because it’s built on Google's V8 JavaScript engine, which is known for its speed and efficiency. It’s ideal for building fast and responsive web applications.

  • Is Node.js an MVC framework?

    Node.js is not a Model-View-Controller (MVC) framework. Node.js is a runtime environment for executing JavaScript code on the server side, and it’s not a web framework by itself. But Node.js web frameworks like Express.js and Meteor can be used to build applications using the MVC pattern. The MVC is a design pattern separating the application into three main components: the model, the view, and the controller.

  • What’s the difference between Node.js and Ruby on Rails?

    The difference between Node.js and Ruby on Rails is that Node.js uses JavaScript, while Ruby on Rails uses Ruby as its programming language. Node.js is known for its high performance and scalability due to its asynchronous, non-blocking nature. On the other hand, Ruby on Rails is known for its ease of use. 

  • Is Node.js an enterprise framework?

    Node.js is an enterprise framework for its high performance, scalability, versatility, and supportive community of developers. It’s ideal for use cases like web applications, real-time applications, and microservices.

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