A decade back when Ryan Dahl had written Node.js to build a solution that resolves the speed, concurrency, scalability, reliability, and data sharing issues, which frequently pop-up in front of the developers, he was entirely clueless about the popularity and the enormous success the piece of software will relish at the later stage. Even, the stack overflow’s developer survey has crowned the language as the most commonly used back-end technology in the IT world.

Now, the open-source platform built on the top of Chrome’s V8 JavaScript engine powering nearly 2.08% of the websites on the webbed world with 74,973 unique domains is steadily moving up in terms of high usage and not showing any sign to lose the battle to contemporary frameworks.

In the last few years, Node.js’ package ecosystem, that’s npm, boasts of having the largest ecosystem of open source libraries in the world with millions of packages. The increasing community support, universal development ecosystem, and high familiarity with JavaScript language are other reasons for the increasing fame of Node.JS development.

The unmatched performance, high scalability, real-time app development, single codebase, data streaming services, and event-driven, non-blocking I/O model have compelled from large enterprises to SMBs to build or re-engineer the apps using Node.js technology. Netflix, Uber, PayPal, and Walmart are names to few.

These are enough reasons for the developers to learn or polish the skills in Node.js in order to get their dream job. The new candidate on the technology block has made the lives of Node.js developers easier with an array of Node.js development tools. More is merrier.

There is a long list of Node.js development tools on the developer’s radar that’s continuously evolving and simplifying the app development

Let’s dive in!

Express.js

Express is a server-side framework that’s written in JavaScript language and considered as a perfect fit to build a single page, multiple pages, and hybrid apps, common back-end functions, and APIs. It supports MVC architecture and has two templating engines that handle the data flow.

Going ahead, it offers a mechanism to add additional request processing “middleware” in the request handling chain at any point which provides flexibility to the developers to create compatible middleware packages that address the development problems. However, the flexibility to add middleware packages at any point works as a double edge sword because there is no right way to use middleware packages and structure an app in one file, multiple files, or any directory structure. This is why the framework is also termed as an unopinionated and minimalist framework.  Using Express-generator, the project folder structure can be generated so that the developers can directly jump into coding.

The thin layer on the top of Node.JS with web application features like- middleware, routing, static files serving, and templating, the I/O performance of the Node.JS app remain high.

Besides, Express provides methods to determine what function is called for a specific HTTP verb and URL pattern, what template engine is used, where template files are located at, and which template to use to get a response. The middleware packages and HTTP utility methods enable the creation of APIs on-the-fly.

Socket.io

When it comes to building a highly interactive real-time chat application, the socket.io framework provides great help by enabling the bi-directional synchronous exchange of data in the real-time. The plain single argument events allow easy integration with any reactive streaming technology and the use of causal ordering based tracking of events.

Plus, socket.io is all-browser compatible, platform-independent, and work and perform on every device flawlessly. The real-time engine also features real-time analytics (Display the data in charts, logs, or real-time counters), instant messaging and chat (Create a simple app in a few lines of code), binary streaming (Enable text, image, audio, or video sharing), and document collaboration (Allow multiple users to concurrently make and view the changes), which has made it very popular and worth that it’s used by Trello, Zendesk, Microsoft Office, and others.

Meteor

The full-stack framework is an excellent choice for developing reactive web and mobile applications. The support for MVC design principle makes it easier for the developers to build an app keeping UI and business logic layers different, and thereby deliver the real-time update to the users without making extra trips to the web server.

With bi-directional data synchronization mechanism, the shadow copy of the data requested by the client from the server is saved and when any changes are made, they are automatically saved to the server without any manual intervention.

The high-performing and complex applications can be built quickly due to the abundance of scaffolding options, libraries, and packages. With velocity testing tools, the code testing starts as soon as it’s written, and the green or red dots indicate the testing results.

The framework supported by the active community is continuously evolving with new libraries, packages, and tools to meet the emerging app development trends.

Chai

Node.JS has brought JavaScript language to the server-side programming, client-side programming, or embedded system programming. The software written in JavaScript must be tested using test frameworks that features test runners, assertions, or BDD-style test suites.

Chai tool stands out as the BDD/TDD assertion library that can be paired with any JavaScript testing framework, be it Mocha, Sinon, or Jasmine. The BDD/TDD language specifications for all assertions is described in chai’s API documentation, and developers are allowed to choose any of the assertions they are most comfortable with.

Besides, chai’s assertion can be extended to new context through plugins, and the developers can build their own plugins or use the existing plugin pattern.

Keystone.js

Leveraging CMS to build complex web applications saves a lot of development time and efforts as the readymade plugins don’t require developers to code from the scratch for building and deploying functionalities. Keystone is a CMS that helps in building the data-driven applications which interact with a database without considering PHP or WordPress platform.

Basically, keystone.js is based on Express.js and MongoDB where the developers just require to set up the MVC architecture post-vanilla-installation. The data models in CMS automatically create an admin dashboard to manage the data. The complete control over the system from inside-out enables customization on-the-fly. The easy integration of packages makes the CMS extendable. The readymade templates and high-degree of customization allow the developers to build blogs or Ecommerce in a couple of hours.

The tool comes ready with session management and authentication features that take off heavy work from the developer’s shoulders. Compatibility with third-party services is an add-on to craft out-of-box applications. This makes keystone the best fit for building full-fledged, high performant, and dynamic applications under tight deadlines.

Koa.js

The team behind Express framework has created koa to minimize the minimalism characteristic of Express not by bundling any middleware in Koa’s core, but by creating separate modules for different features that can be added when required. This is why the core Koa module is just about 2K lines of code thereby reducing download footprint.

With the use of context object ctx, the developer’s experience of writing middleware routines turned upside down. The code written using async/await in koa is short, expressive, easy to read, and easy to maintain. Koa has a slight edge over Express framework when it comes to performance. Koa can be extended with more functionalities by using plugins and middleware. The generators integration makes it good at error-handling.

Plus, the need for writing additional code for streaming and closing a file is eliminated as koa directly pass the file instead of streaming it.

Sail.js

The popular MVC framework emulating the MVC pattern of Ruby On Rails framework provides support for the multiple databases (Bundled with powerful ORM and Waterline), and WebSockets to build the data-intensive, real-time chat applications. It auto-generate the code for models, controllers, and routes that can be customized later to best suit the business-specific needs.

The CSRF and Lusca compatibility makes the app robust secure with various security layers. The great compatibility with the plethora of front-end frameworks such as Angular, React, iOS, Android, or Windows Phone makes sail, the front-end agnostic. The intermediate automation degree such as auto-generation of REST APIs enables developers to focus on the server-side logic and jumpstart backend without writing extra lines of code, which speed up the development and ensure scalability with no performance glitches.

PM2

To manage Node.JS apps on the production server, there is a need for a tool that resolves the technical challenges and deploys the app efficiently. That’s where the PM2 tool comes handy.

PM2 is an open source, Node.js process manager that helps developers manage applications in the production environment in the best way through handling node processes and errors, automatic load balancing, deployment system and monitoring, and declarative app configuration.

Besides, PM2 monitor the unhandled exception such as unexpected errors, exceptions, crashes and when they occur, it reloads the node process and sends an email or alert when the process gets killed or restarted. The cluster mode increases the app performance by starting instances and then automatically balancing the load between each instance. It facilitates the automated deployment where the developers just required to configure an app in a file and the rest is taken care of by PM2.

The built-in load balancer makes scaling the application a piece of cake. Using PM2, the updates can be made to the application in the real-time by reloading the processes with zero downtime. In this way, PM2 take off the massive overhead of keeping the app up and alive forever.

Babel

During front-end development, it’s an expensive option for the developers to write code for ES6 or ES7, and all the older versions that run on the browsers and devices. Still, most of the devices and browsers support the versions ES5 or older which makes it impossible to ignore the old version compatibility. It creates the need for a transpiler which allows the developers to write code according to the conventions of the latest version and then automatically transpile the JavaScript code to backward-compatible versions of the JavaScript.

There are many transpilers out there, but babel transpiler is the most preferred because it’s closest to vanilla JavaScript, reduces the size of code, highly compatible with most of the browsers, support map to easily debug the code and last, it eliminates the worry about errors due to incompatibility.

In the latest upgrade, babel 7, the transpiler is packed with performance booster features, configuration overrides, JavaScript configurations, options for size minification, automatic polyfilling, caller metadata, and support for TypeScript and React JSX’s Fragments, which makes it worth using during Node.js application development.

Broccoli

When the app is developed using Grunt, and any file is changed in a build a few months later, the app takes over ten seconds to load after refreshing the browser. The double-digit delay is intolerable and impacting the developer’s productivity. To reduce the rebuild times, broccoli- the grunt plugin is introduced that deliver less than 0.5 second rebuild time and simplify the build scripts.

The developers just need to run the tasks in Grunt and then broccoli create the build in a quick and straightforward way.

Basically, broccoli is a tree that doesn’t pass around file system directories, which makes it a breeze for n:1 compiler to deal with tree pun. By not going partial rebuild creation way, it creates a fresh build every time and allows the plugins to cache the output so that the majority of the build is returned by the plugin from the cache.

The build tool is backend-agnostic, and provide support for constant-time rebuilds and compact build definitions. The fast and reliable asset pipeline based on ES6 module works wonder in app development.

Webpack

Presently, for app development, the dozens of scripts are written, each with different purpose and requirements, and they further have dependencies. The developers have to load the scripts in the right order, but the asynchronous nature of JavaScript try to load every script at once by default, which multiplies the problem by manifolds. This is why the community has created modules to bundle the scripts in a package, but slow-to-evolve JavaScript made it difficult to push things out of the door. There the module loader such as Webpack comes to the rescue.

Webpack is a build tool that’s passed through JavaScript to determine load priority, the dependencies, paths, efficiencies and so on without any overheads. It’s incredibly useful in large applications with complex front-end due to fewer static assets, easy code splitting, dead asset elimination, stable production deploys, and complete control over asset processing.

Conclusion

Node.js technology is taking the app development space by storm. Investing in Node.js coding is a good choice for now and the years to come because the technology is in-demand and ranks pretty high. When you are ready to avail the overwhelming success of Node.JS development framework, the myriad of development tools is there to help you.

Now that you have got a basic introduction of the tools, you might think about hiring Node.js developers from the list of companies offering the best-in-class services to develop a foolproof business solution.