Most Popular Node.js Frameworks for App Development

Most Popular Node.js Frameworks for App Development

Fast and scalable. High performing and robust. Node.js was every web application developer’s dream come true. But like every new technology, coding in Node.js from scratch is a little time-consuming and requires a lot of repetitive programming. The solution to this problem was simple and time-tested-> build a pre-fabricated framework. And thus Express.js, Koa, Sails.js and many others were conceptualized and materialized.

The role of frameworks was simple. They save a lot of unnecessary work for developers and allow faster and easier development of web apps. And since every developer believes in the theory of lesser efforts for same output, these frameworks became quite popular.

As such there is not one framework which overwhelmingly dominates all, but Express.js still is used more often by far. However there are some other contenders in the race.

As such you can classify Node.js frameworks into two categories

  • Minimal Frameworks and
  • Full Stack Frameworks.

Let’s talk about both of them.

Minimal Node.js frameworks

Armed with only the most basic of functions and APIs, minimalistic Node.js frameworks are designed to improve all the main aspects of Node.js development process. However they focus more on providing basic MVC framework features and improving coding experience rather than providing support features for technologies other than Node.js . Here are some of the most popular minimal Node.js frameworks

Express.js- the most popular Node.js framework

Express.js is hands down the most popular Node.js framework among web developers. A flexible, lightweight, and easy-to-use framework Express can be used to develop pure JS or hybrid web or mobile applications of any scale. If some reports are to be believed, it is used by more than 26000 web and mobile apps around the world. Some of its popular users include MySpace, Countly, Yummly, Mozilla Persona, and So if you are a new Node developer, then this is the expressway is the one to take.

KOA- Next Generation Framework for Node.js

Developed and maintained by the team that was behind Express.js, KOA is web framework that is touted as the next generation of Node.js frameworks. Since it has evolved from Express.js, you can clearly see the similarities, as well as differences. It has some added features while its middleware free core sets it apart from the rest. In addition the framework comes equipped with efficient and easy-to-use methods which simplify the process of launching a server and server related functionalities.

Total.js- a modern Web Application Framework for Node.js

Though Total.js can be considered a minimalistic framework, it is still a feature packed Node.js framework. It targeted those developers who are interested in building large scale web apps, but it can be scaled down for smaller apps as well. If you are thinking about undertaking a web app project that you may need to scale to large proportions in future, Total.js is a perfect option.


Designed to mimic MVC pattern of frameworks like Ruby On Rails, Sails.js is a robust scalable Node.js framework. It has a service-driven architecture and is equipped with data-driven API sets. It is most useful for making multiplayer games, chat apps, real-time dashboard applications, and enterprise-level Node.js apps.

Minimal Node.js frameworks

Full Stack Node.js Frameworks

Full stack frameworks are where NodeJS shines in its brightest. Most full stack MVC Frameworks are prepacked with all the necessary application scaffolding, complete template engines, web sockets, and persistence libraries to accelerate the building of real-time scalable web and mobile apps. Here are the two most used Full Stack Node.js frameworks:

Meteor : an ultra-simple environment for building apps

Designed to work with full MEAN stack assemble, Meteor framework is a mix of

  • JavaScript framework that runs on the client web-browser, plus
  • JavaScript framework that runs on the Meteor server inside a Node.js container, plus
  • Supporting HTML codes, CSS fragments, and other useful static tools.

All these features are arrange quite flexibly in Meteor framework and you can easily play with them as per your file tree requirements. Packaging and transmission of all these components is also automated in Meteor.

Mean.IO- A complete MEAN stack JavaScript Framework

MEAN.IO is a complete JavaScript framework designed specifically to simplify and accelerate the development of MEAN stack based web app. The framework comes equipped with tools that allows you to seamlessly integrate all four technologies of MEAN stack, i.e. MongoDB, Express.js, AngularJS, and Node.js, along with other path breaking technologies like Bootstrap. It also comes armed with many other HTML, CSS, and additional JavaScript codes that greatly reduces coding time.
However the best part of this framework is its robust MVC architecture. You can create modular code using the framework and then use them as tools create sophisticated web or mobile apps. MEAN.IO packages are plug-and-play thus once published you can use them much like npm packages.
The MeanIO package system integrates all the packages into the mean project as if the code was part of mean itself and provides the developers with all the necessary tools required to integrate their package into the host project.

In short it is a complete package to fast track all your Node.js and MEAN stack development needs.

It’s a developing field

Node.js and Node.js frameworks are still a relatively new field. This is a research area that is actively worked upon and currently obviously as much expectedly the pet projects of giants like Google, Twitter, Yahoo, and Microsoft. So you are bound to see a good amount of technology advances in this field. We keep an active watch on these advances so stay tuned for more exciting developments.
You can go through Why Choose AngularJS for Your Next App? if you wish to know how AngularJS has captured its own niche in the field. And if you have heard about Express.js, you should go through Why use Express.js over Node.js for Server-Side Development?.

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Rachit Agarwal

Rachit Agarwal

Director and Co-Founder at Algoworks Technologies
Rachit is leading the mobility business development function, mobility strategy and consulting practice at Algoworks. He is an expert of all mobile technologies and has experience in managing teams involved in the development of custom iPhone/iPad/Android apps.
Rachit Agarwal

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