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Top 5 Types of Node.js Apps You Can Build

Borys Palka f3091b20dd
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23/06/2021 |

11 min read

Borys Palka,

Wiktor Malinowski

In order to build an autonomous team, it is important to remember that any developer who calls himself a Full-stack is either an excellent Frontend developer with an average understanding of Backend or a good Server-side developer with mediocre Frontend abilities. 

And, because you don't have to focus on learning the syntax of the language, Node.js makes web development considerably easier. When a Front developer is forced to deal with Node.js on the dark side (we’re looking at you, Backenders), he should be able to handle it easily because he writes in JS regularly.

In this article, we will go over how to use Node.js and what types of apps you can create with it along with the best libraries to complete your Node project without a sweat. So, if you're interested in learning more about this well-known framework, keep reading!


  1. What is Node.js? 
  2. Top 5 types of Node.js apps you can build
  3. Top 8 most useful types of Node.js frameworks
  4. Node.js projects - wrap-up


What is Node.js? 

“Node.js is a JavaScript runtime built on Chrome’s V8 JavaScript engine. Node.js uses an event-driven, non-blocking I/O model that makes it lightweight and efficient.”

– Node definition by https://nodejs.org 

Node (or, more officially, Node.js) is a cross-platform JavaScript runtime environment that runs outside the browser and interacts directly with the operating system. In other words, the Node environment makes operating system APIs available to its applications, such as access to the file system, system libraries, or running processes, such as HTTP servers.

The influence of Node.js on the web is demonstrated by its market position: it is used on fewer websites than Apache and Nginx, but it is by far the most popular alternative for high-traffic websites. And that's just on the internet. Node.js can be also used to create desktop applications, mobile applications, or to control a swarm of IoT devices.

According to Node Introduction by Mozilla, it provides numerous advantages in terms of server-side program development:

  • Because the application code is written in good old JavaScript, we spend less time "context switching" while working with multiple languages on the client and server sides.
  • Node is intended to improve the performance and scalability of online applications and is a solid answer to many common issues encountered while creating such applications.
  • JavaScript is a relatively new programming language that has several advantages over previous typically server-side languages (e.g. PHP, Python, etc.). You may also use TypeScript, CoffeScript, ClojureScript, Scala.js, LiveScript, and other newer and popular languages because they are compiled/translated to JavaScript.
  • You can utilize the Node Package Manager (NPM) to access hundreds of thousands of packages. It contains a top-of-the-line dependency resolution engine and may be used to automate application development.
  • Node.js is a portable programming language. Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux, Solaris, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, WebOS, and NonStop OS are all supported. It's also backed up by network service providers, who offer the necessary approvals.

So, in other words, to write complete web applications with Node.js, you only need knowledge of one programming language (i.e. FE and BE). In such a situation, you may also add the benefit of sharing some JavaScript code between FE and BE (e.g. form validation rules, or some other business logic).

If you are a Node-beginner we recommend you go through the following resources:

  • Make yourself familiar with this thread, JavaScript v8 blog, and Node.js learning section, especially official Node API documentation, Stack Overflow, and NodeSchool.io, which provides interactive command-line games to teach you Node.js concepts.
  • You can also post Node.js projects, articles, and tutorials, as well as starting conversations and soliciting comments on the DEV Community Node.js., or discuss them live by joining Nodeiflux - a friendly Discord community of Node.js backend developers.
  • As always, we encourage you to follow the Node.js community on Reddit.


Top 5 types of Node.js apps you can build

While Node.js is still relatively young, it is far from a novelty. For good reason, Fortune 500 firms choose Node.js over other frameworks. Let’s take a look at the five major types of apps you can create using Node.js:

  1. Real-time chat apps are one of the most frequent forms of Node.js applications, whether they are social networking apps or interactive commercial websites. Node.js offers an Event API that allows developers to work with any data in an event-driven manner. This feature is quite useful when it comes to implementing server-side events and push alerts (so, the absolute basics of real-time communication). And if you opt to install WebSockets on both the server and client sides, Node.js can perform real-time messaging with lower latency and faster data transfer.
  2. Streaming apps. Node handles data streaming quite well. It accomplishes this by having several tools designed specifically to efficiently handle, monitor, and process streams. All of this contributes to an ideal environment for working with streaming data - which has been already spotted by Netflix, one of the biggest Node.js-based streaming platforms. Its engineers chose Node.js to deliver a lightning-fast, modular, and lightweight application. As a result, Netflix's web app load time has been cut by 70%.
  3. Remote collaboration tools. Trello, Google Docs, Hangouts... Because all of these collaboration tools are real-time, a large number of events and I/O requests occur concurrently – different users can be updating the same file, commenting, and adding media files on multiple boards. Node's WebSockets and event API ensure that numerous users' operations do not negatively impact the server and that all server-side data is given back to the client without delay. So, the job of Node is to maintain a unified and consistent view of the application for all its users.
  4. A single-page application mimics the desktop app by dynamically rewriting the current web page. Once again, Node.js is a strong runtime environment capable of handling asynchronous calls and large I/O workloads with ease. Thus, it is well-suited for complex SPAs., ensuring a smooth and uniform transition accompanied by continuous data updates. Finally, Node.js is written in the same language (JavaScript) as SPAs. As a result, Yahoo's performance and scalability improved after it switched to Node.js technology, and it was able to handle more than 25,000 requests per second.
  5. IoT solutions. Node.js is the best solution for creating private and/or public IoT systems. Node.js is an event-driven framework that allows for asynchronous data processing. Furthermore, Node.js has low memory needs. As a result, node.js programmers may simply combine it with single-board controllers such as Arduino. These are frequently utilized in the development of digital devices that comprise an IoT system.

As of now, JavaScript may be used to create any type of software, either partially or entirely. The majority of JavaScript apps' backends are written in Node.js. Among the brands successfully utilizing it we can find such big names as LinkedIn, Twitter, Netflix, Uber, Coursera, Trello, PayPal, NASA, eBay, Medium, Groupon, Slack, Revolut, Upwork, Asana, Walmart, Mozilla, Figma, GoDaddy.

We know the basics, now it’s time to move to something practical - let’s talk about the tools which could help you create your first Node.js API. 


Top 8 most useful types of Node.js frameworks

1. Web application framework: Express.JS 

Express is a popular Node.js Model-View-Controller (MVC) framework that provides a robust set of online and mobile application development capabilities. It is quick, simple, and adaptable. It is the de-facto API for building web apps on top of Node.js.

It is a collection of routing modules that adds a thin layer of essential web application functionality to the already wonderful Node.js features. It prioritizes speed and offers extensive routing as well as HTTP helpers (redirection, caching, etc). It includes a view system that supports 14+ template engines, content negotiation, and an executable for fast-creating apps.

Furthermore, Express has a variety of simple HTTP utility methods, functions, and middleware, allowing developers to rapidly and simply create sophisticated APIs. Express is the foundation of several prominent Node.js frameworks (you will discover some of them as you continue reading).

GitHub: https://github.com/expressjs/express

2. Next.js 

Next.js is built on the foundations of React, Webpack, and Babel. It enables us to start a project in a very easy manner, as we do not need to configure anything and simply need to perform basic commands to get the project up and running. Next.js is inspired by PHP and has a fantastic system of JavaScript modules that allows us to export the components of our application and conduct separate tests on each component, as well as download thousands of components or modules via npm.

GitHub: https://github.com/vercel/next.js 


3. Nest.js 

Nest.js is a node.js framework for creating web apps. The framework combines several libraries and offers methods for a wide range of scenarios (like microservices or graphql). It is extremely well documented and the entrance barrier is quite low, especially if you have prior expertise with the technologies described in the introduction (the similarity to Angular is striking).

GitHub: https://github.com/nestjs/nest 


4. Real-time communication: Socket.io 

Socket.io is a full-stack framework for developing real-time applications that are quick and dependable. It is intended for bidirectional event-based communication in real-time. It has auto-reconnection, disconnection detection, binary, multiplexing, and room support. It features an easy-to-use API and works on any platform, browser, or device (focusing equally on reliability and speed).

GitHub: https://github.com/socketio/socket.io


5. Process manager: Pm2 

PM2 is a popular Node.js monitoring tool for ensuring that your application is up and functioning. It is a simple solution for executing and monitoring live production workloads through a web interface or command-line interface.

PM2 is a daemon process manager that helps Node.js developers manage and maintain their applications. To get started with this tool, developers must first install NPM, which is done using the npm –version command. Furthermore, npm install -g pm2 is executed to install PM2.

GitHub: https://github.com/Unitech/pm2


6. Loopback.io 

Loopback.io is a framework for building backend and microservice. Interesting in the sense that it creates abstractions with the database based on models. We advise you to go straight for version 4, over version 3 - it’s not worth the hassle.

GitHub: https://github.com/strongloop/loopback 


7. Logger: Winston & Bunyan

As a well-known logging library, Winston is intended to be simple, and it supports universal logging across different transports. Winston describes itself as "a logger for almost everything." It allows you to route logs to various services such as AWS CloudWatch, graylog2, logz.io, and even Sematext Logsene. We can even include the Express middleware to improve logging using Express with Winston.

Bunyan, another well-known Node.js logging library, describes itself as a simple and fast JSON logging framework for Node.js services. Bunyan believes that logs should be stored in JSON format. It has a CLI for pretty-printing, serializers, and support for other runtimes other than Node.js, such as Webpack and Browserify.

Winston GitHub: https://github.com/winstonjs/winston

Bunyan GitHub: https://github.com/trentm/node-bunyan


8. Authentication: Passport.js & Node-RED

Passport.js is an authentication function library that can be tailored to the demands of most applications. What is it about Passport that makes it so adaptable? The major reason is that developers have a multitude of implementation techniques to select from. Passport strategies are distinct modules designed to accommodate several methods of authentication. There are hundreds of strategies to choose from. Modules customized to certain technologies and databases are also available.

According to the official Node-RED description, Node-RED is a “low-code tool for event-driven applications.” This programming tool is meant for wiring hardware devices, APIs, and web services in novel ways. It has a browser-based editor that makes it simple to connect flows utilizing the palette's vast selection of nodes, which can be deployed to its runtime with a single click.

Passport.js GitHub: https://github.com/jaredhanson/passport

Node-RED GitHub: https://github.com/node-red/node-red


Node.js projects - wrap-up

To cut a long tale short, Node.js is an open-source server-side runtime environment built on Google Chrome's JavaScript V8 Engine, designed for the development of fast and scalable internet applications. Basically, it's just a JavaScript runtime that gives developers a lightweight, fast, and modern means to execute code on their local machine.

But is Node.js an appropriate choice for your project? Let us put this that way. Node.js is stable, fast, runs on JavaScript, and scales up as much as you need it to - both in terms of user count and app performance. It can be used to create a wide range of apps, from SPA to IoT. Its serverless architecture, microservices, and event emitters have made it an excellent solution for high-traffic, real-time applications such as a single page application, mobile app, or cross-platform software. 

So, yes. When utilized correctly, Node outperforms rival technologies in terms of performance and user experience. For example, according to Brainhub, PayPal's Node.js efforts resulted in significant technological returns, with the web application loading nearly twice as quickly with less personnel, in 33% fewer lines of code, and in 40% fewer files than their old Java-based version. And when it comes to applying best practices, we highly recommend using proven frameworks and making yourself familiar with this list.

Rated: 5.0 / 1 opinions
Borys Palka f3091b20dd

Borys Palka

In theory, a medical physicist with a love for coding. In practice, a front-end developer who was absorbed by web technologies like they were Kirchhoff's perfect black body. He got his first job as a software developer in 2017 (with Angular2 and Typescript). With constant acceleration, he has moved to the event horizon of the “black hole” of IT. After being totally absorbed, he’s reached the excited state when he wants to radiate his passion and knowledge. A bit of a geek with a wide spectrum of interests from martial arts, through pixel art, to the game industry.

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Wiktor Malinowski

A self-taught developer who started acquiring knowledge in the IT field in 2008, and in 2012, obtained an engineering degree in Computer Science. He has spent most of his professional work in the sports industry, building apps for collecting and processing live data from sports events. For some time, he has also worked as a front-end mentor at an online programming school.

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