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NestJS vs. Express.js: Choosing the Best Node Framework for 2024

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As the demand for robust web development solutions continues to surge, the choice between Nest.js and Express.js becomes increasingly pivotal for developers in 2024. In the dynamic realm of Node.js frameworks, understanding market trends is essential. The global web development market is anticipated to reach a staggering USD 89,013.17 million by 2027, with a compelling CAGR of 8.03% during the forecast period. Against this backdrop of growth, selecting the optimal framework between Nest.js and Express.js takes on heightened significance, with each offering distinct advantages and capabilities for developers navigating the digital landscape.

In this article, we will compare Nestjs and Expressjs, two popular frameworks for building server-side applications with Nodejs. By analyzing their features, performance, architecture, unit testing capabilities, and use cases, we aim to help you choose the right framework for your backend development needs. 

Key Takeaways:

  • Nest.js and Express are popular frameworks for building server-side applications with Node.js.
  • Nest.js is an opinionated framework that provides conventions and rules for development, while Express is an un-opinionated framework that allows for more freedom and flexibility.
  • Express.js is the most widely used Node.js framework, but Nest.js is rapidly gaining popularity.
  • Both frameworks offer good performance, but Nest.js provides the option to switch to Fastify for improved scalability and speed.
  • Nest.js follows a well-defined architecture that promotes code reusability and maintainability, while Express.js allows developers to structure their code as they see fit.

What is Nest.js?

Nest.js is a powerful Node.js framework for building server-side applications. It is based on TypeScript and JavaScript, making it a familiar choice for developers. Nest.js takes inspiration from Angular, which means developers who are already familiar with Angular will find many similarities in Nest.js.

Nest.js provides a set of core components such as controllers, modules, providers, and middleware to help organize and structure the application. These core components contribute to the architectural design and functionality of Nest.js, providing developers with the tools they need to create robust and scalable server-side applications. With its platform-agnostic approach, Nest.js can work with any Node HTTP framework.

One of the key benefits of using Nest.js is leveraging the extensive ecosystem of Express. This allows developers to take advantage of the robust features and community support of Express while benefiting from the structured organization and architecture provided by Nest.js.

What is Express.js?

Express.js is a popular Node.js web framework that is widely used for building web and mobile applications. It serves as a layer on top of Node.js, simplifying server and route management for developers. Express.js follows the MVC (Model-View-Controller) architectural pattern, allowing developers to separate their application’s logic into distinct components.

One of the key features of Express.js is its extensive functionality. The framework provides a wide range of tools and modules for tasks such as request/response control, routing, and serving static files. Express.js also includes a powerful routing mechanism that makes it easy to handle different URLs and their associated states. This enables developers to build dynamic web pages that can preserve the state of the application.

Another important aspect of Express.js is its support for template engines. With template engines, developers can create dynamic content for web pages using HTML templates on the server side.

Overall, Express.js is a versatile framework that offers a robust set of features for building web and mobile applications. Its layer on top of Node.js, MVC architecture, middleware functionality, routing mechanism, and support for template engines make it a popular choice among custom web software developers.

Key Differences Between Nest.js and Express.js

When exploring the world of backend development with Node.js, understanding the nuances between frameworks is essential for making informed choices. In this section, we will delve into the key disparities between Nest.js and Express.js, focusing on the aspects of opinionation versus unopinionated approaches, popularity, performance, and architecture.

Opinionated and Unopinionated

One key difference between Nest.js and Express.js is their approach to opinionation. Nest.js is an opinionated framework that adheres to the principle of “convention over configuration.” It provides a set of conventions and rules that developers should follow while building applications. This approach reduces the need for explicit configuration and standardizes the development process.

On the other hand, Express.js is an unopinionated framework that gives developers complete freedom and flexibility in writing code. It does not enforce any specific rules or conventions, allowing developers to experiment and customize their applications as needed. This can be advantageous for experienced developers who prefer to have more control over the code structure and project architecture.

When it comes to flexibility, Express.js offers a higher degree of freedom compared to Nest.js. While this flexibility can be beneficial for certain projects, it can also result in inconsistent code structure and make it harder to maintain the application as it grows in complexity.

Comparison Table of Nest.js and Express.js

Criteria

Nest.js

Express.js

Opinionation Approach

Opinionated

Unopinionated

Conventions

Enforces conventions and rules to follow

Does not enforce any specific conventions

Flexibility

Provides a structured development process

Gives developers more freedom to experiment

TypeScript Integration

Strong integration with TypeScript

Can work with TypeScript, but not specifically designed for it

Experience Level

Beginner to experienced developers

Experienced developers

Complexity

Well-suited for complex applications

Flexible for simple to complex applications

Popularity

Both Nest.js and Express.js have gained significant traction in the developer community. According to a 2023 study by Statista, 19.28% of software developers stated they use Express.j, and 16.67% stated they use Nest.js, indicating a robust and growing interest in both frameworks.

Let’s take a closer look at their adoption rates and the GitHub stars they’ve garnered.

Framework

GitHub Stars

Adoption

Nest.js

47,000+

Rapidly Growing

Express.js

57,000+

Widely Used

Express.js, with over 57,000 GitHub stars, is currently the most widely used Node.js framework. Its simplicity, flexibility, and extensive developer community have contributed to its popularity. Developers value the ease of use and the broad range of resources available for Express.js.

On the other hand, Nest.js is quickly gaining popularity, with over 47,000 GitHub stars and a rapidly growing adoption rate. Nest.js’s strong architecture, TypeScript support, and seamless integration with other technologies have made it an attractive choice for developers. Its emphasis on scalability and maintainability has garnered attention within the Node.js development community.

Both frameworks, Nest.js and Express.js, have established themselves as relevant and valuable tools within the Node.js ecosystem, each offering unique benefits and addressing specific development needs.

Performance

Node.js, both Nest.js and Express.js offer excellent performance when it comes to building server-side applications. Express.js is known for its simplicity and efficiency, allowing you to execute multiple operations asynchronously. This asynchronous programming capability enhances the overall performance of your applications.

Nest.js, on the other hand, defaults to using the Express framework for request processing. Express is a popular and widely used HTTP framework that delivers solid performance for building web applications. However, Nest.js also provides the flexibility to switch to Fastify, another HTTP framework known for its scalability and speed.

Developers can choose between Nest.js and Express.js based on their specific performance requirements and preferences. Whether you prioritize simplicity, asynchronous programming, or the need for scalability, both frameworks offer robust options to meet your application’s performance needs.

Framework

Performance

Asynchronous Programming

Scalability

Nest.js

Good performance with Express framework

Supports asynchronous programming

Can switch to Fastify for improved scalability

Express.js

Efficient and asynchronous

Provides support for asynchronous operations

Can handle moderate scalability requirements

Architecture

Nest.js follows the principles of separation of concerns and modularity, providing a well-defined architecture for developers. It encourages the use of modules, controllers, and providers, which help organize and structure the application’s logic. By dividing the code into different modules, developers can separate functionalities and manage dependencies easily.

This approach promotes reusability and maintainability, as each module can be developed independently and plugged into different parts of the application. The controllers handle incoming requests, while providers manage the business logic and data. By separating different layers of the application, Nest.js ensures a clean and organized codebase.

Express.js, on the other hand, does not enforce any specific architecture. It provides developers with the freedom to structure their code as they see fit. This flexibility can be beneficial for smaller projects or experimental purposes, as it allows developers to easily adapt to project requirements.

While Express.js does not provide strict guidelines, developers can still utilize best practices such as the Model-View-Controller (MVC) pattern to organize their code. However, without the enforced structure, code inconsistencies may arise, making it harder to maintain the application as it grows in complexity.

Nest.js

Express.js

Follows the principles of separation of concerns and modularity

Does not enforce any specific architecture

Encourages the use of modules, controllers, and providers

Provides flexibility and freedom in code structuring

Promotes reusability and maintainability

May result in code inconsistencies and maintenance challenges

Nest.js offers a structured and organized architecture, promoting reusability and maintainability. It encourages the use of modules, controllers, and providers for better code organization. Express.js, on the other hand, provides flexibility in code structure but lacks strict guidelines, which may lead to code inconsistencies. The choice between the two frameworks depends on your preference for a well-defined architecture or the freedom to structure code as you see fit.

Conclusion

Both Nest.js and Express.js are powerful frameworks for building server-side applications with Node.js. When choosing the right framework, it is important to consider factors such as performance requirements, architectural preferences, ease of use, and popularity.

Express.js, with its larger developer community and widespread adoption, is a reliable choice for many projects. Its simplicity, flexibility, and extensive ecosystem make it a popular option. However, Nest.js offers a more opinionated and structured approach, with its strong architecture and support for TypeScript.

With Nest.js, developers can benefit from a solid foundation for building scalable and maintainable applications. Its use of modules, controllers, and providers promotes code reusability and separation of concerns. Additionally, Nest.js’s growing popularity and integration with other technologies make it a compelling choice.

Ultimately, the decision between Nest.js and Express.js depends on your specific project requirements and your familiarity with the frameworks. Whether you choose Express.js for its wide community and simplicity, or Nest.js for its opinionated architecture and TypeScript support, you can trust that Node.js provides a robust platform for your backend needs.

If you are looking for help with your web application, read more about Flatirons’ custom web development services.

FAQ

What is the difference between Nestjs and Expressjs?

Nestjs is a server-side framework built on top of Express, providing additional features and functionality. Expressjs, on the other hand, is a minimal and flexible Node.js web application framework.

Why would a developer choose Nestjs over Expressjs?

Developers may choose Nestjs over Expressjs for its built-in support for TypeScript, dependency injection, and modular architecture, making it suitable for building scalable and large-scale applications.

What are the main features of Nestjs?

Nestjs offers features like dependency injection, middleware, controllers, and a command line interface, making it an ideal framework for building server-side applications in Node.js.

How does Nestjs compare to Expressjs in terms of scalability?

Nestjs is designed to provide a structured and modular approach, making it easier to build and maintain large-scale applications, whereas Expressjs offers more flexibility but may require additional setup for scalability.

What are the pros and cons of using Nestjs and Expressjs?

Nestjs offers built-in support for TypeScript, dependency injection, and modular architecture, while Expressjs provides minimalism and flexibility. The choice depends on the specific requirements of the project.

Is Nestjs an opinionated framework like Expressjs?

Yes, Nestjs is an opinionated framework that encourages certain architectural patterns and best practices, while Expressjs allows developers more freedom to structure their applications as per their preferences.

How does Nestjs use JavaScript and TypeScript?

Nestjs can be used with both JavaScript and TypeScript, but it is optimized for TypeScript, offering built-in support and features tailored for the language.

What are the main features of Expressjs?

Expressjs offers features like middleware, route handling, and a minimalistic approach to building web applications in Node.js, providing flexibility for developers.

How does middleware work in Nestjs and Expressjs?

In both Nestjs and Expressjs, middleware functions can be used to handle requests, modify response objects, and perform additional tasks before passing the request to the next middleware or route-handling function.

Professional Node.js Development Services

Flatirons offers top-tier Node.js solutions for server-side and scalable network applications.

Learn more

Professional Node.js Development Services

Flatirons offers top-tier Node.js solutions for server-side and scalable network applications.

Learn more
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