These days, there are dozens of incredible tools for building robust web applications with complex functionalities. Having so many options can make deciding which is best for you difficult. However, when it comes to Backend Development, the answer is often a no-brainer. Express.js is one of the most powerful and popular Backend solutions. GitHub features it as the most popular Node.js framework, describing it as fast, flexible, and minimalist. It's not surprising that it's one of the pillars of one of the most loved and cutting-edge software stacks for Web Development, MERN. You should consider Express.js as your go-to web application framework for many reasons. In this manner, we've covered all the most important aspects of it.
What is Express.js?
You may also hear the word "unopinionated," which basically means that it doesn't dictate how you should build your app. In other words, there's no "right way" to do things. This gives developers more flexibility and control, helping streamline the Product Development Life Cycle (PDLC). Despite its minimalist design, it gives you a wide range of tools for robust routing, error handling, database drivers, and middleware functions. In case you didn't know, middleware is basically a request handler that helps you keep track of the app's request-response cycle.
How to Start with Express.js?
Then, you have to create an Express.js server by writing the following code in a server.js file: "const express = require('express');" The express module works as a function you can then run in the following line by creating an app variable: "const app = express();" Luckily, Express.js gives you intuitive functions for defining route handlers for different HTTP methods and paths or URL patterns. It looks like this: “app.get(..), app.post(...), and app.put(...)” These functions take one parameter that targets a URL and another that involves the server's request method (req) and the response object (res) it gives to the client requests. Here's an oversimplified example of a code snippet handling the application's request-response cycle.
After you've done that, you can start the server with the "listen" function. It requires you to pass at least one parameter representing the port number that will listen to incoming requests or connections. Note that if you don't select a request object, your Operating System (OS) will choose one randomly. You can select three more parameters: host, backlog, and callback functions. Here's a simple example that includes all the previous code and starts the server with the listen function.
That would be the first step in building a basic application using Express.js.
Why is Express.js so Important and Powerful?
That translates to having top-notch support, guidance, and learning sources for learning and mastering Express.js. It's also worth noting that it has been around for quite some time as an open-source software, making it a mature and reputable tool. Compared to other Node.js frameworks for Backend Development like Nest.js, Express.js has a low learning curve. Its simplicity and flexibility provide a smooth developer experience, helping avoid problems like over-engineering.
Final Thoughts And Conclusion
Regarding Backend Development for scalable, fast, high-performing web apps, Express.js checks all the boxes. It's hard for me to think of project requirements for which Express.js isn't an excellent choice in Backend Development. A robust set of tools for handling HTTP methods, simple routing, application structure, debugging, built-in middleware functions, error handling, deployment, and API development. They are the building blocks of any successful web app. Knowing that it has a massive active community and a mature ecosystem, you can confidently choose it for your project. Whether it is for basic or complex web applications, Express.js can help a lot in developing advanced functions.
Furthermore, you can combine it with cutting-edge technologies like tRPC and gRPC to improve the developer experience and performance. It's worth noting that despite its popularity in web application development, Express.js also gives you the tools to develop mobile applications. It's clear why some people view it as the perfect framework. Yet, you may want to look into React Native or Flutter if you are interested in mobile development. As a UX-driven digital agency covering all the PDLC stages, we strongly support Express.js for the rapid development of server-side web applications.