If you’ve done any work with Node.js, or any server-side programming in general, you’ve probably heard of Express.js. Express.js is used widely by companies like Fox Sports, IBM, and even Uber. We’re here to help you understand what it is, why it’s useful, and whether or not you should learn it.
Express.js vs. Node.js
There isn’t really any competition between Node.js and Express.js. In fact, the first thing to know about Express.js is that in a way Express.js is Node.js. Express.js is a framework that runs inside Node.js.
Express.js is for Servers
Express.js comes with a number of built-in features that work well in the server environment. These benefits include:
- Faster server-side programming: Express.js takes a number of commonly used Node.js features and packages them into functions. These functions can be called anywhere in the program. This can save coders hundreds of lines of code by just calling these functions instead of having to write them.
- Routing: Node.js has a routing mechanism already, but it’s a little rudimentary. Express.js features a significantly more advanced and efficient routing mechanism that allows the web application to keep web page states through just their URLs.
- Templating: Express.js also features a templating engine. This lets the server-side build the webpage on its end, then send all of those values to the front end to display. This allows for dynamic content and reduces the load on the client-side.
Express.js Lives in the Stack
Express.js is at its best when implemented in a stack (a stack is all of the code required to run a web application, from the front end user’s interaction all the way back to the backend processes that result from that click). Front end and back end development are usually split, for good reason. However, it usually means that different developers are working on different parts of a puzzle that, in the end, needs to fit together.
The NERD stack is very similar. It stands for Node.js (the runtime environment; yes they moved it to the front to make the acronym more fun), Express.js (the server), React (the front end framework), and Database (this can be any database really. This is because the industry is moving away from sticking to a specific database and it makes the acronym more fun).
Right now the NERD stack is gaining popularity rapidly, making it the more relevant stack. But for the purposes of this article, both stacks use Express.js, which makes Express.js an attractive framework to learn. Bringing us to our next topic.
Why You Should Learn Express.js