How to choose a perfect framework for Node.js

Published Oct 11, 2017
How to choose a perfect framework for Node.js

The quality of a developed product depends on how experienced a developer is and on the tools he or she uses. The tools have to be modern and what matters, even more, they should fit the targets of the project. Node.js is a great platform for backend development and its frameworks: Sails.js, Express.js, and Koa.js make our development lives much easier. Let’s take a look closer to them and find out when and how each of them works better than the others. Firstly, let’s make sure that we know all about these platforms.

Node.js frameworks

Sails.js, Express.js, and Koa.js are the frameworks for Node.js which are based on the MVC pattern. The MVC approach is the best solution for heavy systems and complex enterprise platforms. At the same time, MVC frameworks make the code less flexible and require more code to be written. In a case, you need to create a very simple product we would recommend you to choose another more light-weight framework.

However, in some cases Node.Js loses to Ruby on Rails. To make the right decision you should learn all their pros and cons. Here’s a nice comparison of Node.Js and Ruby on Rails which can help you with this task.

What is middleware?

To understand how the Node.js frameworks work, we need to understand what middleware means and how it works. Middleware is the element which manages the information flow in a client-server interaction as well as with database and OS.

There are two types of middleware. The first type is intermediaries. They process requests and responses at the same time they are unable to respond to requests and send them to another layer.

The second type is end elements. Unlike the previous type of middleware, these elements are fully responsive. It may seem that these elements are better to use, however, in reality, the ability to delegate requests makes the architecture more flexible.

Middleware is very important for the application performance. Apps with these elements are better at scalability and have fewer bugs.

When we’ve finally dealt with all basic terms, let’s find out the assets and faults of each framework for Node.js


Sails.js is a great tool to create software interfaces with service-oriented architecture. It also has some distinguishes and the brightest one is probably a wide range of adapters for different databases. There are adapters for the most common relational and nonrelational databases. There is also a Waterline (an ORM layer) which advances the interaction with the database. Waterline is a universal instrument which is compatible with any database.

If you need to develop a very heavy and complex system with tonnes of data, then Sails.js would be the perfect choice for you.


It is a very flexible framework with the help of with you can build one page apps as well as apps with several pages and hybrid apps. Express.js is probably the easiest framework to use. Which means that even a novice can apply it successfully. Using this tool you’ll get an app with great performance which would be easy to test.

With this tool it would be incredibly easy to create RESTful APIs and integrate 3rd party services.

Nevertheless, the framework has a some drawbacks which make the tool imperfect. One of such disadvantages is an absence of recommended method of organization, for instance.

Despite this fact, for middle-size projects Express.js can become the most handy solution. But for the complex project with big development team is definitely not the best decision.


We can consider Koa.js platform as a modern substitution of the Express.js framework. The developers claimed that Koa is going to beat Express.js. But have they kept their promise?

With Koa.js you can build web apps with great performance. It is possible because Koa uses ES6 generator feature. It helps bypass callbacks. As well as that, it makes the code management process easier. Moreover, here you can deal with errors faster.

Koa.js would perfectly fit you if you need to build a lightweight app without tonnes of unneeded stuff.

How to choose

When you are dealing with a project and want to choose the best Node.js solution, first of all, think about the purpose of your project. As well as that, we highly recommend you to take into account such elements as documentation, scalability, performance, and customization.

As for Cleveroad experience, we’ve tried each framework and decided that Express.js is the most convenient for us. Here are the reasons why:

  1. It is much more convenient to develop a product if you feel the support. The community of developers who prefer this tool is vast so it is easy to get some advice if needed. Express.js has the most followers on the Stack Overflow, almost 8,000 developers, while others have less than 1,000.

  2. Express.js is a well-documented framework. And as you probably know this fact can make developers’ lives much easier.

  3. Express.js doesn’t eliminate the use of other instruments, so the integration of different third-party APIs, like social media, push notifications or payment processor takes little time.

We hope this information was helpful to you and you’ll spend less time trying to choose among these frameworks.

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David Alejandro Coronel Baracaldo
6 days ago

A good brief explanation, we’re starting our research to create our backend-admin platform and this blog was very useful.