Node.js gained a lot of popularity among application developers who prefer to use JavaScript. The ability to manage client and server sides on the same platform led to the rapid increase in the number of Node users.

This huge demand on the market continues still. Node.js frameworks keep offering more and more features and benefits for their users.

And it does have its benefits. Node.js claims the top position in app development due to its:

  • better performance; 

  • functionality; 

  • high speed; 

  • scalability.

Sounds good? Let’s take a look at some popular frameworks for Node.js.

1. Adonis

  • GitHub Stars: 10.3K

  • Current version: 5.0.13

  • Weekly downloads: 7322

AdonisJS is a Node.js framework that runs on all major operating systems. It offers a static ecosystem for writing server-side web applications. You can choose a package depending on your specific business needs.

Adonis.js key features:

  • Powerful ORM to create secure SQL queries;

  • API and session-based authentication system;

  • User input validation;

  • Excellent security system;

  • Extensible application layout.

2. Express

  • GitHub Stars: 53.2K

  • Current version: 4.17.1

  • Weekly downloads: 17049124

Express is a minimalistic and flexible web framework for Node.js applications. Its extended feature set works well for mobile and web apps.

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Unlike other frameworks relying on Rails, Express evolves in its own way. Though, it did take a lot from another Ruby framework, Sinatra.

The main concept is simple: Express provides ample opportunities to work on the fly. This means its preparation time is minimal.

Express framework also greatly simplifies site-building. Part of it is thanks to the npm command. It exists alongside the node command and provides access to a huge number of community-created modules.

Express.js key features:

  • Fast backend development;

  • Faster REST API development;

  • MVC architecture support;

  • Out-of-the box NoSQL database support.

3. Nest

  • GitHub Stars: 37.4K

  • Current version: 7.6.17

  • Weekly downloads: 687767

Nest is an adaptable and versatile REST API framework. It aims to keep development easier and more productive. Coders use it to build efficient and scalable Node.js server-side applications. 

Nest.js is built on TypeScript. That helps to:

  • maintain interoperability with pure JavaScript;

  • integrate object-oriented, functional, and functional-reactive programming modules.
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Nest.js key features:

  • Easily expandable – can be used with other libraries;

  • Allows developers to use pure JS;

  • Combines the features of functional programming, OOP, and functional reactive programming;

  • API frameworks help you use various third-party modules for any platform;

  • Detailed and supported documentation.

4. Sails

  • GitHub Stars: 21.9K

  • Current version: 1.4.3

  • Weekly downloads: 20988

Sails.js is an MVC framework. It lets users quickly and easily create Node.js applications. It’s especially good for building real-time software. 

The framework is developed on the MVC pattern (like Ruby-on-Rails). It supports modern app requirements. Namely, APIs with scalable, service-oriented architecture. Because of that, this framework is best for developing: 

  • chat rooms; 

  • real-time dashboards; 

  • multiplayer games.

Sail.js key features:

  • Automatically generated REST API Support;

  • WebSocket integration;

  • Popular interface compatibility (Angular, React, Android, iOS, Windows);

  • Real-time functionality support.

5. Koa

  • GitHub Stars: 31.2K

  • Current version: 2.13.1

  • Weekly downloads: 896267

The Express.js development team created another framework called Koa.js. The aim was to create a more concise and futuristic Node.js framework, surpassing Express. The main advantage of Koa is its generators. They help avoid callbacks and make finding bugs easier.

Koa.js key features:

  • A modern and promising solution;

  • Built-in catchall for errors to prevent crashes;

  • Encapsulating node request and response objects into a single object (to ease the process of writing web apps and APIs).


  • GitHub Stars: 3.6K

  • Current version: 3.28.0

  • Weekly downloads: 33974

LoopBack is an extensible Node.js framework. It allows developers to customize models and build powerful REST APIs with minimal coding. LoopBack supports: 

  • secure authentication; 

  • permission settings;

  • additional shards;

  • multiple backend data stores.

LoopBack key features:

  • Dynamic API creation;

  • Additional third-party management components for files and user logins (e.g. OAuth2, storage providers, etc.);

  • Can be deployed on both traditional servers and in the cloud;

  • Command line support (to create a REST API by using API exploration tools); 

  • Specific data schemas support for models;

  • Simplified configuration of authorization and authentication.

6. Total

  • GitHub Stars: 4.1K

  • Current version: 3.4.8

  • Weekly downloads: 571

Total.js is a large and rich framework. It provides great opportunities for developers. To begin with, it supports: 

  • friendly URLs; 

  • XHR; 

  • JSON; 

  • LESS CSS (CSS 3);

  • Javascript minimizer; 

  • XSS security;

  • resources and modules; 

  • MVC architecture.
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Total also has no dependencies. All of its functionality is in the core. You can install any module by using the Node Package Manager. Really, the only noticeable downside is its slower performance compared to Express.

Total.js key features:

  • Creation of server and client applications without dependencies;

  • Low computing power and memory requirements; 

  • Performs well on ARM devices;

  • Suitable for rapid product development; 

  • Offers stability and high performance; 

  • Requires fewer resources than other frameworks;

  • Supports various routing schemes (classic, dynamic, regular expressions);

  • Allows developers to create their own routes to handle dynamic data, files, or WebSocket events.

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7. Hapi

  • GitHub Stars: 13.3K

  • Current version: 20.1.3

  • Weekly downloads: 120832

Hapi is a stable and persistent open-source MVC framework. It’s used for structuring web applications and services. Having a robust plugin system, Hapi.js provides API servers, websites, and HTTP proxy applications. It’s great for quickly adding new features and fixing bugs. Hapi.js provides: 

  • routing, input, and output validation; 

  • caching functionality.

This helps you better structure your REST API. It also lets you create APIs that meet the need for mobile and single-page applications fast.

Hapi.js key features:

  • Input data validation;

  • Registration;

  • Error processing;

  • Code reuse;

  • Caching;

  • No external dependencies;

  • Configuration-based functionality;

  • Comprehensive API authentication and authorization support.


Now for the comparison of all the above-mentioned frameworks by their weekly downloads:

As you can see, Express is undoubtedly at the top of the list. But what will the graph look like when we exclude Express.js? Let’s have a look:

Last year, Koa and Nest gained popularity extremely quickly. They basically became twice as popular. Will one of them become a leader on this list? If yes, then when? For now, these questions remain open.


Node.js is one of the most popular technologies for building applications. It is not surprising that there are a huge number of different frameworks for it.

Each aims to make the final product better and the development process easier. But none is definitively better than the other. 
In the end, your choice of a framework should be guided by your own preferences and project needs.