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15 Best Node.js Tools for Developers

Best Node.js Tools for Developers is our subjective list of the tools we’ve used before or use on a daily basis here at Brainhub. We decided to share our stack and make life easier for those who, like us, work with Node.js.

Node.js is getting huge around the world. It brings JavaScript, one of the most popular programming languages, on the next level. The great thing about it is that it lets you build an app on the client and server side at the same time.

This means a two-way connection which can be initiated by both client and server as well as communication in real-time. It’s also easy to scale and maintain with lightening fast processing – which is why we love to use Node.js at Brainhub!

One Node.js to rule them all! 🙂

So here’s 15 Best Node.js Tools for Developers 2016 with comments from our experienced crew. For each tool, you will find a download link and a few tutorials or blog posts to get you started.

Still not convinced about using Node.js? Read more about the famous web apps built with Node.js.

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#1 Mocha.js

Mocha.js is a JavaScript test framework based on Node.js. It enables you to test both in console and in the browser. You can use this really fast testing suite to do the unit and integration testing plus it works for TDD (Test-Driven Development) and BDD (Behaviour Driven Development) perfectly.

A big advantage of Mocha.js is that it’s modularity so you can easily use other libraries with is, such as Chai, Sinon or Should.js.

Mochaj.js best Node.js Tool

Why do we use Mocha.js with Node.js?

For writing tests (on all levels: unit, integration and e2e) I use Mocha.js, which is an equivalent of a similar tool – Jasmine. Both Mocha and Jasmine should be helpful for Ruby developers using RSpec.

Piotr Sroczkowski / Full-Stack Developer at Brainhub

Download Mocha.js from Github.

Best resources to learn Mocha.js:

#2 Chai

Chai is a TDD and BDD assertion framework for Node.js which can be paired with any testing framework (like Mocha.js we just mentioned). We use Mocha.js to run asynchronous testes, but Chai helps us verify the test results.

Chai can be run in a browser or with Node.js. As an assertion tool, we use Chai with its rich plugins (ex. chai-as-promised, chai-subset, chai-things). If we need to test Node.js HTTP servers, we usually use SuperTest (it either makes real requests or simulates them while connected to Express.js).

Chai JS Tool Brainhub

Why do we use Chai with Node.js?

Chai is an assertion tool which I can use with Mocha.js, for example. I use it in all my tests because of the wide choice of standard assertions and even more in its plugins. It gives me much simpler and more readable tests than using my own assertion helpers or other less popular libraries.

Piotr Sroczkowski / Full-Stack Developer at Brainhub

Download Chai from Github.

Best resources to learn Chai:

#3 Sinon.JS

Sinon.js is a standalone testing framework for JavaScript. The great thing about is that it works with any testing framework. It supports stubs, spies and mocks. It also supports most browsers (cross-browser support) and runs on the server using Node.js.

Sinon JS Brainhub Tool

Why is Sinon.JS one of our best Node.js tools?

Sinon.JS is one of the most sophisticated mocking libraries. It distinguishes stub, spy and mock!

Marcin Dryka / Tech Lead at Brainhub

Download Sinon.JS from Github.

Best resources to learn Sinon.JS:

#4 Express.js

Express.js is a must-use minimalist framework for Node.js web applications. A combination of Node.js and Express.js enables you to build software with JavaScript on the server side. Long story short, you could build a whole website with those two: using Node.js to build server-side part of the app and Express.js to publish the app on your website.

Express.js Brainhub Tool

Why do we use Express.js with Node.js?

We enjoy using Express framework because of its simplicity. You can simply connect it with nodemon and you won’t have to restart the web app each time you make changes to your code. We were considering using a framework based on Express like Sails.js or Happy.js but we decided it would be an overhead (especially in microservices-oriented architecture).

Piotr Sroczkowski / Full-Stack Developer at Brainhub

Download Express.js from Github.

Best resources to learn Express.js:

#5 WebStrom IDE

WebStorm IDE is an awesome IDE for Javascript. It’s lightweight and it has everything you need for building Node.js applications on the client side and server side. It’s a great tool if you’re doing only JavaScript/HTML/CSS development – WebStorm IDE is a tool made for JS <3.

You can do debugging, tracking (with built-in tool spy-js) and unit testing (with easy to integrate Karma or Mocha.js).

Webstorm IDE Tool Brainhub

Why do we use WebStorm IDE with Node.js?

It speeds up everyday work. Gives you a coding assistance and navigation, refactoring, testing and debugging tool.

Marcin Dryka / Tech Lead at Brainhub

Download WebStorm IDE.

Best resources to learn WebStorm IDE:

#6 Passport.js

Passport.js is an authentication middleware for Node.js. It gives you a choice of over 300 different ways of authenticating your app including username and password model, login via Facebook, Google, Twitter etc., and many other. It’s extremely easy to implement with any Express.js app.

Passport.js Brainhub Tool

Why do we use Passport.js with Node.js?

We use Passport.js with Node.js because it simplifies the authorization stage and lets us enable authentication methods that suit our customers’ needs.

Piotr Kowalski / CTO at Brainhub

Download Passport.js from Github.

Best resources to learn Express.js:

#7 Socket.io

Socket.io is a framework that enables a bi-directional communication in real-time, based on events. It doesn’t matter which device or platform you’re using – it will work great on anything.

The package includes real-time analytics with counters, logs and charts. It’s perfect for chat apps and it’s loved by both big companies such as Microsoft, Zendesk, Trello and small startups.

Socket.IO Brainhub Tool

Download Socket.io from Github

Best resources to learn Socket.io:

#8 Webpack

The main function of Webpack is to bundle JavaScript files for usage in a browser. You can create one or many bundles that are asynchronously loaded at a runtime – this reduces the initial loading time.

Webpack Tool Brainhub

Why do we use Webpack with Node.js?

We use Webpack with Node.js because it makes bundling and serving assets easy and fast. It simplifies deployment and makes development a pleasure.

Lukasz Pluszczewski / Full Stack Developer at Brainhub

Download Webpack from Github

Best resources to learn Webpack:

#9 BlueBird.js

BlueBird.js is a promise library, that helps you to control your asynchronous code. You can separate with it your code into different files without any problem. It’s a must-have if you care about a quality of your code. As an alternative, you can try the Q.

Download BlueBird.js from Github.

Best resources to learn BlueBird.js:

#10 PM2

PM2 is a process manager for Node.js applications. It ‘s simple to use and provides many useful built-in features (like load balancer or watch mode).

PM2 Tool Brainhub

Why is PM2 one of the best Node.js developer tools?

PM2 monitors whether the application is running properly and reloads it without any downtime. You don’t need to worry about restarting applications after they’ve crashed, PM2 does it for you. I use it in many of projects at Brainhub and I’m a big fan.

Mariusz Dybciak / Full Stack Developer at Brainhub

Download PM2 from Github.

Best resources to learn PM2:

#11 Electrode.io

It’s an universal platform for React.js/Node.js applications. It’s brought by WalmartLabs which means that this set of tools had been tested on a huge amount of data. It’s not only a set of best practices, standardized structure and modern technologies – it also includes Electrode Explorer and Electrify.

These tools let you explore all docs and components of your platform as well as visualize in a clear and appealing way the module tree of electrode.io + Webpack project bundles.

Electrode.io Tool Brainhub

Download Electrode.io from Github.

Best resources to learn Electrode.io:

#12 Meteor.js

Meteor.js is a framework built for rapid prototyping of JavaScript apps and writing cross-platform code (Web, Android, iOS). It’s based on Node.js, integrated with MongoDB and you can use it with any JavaScript UI widget library. Even Y Combinator, the most influential startup accelerator, recommends this tool.

While Meteor.js is great for prototyping apps, it’s good to keep in mind that it might not be the best solution for maintaining the already finished ones.

MeteorJS Tool Brainhub

Why do we use Meteor.js?

We chose Meteor.js as the development framework for our projects because of the development speed achieved by sharing the common codebase between front- and back-end of the application, and by providing a ready-to-use solution for handling real-time communication between the UI and the server.

Leszek Knoll / CEO at Brainhub

Download MeteorJS from Github.

Best resources to learn MeteorJS:

#13 Vue.js

A great alternative for those who use Angular.js is Vue.js . If you don’t want to build a complex web app and have to configure routings, controllers and services then Vue.js could be the lightweight solution you’re looking for.

This framework is focused on a ViewModel – you get features of larger frameworks in a lighter version for your single page applications.

Vue.js Tool Brainhub

Download Vue.js from Github.

Best resources to learn Vue.js

#14 MEAN.JS

MEAN.js is a full-stack JavaScript solution for building web apps. The MEAN stack consists of MongoDB, Express.js, Angular.js and Node.js which means you can build web applications on the client and server side with one stack of tools.

MEAN.JS Tool Brainhub

Download MEAN.JS from Github.

Best resources to learn MEAN.JS:

#15 Babel

Babel is a JavaScript compiler. With Babel, you can compile an ECMAScript 6 to ECMAScript 5 easily. It allows you to use ES6 features in your projects and then compiles ES5 for you to use in production.

Babel JS Tool Brainhub

Why do we use Babel?

Babel is a transpiler from es6/es7 to es5. I use it because no popular JS engine gives you all es6 features (even V8 which is run by Node.js and Chrome). Es6 and es7 features give you much of syntactic sugar that improves code readability. Babel can generate es5 files or run es6 on the fly as well. It can be connected with a lot of other JS tools like Webpack or eslint. 

Piotr Sroczkowski / Full Stack Developer at Brainhub

Download Babel from Github.

Best resources to learn Babel:

Matt Warcholinski

Matt Warcholinski is the COO of Brainhub (a software house building awesome node.js web and mobile apps) who loves to build startups and play guitar.

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