However, once you've started with Node.js, it can be complicated to know how to structure and format your code in the best way possible to reduce errors and create clean code. Here, we've compiled a few Node.js best practices to help.
We delve into a brief history and explanation to answer questions like 'what is Node.js?' and 'why & how to learn Node.js.' We also cover some best practices and some node.js tools to help you write code cleaner and more efficiently. Without further ado, let's jump in!
What is Node.js?
One of the best parts of Node.js that have likely contributed to its massive popularity since its initial release over a decade ago is that it's free and open source. It has one of the largest ecosystems of open-source libraries of any programming dialect. Being open-source means as you build your application, there's likely a free, already developed solution.
It goes something like this: a task is sent to your computer's file system; it waits while the file system opens and reads said file; you have time to brew a cup of tea; then finally it returns the content to you before it's ready to handle the next request. It's not the end of the world, especially if you like tea, but Node.js cruises through file requests much quicker. For example, you send a task to the computer's file system, and voila, Node.js is now ready to handle its next request. Once the folder system has opened and read the file, the server returns content to the client. It's much more memory efficient and eliminates the waiting between requests.
How to Learn Node.js
Several considerable tech powerhouses like LinkedIn, Netflix, PayPal, and Uber use Node.js. Being backed by these big brands inspires confidence in the innovation of the software. It also means learning Node.js can make you a more attractive hire for employers.
Node.js Best Practices
So, hopefully, at this point, you're past the preliminary wondering of 'what is node.js' and 'how to learn Node.js.' Once you've begun to dive into Node.js, knowing how to structure your code, deal with errors, and write secure code can help you avoid messy code nightmares that end in launch disasters.
We're here to share a few Node.js practices that will help you write robust production applications.
Start Projects With npm init
First, all your projects should start with npm init. You may already be familiar with npm init; many developers use it to install dependencies. However, one Node.js tip is to also start your project with it. Why? This will allow you to add a plethora of metadata. Again, you may be wondering why. Setting up your project with npm init at the beginning means anyone who jumps on your project with you will have the same set-up as you.
Use The Same Node.js Version
In addition to each team member having the same set-up as you – it's equally important to ensure they have the same version as you. Sure, keeping your modules updated isn't exclusively one of the top Node.js best practices – it's a good practice for any coding dialect. If your team is all running slightly different versions, the behavior or availability of APIs can all be a bit different. Save yourself the headache – it's easy; simply run the command lines below in your terminal.
You might be wondering when to use Node.js promises to make life as a developer easier. Using promises can help you create cleaner, simpler to read code. For example, take a look at the example below:
This example of code is reading a file, parsing it, and printing the package name. It's a bit long and difficult to read. Instead, if you wrote this with promises, it would look something like this:
Doesn't that just make you want to breathe a sigh of relief? It's cleaner, more concise, and quite frankly more natural to read. However, keep in mind the fs API doesn't include ReadFileAsync, which would return a promise. Keep it wrapped with a module like promsifyAll to ensure it works properly.
Use a Style Guide
One of the best Node.js tips you can use to write better code is to use a style guide. We can't stress this enough. If you've been developing for any amount of time, you can relate to the overwhelming frustration, fear, anxiety, and panic that can wash over you from opening a file from another developer. You take a deep breath, brew a nice cup of coffee, and proceed to spend the next chunk of your life on menial tasks like reformatting the braces on different lines and changing spaces to tabs.
While we'd never discourage you from drinking a nice cup of coffee, the rest can be avoided by simply following a style guide. Now, we get it. Developers can be opinionated, and we're not going to dive into which style guide is perceived as the best – it's subjective. However, choosing one style and consistently sticking with it is arguably more quintessential to writing great code than which style you're using.
If the style is dictated, it becomes a whole lot easier to manage your codebase. As mentioned above, picking a style guide can be tricky. The 'best" is usually pretty subjective. Picking a pre-existing style guide can sometimes be easier. Here are a few examples proved by Matt Goldspink of Code Mentor:
jQuery - https://contribute.jquery.org/style-guide/js/
Standard JS - http://standardjs.com/
As previously mentioned, Node.js is a free, open-source platform, meaning there are a lot of node.js tools already created to make your life easier when working with Node.js, including:
Express.js is a powerful Node.js tool that can make creating mobile and web applications more straightforward and more efficient. Express.js offers features to help you develop web applications such as simplified multiple routing, template engines, and the ability to integrate databases.
Keystone is based on Express.js and allows you to jump quickly into creating applications with Node.js. It's a great option to help you create applications, APIs, and database-driven websites.
Koa.js is a self-described 'next-generation web framework for Node.js". Most developers love this node.js tool for its built-in plugin packages, and it's lack of dependencies on middleware.
Webpack is one of the most commonly used Node.js tools. It allows developers to bundle assets quickly and simplifies the overall development process.
CloudApp is one of the most critical Node.js tools. This developer tool will help you and your team communicate and collaborate more efficiently with the aid of visuals like annotated screenshots, GIFs, and screen recordings.
Did you know nearly 100 percent of office workers list collaboration as a top priority? That means people recognize the need to work with others to accomplish goals. Office workers of all generations rely on one another.
Over the past decade, Node.js has understandably become one of the most popular platforms for developers. The open-source, free software has allowed many back-end developers to make the jump to full-stack development with relative ease. Learning Node.js is simple, and we hope these Node.js best practices and tools help you structure, format, and write cleaner, more efficient code.
Additionally, don't forget to pick up a free trial of CloudApp to help your team communicate and collaborate effortlessly.