JavaScript has long been rising in popularity of late. This is especially true for building applications and projects for the web. Naturally, owing to the rising popularity of JS, more and more JS frameworks have come up.

With that said, there is one particular factor that has proven especially vital in the rise of JS. Yes, we are talking about Node.js and its own ecosystem of various frameworks.

Before going any further, let us first discuss the concept of "Node.js frameworks" itself.

What are Node.js frameworks (and why do they matter)?

Why is it, one might ask, that Node.js has a thriving number of frameworks and many other similar server-side architecture or technologies do not?

Essentially, Node.js helps us build server-side applications that are both robust and scalable. In other words, Node.js enables developers to use JS for both client-side and server-side development.

This very aspect of Node.js has led to its rapid growth and exponential rise in popularity. It is, therefore, not unnatural to see various new Node.js frameworks coming up.

Such frameworks can often help in rapid prototyping and cut down the total development time and efforts required. These can be used to build and deploy web applications within minutes, and most of them are fully optimized to reduce bloatware.

In other words, the logic here is simple -- Node.js comes with its own set of modules that help us do a given number of things. A Node.js frameworks is a set of code and functions that extend those very modules, or more often, add their own set of custom modules. In this manner, Node.js frameworks help us get more out of a Node environment with comparatively lesser effort on our part.

To put it simply, Node.js frameworks provide us with a given set of rules, guidelines and settings for building and deploying amazing web apps. This can save us time, effort and resources, and also increase our productivity.

But in the midst of hundreds of Node.js frameworks, which ones really matter? Which Node.js framework should you be learning next?

In this article, we will be discussing ten such Node.js frameworks that should be on your list.

1. Sails.js

The first Node.js framework on our list is Sails.js

It is an MVC framework that supports highly scalable enterprise-level server-end apps. It is fully compatible with most of the database management options, including the likes of MySQL, PostgreSQL, MongoDB, and more.

Among other things, Sails plays well with frontend development frameworks, such as React and Angular. This means Sails.js can be used in complex apps that make use JS frameworks for frontend development, and require the likes of Sails.js for server-end development.

Sails.js requires no additional routing mechanism and supports rapid building of REST API.

2. Koa

Koa describes itself as a "next generation web framework for Node.js"

Koa makes use of ES2015 methods, and is developed and maintained by the same team behind the Express.js framework. However, this particular framework strives to be more reliable and faster than Express.js

Since Koa makes use of EcmaScript 2015 and async methods, it requires Node.js 7.6.0 or higher. Koa comes with component-based building blocks as well as efficient error handling mechanism, thereby solidifying itself as a performance-focused Node.js framework.

Perhaps the biggest and most noticeable aspect of Koa is that it ditches the callback concept of asynchronous development. This is, certainly, a step towards the future and Koa is likely to rise in popularity with time. If you have not done so already, be sure to give Koa spin and see what it can do for your web apps!

3. Express.js

Express.js is a fast and minimal web framework for Node.js development. It comes with several HTTP utility methods and middleware that allow developers to quickly create new APIs with ease.

Among other things, Express.js comes with its own array of web application features. As a result, Express is less of a mainstream framework and more of a wrapper that provides additional features and settings, without discarding or hiding existing Node.js features.

It is a highly flexible and extendable framework. In fact, Express has evolved into a myriad of its own ecosystem, and there are several well known JS frameworks that are based on Express.js -- Kraken, KeystoneJS and many others!

Express.js is fully customizable, and supports various template engines and packages. It is a web-centric framework, with great compatibility for virtually all the major web browsers. Lastly, Express has an easy learning curve and is, therefore, rising in popularity rather quickly.

4. Meteor

Meteor is another popular and versatile Node.js framework meant for building modern web and mobile applications.

Owing to its realtime update feature, Meteor has gained popularity in usage scenario such as eCommerce apps and sites. As and when changes are made to the web app, the output is updated in realtime by Meteor. Such updates, obviously, can prove especially useful in concepts such as shopping carts, etc.

However, the biggest forte of Meteor is not entirely in its features. Instead, it lies in its very well laid-out documentation and knowledge base that explains every concept in great detail. Furthermore, the Meteor community is of a decent size and very active in terms of responding to newbie questions, bug fixes, etc.

Meteor integrates seamlessly with many other JS frameworks, including React, Angular and VueJS, as well as with databases such as MongoDB. All in all, Meteor is a useful Node.js framework that should be on the radar of every JS developer, especially if the apps and projects in question require good use of realtime updates and processes.

5. NestJS

NestJS is a progressive Node.js framework. It makes use of the latest JS features, and combines server-side development with design patterns to provide a comprehensive and scalable environment for coders.

NestJS is extensible, comes with a modular architecture, and is written in TypeScript. This implies that NestJS can combine elements of Object Oriented Programming with Functional Programming.

Even more so, NestJS provides an architecture that is fully scalable, and can be used for enterprise-level development and deployment. Unfortunately, on the downside, the documentation is not the most diverse or detailed one. Hopefully, in days to come, NestJS will invest better in developing its technical docs and make life easier for developers and users alike.

6. Total.js

Total.js is a Node.js framework that focuses on fast development and low maintenance. It can serve a multitude of web apps and sites, such as REST API sites, eCommerce apps, realtime applications, even Internet of Things (IoT).

The goal behind Total.js is to speed up development time, and also cut down on development costs by reducing maintenance efforts. All in all, Total.js is a scalable and upcoming Node.js framework that shows good promise for the future.

However, currently, Total.js is still a minnow in the world of frameworks. Over the course of time, it is likely that Total.js will gain some more momentum. As such, if you are JS developer looking for up and coming Node.js frameworks, Total.js is a very good investment.

7. DerbyJS

DerbyJS is a full stack framework for building modern web applications. It focuses on realtime collaboration and seamless data syncing between clients and servers. As such, DerbyJS offers realtime syncing of data with automated conflict resolution.

To accomplish such seamless sync functionality, DerbyJS makes use of ShareDB's transformation of JSON and text. On the browser, DerbyJS can render templates using native DOM methods. On the other hand, when rendering on the server, no DOM or virtual DOM implementation should suffice.

DerbyJS boasts of faster HTML response times, swift rendering and complete search engine support. It comes packed with all the standard Node.js modules and also has a range of community-developed modules that developers can make use of.

8. hapi.js

hapi.js is a Node.js framework that has the backing of Walmart Labs. The goal behind hapi.js is to help serve large chunks of data between the server-side and client.

It is safe to assume that hapi.js can be used to replace the likes of Express.js if and when needed. Both of these frameworks have their own unique set of features, that revolve around writing modular and reusable code which can then be used to facilitate transfer and reading of data between servers and clients.

hapi.js has a lot of functions that deal with web servers, and also comes with added features such as support for caching, input validation and user authentication. More importantly, hapi.js has its own plugin-based architecture and ecosystem that can be used to scale for bigger projects.

It is not the world's most popular JS framework, but if you are looking for something that is both extensible and reliable, hapi.js is well worth a try!

9. LoopBack

LoopBack is an open source Node.js framework that has the backing of StrongLoop, an IBM company. Naturally, the development of LoopBack is in great hands. As such, it is not unlikely that LoopBack will continue to rise in popularity and gain more followers and users.

In terms of functionality and features, LoopBack comes with its own CLI as well as a dynamic API explorer. Developers can create their own models based on existing schema, or outright dynamic entities without any schema.

A major USP of LoopBack is its sheer perfect compatibility with various other services and tools, such as databases like MySQL, PostgreSQL, MariaDB, etc. It comes with native access controls and REST points that are built-in, and also allows developers to integrate additional third party components (such as tokens for login from GitHub, Facebook, etc).

Since LoopBack has a dynamic API, adding custom rules and access controls is not tough. All in all, LoopBack is a worthy Node.js framework that is under steady development.

10. Socket.io

The last Node.js framework on our list is Socket.io

It is a simple framework that enables event-based communication in realtime. At the most basic level, Socket.io consist of two parts -- a Node.js server and a JS client library for the web browser. It can be used for bidirectional data flow and data sharing between two points. Some use cases or examples include instant messaging, binary streaming, etc.

Socket.io can facilitate data transfer and communication even when running behind a firewall or antivirus, or even proxies and load balancers. Lastly, it might be of interest to note that Socket.io also has implementations in other languages, such as JAVA, C++, Swift and Dart.

That said, Socket.io has a specific usage only, and is not entirely a multipurpose or general-usage framework. As a result, it may not find immense usage or a diverse set of community applications either.

Conclusion

This brings us to the end of this article about ten of the top Node.js frameworks that you should watch out for!

The goal here was to enlist and enumerate some of the most promising and rapidly rising Node.js frameworks that you, as a JS developer, can learn next. Did we miss any? Which Node.js framework do you think shows the most promise, and why? Share your views in the comments below!