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Dec. 14, 2015 02:00 PM
A Practical Guide to Popular Node.js MVC Frameworks
By Omed Habib
MVC: The Software Architecture Pattern You Need to Know
The model-view-controller pattern of designing software (also known as MVC) was one of the first architectural design-patterns based on the responsibilities of its component software constructs. Trygve Reenskaug introduced the concept of MVC while visiting Xerox Parc (the same research facility that pioneered everything from GUIs to laser printers) in the 1970s.
MVC was revolutionary then and is still a key concept when discussing how to create new software. When using an MVC pattern, you can lay out the solution to any problem you expect to solve with the software you intend to build. The three components included by name in the pattern are:
The model, which describes the behavior of the application regarding data, logic, and rules
The view, which includes any information that the application may output (from tabular data to representations)
And the controller, which accepts and translates input
Note that the model, which is the core component on which you will wind up focusing, is independent of any user interface you are planning to create eventually.
In addition to these three elements, the MVC model sets out the interactions you’ll see between the components.
The model will store any data that is displayed in the view and stores data that the controller instructs the model to retrieve
The view generates an output based on changes to the model
The controller updates the model’s state and can also update the view’s presentation of the model
When using the MVC pattern to design software, you need to consider both the components and the interactions.
Ember, Angular, Backbone, and React all excel at controlling view components. Some of these frameworks, such as Ember and Backbone, can also handle some elements of the controller — they can send instructions back to the code on the server and update it.
Provided you are focusing primarily on the browser, these four frameworks are likely to be your best options.
Ember.js: This web application framework offers a straightforward feature set that will work for most projects. It may be the most friendly for a programmer coming from another language, such as Python or Ruby, especially for a developer used to using the MVC pattern. However, what may be the biggest deciding factor, Ember.js provides high application performance.
Backbone.js: One of the main advantages offered by this framework is its relatively small size though it gains that size at the expense of individual features. However, even with adding additional tools to the mix, Backbone.js tends to offer some of the best page load times. The result is a lean, minimalist framework that’s easy to learn.
Node.js Tackles Model and Controller
Node.js’s rapid adoption rate created a boom in related tools. The number of Node.js frameworks you might consider working with seems to grow longer every day. The right frameworks can dramatically improve the process of building a new web application, especially if you are sticking with a well-established design pattern like MVC. These five Node.js frameworks are among the best currently available:
Express: This framework is one of the most popular available in the Node.js ecosystem. Express is both minimal and flexible, but can handle surprisingly large projects. The framework’s creators worked hard to provide fundamental web application features without changing underlying Node.js features.
Hapi.js: As a framework, Hapi.js is fully-featured, especially when you take into account the many plug-ins that Hapi fans have created. This framework’s creators focused on reliability and stability.
Sails.js: Meant for enterprise-grade apps, Sails.js scales well. One of the biggest benefits of using this framework is its powerful data access layer, which lets you get a lot more out of any database you choose to work with.
Mojito: As one of Yahoo’s Cocktails (as the company calls its mobile application development platform based on open web standards), Mojito has more resources than many other frameworks. It is a robust option for mobile applications.
Koa: Created by the same team as Express, Koa is perhaps the next step in where Node.js can go. The framework uses generators to improve error handling, as well as ditches middleware, to create a fast and scalable experience.
Finding exactly the perfect Node.js framework for a project may require a little experimentation, but these frameworks are all maintained with a certain level of documentation, making it possible to dive in and quickly try out your different options.
The browser loads with full HTML
Improved visibility of your application data for search engine indexing
Dramatically reduced code maintenance (given that you can use the same code base for both client and server, you have less code to maintain)
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