Book Image

Node.js Design Patterns - Third Edition

By : Mario Casciaro, Luciano Mammino
5 (1)
Book Image

Node.js Design Patterns - Third Edition

5 (1)
By: Mario Casciaro, Luciano Mammino

Overview of this book

In this book, we will show you how to implement a series of best practices and design patterns to help you create efficient and robust Node.js applications with ease. We kick off by exploring the basics of Node.js, analyzing its asynchronous event driven architecture and its fundamental design patterns. We then show you how to build asynchronous control flow patterns with callbacks, promises and async/await. Next, we dive into Node.js streams, unveiling their power and showing you how to use them at their full capacity. Following streams is an analysis of different creational, structural, and behavioral design patterns that take full advantage of JavaScript and Node.js. Lastly, the book dives into more advanced concepts such as Universal JavaScript, scalability and messaging patterns to help you build enterprise-grade distributed applications. Throughout the book, you’ll see Node.js in action with the help of several real-life examples leveraging technologies such as LevelDB, Redis, RabbitMQ, ZeroMQ, and many others. They will be used to demonstrate a pattern or technique, but they will also give you a great introduction to the Node.js ecosystem and its set of solutions.
Table of Contents (16 chapters)
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Module systems in JavaScript and Node.js

Not all programming languages come with a built-in module system, and JavaScript had been lacking this feature for a long time.

In the browser landscape, it is possible to split the codebase into multiple files and then import them by using different <script> tags. For many years, this approach was good enough to build simple interactive websites, and JavaScript developers managed to get things done without having a fully-fledged module system.

Only when JavaScript browser applications became more complicated and frameworks like jQuery, Backbone, and AngularJS took over the ecosystem, the JavaScript community came up with several initiatives aimed at defining a module system that could be effectively adopted within JavaScript projects. The most successful ones were asynchronous module definition (AMD), popularized by RequireJS (, and later Universal Module Definition (

When Node.js was created, it was conceived as a server runtime for JavaScript with direct access to the underlying filesystem so there was a unique opportunity to introduce a different way to manage modules. The idea was not to rely on HTML <script> tags and resources accessible through URLs. Instead, the choice was to rely purely on JavaScript files available on the local filesystem. For its module system, Node.js came up with an implementation of the CommonJS specification (sometimes also referred to as CJS,, which was designed to provide a module system for JavaScript in browserless environments.

CommonJS has been the dominant module system in Node.js since its inception and it has become very prominent also in the browser landscape thanks to module bundlers like Browserify ( and webpack (

In 2015, with the release of ECMAScript 6 (also called ECMAScript 2015 or ES2015), there was finally an official proposal for a standard module system: ESM or ECMAScript modules. ESM brings a lot of innovation in the JavaScript ecosystem and, among other things, it tries to bridge the gap between how modules are managed on browsers and servers.

ECMAScript 6 defined only the formal specification for ESM in terms of syntax and semantics, but it didn't provide any implementation details. It took different browser companies and the Node.js community several years to come up with solid implementations of the specification. Node.js ships with stable support for ESM starting from version 13.2.

At the time of writing, the general feeling is that ESM is going to become the de facto way to manage JavaScript modules in both the browser and the server landscape. The reality today, though, is that the majority of projects are still heavily relying on CommonJS and it will take some time for ESM to catch up and eventually become the dominant standard.

To provide a comprehensive overview of module-related patterns in Node.js, in the first part of this chapter, we will discuss them in the context of CommonJS, and then, in the second part of the chapter, we will revisit our learnings using ESM.

The goal of this chapter is to make you comfortable with both module systems, but in the rest of the book, we will only be using ESM for our code examples. The idea is to encourage you to leverage ESM as much as possible so that your code will be more future-proof.

If you are reading this chapter a few years after its publication, you are probably not too worried about CommonJS, and you might want to jump straight into the ESM part. This is probably fine, but we still encourage you to go through the entire chapter, because understanding CommonJS and its characteristics will certainly be beneficial in helping you to understand ESM and its strengths in much more depth.