12 Popular JavaScript Frameworks to Build API and Microservices

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Hey there! Building scalable and reliable APIs and microservices with JavaScript has become extremely popular and important in modern web development. As an experienced developer and API enthusiast, let me walk you through a comprehensive guide on the top JavaScript frameworks for building robust APIs and microservices in 2023.

First up, why JavaScript for APIs and microservices? There are several compelling reasons:

  • JavaScript runs everywhere – natively in browsers, Node.js backends, and mobile apps via React Native. This universality means we can reuse skills and code across projects.
  • Async by default – JavaScript‘s asynchronous, event-driven nature makes it a perfect fit for high-scalability APIs and microservices.
  • Huge ecosystem – JavaScript has the largest collection of tools, libraries and frameworks designed specifically for API development.
  • In-demand skill – JavaScript skills are among the most sought after by companies. The 2020 Stack Overflow Survey found 70% of developers code in JavaScript.

Now let‘s explore the top 12 JavaScript frameworks and libraries for building production-ready APIs and microservices, based on popularity, capabilities and developer satisfaction.

Express is by far the most ubiquitous Node.js framework for API development, with over 50 million downloads per month. Released in 2010, Express provides a simple yet unopinionated framework for crafting APIs of all sizes and complexities.

It gives you routing, middleware, view rendering and other essential web development features out of the box. Express doesn‘t force you into a certain project structure or architecture style – you can organize your API however you want.

The minimalist philosophy and simplicity of Express has made it the go-to choice for API development among enterprise companies like IBM, SAP and Salesforce.

To get started with Express:

npm install express

And here‘s a simple API example:

// Require Express 
const express = require(‘express‘)

// Create Express app
const app = express()  

// Route for GET /api/users
app.get(‘/api/users‘, (req, res) => {
  // Fetch users and return JSON response

// Start API server

In summary, with its simplicity, vibrant ecosystem and comprehensive documentation, Express remains the most popular framework for creating production-ready APIs with Node.js and JavaScript.

2. Hapi – Robust and Enterprise-Grade

Created by Eran Hammer in 2011, Hapi is one of the most robust and enterprise-ready frameworks available today. It was originally built to handle Walmart‘s enormous Black Friday traffic and now powers secure and scalable APIs at Fortune 500 companies like Disney, Walgreens and Bank of America.

Hapi puts a strong emphasis on security with built-in input validation, output sanitization and other protections against OWASP threats like XSS, injection attacks and more.

Other useful features include:

  • Caching – Boost performance by caching database queries, API results and more.
  • Modular code – Break your app into plugins/packages for better reusability.
  • Health checks – Monitor the status of your app and upstream dependencies.
  • Debugging – hapi has great introspection capabilities for debugging live apps.

To get up and running with hapi:

npm install hapi

For enterprise-grade applications where security, reliability and developer productivity matter, hapi is an superb choice liked by many of the world‘s largest companies.

3. LoopBack – API-First Approach

Backed by IBM, LoopBack is a highly-extensible open-source API framework based on Express. It makes it easy to connect to backend data sources like databases or SOAP/REST APIs and auto-generate CRUD APIs in minutes.

LoopBack emphasizes convention over configuration, allowing developers to focus on application logic rather than redundant boilerplate code. It has a relation mapping system for easily modeling complex or nested data.

Other great features:

  • TypeScript support for static typing.
  • Built-in API explorer UI for testing.
  • Multi-tier architecture – break APIs into logical modules.
  • Client SDK generation – generate SDKs for iOS, Android etc.

To scaffold a LoopBack API:

npm install -g loopback-cli

With its excellent documentation and active community, LoopBack is a great choice for developers seeking a model-driven approach to API development.

4. Sails – MVC Pattern for APIs and Web Apps

Sails is a real-time MVC framework for Node.js that makes building production-ready APIs, web apps and even prototypes fast and simple. It provides structure and conventions without being overly prescriptive.

Under the hood Sails utilizes Express for handling requests and for WebSockets and real-time communication.

Some of the standout features include:

  • Auto-generated REST APIs from database models.
  • Blueprint API for rapid CRUD code generation.
  • Hundreds of plugin integrations for every need.
  • Built-in email services, session handling and flash messages.
  • Easy WebSockets for real-time apps.

To generate a new Sails project:

npm install sails -g
sails new my-api

Sails provides a robust MVC framework for quickly building everything from real-time APIs to full-stack web applications.

5. Feathers – Minimalist Real-Time APIs

Feathers is a lightweight open-source framework for crafting real-time APIs and web apps. It works seamlessly with any frontend like React, Vue, iOS or Android.

The magic of Feathers is its standardized service interface. Every API endpoint and service exposes the same REST + real-time methods – making it simple to connect any client.

Some useful Feathers features:

  • Services architecture – encapsulate and reuse business logic.
  • Real-time support via
  • Database integrations – MongoDB, SQL etc.
  • Authentication – support for OAuth, hashing etc.
  • Massive plugin ecosystem.

To initialize a new Feathers project:

npm install -g @feathersjs/cli  
feathers generate app

For building chat apps, real-time APIs, IoT messaging and more, Feathers provides a robust and flexible solution.

6. Fastify – The High Performance Choice

If raw speed and efficiency matter, Fastify is an excellent choice. Benchmarks show Fastify can be up to 3x faster than Express in some use cases.

Fastify uses a schema-based approach to validation, serialization and documentation. This enforces consistency across your codebase and eliminates an entire class of bugs.

Some of the benefits:

  • Async/await support.
  • Extremely fast – great for microservices.
  • Plugin ecosystem.
  • Highly customizable.
  • Built-in OpenAPI/Swagger generator.

Using Fastify is simple:

npm i fastify

Due to its raw speed and strict schemas, Fastify is a great choice for microservices and APIs where performance and reliability are critical.

7. Koa – Beautiful Async Middleware Framework

Koa is an expressive framework for Node.js built by the same team behind Express. The key difference is Koa utilizes async functions for a cleaner async/await syntax.

Like Express, Koa contains minimal application logic – it simply exposes middleware functions and context objects for writing clean, RESTful APIs. This makes Koa extremely flexible and integrates smoothly with any database or template engine.

Writing APIs with Koa is easy:

npm install koa

Minimal Koa API:

const Koa = require(‘koa‘);
const app = new Koa();

app.use(async ctx => {
  ctx.body = ‘Hello Koa‘; 


In summary, Koa allows crafting simple yet scalable APIs with beautiful async/await syntax and middleware.

8. Nest – TypeSafe APIs with OOP Principles

Nest is a progressive Node.js framework built with TypeScript. Under the hood it utilizes Express, while also adding important application architecture concepts like modules, providers and dependency injection.

This allows larger apps to be constructed in a modular, OOP way without sacrificing performance. Nest aims to provide an easy transition for Express apps wanting to add more structure and typing.

Some interesting capabilities:

  • Pipe-based middleware modules for concerns like logging, caching, rate limiting etc.
  • Type safety reduces bugs.
  • Exception filters cleanly handle errors.
  • CLI commands for generation, build, debug, etc.
  • Open API schema validation.

Get started with:

npm i -g @nestjs/cli
nest new my-api

For larger teams and codebases, Nest‘s emphasis on modularity, OOP and TypeScript make it a great choice for maintainable APIs.

9. Adonis – Batteries Included Framework

Adonis is a fully featured MVC framework for Node.js built for developer productivity and rapid application development.

It provides a curated set of tools for building full-stack web apps and APIs requiring less time debugging and troubleshooting.

Some of the standout features in Adonis include:

  • Lucid ORM – Eloquent-inspired queries.
  • Authentication and permissions.
  • Validation and lifecycle hooks.
  • WebSockets and real-time apps.
  • Redis and database migrations.
  • Frontend scaffolding with React and Vue.

Spin up a new Adonis project with:

npm i -g @adonisjs/cli
adonis new my-api

Adonis delivers an elegant developer experience with an batteries-included framework optimized for quickly building modern web and mobile apps.

10. hapi pal – Rapid hapi API Scaffolding

hapi pal is an open source toolkit that combines hapi, Mongoose and other components to help developers rapidly build production-ready Node.js apps and APIs.

It aims to eliminate boilerplate code by providing a curated set of plugins for authentication, validation, routing and more. hapi pal also generates code around common patterns for faster development.

Key capabilities:

  • Scaffold hapi apps, models and services quickly.
  • Simplified database connection handling.
  • Authentication boilerplate with PassportJS strategies.
  • Request validation with Joi.
  • Auto-generated CRUD REST APIs.

Get started fast with:

npm install -g hapi-pal  
hp new my-api

For developers wanting to build hapi APIs rapidly, hapi pal provides excellent conventions and tooling.

11. orestes – hapi and MongoDB API Builder

orestes is an open source framework for crafting REST APIs with hapi and MongoDB. It provides structure, code boilerplates and standards for Node.js apps and APIs.

By defining conventions upfront, orestes aims to eliminate redundant code and make hapi projects more maintable as they scale to multiple developers.

Some useful features:

  • API, service and model scaffolding.
  • Simplified MongoDB connections.
  • Request validation.
  • Dependency injection container.
  • Response formatting.

Scaffold a new orestes project:

npm install -g orestes 
orestes new my-api

For developers seeking standards in hapi and MongoDB projects, orestes is a great starting point.

12. Hemera – Microservices with NATS Messaging

Hemera is a toolkit for building microservices with NATS messaging and Node.js. It uses messaging patterns like pub/sub to connect services across distributed systems.

It provides many useful features out of the box including:

  • Service discovery and clustering.
  • Load balancing strategies.
  • Request serialization.
  • Health checks and heartbeats.
  • Plugin ecosystem.

Writing microservices with Hemera is straightforward:

const hemera = require(‘nats‘).hemera 

hemera.ready(() => {

  hemera.add({topic: ‘auth‘, cmd: ‘login‘}, (resp) => {
    return {token: ‘xyz‘}


Due to its focus on microservices and resilience, Hemera is a great choice for composing autonomous systems.

Key Evaluation Criteria

When selecting a JavaScript framework for your next API or microservice, keep these important criteria in mind:

  • Performance – Benchmarks and metrics to gauge speed.
  • Productivity – Code generation and other features to boost output.
  • Scalability – Ability to scale across servers as needed.
  • Learning curve – Will your team need extensive training?
  • Ecosystem – Plugin and resource availability.
  • Type safety – TypeScript support helps large apps.
  • Long term direction – Check GitHub trends for activity and issues.

By evaluating frameworks across these axes, you can select the optimal choice for your specific API and microservice needs.

Of course there are many more great JavaScript frameworks we didn‘t cover like Meteor, SocketCluster and others. Overall JavaScript has cemented itself as the language of choice for building scalable and reliable APIs due to its flexibility, ubiquity and vibrant ecosystem.

Let me know if you have any other questions!

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