Express vs. Hapi: The Battle For Being Best Node.js Framework

Want to know the best framework among Express vs.Hapi? Then, read this blog. It provides a comprehensive comparison based on various software parameters.

April 24, 2021
9 mins read
Last Updated September 09, 2021
Express vs. Hapi

Express vs. Hapi: The Battle For Being Best Node.js Framework

Express and Hapi are both based on Node.Js at the core, and that is why it becomes a challenge to choose one of them. Though they have a lot in common, there are some stark differences that one should be aware of. Express is more closely related to Node, and Hapi is a newer framework and yet there are some features in Hapi that make it an exciting choice. 

One of the most significant differences between Hapi or HttpAPI and Express is the presence of middleware. Express needs middleware to parse objects, while Hapi does not need it. Apart from the middleware, many other features differ in Express and Hapi.

As a CTO or CEO, outlining the two web app development frameworks’ differences becomes vital to make an informed decision. In case you’re looking for an agency to assist you with the decision based on your requirements, consider checking out Simform’s custom web application development offerings.

Overview of Frameworks – Express vs. Hapi

What is Express? – An Overview

Express.js or Express is an open-source server-side framework built for Node.js. Written in Javascript, it is part of MEAN, MEVN, and MERN stacks. Express provides plugins, template code, middleware packages, and routing functionality for faster and efficient web development. Additionally, the framework allows third-party integrations of libraries and features to make customization easier.

Market Usage Statistics 

  • A study by BuiltWith shows that Express is the 10th most popular framework in the Top 10k sites.
  • SimilarTech reports around 193,346 websites are built with Express worldwide, out of which 38,847 are made exclusively in the US.
  • According to a study by Statistics & Data, Express ranks 4th among the top 5 backend frameworks for 2021.
Express-Most-Popular-Backend-Framework

Use Cases 

  • Single-page apps
  • Reusable apps
  • Middleware Applications
  • RESTful APIs
  • Serve and access static files using a browser 
  • Enterprise web applications 
  • eCommerce web applications 

Popular Apps 

  • Twitter moved to Node.js Express in 2017 to speed up its mobile web app Twitter Lite.
  • Uber utilized Express to develop their base web server, Bedrock, and optimize the middleware to provide security, internationalization, and other integrations for its infrastructure. 
  • Accuweather leveraged Express to build APIs for integration into other apps
  • IMDB also applied Express features to create APIs for developers to integrate them into their apps.

What is Hapi? – An Overview

Hapi is a Javascript framework that can provide API development opportunities for servers, websites, and HTTP proxy applications. It is an open-sourced Node.Js framework founded by  Eran Hammer at Walmart Labs. 

Hapi offers a configuration-centric structure that comes with pre-built caching and authorization features. This framework allows you to develop web applications using Javascript readily. It also comes with built-in authorization schemes like anonymous, basic-auth, cookie-based, and token-based authentication schemes. With Hapi, Walmart handled peak traffic during their Black Friday sale with 10 CPU cores and 28 GB RAM, keeping 0.75% of load idle. 

The Node-based framework also offers client and server-side caching via catbox. Apart from authorizations and caching, it provides API and web application routing.   

Here are some stats on Market usage of Hapi:

  • According to stateofjs.com, Hapi had a satisfaction rate of about 60% in 2020 and 73% in 2017.
Satisfaction-Rate-Hapi
  • Hapi had a usage percentage of about 9% in 2017 and remained the same in 2020.
Usage-Percentage-Hapi
  • It has 16,958 repositories and 786 packages with 13.2k stars on GitHub.
  • The framework has more than 250K weekly downloads.

Use cases of Hapi

  • Network applications
  • Server component for Single Page Applications (SPAs)
  • HTTP-based software applications
  • eCommerce web applications
  • JSON APIs for web applications
  • Static websites or data-driven websites

What are popular apps made with Hapi?

  • Colonizers- Used Hapi to power HTML5 multiplayer games based on the popular board game “Catan” by Klaus Teuber.
  • MasteryJs- Used Hapi to create an API server framework to build scalable web applications.
  • PayDash- Leveraged Hapi to create payment API for India’s most significant employment guarantee program called MGNREGA.
  • Postmile Built a collaborative list-making tool using hapi.js, Node.Js, and MongoDB.

Express vs. Hapi— Pros and Cons

Pros of Express 

  • Lesser Development Time: Express uses Javascript for both backend and frontend development. Thus, developers can generate codes faster without the need to learn a new language.
  • Effective Error Handling: Express’s middleware is built to support catching errors in synchronous and asynchronous codes.
  • Handling I/O Requests: Express is an excellent choice for businesses that receive thousands of requests and notifications from users daily.
  • Unopinionated Framework: Express has no strict rules on dealing with specific tasks, and you can leverage middleware packages and components in any way convenient for you.
  • Easy Installation: Being a minimalistic framework, Express is easy to install, set up, and has a steep learning curve. This characteristic makes it suitable for beginners with a basic understanding of backend development.

Cons of Express

  • Lack of Standardization: While Express does not require a specific structure, it can be an issue as team members increases and developers work on different functionalities of the app. Therefore, it becomes essential for teams to stick to a structure for the entire project.
  • Callback Hell: Callbacks are among the most discussed issues with the Express framework as developers fail to comprehend the complicated writing style. However, the Express team has looked into the recurring problem and introduced some relief.
  • Philosophy of Middleware: For developers who have never worked with Express, understanding and executing the middleware functions can be tricky.

Pros of Hapi

  • Robust Plugins: Offers rapid feature development and quicker identification of bus to fix through customized modules. 
  • Ease of Coding: Helps developers to write manageable, controllable, and distributable code.
  • Secure Framework: Blocks error messages which may leak data or echo back unsecured loopholes.
  • Caching Advantage: Improves the web application performance through continuous caching. 
  • Microservice Support:  Chairo plugin allows integration of Seneca functionality which is a microservice toolkit for organizing an application’s business logic. 
  • Integrated Authorization: Accessibility to pre-built authentication and authorization APIs.

Cons of Hapi

  • Code Configuration: Developers have to figure the code structure without community support
  • Compatibility Issues: Some of the Hapi-specific modules and plugins such as catbox, joi, boom, etc. are not compatible with Express/Connect.
  • Manual Testing: Creation of endpoints and testing is manual, due to lack of automation.

You may also like to find which is the best: Express vs Django 

Express vs. Hapi—Performance Comparison

How does Express stand out in terms of performance?

Express is a big hit among developers for the speed it delivers to Node.js applications. In terms of speed, a simple ‘Hello, World’ benchmark performance shows that an Express program can handle 11,202 requests per second.

Express

How does Hapi stand out in terms of performance?

According to a performance test conducted by Raygun on Ubuntu Subsystem on Windows 10, Hapi parses about 1094 requests per second. Simultaneously, performance tests run on Ubuntu VM(Virtual Machine) with Hapi indicated parsing of 688 requests per second.

Performance-Test-Hapi

Another test was performed on D-series Azure VM running Ubuntu using Node.Js, Hapi.Js, and Express.Js. The results for Hapi indicated a parsing of 3992.902 requests per second which is slower than Express, and Node.Js.

Express vs. Hapi— Application Architecture

What kinds of architecture does Express support?

Express does not require a specific architecture, and developers have the liberty to determine a structure for their web apps. However, MVC (Model-View-Controller) is the preferred and most common architecture type for Express apps.

What kind of architecture does Hapi support?

Hapi supports configuration-based MVC(Model-View-Controller) architecture. Such an architecture pattern helps in extending the scalability of web applications. Hapi offers a controller to handle the connection between the data model(business logic) and the View part(representation layer).

Express vs.Hapi— Scalability

How scalable is Express?

Express derives various features from Node.js, and one of them is the non-blocking servers that can handle user requests better. As a result, it is easier for developers to create easily scalable web apps. The Express framework is equipped with similar scalability and features as the Nginx and Apache servers. Moreover, being lightweight, leveraging it to build large-scale applications is achievable.

How scalable is Hapi?

Hapi is designed for complex enterprise environments where several teams work on individual projects that overlap at multiple touchpoints to create a unified result. It enables teams to work on modular, reusable codes without the need for meta-framework erections or refactoring it. 

Scalability-Hapi

Hapi provides handlers and extension hooks to implement the business logic effectively. When an application is scaled, the Hapi server becomes an outward-facing interface. It further breaks down the business logic into microservices which more manageable. 

Love Express? Here is a detailed comparison between Express and Node.js for you

Express vs. Hapi— Ease of Testing

How easier is it to test an Express app?

Similar to Node.js, there are many defined best practices for conducting tests on Express apps. With testing frameworks like Mocha, Jest, Ava, and Postman combined with libraries like Sinon, Chai, and Supertest, you can automate APIs and middleware tests of an Express app.

How easier is it to test Hapi applications?

Hapi offers test runners called lab. The test runner is a command-line interface tool that helps running a packaged testing suite. The assertion library used in the Hapi ecosystem is a set of tools that verifies whether a test case has passed or not. 

The lab in Hapi offers detailed documentation of testing tools to create a BDD(Behavior Driven Development) environment. The best thing about the lab is that it offers unopinionated characteristics to all its testing features.

Express vs. Hapi— Microservices compatibility

Is Express compatible with Microservices architecture?

The unopinionated structure of Express makes it suitable to combine with a microservice architecture. This helps to achieve higher scalability and improve performance. In fact, Express Gateway leverages Express.js functionality to build a Microservices API Gateway for organizations to implement a microservice structure for faster development.

Is Hapi compatible with microservices architecture?

Every web application microservices is a self-contained unit that offers clear HTTP APIs, scans request, communicate the status of requests. Hapi offers microservices compatibility through pre-built error handling, logging, and validation features. Another essential factor that microservices architecture has to handle is the request payloads. Here, Hapi defines schema projects that help in handling the need for keys and patterns within an applications’ payload. 

Express vs. Hapi— Database support

How good is the database support for Express?

Being a minimalistic framework, Express does not come with database integration among its core features and does not promote using any particular database. This feature allows you to connect with a database, whether it’s MySQL, MongoDB, Oracle, SQL Server, or CouchDB, simply by loading a Node.js driver in the app.

How good is the database support for Hapi?

Hapi supports different database management systems like MariaDB, MongoDB,  SQLite, PostgreSQL, and NoSQL. It enables database connection through APIs and data caching to reduce the payload. Hapi is a Node Js-based framework, and hence it supports most database systems such as MySQL, MS SQL, Oracle, Cassandra, LevelDB, and more. 

Express vs. Hapi— Community

How big is the community around Express?

Being one of the most popular frameworks worldwide, the Express open-source community constantly reviews and improves its codes. The Express technical committee meets online once every two weeks to discuss development and maintenance issues, and the meetings are available on their Express YouTube channel. It has 52.6k followers, 270+ releases, and 251+ contributors on GitHub. Express also has a decent following of 5403 members on Gitter with an Express chatroom for discussions related to the framework.

How big is the community around Hapi?

Hapi has a comprehensive support community on popular platforms like GitHub, Reddit, Twitter, and Slack. The framework is open-sourced, and with the help of these active communities, finding a solution to existing issues may not be difficult. There are more than 209 contributors on the GitHub community to support any kind of development too.

Express vs. Hapi— Hiring developers

How convenient is it to hire Express developers?

Owing to its immense popularity in the backend community, hiring Express developers with extensive knowledge is no challenge. The average hourly cost of hiring Express developers is $35 but it largely depends on the years of experience a developer has gained over the years. Moreover, Express developers are skilled Node.js developers. They have a good understanding of Node.js and find it much easier to work with Express.js.

How convenient is it to hire Hapi developers?

Since Hapi.Js is based on Node.Js, you do not have to look for hiring Hapi developers specifically. You can hire Node.Js developers on the go. The average salary for a Node.Js developer in the United States is around $58.97 per hour. A junior-level Node.Js developer charges anywhere from $20-$30 per hour, and an experienced developer charges from $60-$90 per hour. An intermediate-level developer can charge from $30-$60 per hour. 

Conclusion

Express apps feel almost like native Node applications. At the same time, Hapi offers abstraction to Node applications missing in Express. Both of these frameworks are lacking some features and have unique attributes too. So, picking one can be subjective to the type of project and scale of application you plan to build.

You should go with Express if;

  • You want to scale up your app and handle multiple user requests on the app 
  • You want to build a real-time application that leverages the non-blocking Express servers.
  • You want to make a website where millions of users share and export images similar to Unsplash.
  • You want to create an app like GoDaddy for registering domains and offering web hosting services.
  • You want to develop a web app like Coursera that provides open online courses. 

You should go with Hapi if;

  • You want to build network applications for the intranet.
  • You need to develop single-page applications for your business.
  • You want specific JSON APIs for your web application to interact with other interfaces.
  • You need to build browser-based software applications for your organization.
  • You want a data-driven web application or static website for your business.

Hiren is VP of Technology at Simform with an extensive experience in helping enterprises and startups streamline their business performance through data-driven innovation.

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