Chinedu Okere Full-stack React/Node.js software engineer from Nigeria. Works for a US food tech startup. Enjoys mentoring junior developers to help them become better software engineers,. Reach out to me on Twitter or Instagram.

NestJS vs. LoopBack 4: Which is best?

7 min read 2204

NestJS Vs LoopBack Which Is Best

NestJS or LoopBack: Which is best? Is there a best?

Choosing between Node frameworks is super confusing, especially when there are so many great options. Picking the right one requires an understanding of not only the project you’re working on, but of both frameworks and when to use them.

I previously wasn’t a fan of using frameworks to build backend Node apps. You could say we had a love-hate relationship, but a couple of years back I tried using NestJS and was amazed! After that, I thought Nest was the best out there…

…until I started experimenting with LoopBack 4. Now I’m torn!

In this article, we’ll compare NestJS with LoopBack across various attributes and features. We’ll also cover which of the two is best in different scenarios. Though I can’t definitively point out which is better, I can analyze which is best depending on a few important factors. We’ll go over these in the article below!

What is NestJS?

NestJS is a Node.js framework used to build efficient, scalable, and enterprise-level server-side applications. It uses progressive JavaScript and has full support for TypeScript.

Nest uses the default Express.js but can be configured using alternatives such as Fastify.

Nest aims to solve the problems of software architecture. It’s worth noting that the architecture is heavily inspired by Angular, a frontend platform and framework for creating single-page applications. Thanks to its software architecture, Nest enables teams and developers to create easily maintainable, testable, scalable, and loosely coupled server-side applications.

What is LoopBack 4?

LoopBack is an innovative, award-winning Node.js framework. It enables software engineers to quickly create APIs and microservices with backend systems, such as databases and REST or SOAP services.

LoopBack is highly extensible, has out-of-the-box support for TypeScript, and is built on top of Express.

LoopBack makes it super simple to build modern API applications with little to no coding. It’s open source, is strongly supported by IBM and StrongLoop, and is driven by OpenAPI. Loopback also follows the OpenAPI standard, which is becoming widely accepted in the industry.

I don’t know about you, but just defining these two frameworks doesn’t quite convince me of which is best. Let’s try to compare them!

Comparing NestJS with LoopBack 4

NestJS is a full-stack Node framework, while LoopBack is a microframework. The former is powerful and very easy to use, while the latter is considered when Database, REST API, AAA, and Swagger are needed. Both of these frameworks are open source.

NestJS Vs LoopBack Comparison Matrix

Popularity and growth

Both frameworks have acquired popularity amongst developers and in various tech communities.



At the time of writing this article, LoopBack has 4.2k GitHub stars and 947 forks, while NestJS has 47k stars and about 5.3k forks. You can see in the graph below that both frameworks have growing interest over time on Google.

Trends On Google Over Time
LoopBack 4 and NestJS interest over 12 months.

As previously mentioned, LoopBack is a microframework (backend), while NestJS is a framework (full-stack). This could be one reason why NestJS has more GitHub stars than LoopBack.

Another reason behind the disparity between GitHub stars and for the general popularity of NestJS could be because NestJS software is highly opinionated. It’s also strongly backed and easily adopted by the Angular community.

Looking at the comparison infographic and seeing which framework has a higher GitHub star count still doesn’t cut it for me. Let’s continue with other factors.

Overall performance

Performance is the bread and butter of a good framework. It’s no surprise that NestJS is very popular amongst developers or that LoopBack has won awards for being one of the most innovative frameworks.

The LoopBack benchmark measures how fast we can create new records and fetch data. This test was carried out on a mid-2015 MacBook Pro with a 22.5 GHz Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of memory, and 1600 MHz DDR3.

The average results for fetching data were 4,569 requests per second, while it took 348 requests per second to create a new record.

When we look at latency, the average time to fetch data in milliseconds was 1.68, while it took 28.27 milliseconds to create a new one.


More great articles from LogRocket:


While LoopBack tried to use a real-world working scenario to test and measure requests per second, NestJS used a “Hello World” application to test, which, according to the NestJS code checks benchmark, shows that a NestJS and Fastify application handles about 30,001 requests per second.

Scalability

The scalability of a web app is its ability to handle an increasing number of concurrent users.

NestJS is scalable for large apps because of its application architecture. It allows software developers to build easily maintainable, highly testable, and loosely coupled applications.

Further, the use of HTTP server frameworks like Express (the default) or Fastify greatly improve its scalability for large apps. The fact that it’s built with TypeScript is also a big plus.

LoopBack is also very scalable for building complex Node.js apps. It solves a huge problem with loosely coupled apps: different parts have to work seamlessly together, without knowing much about each other, to introduce patterns that help solve these problems.

LoopBack gives control to software engineers. It enables problem solving, allowing developers to bring in more capabilities without breaking the app’s core foundation.

We can also compose a set of actions into a meaningful flow/sequence with LoopBack, such as setting up an efficient pipeline for processing HTTP requests and responses.

LoopBack is built on the Express framework and uses TypeScript, making it highly scalable for building apps with extensibility, composability, and great flexibility.

Features of NestJS and LoopBack 4

Now, we’ll compare some of the features of both NestJS and LoopBack 4.

Features of NestJS

Unsurprisingly, the popularity of NestJS is due to its amazing features that have taken the tech community by storm.

Here are some of them, to name a few:

  • Boosts productivity and increases development time due to its amazing and powerful Command Line Interface (CLI)
  • Has great, constantly maintained documentation
  • Is open source (MIT license)
  • Is written in TypeScript, a superset of JavaScript
  • There’s a dedicated section in the documentation for microservice-type applications built with NestJS
  • Makes unit testing easy
  • Has an actively maintained and developed codebase

Features of LoopBack 4

Although LoopBack’s popularity is nowhere compared to NestJS, LoopBack has some amazing, innovative features that we can’t turn a blind eye to. Here are some of them:

  • Is open source
  • Has support for TypeScript and embraces OpenAPI Specification, GraphQL, etc.
  • Enables development teams to quickly create dynamic end-to-end REST APIs thanks to its powerful Command Line Interface (CLI)
  • Enables the use of AngularJS, Android, and iOS SDKs to quickly create client-side applications.
  • Has easy authorization and authentication setup, API Explorer Model, role-based access controls, oAuth registration, and user models with out of the box browser support
  • Easily connects to backend data stores like MongoDB, Postgres, MySQL, and Oracle

Even after looking at their features, we can’t overlook performance, scalability, ease of getting started, and ease of testing web applications built on these frameworks. All of these factors are integral decisions for software engineers to make to get the most out of these technologies and really achieve developmental goals.

Now, let’s evaluate creating a project in each of these frameworks.

Creating a project

Let’s look at how to create a simple project in both frameworks.

Creating a “Hello World” application in NestJS

N.B, According to the NestJS documentation it is advised that Node.js v10.13.0 and later, except v13, is installed in your operating system.

First, we need to install the NestJS Command Line Interface.

npm i -g @NestJS/cli

Then, in the terminal of our operating system, we use the below commands to create a new project:

nest hello-world-app

A directory for hello-world-app will be created. The necessary boilerplates, as well as Node modules, will be installed, and the src/ directory will be populated.

Below is an image of the files that populate the src/ directory:

SRC Directory Files

After the installation process, we can run the npm run start:dev command to start the app.

Once the app is running, if we open our browser and visit http://localhost:3000/, we will see “Hello World!” in the browser!

Creating a “Hello World” application in LoopBack 4

Note: In order for this app to work, we need Node.js v10 or later to be installed.

First, we have to install the LoopBack CLI toolkit globally:

npm i -g @loopback/cli

Then, when we create a new project, the CLI installs all the dependencies and configures a TypeScript Compiler. The CLI will create a scaffold of the project, and to do so we will run the CLI and answer the prompts:

lb4 app

Answer the prompts as shown in the photo below:

Answer Prompts

The scaffold creation is now in progress.

Scaffold Creation

Scaffold Creation Two

After scaffolding, the project comes with a route of its own: /ping. To try it out, we cd into our project and run it:

cd hello-world-app
npm start

In our browser, we can visit http://[::1]:3000/ping to see the results:

3000 Ping Results

We can also see that our server runs on http://[::1]:3000:

3000 Results

We can see our Open API spec at http://127.0.0.1:3000/openapi.json:

Open API Spec Results

And finally, our API Explorer on http://127.0.0.1:3000/explorer/:

API Explorer Results

Now that we have created the scaffold for our app, let’s go ahead and add a simple controller for “Hello World.”

First, we need to stop the application with Control + C if it’s still running.

Then, we need to run the below command for our controller:

lb4 controller

Next, we’ll answer the prompt like below:

Hello World Prompts

In order to create the “Hello World” route, we’ll paste the below code in src/controllers/hello.controller.ts:

import {get} from '@loopback/rest';

export class HelloController {
  @get('/hello')
  hello(): string {
    return 'Hello world!!!';
  }
}

Finally, we can start the app using npm start.

When we visit http://127.0.0.1:3000/hello, we see “Hello World”.

Testing in NestJS and LoopBack 4

NestJS supports automated testing, which can be very important for software development.

Automation makes sure that tests are run at very critical development stages, such as feature integration, version release, and source code control check in.

The former includes features that enable developers and teams to automate and build tests.

NestJS is integrated with SuperTest and Jest, provides its own default tooling, and automatically scaffolds default unit tests for components and end-to-end tests for apps.

NestJS also makes it easy to use any testing framework.

LoopBack comes with a thoroughly automated test suite that helps speed up development. It also helps both new and experienced developers understand different parts of the application codebase. When bugs are fixed and new features are implemented, LoopBack helps prevent regressions and ensures that applications built on LoopBack work as expected.

LoopBack has recommended the use of Mocha. Mocha is a JavaScript test framework that runs on Node.js, as well as the browser, and makes asynchronous testing simple.

However, LoopBack’s automated test suite needs a test runner in order for it to execute the test and produce a summarized report. Hence, Mocha to the rescue.

In addition to a test runner, the automated test suites also require a library for creating test doubles. Sinon.JS is used for this.

An assertion library like Should.js, as well as a library for making HTTP calls and verifying their results like SuperTest, are recommended.

The @loopback/testlab module automatically integrates with these packages, making them easy to use with LoopBack and, in turn, making testing for LoopBack apps extremely quick and simple to set up.

Is NestJS or LoopBack 4 the better framework?

We’ve gotten to the point where we have to answer this very important question. Well…

At the beginning of this article, I asked a question that I felt you might have in mind. Is there really a best between these two?

Well, every framework has its pros and cons, as with everything in life.

I’ve found that picking one technology and sticking to it is king. But, of course, you have to make that decision based on the requirements of the project you are working on and the team behind it.

Ultimately, both technologies have done a great job of building a solid foundation to help software engineers build fast, scalable, highly efficient, and maintainable web applications.

Conclusion

Comparing these two technologies was no easy feat because they are both amazing and very innovative.

We went from defining these frameworks to comparing their popularity and growth. We looked at their features and how they scale, as well as how easy and fast it is to set up a “Hello World” application using both frameworks. Finally, we looked at testing and how easy it is to set it up in both frameworks.

This has been a long piece, and if you have stayed to this point I must say a big thank you! All in all, I hope you enjoyed this piece as much as I enjoyed writing it. Once again, thanks for sticking with me thus far! Happy coding, comrades!

: Full visibility into your web and mobile apps

LogRocket is a frontend application monitoring solution that lets you replay problems as if they happened in your own browser. Instead of guessing why errors happen, or asking users for screenshots and log dumps, LogRocket lets you replay the session to quickly understand what went wrong. It works perfectly with any app, regardless of framework, and has plugins to log additional context from Redux, Vuex, and @ngrx/store.

In addition to logging Redux actions and state, LogRocket records console logs, JavaScript errors, stacktraces, network requests/responses with headers + bodies, browser metadata, and custom logs. It also instruments the DOM to record the HTML and CSS on the page, recreating pixel-perfect videos of even the most complex single-page and mobile apps.

.
Chinedu Okere Full-stack React/Node.js software engineer from Nigeria. Works for a US food tech startup. Enjoys mentoring junior developers to help them become better software engineers,. Reach out to me on Twitter or Instagram.

2 Replies to “NestJS vs. LoopBack 4: Which is best?”

  1. I wouldn’t even say there’s a comparison. If anything Loopback seems to have been taking ideas from NestJS and trying to implement them into their own framework – instead of just improving the clearly more widely used and production-ready NestJS.

    Things like this stiffle Open source, instead of banding together it just creates division.
    Shame on IBM to be honest.

    1. lol…while you are entitled to your opinions, and i can’t say they are wrong. loopback4 has some die hard fans. i mean people who really love the framework.

Leave a Reply