Intro to Express JS, setting up your first app

What is Express?

Express. js is a Node. js web application server framework, designed for building single-page, multi-page, and full stack web applications. It is the standard server framework for node.

Assuming you already have a solid understanding for JavaScript’s basic fundamentals, this blog post might be helpful if you want to begin learning Full stack JavaScript web development such as the MERN or PERN stack (Mongo DB/ PostgreSQL, Express, React, Node).

Let’s start by creating a new directory. I’m going to call mine “blogExpressApp” for the sake of this demo. Next, let’s cd (change directory) into our new project folder and run npm init.This creates a package.json file where we can install Express. Just hit enter through all the prompts that appears.

Running Node for the first time in your life

The simplest way to use node is to run the node command, and specify a path to a file. Let’s create a file called server.js to run node with. Here we are going to set up the skeleton to our app. Runtouch server.js in the terminal to create this file.

In a moment we’re going to run our app. Let’s first add a console.log() in our server.js file.

Lets run our app with the command node server.js You should see the console.log in your terminal!

Using Express

First, we have to install Express. We can do this by running the npm install command (npm stands for Node Package Manager and is installed with Node, which is why we used a command like npm init earlier).

Run npm install express --save command in your command line.

Great, Express should now be installed. Next, we use express in our server.js file by requiring it.

We need to create a server that browsers can connect to. Let’s create a variable called port and set it to 5000. Next, we’re going to use Express’s listen method.

Lets run our app again with the command node server.js You should see the console.log in your terminal! In addition, this means our app is running! However, if we navigate to localhost:5000 in the browser we should see a message saying “cannot GET /”. This is where we can begin defining our routes. To keep this app simple, we’re going to set up just a simple GET request for reading information. Now, we’re going to use Express’s get method.

Our methods first argument takes a path. In this app, we’re defining a route of “/”. Our method’s second argument is a callback function which takes a request and response argument. Now when we navigate to localhost:5000/ we’re telling our app to respond with “Hello World”. Check it out!

Let’s take this app’s complexity up just one more level. Let’s create another file called index.html. We’re going to instead send an HTML file as a response instead, in the next step.

Back to our app.get() method, instead of sending back hello world, lets send our HTML file as a response!

Let’s run our app one last time with the command node server.js and navigate to localhost:5000/.


You’ve officially created your very own Express. js app!

Below I’ve added a link to really helpful resource that gave me a really great understanding for the Express JS basics. Good Luck! The world is yours, take your knowledge and keep spreading it.

A creative Full Stack Developer with an entrepreneurial spirit, proficient at Web Application Development using Git and modern web tools.

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