Web Programming TutorialsLearn To Optimize Express.js Performance

Learn To Optimize Express.js Performance

Express JS is, by far, one of the most popular frameworks for Node JS and by extension, Javascript out there. It bills itself as a “fast, unopinionated, minimalist web framework for Node JS,” and its creator has referred to it as “Sinatra-inspired,” in order to highlight its minimalistic nature and also point out its many available plugins. Express JS also boasts a very simple API and a huge community of people who are invested in Express JS and work on it essentially for free, since it’s an open source framework.

In this article, we’re going to be talking about some ways to optimize Express JS’s performance. Obviously, general users will still have a good time without these points, but paying attention to them can give new users an edge when developing content and the tips can also give experienced users a few helpful ideas that they may not have thought of before. These topics go into some particular features of Express JS, but they’re not approached in the most technical way, in order to be easier to understand for beginners. In general, these topics will focus on getting the greatest performance out of Express JS and its various subroutines, dependent systems, and the design ideology of Express JS as a whole.


gZip is one of those features that’s really useful, but also easy to overlook. That’s because it does most of its work in the background, and all you really need to do is set it up. gzip is a feature of Express JS that works with browsers to compress and then re-size files that are being transferred from server to client, and vice versa. This is a really great feature because it can speed up download times and communication times, really with very little effort on your part. Express JS also has a few native features that do the same thing, but gZip is widely considered to be the better option because it’s supported by more browsers. Applying gZip is pretty easy – it’s just a matter of adding in the right code at the beginning of a function that will apply its features to the gZip function, when a server or client requests to download that file or object.

Cache control

Caching is a great feature that can save you and your users a lot of time and effort when accessing objects that they use with great frequency. Cached objects are pre downloaded and stored so that they’re easily accessible whenever someone wants to use them. This is advantageous in a situation with an object that is downloaded again and again and actually downloading it every time, rather than just accessing a cached version would be uneconomic with bandwidth and processing power. However, it is possible to cache too many things, because they take up memory. The real challenge is deciding what you can cache and what you don’t want to. Fortunately, there are analytic services out there that can help you determine what to cache and what not to cache, based on the usage of various objects.

Production mode

This one is overlooked by both, new and experienced users pretty often. By default, Express JS runs in development mode, which is the standard view for Express JS. However, Express JS also has a production mode, which can be useful in a lot of situations. As it happens, the difference between development mode and production mode has to do with caching – in development mode, everything is always loaded from file to file and request to request. In production mode, however, loaded files are then cached so that re-using them is easier. This means making changes to the server becomes really easy because they, then don’t require a server reboot or anything like that. Of course, like caching too many files, overusing production mode can eat through your RAM, which is something you’ll definitely want to avoid.


Almost always in web design topics, there is some stress between static design elements that look good and appeal to users, and the processing power it takes to host them. Especially for websites with a lot of stylistic elements, there’s often this sense that a website that looks good comes at the cost of its performance. This, however, doesn’t always have to be the case, and there are services like Uglify (a tongue in cheek sort of name) that can help address this issue. In general, Uglify speeds up sites by minifying elements that are not in use, such as those that aren’t on the screen at the moment. This can hugely improve performance for a lot of sites, especially very dense ones with a lot going on.


Middleware reduction

Middleware reduction
Middleware is a necessary part of a lot of programs. Express JS uses it to communicate through various superstructures of server-client hierarchies. With that said, it’s very easy to over-use middleware, and to start relying on it situations where you really don’t need to. As with a lot of other things in this article, indulging in it too much can end up slowing down performance as your user memory skyrockets and the whole thing grinds to a halt. Fortunately, disabling middleware packages is pretty easy, so even if you’ve overstretched yourself already, getting back on track isn’t too hard.

Max sockets increase

By default, Express JS’s HTTP server has an upper limit of five for its sockets. This is a very restrained number by design, and most servers can handle a whole lot more than that. The exact number of sockets will really depend on the hardware in play, but there are situations where it’s useful to set the max number of sockets as high as infinite. Of course, this is another thing you’ll want to keep an eye on in the interest of not overburdening your server.

As you might have noticed, the big theme here is – temperance and moderation. This makes sense, given that Express JS has a ton of tools and even more ways to use them. Figuring out what your server and application needs is the first step to creating a fast piece of Express JS content that also looks great and functions well. Hopefully, this guide has introduced you to a few ideas, programs, and features that will help you do that!


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