Does NodeJS Have a Web Server?


Heather Bennett

Node.js is a powerful runtime environment that allows developers to build server-side applications using JavaScript. One common question that often arises is whether Node.js has a built-in web server. Let’s dive into this topic and explore the answer.

Node.js and Web Servers

Node.js itself does not come with a web server out of the box. However, it provides a module called ‘http’ that can be used to create a web server easily. This module enables developers to handle HTTP requests and responses, making it possible to build custom web servers.

The ‘http’ module in Node.js provides functions such as ‘createServer()’ that allow you to create an instance of an HTTP server. With this server instance, you can define how your application handles incoming requests and send back appropriate responses.

Creating a Basic Web Server with Node.js

To demonstrate how to create a basic web server using Node.js, let’s go through a simple example:

// Import the 'http' module
const http = require('http');

// Create an instance of the HTTP server
const server = http.createServer((req, res) => {
  // Set the response header
  res.writeHead(200, { 'Content-Type': 'text/plain' });
  // Write the response body
  res.write('Hello, world!');
  // End the response

// Start listening on port 3000
server.listen(3000, () => {
  console.log('Server is running on port 3000');

This code imports the ‘http’ module and creates an instance of an HTTP server using the createServer() method. Inside the callback function passed to createServer(), we set the response header, write the response body, and end the response. Finally, we start the server by calling listen() and specifying the port number.

Alternatives to Building a Web Server with Node.js

While Node.js provides the ‘http’ module for building custom web servers, there are also popular frameworks available that simplify the process. Express.js is one such framework that builds upon Node.js’ ‘http’ module and provides additional features to make web application development more efficient.

Express.js abstracts away many low-level details of building a web server and provides a higher-level API for handling routes, middleware, template engines, and much more. It has a vibrant ecosystem with numerous plugins and extensions available to enhance functionality.

Installing Express.js

To install Express.js in your Node.js project, use the following command:

$ npm install express

This will add Express.js as a dependency in your project’s package.json.

A Simple Web Server with Express.js

Here’s an example of how you can create a basic web server using Express.js:

// Import Express
const express = require('express');

// Create an instance of the Express application
const app = express();

// Define a route
app.get('/', (req, res) => {
  res.send('Hello, world!');

// Start listening on port 3000
app.log('Server is running on port 3000');

This code demonstrates how to create an instance of an Express application using express(). We then define a route using app.get() that handles GET requests to the root URL (‘/’).

Inside the route handler, we send back the response with ‘Hello, world!’. Finally, we start the server by calling app.listen().


Although Node.js does not come with a built-in web server, it provides the ‘http’ module that allows you to create custom web servers easily. Additionally, frameworks like Express.js can simplify web server development and provide higher-level abstractions for building feature-rich applications.

Whether you choose to use the ‘http’ module or a framework like Express.js, Node.js offers a flexible and powerful platform for building web servers and serving dynamic content.

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