Is Express Js a Web Server?


Heather Bennett

Is Express Js a Web Server?

Express.js is a powerful web application framework for Node.js. While it is commonly used to build web applications, it is important to understand that Express.js is not technically a web server itself. Instead, it provides a set of tools and features that make it easier to create and manage web servers.

What is a Web Server?

A web server is a software application or computer hardware that serves content to clients over the internet. It receives requests from clients (such as web browsers) and responds by delivering the requested resources, such as HTML pages, images, CSS files, or JavaScript files.

Commonly Used Web Servers:

  • Apache HTTP Server: Apache is one of the most popular and widely used open-source web servers. It has been around since 1995 and has built a strong reputation for its stability and performance.
  • Nginx: Nginx is another popular open-source web server known for its high performance and scalability.

    It excels in handling concurrent connections efficiently.

  • Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS): IIS is a web server developed by Microsoft specifically for Windows operating systems. It offers robust features and integration with other Microsoft technologies.

The Role of Express.js

Express.js simplifies the process of building web servers by providing an elegant API for routing HTTP requests, handling middleware functions, managing sessions, and more. It sits on top of Node.js’s built-in HTTP module, which allows it to listen for incoming requests and send responses back to clients.

Main Features of Express.js:

  • Routing: Express.js simplifies the process of defining routes for different URLs and HTTP methods. You can easily handle GET, POST, PUT, DELETE requests and define custom routes to match specific patterns.
  • Middleware: Middleware functions in Express.js allow you to perform actions before or after the main request handler.

    This could include authentication, logging, parsing request bodies, or any other custom logic.

  • Template Engines: Express.js supports various template engines like EJS and Pug, making it easier to render dynamic HTML pages by merging data with predefined templates.
  • Error Handling: The framework provides mechanisms to handle errors gracefully by defining error-handling middleware. This ensures that your server doesn’t crash when unexpected errors occur.

Different Ways to Use Express.js

You can use Express.js in a variety of ways depending on your requirements:

  1. Standalone Web Server: You can create a standalone web server using Express.js by listening on a specific port and handling incoming requests. This is useful when you want to build a simple web application without the need for additional server software.
  2. Middleware within a Web Server: In more complex scenarios, Express.js can be used as middleware within another web server like Apache or Nginx.

    This allows you to leverage the power of Express.js for handling specific routes while delegating other tasks to the main web server.

  3. API Development: Express.js is an excellent choice for building RESTful APIs due to its simplicity and flexibility. It allows you to define endpoints and handle different HTTP methods easily.


While Express.js is not a web server itself, it is a powerful framework that simplifies the process of building web servers in Node. It provides essential tools for routing, middleware, template rendering, and error handling. Whether you are building a standalone web server or integrating Express.js as middleware within an existing server, it offers flexibility and scalability to meet your needs.

So, if you’re looking to create dynamic and robust web applications with Node.js, Express.js is undoubtedly a great choice!

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