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Create a Basic Node.js App

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Create a Basic Node.js App

Create a Basic Node.js App

Build a basic Node.js app and run it locally on your machine.

You will learn

  • How to install Node.js and npm (Node Package Manager)
  • How to create a basic web app
  • How to run an app on your machine

Step 1: Prepare the infrastructure

Node.js is an server-side runtime environment built on Chrome’s V8 JavaScript engine. It provides an event-driven, non-blocking (asynchronous) I/O and cross-platform runtime environment. It enables you to build scalable server-side applications using JavaScript and is open-source.
Node.js can be used to build various types of applications like command line applications, web applications, REST API server and many else. It is mostly used to create network programs like web servers. For more information visit the official site at

Before you can start building your Node.js app, you need to install npm and Node.js. npm is included in the Node.js installation.

It is possible to download the libraries and organize the directories on your own and start that way. However, as your project (and list of dependencies) grows, this will quickly become messy. It also makes collaborating and sharing your code much more difficult.

You can either use a package manager (recommended) on your OS or use an installer: Download Installer

Installation on Windows (Windows 7+ / Windows Server 2003+)

Install Chocolatey (Windows package manager), if not yet installed

@powershell -NoProfile -ExecutionPolicy Bypass -Command "iex ((New-Object System.Net.WebClient).DownloadString(''))" && SET "PATH=%PATH%;%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\chocolatey\bin"

Install Node.js

=> choco install nodejs

Installation on Mac

Install Homebrew (Mac package manager), if not yet installed

=> /usr/bin/ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL"

Install Node.js

=> brew install node
How do you install the node package manager (npm)?
Step 2: Verify your installation

To verify if the installation was successful, check the npm and node.js version. Open the command line tool and ask for the version.

=> node -v
=> npm -v
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Step 3: Create your application
  1. Create a new dedicated directory for your Node.js application called nodetutorial and another directory inside it called myapp.
  2. To start the application setup, change to the myapp directory and execute npm init in the command line. This will walk you through creating a package.json file.
    => npm init

    Use the values from the table below. If no specific value for a property is needed at this point (# at the value table below) so just hit enter.

    Field Name Value
    package myapp
    version #
    description this is my first node app
    entry point server.js
    test command #
    git repository #
    keywords #
    author #
    license #

    Open the package.json in your myapp. directory and compare it to the shown result.

    package json

    All npm packages contain a file, usually in the project root, called package.json. This file holds various metadata relevant to the project. This file is used to give information to npm that allows it to identify the project as well as handle the project’s dependencies.
    The package.json file is located at the root directory of a Node.js project.

  3. Create a file called server.js (which will act as your web server) in the myapp folder and copy the following code to this file and save it:

    const express = require('express');
    const app = express();
    app.get('/', function (req, res) {
      res.send('Hello World!');
    const port = process.env.PORT || 3000;
    app.listen(port, function () {
      console.log('myapp listening on port ' + port);
What happens when you execute npm init?
Step 4: Download dependencies

Your application is almost ready. Before you actually can access the web server, there’s the need to download the required modules. If you have a look at the server.js file you created in the previous step, the express-module is used there but not yet available on your machine. Therefore, run the following command to let npm take care of the dependencies:

=> npm install express

You should now have a newly (automatically) created directory node_modules in the myapp directory, where all the dependency modules are located. The package.json will be updated with the installed module(s).

You should now have the following directory structure:

└── myapp
    ├── node_modules
    ├── package-lock.json
    ├── package.json
    └── server.js
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Step 5: Start your application

Now the application and can be started locally. Simply start it with the following command:

=> node server.js

You should see myapp listening on port 3000 on your command line if everything went well. You should also get a Hello World response when accessing your web server at http://localhost:3000.

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Next Steps

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