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Set up an Express development environment

aziaziazi profile image Camille Gabrieli ・2 min read

I'm learning NodeJS following Odin's Express course and write here my notes. Today we're setting up the environment to use Express on macOS.


We'll need to install:

  • Node and npm globally. I recommend you to use nvm, it will help you manage multiple versions of node on your machine and updating them is needed. For the node version, uses the LTS which is the more stable, or the current with newer features. Npm is installed alongside with node.
  • Express locally for each app, using npm.
  • Any other libraries like template engines, database drivers, authentication middleware, middleware to serve static files... using npm. I won't talk about them here since they really depends of your need.

The Express Application Generator is a handy tool to create a modular skeleton Express app following the MVC pattern. We'll use it here.

Express Application Generator

After installing npm (with node, using nvm), we can use it to install the Express Application Generator.

We install it globaly (-g flag) because it won't be a dependency of our application. Instead, it's run once to create "skeletons" of apps. Run this command:

npm install express-generator -g

Then cd where you want to create your app and run:

express helloNode

This should create a folder named "helloNode" with the base express app. express -h outputs available options, like installing a template library.

Then enter the folder and install the dependencies:

cd helloNode
npm install

Now ready to go ! Let's run the app with the DEBUG environment variable set to the name of your app:

DEBUG=helloworld:* npm start

Our app is running at !


Now our bare app is running, we'll probably need to install others libraries to work with databases, authentication and others middlewares. Then we'll want to prepare the environment on the server to run the app in production.

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