Introduction to Nest.js

Nest (NestJS) is a framework for building efficient, scalable Node.js server-side applications. It uses progressive JavaScript, is built with and fully supports TypeScript (yet still enables developers to code in pure JavaScript) and combines elements of OOP (Object Oriented Programming), FP (Functional Programming), and FRP (Functional Reactive Programming).

Under the hood, Nest makes use of robust HTTP Server frameworks like Express (the default) and optionally can be configured to use Fastify as well!

Nest provides a level of abstraction above these common Node.js frameworks (Express/Fastify), but also exposes their APIs directly to the developer. This allows developers the freedom to use the myriad of third-party modules which are available for the underlying platform.

In recent years, thanks to Node.js, JavaScript has become the “lingua franca” of the web for both front and backend applications. This has given rise to awesome projects like Angular, React and Vue, which improve developer productivity and enable the creation of fast, testable, and extensible frontend applications. However, while plenty of superb libraries, helpers, and tools exist for Node (and server-side JavaScript), none of them effectively solve the main problem of – Architecture.

Nest provides an out-of-the-box application architecture which allows developers and teams to create highly testable, scalable, loosely coupled, and easily maintainable applications. The architecture is heavily inspired by Angular.

To get started, you can either scaffold the project with the Nest CLI, or clone a starter project (both will produce the same outcome).

To scaffold the project with the Nest CLI, run the following commands. This will create a new project directory, and populate the directory with the initial core Nest files and supporting modules, creating a conventional base structure for your project. Creating a new project with the Nest CLI is recommended for first-time users. We’ll continue with this approach in First Steps.

In this set of articles, you’ll learn the core fundamentals of Nest. To get familiar with the essential building blocks of Nest applications, we’ll build a basic CRUD application with features that cover a lot of ground at an introductory level.

We’re in love with TypeScript, but above all – we love Node.js. That’s why Nest is compatible with both TypeScript and pure JavaScript. Nest takes advantage of the latest language features, so to use it with vanilla JavaScript we need a Babel compiler.

We’ll mostly use TypeScript in the examples we provide, but you can always switch the code snippets to vanilla JavaScript syntax (simply click to toggle the language button in the upper right hand corner of each snippet).

To create a Nest application instance, we use the core NestFactory class. NestFactory exposes a few static methods that allow creating an application instance. The create() method returns an application object, which fulfills the INestApplication interface. This object provides a set of methods which are described in the coming chapters. In the main.ts example above, we simply start up our HTTP listener, which lets the application await inbound HTTP requests.

Note that a project scaffolded with the Nest CLI creates an initial project structure that encourages developers to follow the convention of keeping each module in its own dedicated directory.

Nest aims to be a platform-agnostic framework. Platform independence makes it possible to create reusable logical parts that developers can take advantage of across several different types of applications. Technically, Nest is able to work with any Node HTTP framework once an adapter is created. There are two HTTP platforms supported out-of-the-box: express and fastify. You can choose the one that best suits your needs.

Express is a well-known minimalist web framework for node. It’s a battle tested, production-ready library with lots of resources implemented by the community. The @nestjs/platform-express package is used by default. Many users are well served with Express, and need take no action to enable it.

Fastify is a high performance and low overhead framework highly focused on providing maximum efficiency and speed. Read how to use it here.

Whichever platform is used, it exposes its own application interface. These are seen respectively as NestExpressApplication and NestFastifyApplication.

When you pass a type to the NestFactory.create() method, as in the example below, the app object will have methods available exclusively for that specific platform. Note, however, you don’t need to specify a type unless you actually want to access the underlying platform API.

A controller’s purpose is to receive specific requests for the application. The routing mechanism controls which controller receives which requests. Frequently, each controller has more than one route, and different routes can perform different actions.

In order to create a basic controller, we use classes and decorators. Decorators associate classes with required metadata and enable Nest to create a routing map (tie requests to the corresponding controllers).

In the following example we’ll use the @Controller() decorator, which is required to define a basic controller. We’ll specify an optional route path prefix of cats. Using a path prefix in a @Controller() decorator allows us to easily group a set of related routes, and minimize repetitive code. For example, we may choose to group a set of routes that manage interactions with a customer entity under the route /customers. In that case, we could specify the path prefix customers in the @Controller() decorator so that we don’t have to repeat that portion of the path for each route in the file.

The above is a brief about Nest.js. Watch this space for more updates on the latest trends in Technology.

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