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Unlocking Backend JavaScript Development with Node.js on Windows

When you delve into the world of JavaScript, you soon realize its potential beyond front-end development. The prospect of harnessing JavaScript’s capabilities in the backend can be exhilarating. Fortunately, you don’t need to learn a new language to power your applications in the backend. Node.js, a versatile runtime, simplifies the process and runs seamlessly on Windows, as well as other popular development platforms like Mac and Linux. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the step-by-step process of installing Node.js on a Windows system, making you ready to explore its potential.

Exploring Node.js for Windows Installation

Node.js offers a gateway to the exciting world of server-side JavaScript. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced developer, getting Node.js up and running on your Windows machine is straightforward. Plus, with Node.js, you’ll receive the Node Package Manager (npm) as a bundled bonus, simplifying dependency management for your projects. Let’s dive into the installation process and explore the benefits of Node.js on Windows.

Installing Node.js on Windows

Step-by-Step Guide to Node.js Installation

To embark on your Node.js journey, the first step is to visit the official Node.js website. The website is intelligent enough to detect your operating system, so if you’re using Windows, you’ll be directed accordingly. On the homepage, you’ll find two prominent download options: one for the latest features and another for the Long-Term Support (LTS) version, which is recommended for most users. As of the time of writing this article, the LTS version is 16.14.0.

Upon clicking either option, an .msi file will be downloaded to your computer. Double-click on the downloaded file to initiate the installation process. The installer wizard will open, suggesting the default destination folder as “C:\Program Files\nodejs”. It’s advisable to stick with this recommendation for simplicity.

In the subsequent installation window, customization options are available. Unless you have specific requirements, it’s recommended to keep the default settings and proceed by clicking “Next.” Notably, there’s an option to install npm alongside Node.js, ensuring a seamless development experience.

The next window deals with the installation of “Tools for Native Modules.” Unless you have a specific need for these tools, it’s advisable to leave the checkbox unchecked and continue by clicking “Next.” You’ll then reach the final pre-installation window, where clicking “Install” will initiate the installation process.

Windows may prompt you for confirmation, as indicated by the shield icon next to the “Install” button. If you’re reading this article because you intend to install Node.js, simply click “Yes” to proceed. Upon successful installation, a confirmation window will appear, signaling that Node.js has been successfully installed on your Windows computer. Click “Finish” to complete the process.

Verifying Your Node Installation

Checking Node and npm Installation on Windows

To verify the successful installation of Node.js and npm on your Windows computer, you can choose to open either Windows PowerShell or the Command Prompt.

Let’s use Windows PowerShell for this demonstration. Click on the search bar next to the Start Menu button and type “powershell.” Press “Enter,” and Windows PowerShell will open in a new window. You can check the installed Node.js version by typing “node -v.” As of the time of writing, the latest version is 16.14.0.

Additionally, you can check the npm version by typing “npm -v” and pressing “Enter.” In our case, the latest npm version is 8.3.1, indicating that the installation is up-to-date.

Getting Started with npm

Exploring Node Package Manager

Now that you’ve successfully installed Node.js and npm, it’s time to put them to work. In this section, we’ll demonstrate how to start a project using Node.js and install packages using npm within Visual Studio Code.

Create a folder named “Node_Test” where we’ll experiment with Node.js and npm. Follow these steps to get started:

  1. Inside the “Node_Test” folder, right-click and select “Open with Visual Studio Code.” This will launch Visual Studio Code within the folder.
  2. In the integrated terminal within Visual Studio Code, type “npm init -y” and press “Enter.” This command initializes a Node.js project with default settings, creating a “package.json” file in the “Node_Test” folder. The “-y” flag is used to accept default configurations automatically.
  3. With your project initialized, you can now install packages using npm. To demonstrate, we’ll install the “Express” framework. In the Visual Studio Code terminal, type “npm i express” and press “Enter.” This command installs Express as a dependency for your project.
  4. To confirm that Express has been successfully installed, open the “package.json” file within the “Node_Test” folder. Scroll up to the list of dependencies, and you should see “Express” listed there.

Congratulations! You’ve successfully installed Node.js, configured npm, and started a project with a package dependency using Visual Studio Code. With these tools at your disposal, you’re well-equipped to explore the world of backend JavaScript development on your Windows machine.

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