How can I share code between Node.js and the browser?

How can I share code between Node.js and the browser?

I am creating a small application with a JavaScript client (run in the browser) and a Node.js server, communicating using WebSocket.
I would like to share code between the client and the server. I have only just started with Node.js and my knowledge of modern JavaScript is a little rusty, to say the least. So I am still getting my head around the CommonJS require() function. If I am creating my packages by using the ‘export’ object, then I cannot see how I could use the same JavaScript files in the browser.
I want to create a set of methods and classes that are used on both ends to facilitate encoding and decoding messages, and other mirrored tasks. However, the Node.js/CommonJS packaging systems seems to preclude me from creating JavaScript files that can be used on both sides.
I also tried using JS.Class to get a tighter OO model, but I gave up because I couldn’t figure out how to get the provided JavaScript files to work with require(). Is there something am I missing here?


Solution 1:

If you want to write a module that can be used both client side and server side, I have a short blog post on a quick and easy method: Writing for Node.js and the browser, essentially the following (where this is the same as window):


    // Your code goes here

   exports.test = function(){
        return 'hello world'

})(typeof exports === 'undefined'? this['mymodule']={}: exports);

Alternatively there are some projects aiming to implement the Node.js API on the client side, such as Marak’s gemini.

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You might also be interested in DNode, which lets you expose a JavaScript function so that it can be called from another machine using a simple JSON-based network protocol.

Solution 2:

Epeli has a nice solution here that even works without the library, just put this in a file called share.js


  exports.test = function(){
       return 'This is a function from shared module';

}(typeof exports === 'undefined' ? this.share = {} : exports));

On the server side just use:

var share = require('./share.js');


And on the client side just load the js file and then use


Solution 3:

Checkout the jQuery source code that makes this work in the Node.js module pattern, AMD module pattern, and global in the browser:

    var jQuery = 'blah';

    if (typeof module === "object" && module && typeof module.exports === "object") {

        // Expose jQuery as module.exports in loaders that implement the Node
        // module pattern (including browserify). Do not create the global, since
        // the user will be storing it themselves locally, and globals are frowned
        // upon in the Node module world.
        module.exports = jQuery;
    else {
        // Otherwise expose jQuery to the global object as usual
        window.jQuery = window.$ = jQuery;

        // Register as a named AMD module, since jQuery can be concatenated with other
        // files that may use define, but not via a proper concatenation script that
        // understands anonymous AMD modules. A named AMD is safest and most robust
        // way to register. Lowercase jquery is used because AMD module names are
        // derived from file names, and jQuery is normally delivered in a lowercase
        // file name. Do this after creating the global so that if an AMD module wants
        // to call noConflict to hide this version of jQuery, it will work.
        if (typeof define === "function" && define.amd) {
            define("jquery", [], function () { return jQuery; });
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Solution 4:

Don’t forget that the string representation of a JavaScript function represents the source code for that function. You could simply write your functions and constructors in an encapsulated way so they can be toString()’d and sent to the client.

Another way to do it is use a build system, put the common code in separate files, and then include them in both the server and client scripts. I’m using that approach for a simple client/server game via WebSockets where the server and client both run essentially the same game loop and the client synchronises up with the server every tick to make sure nobody’s cheating.

My build system for the game is a simple Bash script that runs the files through the C preprocessor and then through sed to clean up some junk cpp leaves behind, so I can use all the normal preprocessor stuff like #include, #define, #ifdef, etc.

Solution 5:

I would recommend looking into the RequireJS adapter for Node.js. The problem is that the CommonJS module pattern Node.js uses by default isn’t asynchronous, which blocks loading in the web browser. RequireJS uses the AMD pattern, which is both asynchronous and compatible with both server and client, as long as you use the r.js adapter.

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Solution 6:

Maybe this is not entirely in line with the question, but I thought I’d share this.

I wanted to make a couple of simple string utility functions, declared on String.prototype, available to both node and the browser. I simply keep these functions in a file called utilities.js (in a subfolder) and can easily reference it both from a script-tag in my browser code, and by using require (omitting the .js extension) in my Node.js script:


var utilities = require('./static/js/utilities')


<script src="/static/js/utilities.js"></script>

I hope this is useful information to someone other than me.