NestJS vs Laravel: What are the differences?

12 min read
March 6, 2023

When starting a new project, web developers face a constant challenge in deciding which framework to use for app development.

Laravel and Nest.js are both popular web frameworks that have been gaining a lot of traction in recent years. 

Both have their own unique strengths and weaknesses, and the best choice for a project will depend on a variety of factors, including the size and complexity of the project, the preferences of the development team, and the requirements of the end users.

This article compares the key differences between the two frameworks and assists developers in choosing the right one for their project needs.

So let’s get into it!

What is Laravel?

Laravel is a free and open-source PHP web application framework for building web applications following the Model-View-Controller (MVC) architectural pattern.

It was created in 2011 by Taylor Otwell, and since then has grown to become one of the most popular PHP frameworks in the world, boasting a large and active developer community.

Laravel logo.

Source: Laravel

Laravel is well-suited for building a wide range of web applications, from small to large-scale projects, and provides developers with a modular, elegant, and expressive syntax.

 It has numerous built-in features, such as 

  • authentication, 
  • authorization
  • password reset
  • routing
  • templating HTML

This makes it easy to implement these common web application functionalities. 

Laravel’s Eloquent ORM provides an intuitive and efficient way to interact with databases, enabling developers to focus on the application’s core logic.

One of the significant advantages of Laravel is its scalability

The framework is designed to handle enterprise-level workloads, and with Laravel’s built-in support for fast, distributed cache systems like Redis, horizontal scaling is a breeze. 

Additionally, platforms like Laravel Vapor allow for limitless scaling on AWS’s latest serverless technology.

Laravel is a “progressive” framework, which means it can adapt to developers of different skill levels. 

Take a look at some of Laravel features in the image below:

Laravel features

Source: MavenCluster

If you’re new to web development, Laravel offers an extensive library of documentation, guides, and video tutorials to help you get started without feeling overwhelmed. 

If you’re an experienced developer, Laravel provides robust tools for dependency injection, unit testing, queues, real-time events, and more.

How and when to use Laravel

Being a versatile framework, Laravel finds its application in a broad spectrum of web development use cases. Let’s delve into some of the most common ones:

Laravel use cases

source: Aglowid

  • Enterprise-Level Apps: Includes platforms such as eCommerce, healthcare, media, and others whose web pages have heavy traffic and require data processing.
  • Microservices: Leveraging the built-in Lumen framework to enable a microservices architecture consisting of multiple independently functioning modules that can be integrated into larger Laravel applications.

    This design enables developers to divide apps into smaller, independent portions, resulting in high-performing and scalable software products.
  • Security Apps: Laravel’s security features, including hashed secret words, Bcrypt hashing computation, and SQL, make it possible to develop highly secure applications.

    Additionally, Laravel encrypts and signs all generated cookies, rendering them invalid if a client attempts to alter them.

    As a result, Laravel is considered more secure than PHP and is well-suited for building applications where security is a predominant feature.
  • Backend Data Management: Involves the development of content-oriented applications and CRM platforms.

    There are two options available to developers: they can either integrate the Laravel framework with an existing one or create a new CMS from scratch.
  • Developing RESTful APIs: Laravel has built-in support for creating RESTful APIs, making it a great choice for developers who want to build scalable and secure APIs quickly.

As a popular framework, Laravel is used by many well-known websites, here are a few examples:

  • 9GAG
  • BBC
  • Buffer
  • Crowdcast
  • About You
  • Laracasts
  • Invoice Ninja
  • Alison
  • Alpha Coders
  • TourRadar

Let’s have a look now at all of the advantages and disadvantages of Laravel.

Pros and cons of Laravel

There are numerous advantages to selecting Laravel as a web development framework. By opting for Laravel over other frameworks, you can take advantage of the following benefits:

Laravel Pros

  • Simplified coding: Laravel has an extensive library of pre-programmed functionalities, reducing the amount of coding required for web development. This makes it easier to build robust web applications.
  • Scalability: Laravel is a highly scalable framework, allowing for projects of any size, whether small or medium-sized.
  • Security: Laravel provides a safe, built-in access control system and a robust mechanism for handling bugs and issues. Additionally, it allows for encrypted password storage for added protection.
  • Easy data migration: Laravel simplifies data migration, resulting in quicker project completion.
  • User-friendly: Laravel is considered one of the more accessible web frameworks due to its thorough user documentation and easy-to-understand PHP screencasts.
  • Command Line Interface (CLI): Laravel’s CLI, called Artisan, provides a wide range of built-in commands for tasks such as generating boilerplate code, running migrations, and managing database seeds. Artisan is designed to make it easy for developers to perform common tasks without having to write custom scripts or commands.
  • Ecosystem: Laravel ecosystem provides developers with a powerful and flexible set of tools that make it easier to build high-quality web applications.
Laravel ecosystem.

Source: Laravel

While Laravel comes with numerous benefits, no web framework is without flaws. Here are a few areas where Laravel falls short:

Laravel cons

  • Lightweight framework: Although Laravel has many built-in features to make web development easier, it has fewer features compared to other frameworks and is considered a lightweight software. Building robust and large web applications can be a tedious task.
  • Limited support: Support for Laravel is not readily available which can cause issues in the event of system downtimes.
  • Frequent updates: While regular updates are beneficial, they often can cause problems. If developers respond to updates promptly and have adequate experience, these minor issues can be resolved quickly.
  • Slow: Laravel is not the fastest web framework, making web development slower than other frameworks.

Having gone through Laravel, let’s talk about its competitor, NestJs.

What is NestJS?

NestJS is a free, open-source backend framework for creating scalable, server-side applications.

It’s built with TypeScript and follows a modular architecture that provides a structured and organized approach to building server-side applications.

NestJS logo.

Source: NestJS

NestJS is inspired by Angular, which is a popular front-end framework and uses many of the same concepts, such as dependency injection, decorators, and providers. 

This makes it easy for developers familiar with Angular to learn and use NestJS. However, NestJS is not limited to Angular developers, it is accessible to anyone who is familiar with Javascript.

One of the most significant advantages of NestJS is its ability to support various architectural patterns, including:

  • Model-View-Controller (MVC), 
  • Microservices
  • Event-Driven architectures.

It provides developers with a set of tools, libraries, and modules that allow them to build complex and scalable applications with ease.

Here are some of the most important features of nestJS:

NestJS features

Source: simplior

NestJS also includes a powerful command-line interface (CLI) that streamlines the creation and management of projects, modules, and services. It also offers built-in support for various databases, such as MySQL, MongoDB, and PostgreSQL.

How and when to use NestJs

Although it’s a relatively new framework, NestJs can be used to develop a wide range of applications. Here are some of the best scenarios when to use it:

  • Building scalable server-side applications: NestJS provides a robust and scalable architecture for building complex applications. Its modular design makes it easy to manage dependencies and share resources across the application.
  • Developing microservices: NestJS is well-suited for building microservices that can communicate with each other seamlessly. Its lightweight design makes it easy to develop and deploy microservices efficiently.
  • Creating real-time applications: NestJS has built-in support for WebSockets and is perfect for developing real-time applications, such as chat apps or real-time dashboards.
  • Developing APIs: With NestJS, it’s easy to adapt your app to accommodate either a REST API or a GraphQL API depending on your preferences.

    The framework’s flexibility allows you to choose the approach that suits you best from the same codebase, without the need for complex configuration or integration. This frees you to focus on developing your app.

NestJS is a relatively new backend framework, but it has already gained significant popularity among developers. Many companies and startups have adopted NestJS to build their applications.

  • Roche
  • Decathlon
  • Autodesk
  • Adidas
  • Vendii
  • Helium Health
  • Fuzu
  • nStack
  • Videndum

Now, let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of NestJs.

Pros and cons of NestJS

Here we’ll list the advantages and disadvantages of using NestJS to provide a comprehensive understanding of why it has gained popularity as a framework in the Node.js ecosystem.

NestJS pros

  • Typescript support: NestJS is built on top of TypeScript, which allows you to use modern features like decorators, interfaces, and classes to write clean and maintainable code.
  • Angular-style syntax: NestJS is often referred to as “Angular for the backend” because it uses a similar architecture, syntax and design patterns which makes it easier for developers who are familiar with Angular to transition to backend development.
  • Modular architecture: NestJS uses a modular architecture that makes it easy to create complex apps by dividing them into smaller, reusable modules that each handle specific components, such as Controllers and Services.

    These modules can depend on one another, enabling the powerful mechanism of Dependency Injection.

    This feature simplifies dependency management by allowing easy sharing of dependencies across the app without the need for duplicate initialization.
  • Easier Testing: Modules have a clear and distinct purpose (such as handling Users, Tasks) which makes them easy to test in isolation.

    NestJS provides basic resources including unit tests and end-to-end tests. Mocking dependencies is often necessary when testing, and the NestJS Testing Module offers auto-mocking capabilities to simplify this process.
  • Security: NestJS simplifies security concerns by offering easy-to-use authentication and authorization modules and guards.

    NestJS handles important security issues such as CORS and CSRF for you. Guards in NestJS make it easy to restrict certain routes to authorized users. The use of decorators in NestJS also adds to the declarative nature of security configuration.
  • Third-party module support: NestJS allows developers to maintain direct access to the APIs of Express and Fastify while also providing a level of abstraction.

    This means that the framework can be used with a variety of third-party modules that are compatible with these frameworks. This includes modules such as GraphQL, TypeORM, Websockets, and many others.

NestJS cons

While NestJS has many advantages, there are also some potential disadvantages to consider when using this backend framework. These include:

  • Debugging: Debugging can be painful, mostly because of TypeORM.
  • Learning curve: For developers who don’t have experience with Angular, Nest.js may present difficulties to learn and become proficient in. Also, developers who don’t use TypeScript in their JavaScript development may also find the framework to be challenging.
  • Circular dependencies: These are common issues in NestJS projects and can slow down development if not solved. The nestjs-spelunker package can help identify these problems.

 Madge is a tool recommended by a Nest core contributor to identify circular dependencies early. Another common issue is swallowed logs during application startup, making it difficult for developers to understand errors.

Key differences between NestJS and Laravel

NestJS is a Node.js framework for building scalable and efficient server-side applications using TypeScript, while Laravel is a PHP framework for developing web applications with a focus on elegant syntax and developer productivity.

Here are some key differences between NestJs and Laravel:

  • Language: NestJS is based on TypeScript, a superset of JavaScript, while Laravel is based on PHP. With that in mind NestJs developers can have the advantage to understand and write frontend code too.
  • Scalability: NestJS is built with scalability in mind and can handle large-scale applications better than Laravel.
  • Performance: NestJS is faster than Laravel in terms of raw performance.
  • Architecture: NestJS uses a modular and component-based architecture inspired by Angular, while Laravel uses a more traditional MVC (Model-View-Controller) architecture.
  • Database support: Here, the main difference between Laravel and NestJS is the programming language and the type of ORM provided.

    Laravel uses an integrated ORM tool called Eloquent.

    NestJS provides tight integration with TypeORM, Sequelize, or Mongoose. Both frameworks provide powerful database support and allow developers to work with databases in a more structured and efficient manner.
  • Community: Laravel has a larger and more mature community, while NestJS is relatively new but growing rapidly.
  • Security: Both Laravel and NestJS are secure web app frameworks that provide built-in security features. However, Laravel provides more security features out-of-the-box, while NestJS relies on Node.js security features and has a strong focus on dependency injection.
  • Command Line Interface (CLI): Both Laravel and NestJS provide CLIs that are designed to simplify common development tasks, but NestJS provides some additional features that are specific to its use case, such as generating OpenAPI documentation.

After considering all of the factors, it’s time to conclude.

Laravel vs NestJS: the verdict

Choosing between Laravel and NestJs ultimately depends on the specific needs and preferences of the project.

Laravel is a mature and widely-used PHP framework with a large community and rich ecosystem of packages.

NestJs is a modern and scalable Node.js framework that offers powerful tools for building robust and maintainable applications.

Laravel is a good choice for web applications that require fast development and customization

NestJs is ideal for building microservices and enterprise-level applications that demand high performance and scalability.

Overall, both frameworks have their own strengths and weaknesses, and developers should carefully evaluate their requirements before choosing the one that best fits their project.

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Written by

Roko Labrovic

Frontend Developer

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