Let's examine each runtime through this table:
|Single Executable Installation
|Persistent Storage Driver
|Built-in Package Manager
|Web API Compatibility
|TypeScript / TSX
|Deno Land Inc.
= Built-In = Core Ecosystem = Third Party = Experimental / Partial = N/A
As this table doesn't cover every single aspect, here are some noteworthy points:
- Node.js has started to implement a permissions model, available under a experimental flag in Node 20.
- Node.js does have an external dependency view through
- Node.js has an alternative approach to Web Workers called
- The built in test-runner in Node.js were stabilized in version 20, in 18 (LTS), it is experimental.
- Bun has a semi-built-in REPL, which is downloaded on demand.
- While Deno lacks a traditional built-in package manager, it does facilitate automatic package installations through URL imports, specifier imports, import_map, and package.json.
- 2024-01-09: Bun's Web Socket implementation is flagged stable since 1.0.15.
- 2023-10-19: Node.js 21.0.0 got an experimental WebSocket client.
- 2023-10-17: Version update and review.
- 2023-09-12: Table updated to include four levels (green/green/orange/red) instead of two (green/red).
- 2023-09-13: Table grouped in sections. Metadata and Web API-sections were added. New icons.
Report any misconceptions as an issue or PR at the Blog GitHub Repo.
I've written a separate post comparing the performance of these three, see Deno vs. Bun vs. Node.js: A Speed Comparison.
Now let's go through the runtimes one by one.
As you can see in the table above, Deno has a very comprehensive set of features compared to the competition. It has great support for the Web APIs and modern standards, and it also supports most NPM packages.
Ease of Use
Deno also offers an excellent developer experience, especially if you use TypeScript, which is supported out of the box. Deno also has the advantage of built-in linting, a code formatter, etc., saving you some configuration and bootstrapping time. If you're inclined towards opinionated settings, just fire up your editor, craft a 'main.ts', and you're good to go.
Deno is the clear winner here; it's secure by default, meaning everything is blocked by default, and you enable the features you need.
Though Bun might not match Deno's arsenal of built-in tools, it certainly elevates the developer experience (DX) beyond what Node.js offers. As an example, it boasts built-in TypeScript but does not type-check on its own.
The main selling point of Bun is its performance, presenting a lot of benchmarks showing awesome numbers. Using bun as a package manager is a lot quicker than using the standard NPM command. In real-world applications, especially web applications, performance difference may not be as significant as in the benchmarks provided by Oven. We will have to keep an eye out for real-world results. To start exploring this, I have made a quick apples-to-apples performance comparison in this article: Deno vs. Bun vs. Node.js Benchmark.
Ease of Use
Bun prioritizes simplicity and speed. With its built-in package manager, and improved developer experience compared to Node.js, developers can get started quickly without the initial setup hurdles that other runtimes might impose.
Bun hasn't implemented a comprehensive permissions model like Deno. However, it does introduce a new interesting package.json feature called trustedDependencies.
Additionally, when considering running important software using Bun, especially those with stringent security requirements, it's crucial to weigh the benefits of its innovative features against the potential risks associated with its relative newness. Monitoring Bun's development over time is essential to assess how well it matures in terms of security.
Ease of Use
Due to the lack of built-in tools, Node.js has a steeper learning curve for beginners but offers immense power and flexibility in return. The extensive documentation, tutorials, and community support available make it easier to overcome challenges.
Historically, Node.js received criticism for its approach to security, especially regarding packages. However, the community and maintainers have significantly improved this area. The permissions model is now being implemented, which might make Node.js more secure in the future.
Additionally, the maturity that comes from being tried and tested over time is a significant advantage that Node.js holds over more recent alternatives like Bun.
Selecting between Deno, Bun, and Node.js largely depends on your project's requirements and your personal preferences.
- If maturity, a vast ecosystem, and community support are your top priorities, Node.js continues to be a formidable contender.
- If you're seeking a modern, secure-by-default runtime with a top-notch developer experience and growing maturity, Deno is the way to go.
- If you want a mix of Node.js and Deno's strengths, with an emphasis on cutting-edge performance, and a decent developer experience, Bun might be your answer.
A big thank you to Discord users Birk Skyum, lino-levan, Beast, cknight, Mark G and others for invaluable research and discussions contributing to this article.
Over and out.