Deno vs. Bun vs. Node.js: A Feature Comparison

by Hexagon, , Updated: 8 minutes read deno bun nodejs

Choosing a JavaScript runtime for your project? Then you've probably heard of Deno, Bun, and Node.js. They are all good, but each has its own set of features and trade-offs. This guide will break them down by features, ease of use, security, and other considerations.



Let's examine each runtime through this table:

Feature Deno Bun Node.js
Runtime Features
Upgrader
Single Executable Installation
LSP
REPL
Compiler
Persistent Storage Driver
Testing
Benchmark Runner
Test Runner
OS/Platform Support
Linux
Mac OS
Windows
ARM64
Package Management
package.json Compatibility
NPM Opt-out
Built-in Package Manager
URL Imports
Web API Compatibility
Fetch
Web Crypto
Web Storage
WebSocket
Web Workers
Import Maps
Security
Permissions Model
trustedDependencies
Developer Tools
Code Formatter
Linter
Type Checker
Minifier
Bundler
Dependency Viewer
Language Support
TypeScript / TSX
Metadata
Initial Release 2018 2021 2009
Current Version 1.39.2 1.0.21 21.5.0
LTS Version - - 20.10.0
Original Author Ryan Dahl Jarred Sumner Ryan Dahl
Ownership Deno Land Inc. Oven OpenJS Foundation
License MIT License MIT License MIT License

= Built-In = Core Ecosystem = Third Party = Experimental / Partial = N/A

Footnotes

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 NPM list.
  • Node.js has an alternative approach to Web Workers called Worker Threads.
  • 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.

Updates

  • 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.

Performance

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.

Deno


Deno was initially created by Ryan Dahl in 2018, the original creator of Node.js, to address some of the regrets and issues he felt were present in Node.js. It focuses on security, modern JavaScript practices and developer experience. Built on the V8 JavaScript engine and written in Rust. (wikipedia).

Features

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.

Security

Deno is the clear winner here; it's secure by default, meaning everything is blocked by default, and you enable the features you need.

Bun


Bun is a more recent entry in the JavaScript runtime ecosystem released in 2021. It focuses on developer experience, modern JavaScript practices and high performance. It's built on top of JavaScriptCore and Zig. (wikipedia)

Features

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.

Security

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.

Node.js


Launched in 2009, Node.js revolutionized server-side programming by allowing developers to use JavaScript outside of the browser. It boasts a robust ecosystem, a vast community, and is proven and stable. Provides LTS builds for large scale applications. Built on the V8 JavaScript engine. (wikipedia)

Features

For years, Node.js has been the backbone of server-side JavaScript development, supporting a myriad of features through third-party tools. If we focus on built-in tools and compatibility with Web APIs, it is starting to fall behind the competition.

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.

Security

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.

Conclusion


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.

Credits


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.


Deno vs. Bun vs. Node.js: A Speed Comparison Show All Visitor's Pointers on a Webpage