June 11, 2024

Using express-generator to Create ExpressJS App Structure

Express.js is a popular Node.js web framework. Because of its support for routing and view engines it makes it easy to create web applications using Express.js. One other tool that can make life easy is the express-generator which is an express application generation tool that can quickly create an application skeleton.

Using express-generator

Using express-generator you can quickly create a standard project structure for you ExpressJS application by using a single command.

express-generator Installation

You can install express-generator globally using the following command. Ensure you already have Node.js and Express.js installed in your system.

npm install -g express-generator
or by using
npx express-generator

Once express-generator is installed you can create an Express.js app by using the command as given below.


For example, running the command

>express myexpressapp

creates an Express app named myexpressapp. The app will be created in a folder named myexpressapp in the current working directory. Note that by default the selected view engine is Jade and the stylesheet engine support defaults to plain CSS.

You can change the above-mentioned defaults by using the following options-

  • -v, --view <engine> add view <engine> support (ejs|hbs|hjs|jade|pug|twig|vash) (defaults to jade)
  • -c, --css <engine> add stylesheet <engine> support (less|stylus|compass|sass) (defaults to plain css)

For example, if you want to use ejs as view engine then you can use the following command to generate a project structure accordingly.

>express --view=ejs myexpressapp

create : myexpressapp\
create : myexpressapp\public\
create : myexpressapp\public\javascripts\
create : myexpressapp\public\images\
create : myexpressapp\public\stylesheets\
create : myexpressapp\public\stylesheets\style.css
create : myexpressapp\routes\
create : myexpressapp\routes\index.js
create : myexpressapp\routes\users.js
create : myexpressapp\views\
create : myexpressapp\views\error.ejs
create : myexpressapp\views\index.ejs
create : myexpressapp\app.js
create : myexpressapp\package.json
create : myexpressapp\bin\
create : myexpressapp\bin\www

change directory:
 > cd myexpressapp

install dependencies:
 > npm install

run the app:
 > SET DEBUG=myexpressapp:* & npm start

As given in the instructions change location to the generated project directory

D:\knpcode>cd myexpressapp

and run the command

D:\knpcode\myexpressapp>npm install

This will install all the project dependencies (Refer the generated package.json for the project dependencies).

Following image shows the generated project structure.

Running the application

Generated app has some basic routing and views already existing so you can run the app and see a view.

Run the following command to start the server

D:\knpcode\myexpressapp>npm start

Default port number is 3000 so you can access the application by using http://localhost:3000 that gives the following view.

Let's go through the project flow to understand how we reach this view.

Mapping to the root ('/') is in routes/index.js file.

var express = require('express');
var router = express.Router();

/* GET home page. */
router.get('/', function(req, res, next) {
  res.render('index', { title: 'Express' });

module.exports = router;

As you can see get mapping for root renders the index.ejs file by using the res.render() method in its callback.

This index.ejs file is located in views folder.

<!DOCTYPE html>
    <title><%= title %></title>
    <link rel='stylesheet' href='/stylesheets/style.css' />
    <h1><%= title %></h1>
    <p>Welcome to <%= title %></p>

app.js is the main file which sets the view engine as ejs and sets the routes defined in routes folder.

var createError = require('http-errors');
var express = require('express');
var path = require('path');
var cookieParser = require('cookie-parser');
var logger = require('morgan');

var indexRouter = require('./routes/index');
var usersRouter = require('./routes/users');

var app = express();

// view engine setup
app.set('views', path.join(__dirname, 'views'));
app.set('view engine', 'ejs');

app.use(express.urlencoded({ extended: false }));
app.use(express.static(path.join(__dirname, 'public')));

app.use('/', indexRouter);
app.use('/users', usersRouter);

// catch 404 and forward to error handler
app.use(function(req, res, next) {

// error handler
app.use(function(err, req, res, next) {
  // set locals, only providing error in development
  res.locals.message = err.message;
  res.locals.error = req.app.get('env') === 'development' ? err : {};

  // render the error page
  res.status(err.status || 500);

module.exports = app;

View engine setup is done in these lines

// view engine setup
app.set('views', path.join(__dirname, 'views'));
app.set('view engine', 'ejs');

Route setup is done in these lines-

var indexRouter = require('./routes/index');
var usersRouter = require('./routes/users');

app.use('/', indexRouter);
app.use('/users', usersRouter);

That's all for the topic Using express-generator to Create ExpressJS App Structure. If something is missing or you have something to share about the topic please write a comment.

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