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

05/23/2020 21:00:02

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?

Verified Answer (169 Votes)

07/12/2010 13:00:35

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.

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.


Answer #2 (43 Votes)

12/07/2011 23:58:50

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


Answer #3 (15 Votes)

05/20/2014 08:52:40

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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