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JavaScript Package Manager — Yarn vs NPM

A package manager is a collection of software tools that keeps track of what computer program is installed on your computer and allows you to easily install, upgrade to newer versions, or remove computer programs that you previously installed. As the name suggests, package managers deal with packages, distributions of software, and data in archive files. It helps to create project environments and easily import external dependencies.

Two of the most popular package managers among JavaScript (and Node.js) developers are npm and Yarn.

What is npm?

npm (Node Package Manager) is a package manager for the JavaScript programming language. npm is the default package manager for the JavaScript runtime environment Node.js. It consists of three components: the website to manage various aspects of your npm experience, Command Line Interface (CLI) to interact with npm via the terminal, and registry to access an extensive public database of JavaScript software.

What is Yarn?

Yarn (Yet Another Resource Negotiator) and is a package manager just like npm. It was developed by Facebook in 2016 and is now open-source. The intention behind creating Yarn was to address some of the performance and security shortcomings of working with npm

So as now you got the basic idea about npm and yarn, Let’s compare npm - Yarn similarities and differences.

1. Installation

Installing npm seems much easier than that of Yarn—npm comes already bundled with your Node.js installation, so there’ll be no need to install it.

Yarn is available as an npm package. So, you can install it by running the following command on the terminal:

npm install --global yarn

2. Managing dependencies

Yarn and npm have nearly the same ways of managing dependencies. They both provide the package.json file in their project’s working directory. This file keeps all the relevant metadata associated with the project. It assists in managing the project’s dependencies version, scripts, and more. Both the package managers store dependency files into the node_modules folder and auto-generate Lock files (package-lock.json in npm and yarn.lock in yarn).

3. Performance

One of the main differences between NPM and Yarn is how they handle the package installation process. Yarn installs packages in parallel. Yarn is optimized to fetch and install multiple packages simultaneously. If you install five packages, and two of them take a long time to install, Yarn will go over and install the packages side by side.

On the other hand, NPM would install each package one at a time. It fetches every package independently. This means that if you install a list of five packages, NPM will perform a serial installation process. Parallel installation is one of the reasons why Yarn beats NPM in Performance.

4. Security

While Yarn was initially regarded as more secure, the npm team has made commendable comebacks with the introduction of significant security improvements. If you try installing code with a known security vulnerability, npm will automatically issue a warning. Also, a new command, npm audit, has been introduced to assist you in recursively assessing your dependency tree to identify anomalies.

On the other hand, Yarn checks behind the scenes and ensures that you’re not downloading rogue scripts or stuff that can conflict with your project dependencies. Security is one of Yarn’s core features.

5. Fetching packages

npm: npm fetches dependencies from the npm registry during every ‘npm install‘ command.

Yarn: yarn stores dependencies locally and fetches from the disk during a ‘yarn add‘ command (assuming the dependency(with the specific version) is present locally).

6. License Checker

npm: npm doesn’t have a license checker that can give a handy description of all the licenses that a project is bound with due to installed dependencies.

yarn: Yarn has a neat license checker. To see them, run yarn licenses list.

7. Popularity

Choosing a widely adopted technology can help you get faster when experiencing any implementation challenges. Since Yarn is newer compared to npm, many people are much skeptical about using Yarn over npm because it is much older. However, with time, Yarn is gaining more popularity than npm

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