Why do I prefer "yarn" over "npm"?

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Why do I prefer "yarn" over "npm"?

Mukhammadyusuf Abdurakhimov's photo
Mukhammadyusuf Abdurakhimov
·Oct 3, 2022·

6 min read

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Hello, awesome people going through my blog, I am back with yet another blog post. Today I want to compare npm and yarn and provide my insights into choosing one of these two package managers for your next project, considering its functionality, usability, security, and features.

Yarn vs. NPM: Definitions

Yarn (Yet Another Resource Negotiator) and NPM (Node Package Manager) are package managers used for JavaScript coding. They work with Node.js, which serves to help users develop and run JavaScript code outside a web browser.

Node.js uses a large number of open-source packages and libraries to make coding more straightforward and efficient. Package managers like Yarn and NPM allow users to install easily, manage, update, and remove packages, libraries, and dependencies.

What is Yarn?

Facebook created the yarn in 2016 to take the place of NPM. It was intended to provide more sophisticated capabilities, such as version locking, that NPM lacked at the time and produce a more secure, reliable, and effective product.

NPM has, however, introduced several significant capabilities since the launch of Yarn. Yarn is currently less of a replacement for NPM than it is an alternative.

What is NPM?

The CLI tool of NPM, the primary package management for Node.js, helps in the installation, administration, and removal of Node.js packages. Users can also exchange open-source Node.js packages thanks to it.

Yarn vs. NPM: Comparison

Below is an outline of some of the similarities and differences between Yarn and NPM.

Installation

We will start by comparing the installation process for Yarn and NPM:

Yarn

To start using Yarn, you need to install it using the MSI installer from the official website or a package manager such as Chocolatey, Scoop CLI, or NPM itself.

NPM

NPM is included by default with the Node.js installation and doesn't require any additional steps to install.

Dependencies

Yarn

Yarn version 1 and NPM both manage dependencies in a very similar way. They both store project metadata in the package.json file, located in the node_modules folder inside the project directory.

Starting from version 2, Yarn no longer uses the node_modules folder to track dependencies. Instead, Yarn 2.0 uses the Plug'n'Play feature, which generates a single .pnp.cjs file. This file contains a map of the dependency hierarchy for a project.

Yarn uses the yarn command to install dependencies. It installs dependencies in parallel, allowing you to add multiple files at the same time.

Installing dependencies automatically creates a lock file that saves the exact list of dependencies used for the project. With Yarn, this file is called yarn.lock.

NPM

NPM installs dependencies using the npm install command. The dependencies are installed sequentially, one after another.

NPM also creates a version lock file named package-lock.json. Yarn also supports package-lock.json files, allowing users to migrate version data from NPM to Yarn.

Speed and Performance

As mentioned above, while NPM installs dependency packages sequentially, Yarn installs in parallel. Because of this, Yarn performs faster than NPM when installing larger files.

Both tools also offer the option of saving dependency files in the offline cache. This allows users to install dependencies even if they are offline.

In addition, starting from version 2, Yarn uses the Zero install feature. This feature takes the dependency map from the .pnp.cjs file and uses it to perform an offline dependency install with virtually zero delays.

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Security

Yarn

Yarn performs a security check as a background process while downloading packages. It uses the package license information to ensure it doesn't download any malicious scripts or cause any dependency conflicts.

Both tools use encryption protocols to ensure safe data transfer. Yarn verifies packages with checksum, while NPM uses SHA-512 (Secure Hash Algorithm) stored in the package-lock.json file.

NPM

Security threats were a significant issue in early versions of NPM. As of version 6, NPM performs a security audit every time you install a package. This helps prevent vulnerabilities and ensures there aren't any conflicting dependencies.

You can also run a manual audit by using the npm audit command. If NPM finds any vulnerabilities, using npm audit fix should resolve the issues.

Ease of Use

Both Yarn and NPM are relatively easy to use, especially considering they share several commands. The command output is generally easy to read and understand, though it can become less visually distinguishable when installing a large number of packages.

Both package managers offer an interactive mode that helps users set up new projects. In Yarn, this mode is enabled by default, while NPM requires the npm-upgrade package to enable interactivity.

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Features

Yarn and NPM have several key features in common:

  • Generating lock files: Both package managers automatically create a version lock file. With Yarn, this file is called yarn.lock, while NPM names the file package-lock.json.
  • Using workspaces: Both Yarn and NPM support workspaces, allowing you to use a single repository to manage dependencies for multiple projects.
  • Remote scripts: Both NPM and Yarn allow you to run scripts remotely, using the npx command in NPM and the yarn dlx command in Yarn.

Features are exclusive to Yarn:

  • Plug'n'Play: Instead of using the node_modules folder, Yarn generates a single .pnp.cjs file that maps project dependencies. This allows for more optimized dependency trees and faster project startup and package installation.
  • Zero installs This feature ties in with Plug'n'Play, using the .pnp.cjs file to map packages stored in the offline cache. This allows you to access and install stored packages with almost no delay.
  • License check: Yarn features a built-in license checker when downloading and installing packages.

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Yarn vs. NPM: How to Choose

It's essential to consider the advantages and disadvantages of both NPM and Yarn when deciding which one to use.

Yarn

Advantages

  • Supports parallel installation and Zero installs, both of which dramatically increase performance.
  • Newer versions of Yarn offer a more secure form of version locking.
  • Active user community.

Disadvantages

  • Yarn doesn't work with Node.js versions older than version 5.
  • The yarn has shown problems when trying to install native modules. NPM

Advantages

  • Easy to use, especially for developers used to the workflow of older versions.
  • Local package installation is optimized to save hard drive space.
  • The simple UI helps reduce development time.

Disadvantages

  • The online NPM registry can become unreliable in case of performance issues. This also means that NPM requires network access to install packages from the registry.
  • Despite a series of improvements across different versions, there are still security vulnerabilities when installing packages.
  • Command output can be difficult to read.

Verdict

In light of everything mentioned above, NPM is preferable for developers who are accustomed to and content with its present workflow. It saves hard drive space while offering a reasonably effective user experience.

In contrast, Yarn provides more sophisticated capabilities like Plug'n'Play and Zero installations. Additionally, it offers marginally improved security and performance at the expense of hard drive capacity.

Conclusion

You ought to have a better knowledge of what Yarn and NPM have to offer after reading this lesson. This should make it easier for you to select the package management that best meets your requirements.

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