Cover by Shelley Powers

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Chapter 8. Express, Template Systems, and CSS

Frameworks such as Express provide a great deal of useful functionality, but one thing they don’t provide is a way of separating the data from the presentation. You can use JavaScript to generate HTML to process the result of a query or update, but the effort can quickly become tedious—especially if you have to generate every part of the page, including sidebars, headers, and footers. Sure, you can use functions, but the work can still verge on overwhelming.

Luckily for us, as framework systems have developed, so have template systems, and the same holds true for Node and Express. In Chapter 7, we briefly used Jade, the template system installed by default with Express, to generate an index page. Express also supports other compatible template systems, including another popular choice, EJS (embedded JavaScript). Jade and EJS take a completely different approach, but both deliver the expected results.

In addition, though you can manually create CSS files for your website or application, you can also use a CSS engine that can simplify this aspect of your web design and development. Rather than having to remember to add in all of the curly braces and semicolons, you use a simplified structure that can be cleaner to maintain. One such CSS engine that works quite nicely with Express and other Node applications is Stylus.

In this chapter I’ll primarily focus on Jade, since it is installed by default with Express. However, I’m going to briefly ...

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