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npm vs pnpm: What are the differences?

Npm vs Pnpm: Key Differences

Introduction: Both npm (Node Package Manager) and pnpm (Permissive Node Package Manager) are popular tools used in the JavaScript ecosystem for managing packages and dependencies. Although they serve the same purpose, there are several key differences between them. This article will highlight the main differences between npm and pnpm.

1. Package installation approach: One of the major differences between npm and pnpm is their package installation approach. Npm installs each package in a separate directory, which results in duplicate packages being stored in multiple places. On the other hand, pnpm uses a single global store for packages, allowing for deduplication of packages and saving disk space.

2. Disk space usage: Due to its approach of storing packages in a single global store, pnpm is more efficient in terms of disk space usage compared to npm. Because npm creates separate copies of packages for each project, it can consume a significant amount of disk space, especially when multiple projects have the same dependencies.

3. Network bandwidth usage: Another advantage of pnpm over npm is its efficient usage of network bandwidth. When multiple projects use the same packages and dependencies, pnpm can serve them from its global store, reducing the need to download duplicate packages over the network. This can result in significant savings in terms of bandwidth consumption.

4. Parallel package installation: Pnpm also has the capability to install packages in parallel, allowing for faster installation times. It achieves this by leveraging its ability to share packages across projects from the global store. On the other hand, npm installs packages sequentially, which can be time-consuming, especially for projects with numerous dependencies.

5. Version control integration: Pnpm provides better integration with version control systems like Git. It achieves this by leveraging a package-lock.yaml file, which makes it easier to track and manage changes to packages and dependencies over time. Npm, on the other hand, uses package-lock.json, which can create conflicts and difficulties in managing version control.

6. Compatibility and ecosystem support: Npm has been the standard package manager in the JavaScript ecosystem for a long time, and it has extensive community support and a vast selection of packages available. In contrast, pnpm, as a relatively newer tool, may have some compatibility issues with certain packages or modules due to differences in the way it handles dependencies. Although pnpm strives to be compatible with npm, some edge cases may require additional effort to resolve.

In summary, pnpm offers advantages such as efficient disk space and network bandwidth usage, parallel package installation, better version control integration, while npm enjoys broader compatibility with the existing JavaScript ecosystem and community support. The choice between npm and pnpm depends on the specific requirements and priorities of the project.

Advice on npm and pnpm
Needs advice
on
npmnpm
and
YarnYarn

From a StackShare Community member: “I’m a freelance web developer (I mostly use Node.js) and for future projects I’m debating between npm or Yarn as my default package manager. I’m a minimalist so I hate installing software if I don’t need to- in this case that would be Yarn. For those who made the switch from npm to Yarn, what benefits have you noticed? For those who stuck with npm, are you happy you with it?"

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Replies (14)
Julian Sanchez
Lead Developer at Chore Champion · | 11 upvotes · 234.2K views
Recommends
on
YarnYarn
at

We use Yarn because it allows us to more simply manage our node_modules. It also simplifies commands and increases speed when installing modules. Our teams module download time was cut in half after switching from NPM to Yarn. We now require all employees to use Yarn (to prevent errors with package-lock.json and yarn.lock).

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Recommends
on
npmnpm

I use npm since new version is pretty fast as well (Yarn may be still faster a bit but the difference isn't huge). No need for other dependency and mainly Yarn sometimes do not work. Sometimes when I want to install project dependencies I got error using Yarn but with npm everything is installed correctly.

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Recommends
on
YarnYarn

p.s.

I am not sure about the performance of the latest version of npm, whether it is different from my understanding of it below. Because I use npm very rarely when I had the following knowledge.

------⏬

I use Yarn because, first, yarn is the first tool to lock the version. Second, although npm also supports the lock version, when you use npm to lock the version, and then use package-lock.json on other systems, package-lock.json Will be modified. You understand what I mean, when you deploy projects based on Git...

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Mark Nelissen
Recommends
on
npmnpmnpmnpm

I use npm because I also mainly use React and TypeScript. Since several typings (from DefinitelyTyped) depend on the React typings, Yarn tends to mess up which leads to duplicate libraries present (different versions of the same type definition), which hinders the Typescript compiler. Npm always resolves to a single version per transitive dependency. At least that's my experience with both.

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Recommends
on
YarnYarn

As far as I know Yarn is a super module of NPM. But it still needs npm to run.

Yarn was developed by Facebook's guys to fix some npm issues and performance.

If you use the last version of npm most of this problem does not exist anymore.

You can choose the option which makes you more confortable. I like using yarn because I'm used to it.

In the end the packages will be the same. Just try both and choose the one you feel more confortable. :)

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Recommends
on
YarnYarn

I am a minimalist too. I once had issues with installing Nuxt.js using NPM so I had to install Yarn but I also found that the Dev experience was much better

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Digital All
Recommends
on
npmnpm

I use npm because its packaged with node installation and handles npm tokens in CI/CD tools for private packages/libraries.

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tataata
Frontend designer and developer · | 3 upvotes · 219.7K views
Recommends
on
YarnYarn

Yarn made it painless for the team to sync on versions of packages that we use on the project <3

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Shuuji TAKAHASHI
Recommends
on
YarnYarn

I use Yarn because it outputs nice progress messages with cute emoji and installs packages quickly if the package is cached. Also, Yarn creates yarn.lock file which makes the developer use the consistent environment.

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Recommends
on
npmnpm

I use npm because its the official package manager for Node. It's reliability, security and speed has increased over time so the battle is over!

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Tor Hagemann
Principal Software Engineer at Socotra · | 3 upvotes · 119.9K views
Recommends
on
npmnpmYarnYarn

You should use whichever had the best DX (developer experience) for your team. If you are doing a massive front-end project, consider yarn if not only because it makes it a snap to go from zero to ready. What some people say about npm being more stable or easier for smaller projects is highly true as well. (not to mention, you sometimes have to install yarn) But, note that official NodeJS Docker images ship with both npm and yarn. If you want to use yarn, put package-lock=false and optionally save-exact=true in your project's .npmrc file. Compare whether you prefer the ergonomics of yarn global add over npm install -g or see fewer meaningless warnings for the specific set of dependencies you leverage.

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Izzur Zuhri
Recommends
on
npmnpm

I use npm because it has a lot of community support and the performance difference with alternative tool is not so significant for me.

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Denys Slipetskyy
Recommends
on
YarnYarn
at

I use Yarn because it process my dependencies way faster, predictable deps resolution order, upgrade-interactive is very handy + some Yarn specific features (workspaces, Plug’n’Play alternative installation strategy) ...

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Francois Leurent
Recommends
on
npmnpm
at

We tend to stick to npm, yarn is only a fancy alternative, not 10x better. Using a self -hosted private repository (via sinopia/npm-mirror) make package locking (mostly) pointless.

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Decisions about npm and pnpm
Oleksandr Fedotov
Senior Software Engineer at joyn · | 3 upvotes · 258.7K views

As we have to build the application for many different TV platforms we want to split the application logic from the device/platform specific code. Previously we had different repositories and it was very hard to keep the development process when changes were done in multiple repositories, as we had to synchronize code reviews as well as merging and then updating the dependencies of projects. This issues would be even more critical when building the project from scratch what we did at Joyn. Therefor to keep all code in one place, at the same time keeping in separated in different modules we decided to give a try to monorepo. First we tried out lerna which was fine at the beginning, but later along the way we had issues with adding new dependencies which came out of the blue and were not easy to fix. Next round of evolution was yarn workspaces, we are still using it and are pretty happy with dev experience it provides. And one more advantage we got when switched to yarn workspaces that we also switched from npm to yarn what improved the state of the lock file a lot, because with npm package-lock file was updated every time you run npm install, frequent updates of package-lock file were causing very often merge conflicts. So right now we not just having faster dependencies installation time but also no conflicts coming from lock file.

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Petr Bambušek
Head of Frontend at Mews · | 2 upvotes · 269.3K views
Chose
YarnYarn
over
npmnpm
at
()

This was no real choice - we switched the moment Yarn was available, and never looked back. Yarn is the only reasonable frontend package manager that's actually being developed. They even aim to heal the node_modules madness with v2! Npm is just copying its ideas on top of introducing massive bugs with every change.

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Pros of npm
Pros of pnpm
  • 647
    Best package management system for javascript
  • 382
    Open-source
  • 327
    Great community
  • 148
    More packages than rubygems, pypi, or packagist
  • 112
    Nice people matter
  • 6
    As fast as yarn but really free of facebook
  • 6
    Audit feature
  • 4
    Good following
  • 1
    Super fast
  • 1
    Stability
  • 4
    Fast
  • 3
    Uses less disk space
  • 2
    Works as a Node.js package manager
  • 1
    Has CLI auto-completion
  • 1
    Has a nice UI

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Cons of npm
Cons of pnpm
  • 5
    Problems with lockfiles
  • 5
    Bad at package versioning and being deterministic
  • 3
    Node-gyp takes forever
  • 1
    Super slow
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    What is npm?

    npm is the command-line interface to the npm ecosystem. It is battle-tested, surprisingly flexible, and used by hundreds of thousands of JavaScript developers every day.

    What is pnpm?

    It uses hard links and symlinks to save one version of a module only ever once on a disk. When using npm or Yarn for example, if you have 100 projects using the same version of lodash, you will have 100 copies of lodash on disk. With pnpm, lodash will be saved in a single place on the disk and a hard link will put it into the node_modules where it should be installed.

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    What are some alternatives to npm and pnpm?
    Yarn
    Yarn caches every package it downloads so it never needs to again. It also parallelizes operations to maximize resource utilization so install times are faster than ever.
    gulp
    Build system automating tasks: minification and copying of all JavaScript files, static images. More capable of watching files to automatically rerun the task when a file changes.
    Apache Maven
    Maven allows a project to build using its project object model (POM) and a set of plugins that are shared by all projects using Maven, providing a uniform build system. Once you familiarize yourself with how one Maven project builds you automatically know how all Maven projects build saving you immense amounts of time when trying to navigate many projects.
    Bower
    Bower is a package manager for the web. It offers a generic, unopinionated solution to the problem of front-end package management, while exposing the package dependency model via an API that can be consumed by a more opinionated build stack. There are no system wide dependencies, no dependencies are shared between different apps, and the dependency tree is flat.
    NuGet
    A free and open-source package manager designed for the Microsoft development platform. It is also distributed as a Visual Studio extension.
    See all alternatives