javascript - with - node js module exports vs exports

What is the purpose of Node.js module.exports and how do you use it? (8)

What is the purpose of a module system?

It accomplishes the following things:

  1. Keeps our files from bloating to really big sizes. Having files with e.g. 5000 lines of code in it are usually real hard to deal with during development.
  2. Enforces separation of concerns. Having our code split up into multiple files allows us to have appropriate file names for every file. This way we can easily identify what every module does and where to find it (assuming we made a logical directory structure which is still your responsibility).

Having modules makes it easier to find certain parts of code which makes our code more maintainable.

How does it work?

NodejS uses the CommomJS module system which works in the following manner:

  1. If a file wants to export something it has to declare it using module.export syntax
  2. If a file wants to import something it has to declare it using require('file') syntax



const test2 = require('./test2');    // returns the module.exports object of a file

test2.Func1(); // logs func1
test2.Func2(); // logs func2


module.exports.Func1 = () => {console.log('func1')};

exports.Func2 = () => {console.log('func2')};

Other useful things to know:

  1. Modules are getting cached. When you are loading the same module in 2 different files the module only has to be loaded once. The second time a require() is called on the same module the is pulled from the cache.
  2. Modules are loaded in synchronous. This behavior is required, if it was asynchronous we couldn't access the object retrieved from require() right away.

What is the purpose of Node.js module.exports and how do you use it?

I can't seem to find any information on this, but it appears to be a rather important part of Node.js as I often see it in source code.

According to the Node.js documentation:


A reference to the current module. In particular module.exports is the same as the exports object. See src/node.js for more information.

But this doesn't really help.

What exactly does module.exports do, and what would a simple example be?

module.exports is the object that's actually returned as the result of a require call.

The exports variable is initially set to that same object (i.e. it's a shorthand "alias"), so in the module code you would usually write something like this:

var myFunc1 = function() { ... };
var myFunc2 = function() { ... };
exports.myFunc1 = myFunc1;
exports.myFunc2 = myFunc2;

to export (or "expose") the internally scoped functions myFunc1 and myFunc2.

And in the calling code you would use:

var m = require('./mymodule');

where the last line shows how the result of require is (usually) just a plain object whose properties may be accessed.

NB: if you overwrite exports then it will no longer refer to module.exports. So if you wish to assign a new object (or a function reference) to exports then you should also assign that new object to module.exports

It's worth noting that the name added to the exports object does not have to be the same as the module's internally scoped name for the value that you're adding, so you could have:

var myVeryLongInternalName = function() { ... };
exports.shortName = myVeryLongInternalName;
// add other objects, functions, as required

followed by:

var m = require('./mymodule');
m.shortName(); // invokes module.myVeryLongInternalName

Note that the NodeJS module mechanism is based on CommonJS modules which are supported in many other implementations like RequireJS, but also SproutCore, CouchDB, Wakanda, OrientDB, ArangoDB, RingoJS, TeaJS, SilkJS, curl.js, or even Adobe Photoshop (via PSLib). You can find the full list of known implementations here.

Unless your module use node specific features or module, I highly encourage you then using exports instead of module.exports which is not part of the CommonJS standard, and then mostly not supported by other implementations.

Another NodeJS specific feature is when you assign a reference to a new object to exports instead of just adding properties and methods to it like in the last example provided by Jed Watson in this thread. I would personally discourage this practice as this breaks the circular reference support of the CommonJS modules mechanism. It is then not supported by all implementations and Jed example should then be written this way (or a similar one) to provide a more universal module:

(sayhello.js): = function() {
    console.log("Hello World!");


var sayHello = require('./sayhello');; // "Hello World!"

Or using ES6 features


Object.assign(exports, {
    // Put all your public API here
    sayhello() {
        console.log("Hello World!");


const { sayHello } = require('./sayhello');
sayHello(); // "Hello World!"

PS: It looks like Appcelerator also implements CommonJS modules, but without the circular reference support (see: Appcelerator and CommonJS modules (caching and circular references))

Some few things you must take care if you assign a reference to a new object to exports and /or modules.exports:

1. All properties/methods previously attached to the original exports or module.exports are of course lost because the exported object will now reference another new one

This one is obvious, but if you add an exported method at the beginning of an existing module, be sure the native exported object is not referencing another object at the end

exports.method1 = function () {}; // exposed to the original exported object
exports.method2 = function () {}; // exposed to the original exported object

module.exports.method3 = function () {}; // exposed with method1 & method2

var otherAPI = {
    // some properties and/or methods

exports = otherAPI; // replace the original API (works also with module.exports)

2. In case one of exports or module.exports reference a new value, they don't reference to the same object any more

exports = function AConstructor() {}; // override the original exported object
exports.method2 = function () {}; // exposed to the new exported object

// method added to the original exports object which not exposed any more
module.exports.method3 = function () {}; 

3. Tricky consequence. If you change the reference to both exports and module.exports, hard to say which API is exposed (it looks like module.exports wins)

// override the original exported object
module.exports = function AConstructor() {};

// try to override the original exported object
// but module.exports will be exposed instead
exports = function AnotherConstructor() {}; 

There are some default or existing modules in node.js when you download and install node.js like http, sys etc.

Since they are already in node.js, when we want to use these modules we basically do like import modules, but why? because they are already present in the node.js. Importing is like taking them from node.js and putting them into your program. And then using them.

Whereas Exports is exactly the opposite, you are creating the module you want, let's say the module addition.js and putting that module into the node.js, you do it by exporting it.

Before I write anything here, remember, module.exports.additionTwo is same as exports.additionTwo

Huh, so that's the reason, we do like

exports.additionTwo = function(x)
{return x+2;};

Be careful with the path

Lets say you have created an addition.js module,

exports.additionTwo = function(x){
return x + 2;

When you run this on your NODE.JS command prompt:

var run = require('addition.js');

This will error out saying

Error: Cannot find module addition.js

This is because the node.js process is unable the addition.js since we didn't mention the path. So, we have can set the path by using NODE_PATH

set NODE_PATH = path/to/your/additon.js

Now, this should run successfully without any errors!!

One more thing, you can also run the addition.js file by not setting the NODE_PATH, back to your nodejs command prompt:

var run = require('./addition.js');

Since we are providing the path here by saying it's in the current directory ./ this should also run successfully.

This has already been answered but I wanted to add some clarification...

You can use both exports and module.exports to import code into your application like this:

var mycode = require('./path/to/mycode');

The basic use case you'll see (e.g. in ExpressJS example code) is that you set properties on the exports object in a .js file that you then import using require()

So in a simple counting example, you could have:


var count = 1;

exports.increment = function() {

exports.getCount = function() {
    return count;

... then in your application (web.js, or really any other .js file):

var counting = require('./counter.js');

console.log(counting.getCount()); // 1
console.log(counting.getCount()); // 2

In simple terms, you can think of required files as functions that return a single object, and you can add properties (strings, numbers, arrays, functions, anything) to the object that's returned by setting them on exports.

Sometimes you'll want the object returned from a require() call to be a function you can call, rather than just an object with properties. In that case you need to also set module.exports, like this:


module.exports = exports = function() {
    console.log("Hello World!");


var sayHello = require('./sayhello.js');
sayHello(); // "Hello World!"

The difference between exports and module.exports is explained better in this answer here.

the module.exports property or the exports object allows a module to select what should be shared with the application

I have a video on module_export available here

the refer link is like this:

exports = module.exports = function(){

the properties of exports or module.exports ,such as functions or variables , will be exposed outside

there is something you must pay more attention : don't override exports .

why ?

because exports just the reference of module.exports , you can add the properties onto the exports ,but if you override the exports , the reference link will be broken .

good example : = 'william';

exports.getName = function(){

bad example :

exports = 'william';

exports = function(){

If you just want to exposed only one function or variable , like this:

// test.js
var name = 'william';

module.exports = function(){

// index.js
var test = require('./test');

this module only exposed one function and the property of name is private for the outside .