My Initial Thoughts on Hono

For those who don't know, Hono (their site is at is yet another server-side framework for building HTTP servers in Javascript. It's comparable to Express, Fastify, and so on forth. It's minimalistic, yet it runs on most platform and runtimes, like Node, Deno, Cloudflare Workers, and even Bun. It's also advertised as ultrafast, in which I don't really care. But that is what Hono is selling to the world.

At first I thought there's no way you can beat Fastify on speed benchmark, yet I found an unscientific benchmark that includes Fastify and Hono, and it turns out Hono performed better. I got curious and read the docs.

One thing that sold me for Hono is not about how they are using Web Standard APIs to build server-side application -- well, actually that's part of it -- but how they have built-in AbortSignal per request. In other languages that I used for server-side application, like Go or C#, they always provide some sort of client cancellation signals. For Go it's context.Context in which we can use to abort something if it's gone too long or if the client's closed the connection. In C# we have CancellationToken which do the same thing. The plain old Node.js have that, but it's not really straightforward and it's something that is not advertised well enough in any documentation.

function someHandler(req, res) {
  req.on("close", () => {
    // Do something with the close signal

  // The rest of the function

If you're wanting to achieve what's possible on Go or C#, and use the modern AbortSignal object, it'd be something like:

function someHandler(req, res) {
  const abortController = new AbortController();

  req.on("close", () => abortController.abort());

  // The rest of the function

But the problem with that in Javascript ecosystem is although you're now able to have similar things like you would usually have on other language, there is no point of using that, because most database connector implementation does not care about that at all.

Moving on about Hono, yes I love it. Everything is so simple, no need to install additional middleware just to parse the body into JSON, performance is (somewhat) guaranteed. I even made a repository that benchmarks some of the popular (at least for me) Nodejs server-side frameworks so far, here:

Here's a summary:

Framework hello-world rps name rps post-body rps Factor
Express 12345 11683 8444 1x
Fastify 45823 44351 27504 3.61x
Polka 53965 51819 32245 4.32x
Hono 25027 23454 3615 1.59x

Yes, Hono seems not to outperform Fastify, and it has some trouble on parsing JSON request body. But other than that, it's fast. One thing that I hope for is that more people are willing to use AbortSignal properly.

You'll only receive email when they publish something new.

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