Debugging Node.js Applications using Built-in and Third-Party Tools


Debugging is an essential part of software development, and Node.js developers often encounter bugs in their applications. Fortunately, Node.js provides built-in debugging tools and a vibrant ecosystem of third-party debugging tools to help developers find and fix these bugs efficiently. In this article, we will explore how to leverage these tools to debug Node.js applications effectively.

Built-in Debugging Tools

Node.js includes several built-in debugging tools that can be utilized to analyze and trace issues in applications. These tools offer features like breakpoints, stepping through code, and inspecting variables during runtime. Let's have a look at a few of them:

1. Console.log

The simplest way to debug Node.js applications is by using the console.log function. By strategically placing log statements in your code, you can print variables, messages, and other relevant information to the console, helping you understand the application's behavior at various stages.

2. Debugger Statement

Node.js also includes a debugger statement that allows you to set breakpoints directly in your code. When the program reaches the debugger statement, it pauses execution, giving you the opportunity to examine the current state and debug the application step by step.

3. Inspector API

The Inspector API provides a more comprehensive debugging experience. It allows you to connect a Chrome DevTools instance to your Node.js application, enabling features like breakpoints, call stacks, runtime evaluation, and profiling. To use the Inspector API, you need to start your Node.js application with the inspect or inspect-brk flag and open the Chrome DevTools in a browser.

Third-Party Debugging Tools

While the built-in debugging tools in Node.js are powerful, several third-party tools take the debugging experience to the next level. These tools often provide additional features and a friendlier user interface. Here are a few popular third-party debugging tools:

1. Visual Studio Code (VSCode) Debugger

VSCode, one of the most popular code editors, offers comprehensive debugging capabilities for Node.js applications through its built-in debugger extension. It allows you to set breakpoints, step through code, inspect variables, and perform other common debugging tasks. With a user-friendly interface and intuitive features, VSCode Debugger simplifies the debugging process.

2. Node Inspector

Node Inspector is another widely-used third-party debugging tool for Node.js applications. It integrates with the Chrome DevTools and provides a rich set of debugging features, including breakpoints, step-by-step execution, variable inspection, and more. Node Inspector is easy to set up, making it an excellent choice for developers who prefer a browser-based debugging experience.

3. ndb

ndb is a powerful command-line debugging tool specifically designed for Node.js applications. It offers a modern and feature-rich debugging experience, including multiple windows, breakpoint navigation, real-time code modification, and more. ndb also integrates with the Chrome DevTools, providing an intuitive interface for efficient debugging.


Debugging Node.js applications is crucial for locating and fixing bugs efficiently. Node.js provides various built-in debugging tools like console.log, debugger statement, and the Inspector API. Additionally, there is a wide range of third-party debugging tools, such as Visual Studio Code Debugger, Node Inspector, and ndb, that offer enhanced debugging capabilities. By leveraging these tools, developers can streamline the debugging process and ensure the smooth operation of their Node.js applications.

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