January 2023
2 minute read

4 ways to evaluate the quality of an npm package

By Martin Torp
Cofounder of Coana
PhD in Computer Science

<m>Picking low-quality packages can be detrimental to an npm project. If a package is not well maintained, it may stop working or no longer effectively solve your problems, leaving you with the technical burden of replacing the package. But how do you evaluate the quality of an npm package?</m>

<m>1. **Look at the package's GitHub repository.** A good sign of quality is a well-maintained repository with regular updates, few stale issues, and a healthy number of stars and contributors. As a general rule, well-maintained packages tend to receive commits on a weekly to monthly basis, unless they have very limited functionality and don't require frequent updates.</m>

<m>2. **Take a look at the package's documentation.** Is it well organized? Does it provide examples? Can you quickly determine if the package can help solve your problem? Good documentation is essential for understanding how to use a package, and it can also provide useful information about the package's capabilities and limitations.</m>

<m>3. **Use a health analysis tool such as Snyk or Debricked.** These tools can provide detailed reports on the quality of a package, including information on vulnerabilities and other potential issues. For example, you can see reports for the lodash package at [https://snyk.io/advisor/npm-package/lodash](https://snyk.io/advisor/npm-package/lodash) and [https://debricked.com/select/package/npm-lodash](https://debricked.com/select/package/npm-lodash).</m>

<m>4. **Test the package.** The best way to evaluate a package's quality is to try it out for yourself. Install the package and see how it performs in your own code. You can also use runkit to try the package directly in your browser. For example, try [https://npm.runkit.com/chalk](https://npm.runkit.com/chalk).</m>

<m> Overall, evaluating the quality of an npm package takes time and effort, but it's worth it to ensure that you're using high-quality packages in your own code. By following these best practices, you can make an informed decision about whether a package is right for your project.</m>

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