Migrate to Netlify Today

Netlify announces the next evolution of Gatsby Cloud. Learn more


Learn more about Node.js, one of the software packages that makes Gatsby possible.

What is Node.js?

Node.js is a JavaScript runtime that uses the same engine as Google Chrome. With Node.js, you can run JavaScript applications on your computer, without the need for a web browser.

In the early 2000s, services such as Gmail and Flickr showed us that JavaScript could be used to build robust applications, available to anyone with a web browser and internet connection.

However, those JavaScript applications had a big limitation: they could only perform as well as the runtime allowed. Before 2009, the runtime was almost always a web browser. So Google formed the Chromium Project, in part, to create a faster browser. The result was Google Chrome, released in 2008, and its new JavaScript engine: V8.

A year later, Node.js made its debut as a standalone JavaScript runtime using the V8 engine.

Once you’ve installed Node.js, you can use it to run JavaScript from the command line. Type node at a prompt to launch the Node.js interactive shell. Include the path to a JavaScript file to execute that script: e.g. node /Users/gatsbyfan/hello-world.js.

You will need to install Node.js before using Gatsby. Gatsby is built using JavaScript, and requires the Node.js runtime.

Installing Node.js also installs npm, the Node.js package manager. A package manager is specialized software that lets you install and update modules and packages used in your project.

You’ll use npm to install Gatsby and its dependencies. Type npm install -g gatsby-cli at a command line prompt to install the Gatsby command line interface or CLI. The -g flag installs Gatsby globally, which means that you can use it by typing gatsby at a prompt. For example, you can use gatsby new to create a new Gatsby site.

Learn more about Node.js

Start building today on Netlify!
Edit this page on GitHub
© 2023 Gatsby, Inc.