Software that allows administrators (and in some cases also users) to control the installation and upgrade process of packages on their systems.

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Managing your dependencies manually in any programming language is a huge pain. This is why in most programming languages today you will find that they all have some implementation of a dependency management system or sometimes a package manger. Composer is the dependency management system that you will find inside most modern PHP projects.

In brief, npm is a package manager for JavaScript. It stands for Node Package Manager.