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2016 Will Be the Year of Node.js (Part 2)

In part 1 of my blog post I’ve reviewed the state of Node.js and the importance of the human aspect of open source development. Node by Another Name In 2015, the so-called community “side-project”, io.js, quickly grew in features and contributors, proving that an openly governed open source project could deliver reliable and cutting edge […]

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February 16, 2016

In part 1 of my blog post I’ve reviewed the state of Node.js and the importance of the human aspect of open source development.

Node by Another Name

In 2015, the so-called community “side-project”, io.js, quickly grew in features and contributors, proving that an openly governed open source project could deliver reliable and cutting edge server software that can be used in production. Node.js’ corporate sponsor agreed to relinquish absolute control of the project, so that the newly founded non-profit Node Foundation could take control of the project. The foundation was founded on the principals of open governance; with tech giants and members of the community getting equal voice in the direction and future of Node.js. In the fall of 2015 the community merged io.js with Node.js. Shortly after the first long-term supported (LTS) version of Node.js was released as version 4.

Node v4 supports language features from the recently ratified ES 2015 standard. It’ll be supported with critical bug and security fixes until 2018, a whopping 30 months after its release. Best of all, work on future versions of Node is already underway with Node v5 with new LTS versions planned to be released on a yearly cadence. This predictable schedule is essential in bringing 3rd party tools and libraries on the same beat as the core framework making it possible to have high quality releases of new versions of development tools and frameworks on day one.

In 2015, the community succeeded in bringing the corporate and hacker communities together and managed to release a truly ground breaking product demonstrating how open governance can transform software development in the coming years.

Bright Future

Intel, Microsoft, and IBM are some of the corporate members of the Node Foundation. The involvement of these companies in Node go far beyond just paying membership fees. Late last year, IBM made a large investment in the future of Node.js as a web server by buying StrongLoop, builders of the wildly popular open-source project, Express.js. Microsoft announced the desire to make their Chakra JavaScript engine compatible Node variant, which will thrive on low-powered IoT devices, reducing reliance on Google’s V8. Microsoft very recently open-sourced Chakra, the core JavaScript engine shipped with Windows 10. Going on step further than Google, however Microsoft will openly govern the project, allowing for community contributions and feedback. This is an extremely liberating move for the Node community, because rather than working against a black-box, albeit still an open sourced black-box, where they’ve no influence over, they’ll have the option to build future Node versions on an open source project that is also openly governed.

2016 will bring new and exciting language features to JavaScript with the ES2016 standard. The most notable feature is a sync/await support, which makes it a breeze to write complicated asynchronous logic, making it easier to catch and handle exceptions and reducing bugs created in the first place. This feature will put JavaScript right alongside other mature languages like C# and Java. This feature can be used today through the use of compilers like Babel.js or Traceur.

Facebook’s React and Google’s Angular project offer crucial server-side rendering features using Node.js to make mobile browsing a richer experience that doesn’t drain users’ batteries.

In addition to acting as a web server, Node.js has become a crucial tool for all JavaScript developers. All JavaScript based tools, even those used to build user-interfaces and Single Page Applications (SPAs), use tools that run on Node.js to run unit tests, automated acceptance tests, static code analysis, combine, compress and minify code for delivery. Gulp and Grunt are crucial continuous integration tools. Karma, Jasmine or Mocha-Chai-Sinon are essential testing frameworks and tools enabling behavior driven development (BDD).

Furthermore, Node.js has great support from the wider community in the form of thousands of Node Package Manager (npm) packages. Npm makes it more convenient, dependable and easier than ever to share and reuse functional slices of code while having full access to the source code. Open source is an undeniable part of professional development. Npm makes it possible to utilize open source code safely, but more importantly it makes contributing back to the open-source community with your own npm packages very easy.

Full-Stack JavaScript and The Future of the Web

If your organization doesn’t take JavaScript seriously now, 2016 would be a great year to start. No matter what backend technology you use, if you use any web-related technologies than you are bound to be using JavaScript in some manner. In 2016 applying best practices to JavaScript all but requires the use of Node.js.

If you start utilizing Node.js server side, you will guarantee a direct positive dollar impact on your IT organization. Node.js is fast, easy to use, easy to learn, and when you use JavaScript in the front-end as well as in the back-end, Node makes it much faster to develop new applications utilizing the benefits of full-stack JavaScript development.

In 2016, I plan to continue to evangelize full-stack JavaScript and continue explaining the promise of JavaScript. Last year, I gave talks at Nova Code Camp and CodeStock. You can access my materials on TheJavaScriptPromise.com and kick start your learning today by adopting the JavaScript Curriculum. I also look forward to attending Microsoft BUILD to find out future plans about TypeScript and NgConf to learn the ins and outs of Angular 2, the world’s most popular UI framework. As with any technology advice I give, I don’t want you to operate on the promise of future functionality or features, but rather what’s available today. Based solely on available and stable technologies today I can strongly recommend Node.js for your organization.

Doguhan Uluca is Excella’s JavaScript Specialty Lead. Reach out to him via Twitter at @duluca and check out his website: http://thejavascriptpromise.com.

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