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Node.js sees Windows compatibility as key to success

Avoiding the mistakes of Ruby on Rails

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The creator of Node.js says he wants to avoid the mistakes of other development environments, and support cross-platform systems as much as possible.

Ryan Dahl, who devised Node.js as a way of running JavaScript on the server side, was speaking in a group session with Rackspace and Microsoft at the first Node Summit in San Francisco. In the opening keynote, he laid out his plans for the Node.js development environment – and about the importance of addressing the Windows market.

“Ruby on Rails decided it wasn’t interested in Windows and that’s hurt Ruby in the long run,” Dahl explained. “Python has done a good effort, on the other hand. To be a big platform, a real platform, you have to be on Windows.”

He explained that while he wasn’t a Windows user himself, there were plenty of people who were, and that their needs should be addressed. Not surprisingly, Microsoft and Rackspace agreed. Rackspace has been working with Redmond and Joyent, Dahl’s employer, to port the platform to Windows via Azure.

“To build a diverse open source community, you need a wide platform,” said the impressively bearded (even by developer standards) Paul Querna, architect at Rackspace. “Ruby didn’t do a Windows port and it hurt, Python did and it helped. It's obvious it makes sense.”

Around 40 per cent of developers work on Windows, he explained, and it was unreasonable to expect them to drop that experience and earning potential to concentrate on a new platform. Like it or not, Redmond has to be addressed.

Gianugo Rabellino, director of open source communities at Microsoft, agreed – not surprisingly – and told delegates that Redmond was committed to Node.js support and was “really happy” with the way the systems could interconnect.

“Cross-platform support future-proofs applications,” he said. “You know where you want it today, but you may not know about tomorrow. Cross-platform support is essential to avoid being locked into a particular technology.” ®

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