Joyent: Never mind those other forkers, Node.js has a foundation now, too

But io.js says 'nothing has changed' – yet

Patrick McGoohan as The Prisoner in "Fall Out"

The popular, open source Node.js JavaScript runtime engine is getting a new foundation to manage its development, in a move that could help mend the recent schism in the project's community.

To date, Node.js has been sponsored and overseen by Joyent, the infrastructure-as-a-service company where Ryan Dahl, the software's creator, worked when he first developed it around 2009.

But on Tuesday, Joyent announced that it has teamed up with a number of other companies – including Fidelity, IBM, the Linux Foundation, Microsoft, and PayPal – to launch the Node.js Foundation, an independent body that will steward development of Node.js under a formal open governance model.

"We feel the project needs to evolve to attract additional contributions, foster a healthy ecosystem of technology and service providers and further enrich the community," Joyent CEO Scott Hammond said in a statement.

"For us, the first step in this evolution was to create the Node.js Advisory Board to gather input from a diverse set of organizations and individuals in the Node.js community. We believe the creation of the Node.js Foundation is the logical next step in that process."

Whither io.js?

Attracting contributors hasn't been the project's only problem of late. In December 2014, a number of prominent Node.js contributors forked the Node.js source code to form a separate project, called io.js.

Among the cited reasons for the split were the desire to ship code releases more often and to govern the project in a more community-driven way, without explicit corporate stewardship. The io.js project is run by a technical committee that supervises the work of collaborating developers and is not overseen by any single company.

The move to shift Node.js to a governance model more similar to that of io.js could be a first step toward reconciling the two factions, but the io.js leadership says nothing has changed so far – although it could.

"The only thing that could make io.js better is putting to rest the questions hanging over the future of our split with node.js," explains a post on the project's official blog. "We are eager to put this all behind us but we can't sacrifice the progress we've made or the principles and open governance that got us here."

The io.js contributors plan to hold vote on the project's GitHub site to decide whether they should rejoin the larger Node.js community, once the Node.js Foundation has formulated its technical governance model. Otherwise, the blog post said, "Talks with Joyent are ongoing."

Containers and more

Meanwhile, Joyent's decision to loosen the reins on Node.js doesn't mean it plans to step away from the project. Also on Tuesday, the company announced a number of new support and incentive programs to help encourage companies to build projects using Node.js.

For starters, Joyent has published a certified Docker image for Node.js via Docker's Official Repository program, which allows companies to offer containerized applications that have been vetted and optimized for enterprise use. The image is available both via the Docker Hub and through Joyent's Public Cloud Marketplace.

The firm has also upped its support offerings for enterprise-level organizations running Node.js in production. It says it will offer 24/7 support to customers running Linux or SunOS – Joyent defines the latter to include Oracle Solaris and such OpenSolaris-derived variants as OmniOS and SmartOS – in "virtually any operating environment."

Finally, Joyent will establish the Node.js Incubator Program, which will provide support for developers who want to build mobile or web applications in Node.js in the form of training, networking and collaboration opportunities, and $25,000 worth of credit toward Joyent cloud hosting.

"As the runtime transitions into a formal foundation, we're only increasing our support," Joyent's Hammond said in a canned statement. "We firmly believe the Node.js platform is poised to change the way organizations build applications across industries at a massive scale. We'll be here to make sure that happens." ®


Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2017