Don't put your Node out of joint: Version 8 of JS toolkit now in LTS mode

As the focus turns to version 9

JavaScript/Node code for Google Assistant

Node.js 8 on Tuesday goes into long-term support, which sounds like an assisted living plan for elders but in fact marks the maturation of the surprisingly popular JavaScript runtime.

The LTS designation, codified a mere two years ago, means businesses can adopt Node 8 with the expectation the code will be supported for 18 months. After that, it will enter a 12-month maintenance period during which only severe bugs and security issues will be addressed.

Only even-numbered releases, which focus on stability and security, are eligible for LTS designation; odd-numbered releases, referred to as Current releases, receive more frequent updates, with an eye toward implementing new features and API refinement.

Node 8 debuted on May 30 and, now that the requisite tire-kicking has been completed, moves into LTS dotage.

Version 8 brings speed – a 20 per cent improvement over Node 6 for typical web applications, the Node Foundation claims. It also adds a number of useful features, including version 5.0.0 of the npm client, version 6.1 of the Chrome V8 JavaScript engine, and the experimental Node.js API (N-API), through which Microsoft's ChakraCore can serve as an alternative to V8.

Developers can take advantage of async_hooks to monitor the Node event loop, a URL API that maps better to the way browsers handle URLs, Buffer API improvements, and improved Promise support.

Node 8 also implements Async/Await and HTTP/2.

But before anyone gets too wedded to Node 8, version 9 is slated to debut on Tuesday, too. Specific features have not yet been disclosed and a Node Foundation spokesperson said the focus at the moment is on deprecating older features.

There are in fact quite a few companies contributing to Node's development and using it in production. Alongside many individual contributors to the open source project, Alibaba, GoDaddy, Google, IBM, Intel, Joyent, Microsoft, nearForm, and NodeSource, among others added bits of code.

The Node Foundation says almost nine million instances of Node run daily, at organizations such as Airbnb, Netflix, PayPal, Twitter, Walmart, and Yahoo!

Mark Hinkle, executive director of the Node.js Foundation in a statement attributed Node's appeal to "the long-term support strategy, and the large and active community that includes 13 working groups, 21 members of the Technical Steering Committee, and more than 1,600 contributors to Node.js united under the Node.js Foundation."

That community is a bit smaller than it might have been had it not split in August over augments about how to police harassment. Two weeks later, Hinkle announced some changes intended to address Node community governance. ®

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