Dev

Node’s new leader, TJ Fontaine, explains why version 0.12 will blow developers’ minds

screaming slgckgc Flickr
Image Credit: slgckgc/Flickr

For years, developers from SOMA to Seoul have been begging their bosses to adopt Node.js, a server-side JavaScript framework that enables them to write apps easily and run them at high speed. Soon devs will have a stronger case to make.

The 0.12 release of the open-source project is coming up really soon, newly appointed project lead and core contributor TJ Fontaine said in an interview with VentureBeat.

The upcoming 0.12 release “is important for technical reasons, but also for maturity aspects,” Fontaine said.

That’s great for the Node ecosystem. Companies have been commercializing Node ahead of the 1.0 release, including consulting group The Node Firm, Joyent (Node’s public steward and Fontaine’s employer) and former Node leader Isaac Schlueter’s startup, npm Inc.

With 0.12, more IT shops could feel compelled to jump aboard, said Fontaine, who works as a software engineer at public-cloud provider Joyent.

But Node already stands out on a technical basis among more staid development stacks.

The event-driven design means that Node is only performing work when work is ready to be done, which allows a single process to efficiently handle many simultaneous requests without threads. 

Node determines if there’s work to do by not blocking all connections while a single request performs a network or file system operation. It continues to process other requests whose I/O operations have wrapped up.

“You can utilize your physical server resources in a better capacity,” Fontaine said.

The other appealing trait: Node uses the JavaScript language that so many front-end software developers use.

“You have the potential of sharing logic between back end and front end,” Fontaine said. “That’s saving you time.”

No wonder IT shops inside Walmart and LinkedIn have hopped on the Node train. So have PayPal, Beats Music, and HBO Go, Fontaine said.

And since Node is edging closer to a full-on version 1.0 open-source project, that user list should grow longer in time.

In 0.12, lots of things change. Response times for requests should get lower. Node now offers greater throughput. Bugs are fixed. And on top of that, “We’re going to have higher visibility into the operation of Node, which allows companies like New Relic to give you insight into your app in production,” Fontaine said.

Oh, and the core contributors don’t want to induce migraines for developers as they switch over to this new release. Because that’s happened before. “There were some growing pains from, you know, 0.4 to 0.6, and from 0.6 to 0.8,” he said, referring to stable versions of the framework. “As people were upgrading from 0.4 to 0.6, there were some significant changes that happened, and it basically broke a lot of people’s application logic. And the similarity between 0.6 and 0.8 upgrade — there were API (application programming interface) changes that broke for customers.”

Ensuring backward compatibility is important, and it would speak well to the maturity of the Node project if such disasters don’t happen with every release. “We want to make sure code we’re writing today will continue to work when we release the next version of Node, which should be the 1.0 release of Node,” Fontaine said.

So … when’s it coming out?

“As soon as humanly possible,” Fontaine said. (That’s almost exactly what he said in January, but who’s counting?)

“I’m reticent to actually provide a date. … I don’t want to put an artificial date on it and release it. We’re buttoning up just the last few nits here and there on these things. But its going to be really soon.”


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