The Node.js Foundation benefits all
When I joined Joyent last summer I quickly realized that, despite the huge success of Node.js in the market and the tireless work of many here at Joyent, there were challenges in the project that we needed to address. Through discussions with various project contributors, Node.js users, ecosystem vendors and the Node.js Advisory Board, it became clear that the best way to address the concerns of all key stakeholders (and the best thing for Node.js as a whole) was to establish the Foundation as a path for the future.
The biggest and most obvious challenge we sought to address with the Foundation was the friction that existed amongst some developers in the Node.js community. Historically, leadership ran the project fairly tightly, with a small core of developers working in a BDFL model. It was difficult for new people to join the project, and there wasn’t enough transparency for such a diverse, passionate community to have a sense of ownership. Consequently, a group of developers who wanted to operate under a more open governance model created the io.js fork. That team has done a great job innovating on governance and engagement models, and the Node.js Foundation’s models will be based on those policies to ensure broader community engagement in the future of Node.js. We welcome community review and feedback on the draft governance documents.
With the recent vote by the io.js TC to join the Node.js Foundation, we took a giant leap toward rebuilding a unified community. @mikeal, @piscisaureus and others have done an excellent job evangelizing the value of the Foundation, and it’s great to see it have such positive impact this early in its formation.
In the user community, enterprise adoption of Node.js has skyrocketed with an abundance of success stories. But behind every successful project is someone who is betting their career on the choice to build with Node.js. Their primary “ask” is to de-risk the project. They want stable, production-grade code that will handle their technical requirements and an LTS that matches what they get from other software. The Foundation will get that right. Donations to the Foundation will provide the resources we need to broaden and automate the necessary test suites and expand coverage across a large set of platforms. We are working now on codifying the LTS policy (comments welcome here) and will establish the right 6-9 month release cadence with rigor on backward compatibility and EOL horizon.
Users also want the project to be insulated from the direction of any single company or individual. Putting the project into a foundation insulates it from the commercial aspirations of Joyent or any other single company. It also facilitates the creation of the vibrant vendor ecosystem around Node.js that users want. Users want to see relevant innovation from a strong group of contributors and vendors.
The vendors themselves have a clear set of requirements that can best be addressed by the Foundation. They want a level playing field and they want to know they can monetize the contributions they make to the project. We need a vibrant ecosystem to complete the solution for the users of Node.js and drive additional value and innovation around the core project. The ecosystem is the force multiplier of value for every piece of technology and Node.js is no exception.
Finally, in addition to risk mitigation, transparency, neutrality and an open governance model, the Foundation will provide needed resources. Over the past few years Joyent and other members of the community have invested thousands of hours and millions of dollars into the project, and much has been accomplished. Going forward, Joyent will continue to invest aggressively in the success and growth of Node.js. But now, with the support of new Foundation members, we will be able to do even more. Investments from new members can be used to expand coverage of testing harnesses, establish API compatibility tests and certifications, extend coverage for additional platforms, underwrite travel expenses for technical meetups for core contributors, build training programs for users and developers, expand community development efforts, fund full-time developers and more.
I’m convinced the Foundation is the best vehicle for balancing the needs of Node.js users, vendors and contributors. The project has a brilliant future ahead of it and I am more optimistic than ever that we can work together as one strong community to secure that future.