Would Node.js be the IE6 of server-side JavaScript?

Here it comes, io.js.

One of JavaScript gurus, Yehuda Kats, has uploaded a tweet above. The tweet may actually be to make fun of the slow release pace of Node.js. The current stable version of Node.js is v0.10.35 now in January 2015. As many people already know, in Node.js, versions having an even minor number are stable releases and ones with an odd number are unstable. The current unstable release, v0.11, has a lot of interesting features including ES6 support. The ES6 features such as generator, promise or class syntax are brilliant changes in JavaScript so that most JavaScript developers are looking forward to the next stable release in Node.js. Nevertheless, since the last stable version-up to v0.10 was done in March 2013, there hasn’t been any sign of the next stable version-up for about 2 years.

Actually, a tweet about the version-up was uploaded on the official twitter account of Node.js in the last December. Many people was expecting they might be able to see some news on the following day, or at least in a while. It’s been about a month, and none at all. Now the tweet is being retweeted to mock Node.js itself.

Then, what’s io.js? If you’re a kind of people who enjoy looking around GitHub Explorer tab everyday, you may have found that io.js has been being on the list of Trending Repositories for a quite long time. On the io.js repo, it introduces itself as ‘A spork of Node.js with an open governance model’. Basically, io.js is a fork of Node.js. You can think the relation between Node.js and io.js like the one between Apple’s WebKit and Google’s Blink which is basically a fork of WebKit. However, being different from Node.js, io.js adopted an open governance model, as it described, so that the development is not led by a few people but in a structured and fast process. Basically, there’s a Technical Committee(TC) group and they have a regular meeting and communication to decide the way how io.js should be now and in the future. The TC group even includes Isaac Schlueter, who used to manage the Node.js development. It also welcomes new contributors to join the TC group. For more details, please refer to GOVERNANCE.md in the repo.

io.js looks very successful so far. As io.js wants, the development process is very speedy. Although it’s not been long since it forked Node.js, v1.0 including ES6 support has already been released. node-webkit, one of the influential Node.js projects, has changed its name to NW.js, saying now it’s using io.js. For sure, io.js is compatible with existing Node.js projects, as it’s just a fork, so if the new stable release of Node.js keeps being delayed, users will definitely move to io.js for the shiny new features. To be honest, I’ve already done.

Node.js came out some years ago and realised server-side JavaScript. It’s also successfully built its own micro-modular ecosystem and brilliant community. Nevertheless, there’s always been complaints about its slow release pace. Especially, because JavaScript is one of the languages changing and improving rapidly, it’s more difficult for users to wait for the next release. And here it comes, io.js. It must be very interesting to see if Node.js can restore its status in the server-side JS world, or will just become obsolete and forgotten as time passes.

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