Node v6.0.0 was released on April 26th. This release represents another significant milestone in the story of Node.js. Version 6 is the next release line slated for Long Term Support (LTS), meaning that it will be supported until April 2019. Node v6 will be the first LTS line to go through a proper release cycle.
Node v4 was released in September 2015, and went into LTS the following month, when Node v5 was released. This was an anomaly due to the brand new LTS policy. Node 0.10 and 0.12 are also still relevant, but were grandfathered into the new policy. Node v6, on the other hand, should align perfectly with the LTS schedule from release to end of life.
By the end of the year, 0.10 and 0.12 will be put out to pasture. Node v5 will also reach its end of life in a few months. Moving forward, this will leave you with v4, v6, and the upcoming v7 as viable options. If you’re currently using anything other than v4, you should work to upgrade to version 6, which will have you covered for the foreseeable future.
That’s great, but what’s inside?
Because Node.js core adheres to semantic versioning, new features are consistently released in semver minor releases. This allows developers to get their hands on new features as quickly as possible, but, unfortunately, takes away some of the hype associated with new major releases. Version 6 is no different. Many of the “breaking changes” are simply the deprecation or removal of legacy APIs. Other boring changes include improved type checking of function arguments and improved error messages. That said, v6 notably drops support for Windows XP and Vista. If you are still using these platforms, you should explore upgrade options.
The biggest headline in this release is the V8 update. Version 6 will ship with V8 5.0, the same as the latest stable Chrome. This means improved performance and security, as well as a better random number generator. Of course, all anyone really cares about is ES6 support. Node v6 has you covered. Version 6 supports 96% of ES6 features according to node.green. This is up from 58% support in v5, 48% in v4, and 24% in 0.12. The delta in supported features includes rest parameters, default function parameters, destructuring, proxies, regular expression enhancements, and more.
For a commit-by-commit breakdown of the v6 release, see the official Node.js blog post. If you have any questions, or need support, feel free to reach out to us – we’d love to help!