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10 years of Node with Gireesh Punathil of IBM

A Q&A with Gireesh Punathil about the first 10 years of Node.js

10 years of node.js banner

This year we are celebrating the 10th year of Node.js which now ranks as the fourth most important open source project, according to the Battery Ventures Open Source Software Inde x.  To mark the anniversary, we're reflecting on how far it has come, explore the latest in Node.js developments and showcase its broader importance and impact on the economy. Here we speak with Gireesh Punathil, Node.js TSC member, collaborator, Node.js customer support engineer and Architect, to hear his views on the importance of the Node.js community and timely support in its future as a performance driver.

Why is the Node.js community important to you / your company?

Community is critical to support internal and external Node.js user base; healthy community helps improved adoption.

How long have you been working with Node.js and, in your opinion, what have been the most pivotal milestones in the project?

I've been working with Node.js for 6 years. The signficant milestones along the way have been the Foundation, corporate funding, open governance, the active members of the community and the continuous evolution towards cutting edge feature implementation

To what do you attribute the sustained growth and usage of Node.js in the ecosystem?

A vibrant, active and open community and a great set of people involved.

What do you believe are the most significant opportunities for Node.js over the next 3 years?

  • To raise and sustain as the no. #1 runtime for the Cloud.
  • Fine-grained diagnostic capabilities.
  • Healthy and ever-decreasing (issue / pr) backlog.

Global adoption of Node.js in DevOps remains relatively low right now according to the 2018 Node.js User Survey.  Where is the development focus in your own organisation?

  • Cloud integration
  • Cloud services
  • Web backend

What do you see as the most popular features in the latest release lines of Node.js that will continue to drive further adoption?

  • Worker threads
  • Diagnostic tools

Do you think there is some nostalgia in the community at large that will keep Node.js popular or do you see new generations of developers embracing it?

Definitely new generations are embracing it. Beyond nostalgia, very low entry barrier seems to be the mantra for its main attraction.

Generally, overall downloads of all Node.js versions combined have continued to grow - by 40% year-over-year and more than 1 million times each day of 2018.  However, the growth of new contributors has slowed somewhat. Is this a cause for concern or just a signal of greater stability in the larger Node ecosystem?

It is not a cause of worry, but we can learn from that. For example, direct and meaningful relationship with users should be an important thing to do to tap new requirements and ensure continued success. Also, timely support can differentiate Node.js from other open source communities.

Last year Forrester called out Node.js’s versatility, staying power and relevance: “It is moving beyond being simply an application platform, and beginning to be used for rapid experimentation with corporate data, application modernization, and IoT solutions.”  Is there potential for this versatility to continue to grow, opening new experimentations and opportunities?

Yes, definitely. Basic principles of generic runtime, small core, compatibility constraints etc. should be of high importance though.

Best feature of the past 10 years?

  • Libuv
  • Streams
  • Worker threads
  • npm
  • Diagnostic tools

Best reason to adopt in the enterprise?

  • Developer productivity
  • npm
  • Performance
  • Cloud
  • Vibrant community

Most common pitfalls/programming mistakes to avoid?

  • Unnecessary usage of synchronous operations
  • Unnecessary usage of native addons
  • Careless consumption of npm modules
  • Careless selection of Node.js for wrong workloads
  • Depending on un-exported Node.js internals

Best Node.js Performance tricks?

Proper usage of async I/O

Will you be joining the Node.js community at NodeConf EU 2019?  If you are, what are you most looking forward to?

Yes, I will be there and will be speaking about the latest features in the pipeline, and to hear stories from real users.

Thank you for your time Gireesh!

For the 10th anniversary of Node.js we sat down with 7 developers and chatted with them about Node and where it is headed. You can find the other interviews in this series below.

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