With today’s big announcement, one of the burning questions on a lot of people’s minds is…
“What is going to happen to the LoopBack and Express projects?”
I’m writing this blog to answer that question as a co-founder and CTO here at StrongLoop. We’ve also prepared an FAQ that makes it easy to reference many of the answers you’ll get in this blog.
But, before I do that, humor me for a few minutes while I recap how we got here…
The birth of LoopBack
Three years ago, we founded StrongLoop with a mission to provide the answer to the developer challenge – “what’s the quickest, easiest way to sustainably build APIs to meet the needs of mobile, cloud (and now IoT?)”
At StrongLoop, we felt we had an opportunity to meet that challenge with a new generation of solutions powered by Node.js. Node as everyone knows is a low level asynchronous library for developing networking applications in a highly scalable and easy way. When we started, there were a ton of frameworks built on top of Node to help a developer build solutions. In fact, one of our engineers actually co-authored one of the more popular ones. They all had one thing in common – get productive quickly without writing a ton of boilerplate code that everyone requires and takes for granted.
We decided to bite the bullet and to roll the dice, but in doing so – carve out a niche. Yes – there were and still are, a lot of Node frameworks out there, but from my point of view, none of them were really geared toward enterprise use cases and developed and maintained by a company as part of their core business.
And so LoopBack was born.
The goals and ideals behind LoopBack were then and remain today:
- provide maximum developer productivity as an opinionated framework – but do so transparently – nothing spooks a developer more than having a bunch of scaffolded code that can’t be overridden
- provide a free open source core that will meet the business use case for easily integrating data sources and services into a uniform API for the entire development community to make the API economy a reality
- build an ecosystem around the open source core that meets the needs of the enterprise
What about Express?
As most of you who have used LoopBack already know – LoopBack is built on top of Express. When StrongLoop took over managing the GitHub repository and the website, there was a lot speculation as to what would happen versus what actually did.
There was no proprietary StrongLoop code introduced. There was no change in license. There was no replacement of current maintainers.
Quite the contrary, a lot of time and effort was spent toward what the community said was lacking – better documentation.
Our intentions around Express have always been:
- continue to support the Express project as community stewards and directly supporting when possible
- continue to support community innovation to shape the technical direction of Express and its roadmap
- benefit from the association between Express and LoopBack as its natural superset choice when developing APIs especially when faced with enterprise use cases and associated technical challenges
With today’s announcement, I see no immediate change in LoopBack’s and Express’ goals nor do I see, any change in the foreseeable future – except for amplification and acceleration for the better…
What do I mean by that?
How many times have you seen me publicly lamenting about how we wish we could do more but was hamstrung by resource constraints? If anything I see today’s announcement propelling the goals and ideals of what LoopBack and Express are all about and adding fuel to the fire in terms of focus and additional resources to do great things, faster and at scale.
A few key facts on how I’ve come to this conclusion…
IBM has acquired StrongLoop because they have determined we’re onto something with our open source approach to both LoopBack and Express. Check out the slide below that Jerry Cuomo (IBM Middleware CTO and Fellow) presented at IBM’s Interconnect 2015 where Express and LoopBack play prominent roles.
IBM has had a long standing history of supporting open source most recently in the Java world – and in Node, e.g. Node-RED.
Ritchie Martori and Express community member Hage Yaapa are working on the generators that Express lead maintainer Doug Wilson had envisioned with Express being a roll your own base framework usable by everyone.
The LoopBack team and maintainers continue to innovate with free extensions that are otherwise charged by other commercial software including mobile features – the latest being the Xamarin SDK.
Given what StrongLoop has accomplished in the last three years with the LoopBack and Express frameworks, coupled with IBM’s proven commitment to funding and contributing to open source communities, specifically the Node community – you can bank on the “best is yet to come” for these projects.