The Node Interactive conference in Portland kicked off yesterday with well-attended keynote talks from some prominent members of the Node community.
First off was James Snell from IBM, with a presentation titled “Convergence: Evolving Node.js with Open Governance and an Open Community.” Snell is IBM’s open technologies architect, and a member of the Node Core Technical Committee (CTC) and Technical Steering Committee (TSC). He observed that 2015 was an interesting year for Node, with the io.js fork generating some fear, doubt, and uncertainty. Although there was a lot of excitement around Node, he said, there was a general belief that it could be better.
He noted that everyone was passionate about the technology, but there were profoundly different opinions about how project decisions were being made and the project was progressing. IBM, which started to embrace Node a few years ago, wanted to figure out how to help bring Node.js and io.js back together again to allow the project to continue to thrive, grow, and evolve.
IBM is a fan of open governance, Snell said, having used it in several other projects, and he noted “It’s part of our DNA.” IBM knew that Node needed open governance, which was the road that io.js had started down, and ultimately that led to the formation of the Node.js foundation with an open governance model.
Some were afraid that the foundation would slow things down, but after consolidation of Node.js and io.js into the Node Foundation, that didn’t happen. In fact, commits per month doubled compared with 2014. But what about stability? To address that concern, the foundation set up the long-term stable (LTS) release schedule to provide stable, reliable, and predictable releases. In general, he said, the intent is to provide something stable to build on with a clear release schedule.
Even more exciting is what’s happening in the ecosystem: npm module counts started increasing and npm downloads have gone up dramatically. Snell finished by saying he’s excited to see how people leverage Node to build great things in the coming year.
Jason Gartner, IBM
The next speaker was Jason Gartner, vice-president of Interactive Services development at IBM, with a talk entitled “The World is being reinvented in code.” He started with a question: Why is IBM interested in Node, and how are we taking it forward? The answer, in a word (or rather, an acronym) is APIs. According to polls, the top use cases for Node are REST APIs and realtime services.
The next killer app, he said, isn’t going to be an app, its going to be an API, specifically a REST API. Every company is transforming into a digital business for which APIs are critically important to interact with customers, vendors, partners, and more. IBM refers to this as the “API economy.” By 2018, he said, the API economy will be worth $2.2 trillion.
This transformation has been happening for some time, he said. He gave cars.com as an example of a company that is leveraging APIs. It has APIs for maps, auto dealers, banks, insurance providers, as well as for IBM Watson/cloud provisioning. As another example, he said that 70% of Expedia’s business is driven by providing APIs rather than providing services directly to customers.
Gartner then enumerated some of IBM’s activities around Node.js this year, including:
- Acquiring StrongLoop.
- Continuing its support of the Node developer community.
- Working to bring Java and Node communities together to promote innovation.
- Expanding the number connectors to legacy systems where data currently resides.
- Making Node solutions available on IBM Bluemix and projects from Bluemix garage.
Tom Croucher, Uber
Tom Croucher, engineering manager at Uber (and formerly of Joyent), then spoke about his experiences using Node at Uber. He started by saying he likes the amount of power Node gives him and the things it enables him to do quickly and easily. Then he noted that the bulk of Uber’s $50 billion business is based on Node.js technology. Uber works because it’s a platform, he said, and that is largely enabled by Node.
He recommended that everyone read Steve Yegge’s “platform rant” from 2001 that compares how things are done at Google and Amazon.
He also noted that Uber loves open source and contributing to the open source community. See http://uber.github.io/ for a list of projects.
Ashley Williams, npm
Next up was Ashley Williams, developer community and content manager at npm. She said that every day around 1.8 million npm install events occur. Since each of these events downloads an average of 70 packages, that means that people download 126 million packages per day using npm. To give an idea of how big that number is, she noted that’s how long the US Civil War lasted in seconds.
She explained that npm is a package manager tool, but it’s also a community engagement tool. It creates a nexus of participants:
- Installers who want to download packages
- Packages that can take on a life of their own
- Publishers who write and publish code to the npm registry
In the last year, npm has served over 19 billion package downloads, over half of those in last three months. It has over 200,000 packages, each with an average of six versions, which gives it 1.2 million package versions. This makes it the largest package manager in the world.
She said that Node’s success depends on its growth into the enterprise, and “open source is the largest enterprise” and concluded by saying they are excited to enable more, and more diverse, developers to collaborate and are humbled to be a part of Node’s success.
Joe McCann, NodeSource
Finally Joe McCann, the CEO of NodeSource, spoke about the Node community and how to grow it.
He asked “How can we double the size of the Node community in one year?” The answer, he said was to embrace developers, ops engineers, and CIOs/CTOs. He emphasized the importance of embracing the power of diversification: “diversity trumps ability.” The more experiences, viewpoints, and perspectives that members of the Node community have, the better the outcome for the project itself.
Then he detailed some of the challenges facing people in various roles throughout the enterprise: developers, ops engineers, and executives.
- Best practices in enterprise app dev
- Control and security
- Best practices around enterprise app deployment
- Desire for increased productivity
- Protection for critical apps
- Peak application performance demands
- Improved customer experience
- Long-term support (LTS)
Finally, he asked “How can we double/triple/quadruple size of Node community?”
Watch this space for more updates from Node Interactive 2015.