Two years in the making, Node.js upgrade arrives

Version 0.12 of server-side JavaScript platform set to become available as reconciliation with io.js fork expected

In development for nearly two years, the 0.12 release of Node.js is about to become available. Whether the release can mend the now-fractured community that has been built around the popular server-side JavaScript platform remains to be seen.

Officials at Node.js steward Joyent and at Strongloop, which is involved in Node.js development, provided InfoWorld details about the upcoming release, for which the download should become available today.

Version 0.12 will feature round-robin clustering, providing for better distribution of Node.js across processor cores. It also will have performance optimizations including reduced garbage-collector strain. Profiling APIs in 0.12 improve memory management. Users also can run multiple instances in a single process via a multicontext capability. Clustered apps can be debugged with the Node-Inspector capability. Also supported is execSync, a synchronous API for child processes. There are also improvements in the TLS (Transport Layer Security) function.

Although the Node community at large might breathe a collective sigh of relief that version 0.12 is finally here, frustration with the pace of upgrades to the platform was a principal reason for the recent forking of Node.js, via the io.js fork. Strongloop's Bert Belder, who is deeply involved in both the development of Node.js as well as io.js, said he still expects to be working on both projects. Io.js went to a beta release last month. It features capabilities now being fitted into Node.js 0.12, such as round-robin clustering and virtual machine improvements, Belder said.

A founder of API server vendor Strongloop, Belder is a Node core contributor and a member of the io.js technical committee. He said he anticipates a reconciliation between the two factions at some point, hopefully within a half year. Right now, there are two versions of Node.js (also called Node), thanks to the io.js fork. "I think it's wasteful to have to have two projects," Belder said. Io.js proponents "really took that position that we wanted to release really frequently."

Asked about the io.js fork, Joyent's TJ Fontaine, project lead for Node.js, avoided any criticism, saying he welcomed more participation in JavaScript at the server level, which io.js enables. "It's a fantastic opportunity for Node.js."

Beyond version 0.12, the focus for Node.js will be on reconciliation in the Node.js community and improving the governance model, Belder said. Fontaine said discussions about an eventual 1.0 release of Node.js are expected to happen at the Node Summit conference in San Francisco next week.

Although proponents see Node.js as production-ready now, the 1.0 release would have to ensure that no APIs are broken, and to do that APIs that need to change have to be identified first, Fontaine said. "[Version] 1.0 is an important step, and it means that we will be supporting these APIs in perpetuity."

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