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Joy to the Node

by Pascal Deschenes on April 13th, 2011
node.js logo

I’ve been experimenting with Node.js (or node for the intimate) recently. I was looking for something to execute JavaScript within a shell to perform various web application development tasks such as offline templating, packaging, testing, and such. And for an obscure reasons, Node seamed appealing.

My first look at Node goes back to some really early versions when I was looking at crafting a very thin rest service over some of the Asterisk network protocol APIs (AMI and FastAGI not to name them). While I’ve abandoned this idea (for now!), being too busy with other stuff,(Update: first release of nodast reverse proxy!) I had a good first impression with node which got stuck in the back of my head. I always liked the idea of JavaScript on the server side. Back in the old days of web 0.2, I did my first freelance contract using Netscape LiveWire on a Enterprise Server. Spring 1997 if I remember correctly!

Super CLI

So back to my use case: running JavaScript off the shell. While there are other alternatives, Node seemed well suited for the job. Moreover, leveraging packages offered through npm along with the recent adoption of commonjs, I could get up and running really quickly. Within a few hours, I was well into node, hacking my way to my coffeemaker build system (stay tuned for upcoming release 0.0.1 over github!).

Node as a Platform

While experimenting with node, I came to realize that not only node offers a nice development model but also that it provides a solid foundation as a development platform, featuring lots of traction from the community along with support from Joyent. Through npm, you can install various shell utilities which spawn node, executing a given npm module. While some modules are rather simple, some other are quite complex. Moreover, while some are really enhancing node’s build scalable network programs motto, some others, like myself, are really into hacking some neat utilities.

All in all, from my perspective, node has everything required to succeed in developerland:

  • A core language that is not only well-known but also widely adopted.
  • A rather large community.
  • Real world deployment success.
  • A rich and growing set of modules/libraries.

For my part, JavaScript seems fun again! Thanks to node.

Updates:

Some others share my views and beyond

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From → development, thinking