No, not “because I said so.” The best reason to pay attention to node.js is the audience that is paying attention to it. Joe Shaw’s pointer the other day was just the latest in a string of node.js mentions. By now you’ve probably heard that the folks from Heroku recently – as in two weeks ago yesterday – announced experimental support for the project to a shortlist of their users. Less visible are projects such as the Gilt Group funded real-time web analytics project Hummingbird (that link’s courtesy of Jeff Waugh), currently a trending repo on Github, fanout.js – a node based pubsub messaging server (that one’s via Dion Almaer), or others like nodewiki, a wiki built from node and Redis.
A few reasons you should be paying attention.
- It’s Opinionated Software:
- It’s Fast:
Speed is a feature, remember. And by all accounts, node.js has this one in spades. Even as we’re told in Ryan’s presentation that it’s a “silly benchmark” that should be taken with a “grain of salt,” node’s ability to field more requests per second than nginx – even with much higher memory consumption – is startling. Because nginx itself is not slow. The focus on performance, at a very fundamental level, is clearly paying dividends.
- It’s Aimed at Important Problems:
Designing scalable applications is hard. But the speed at which node.js applications can be built, whether that’s messaging/proxy/web/etc servers or user facing applications like wikis, is impressive. It would be inaccurate to say that it trivalizes developemnt, and I suspect that as applications built on node grow in complexity the fundamentally different architectural approach it takes will introduce as yet unanticipated problems, but the class of problems that node.js is aimed at are important. Scalability isn’t just a challenge for Facebook or Twitter, nor is performance solely the province of Google. Those qualities are going to be at a premium for all applications going forward.
- It’s Community Supported:
The visibility of the project we covered above; here are just the Twitter pointers to the Github repo. But just as interesting has been the support. The project is 70 contributors strong already, and the contributions as depicted in the graph above are non-trivial in their substance. And at 174 forks, node.js is only 59 behind jquery. The project is popular, in other words, and with most of it MIT/BSD licensed, the barriers to adoption and contribution are few.