NPM 2.0 courts enterprises with Node.js module management

The Node.js default package management system hits version 2.0 with performance improvements and enterprise-friendly features

Node.js programming developer
Credit: Galina Pankratova

NPM, the standard package manager used with Node.js, enjoyed a 2.0 release this past week. Outfitted with new features and fixes, its release process has also been revised to satisfy both those who want to use Node.js in a production environment and those who want to engage in a little Node derring-do.

According to the NPMJs.org blog, the single biggest addition to NPM is a feature called scoped packages. The idea, courtesy of Node.js enterprise users, is to make management of private Node.js modules as easy as managing modules from the public NPM registry. Modules could be then "scoped" to a specific organization so that private code in enterprise settings doesn't require extra management and won't clash with public versions of modules. The blog post noted, "[Scoped modules will] also play a major role when private modules come to the public NPM registry."

Many of the other improvements in version 2.0 focus on making NPM more reliable, particularly regarding the concurrency and race-condition issues that have appeared over time in NPM. (Node's single-threaded architecture doesn't prevent race conditions entirely, as Chris Baus has explained.) Another change, local path support for packages, allows the use of local or relative paths to packages, "which is helpful for testing."

The NPM project also recently switched to a new release process in which two distinct versions of NPM debut simultaneously. The version tagged npm@latest is for production use; the version tagged npm@next is the bleeding-edge edition for those interested in providing test feedback or experimenting with features.

NPM, Inc., the company that sponsors development of NPM, was founded earlier this year by former Node.js maintainer Isaac Schuleter and was originally hatched to deliver more enterprise-specific support for Node through further development work on NPM. So far, that's resulted in NPM Enterprise (npmE), a workflow and deployment solution for Node.js outfitted with compliance, security, and management features. According to a post describing NPM Enterprise's road map, the product still lacks a number of features, such as a formal administration UI or a native backup system, although plans have been made to deliver those features at some point.

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