Joyent staves off talk of a Node.js fork

Joyent form advisory board to open up the process of evolving the popular server-side JavaScript platform

Node.js

Joyent is set to unveil a Node.js advisory board to offer community input into the popular server-side JavaScript platform, amid Internet discussions about forking Node.js.

"The impetus behind creating an advisory board is [Node.js] has grown so fast, yet there's been no mechanism for a community-driven organization of the project and it's time to go do that," Joyent CEO Scott Hammond said in an interview on Thursday.

While acknowledging dissatisfaction with Joyent's current role as "benevolent dictator" of Node.js development, Hammond said users do not want a "big" fork, per se. The code, as an open source project, is continually forked anyway, he said: "My read is that Node has blasted through adolescence and there's an opportunity for a different kind of leadership around the Node project so that Node is very driven by the community, that there's a more open governance model."

Hammond said he has put together the Node Advisory Board, to be formally announced next week. It will feature initial representatives from Netflix, Walmart, PayPal, IBM, NodeSource, NPM, Strongloop, Yahoo, and two members from the current previous core development teams. The "Node Forward" community project, where discussions of forking has ensued, will be represented via NPM, NodeSource, and Strongloop, Hammond said.

Proponents of the possible fork were tight-lipped when asked about this possibility on Thursday morning. "We aren't prepared to talk about a fork, but I can contact you when we are," said Mikeal Rogers, who has been involved with Node Forward, in an emailed response to questions this morning. "At the moment we have a bunch of efforts going in to improving Node and the ecosystem which are outlined quite well" at Nodeforward.org.

The forking has been discussed on dtrejo.com, the site of developer David Trejo. "I asked someone close to this, 'what is the reason for the fork?'" the site says. "It turns out that some contributors are forking because Node is currently run by a Benevolent Dictator ForLife (BDFL), and these contributors are interested in running it by committee."

Node Forward features a community effort to boost both Node.js and JavaScript. "Node's growth has been staggering. This growth has also led to a series of new issues that occur naturally when a community reaches a new scale," the Node Forward community Web page says. "Some problems require broader ownership and contributorship than have traditionally been applied, while others are so dispersed between tiny projects that they require new collaborative space to grow. Node Forward is a place where the collaboration necessary to solve these issues can take place."

Node Forward's current efforts include building a better entry point for newbies to Node.js and JavaScript; offering help; creating better tools and infrastructure; and providing a road map about the direction of Node,js and JavaScript.

Seats on the advisory board will be allocated to those contributing to the project, users, companies working with Node.js in products, and outside expertise from open source projects. A selection process is to be made publicly available, with seats allocated for core technical maintainers, a curator, and others.

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