Io.js beta release could lead to reconciliation with Node.js

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As the Node fork ships in beta, leaders of both camps say they would like to merge the technologies back together

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Today marks the beta release of version 1.0.0 of Io.js, the recent forking of Node.js.

In addition to supporting more than 110,000 npm modules, Io.js features capabilities not yet found in Node. The beta release will feature a new version of Google's V8 JavaScript engine, which has adopted many features of the ECMAscript 6 specification, said Mikeal Rogers, who has served as a representative for Io.js and is running the project's website. (V8 has been an underpinning of Node.js as well.) "This means that generators, promises, and a litany of other features are now available by default without even so much as running Node with a special flag," Rogers said. Also, Io.js 1.0.0 will include Streams3, HTTP keepalive and agent improvements, and asyncwrap, important for better debugging, according to Rogers.

Frustrated by a lack of releases of Node.js by project steward Joyent, several users chose to fork it. Joyent had formed an advisory board to get community input in a failed effort to prevent a fork, but now, both Rogers and Joyent CEO Scott Hammond see a chance for reconciliation between the two factions, which have some overlap in participants.

"Of course, we have a governance and contribution model that is working quite well, so that would need to remain," said Rogers, who is director of evangelism at cloud hosting company DigitalOcean. "And we'd need a neutral party to own the assets like a foundation, but I don't think that anyone is opposed to calling it Node.js even with all the cool Io.js logos people have submitted."

Hammond said he respects what is being done with Io.js and is committed to getting the Io.js and Node.js advocates back together. "I think most people in the community would like to do that, as well." He sees Io.js as a mechanism for experimentation, which could not be easily done with the more conservative Node.js project. "It's healthy to get some experimentation with new technologies," he said, citing the V8 work as one example. Node.js, Hammond said, "is really focused on delivering quality-driven releases to be run at scale."

Participants in Io.js have included Bert Belder and Fedor Indutny -- respectively, a Node maintainer and a Node core team member. "In the time since we've announced Io.js, we've added two new TC [technical committee] members -- Chris Dickinson and Colin Ihrig -- and have about 13 other contributors under consideration to be added as committers," Rogers said. "The open governance model appears to be working in that it is attracting and motivating more contributors, not to mention that it will be producing [many] more releases."

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