Node.js gets a new master

A neutral third party, the Node.js Foundation, will take over jurisdiction of popular server-side JavaScript platform, though Joyent will remain heavily involved

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Node.js, the popular server-side JavaScript platform that has seen dissention in the ranks over its recent direction, is about to get a new governance model.

Cloud software vendor Joyent had been in charge, but a new plan announced today will turn Node.js over to an independent third party known as the Node.js Foundation, said Joyent CEO Scott Hammond in an interview. The Foundation, which the Linux Foundation has helped set up, will have a board of directors and a technical committee, and Joyent will maintain a seat on the board along with Microsoft, IBM, and as-yet-undetermined other parties.

The idea of turning over Node.js, often referred to simply as Node, to a foundation arose out of the recent formation of the Node.js advisory board, Hammond said. "It's pretty clear to me the best way to go execute on some of the recommendations that have come out of the advisory board is to move the project to a neutral foundation."

But spinning out Node.js to a separate foundation is not about placating the divided Node.js community, Hammond insisted. Dissatisfaction with the direction of Node.js led to the recent io.js fork, which has been shepherded by some of the same people involved with development of Node.js. "This is about doing the right thing for Node.js" and evolving the governance and organizational structure, Hammond said. 

A technologist involved in the development of both Node.js and io.js was optimistic about the governance model but is taking a wait-and-see approach. "I'm excited that Joyent has decided that the future of Node is with an independent foundation," said Bert Belder, an official at Strongloop who has been a core contributor to Node.js and a member of of the io.js technical committee. "However, details of the governance plan are TBD, so I can't really comment on whether it'll satisfy all concerns, and I don't want to speculate about all the things that could in theory go wrong." It seems Joyent is serious about finding the right governance structure for the foundation, and the move increases the chances of a reconciliation between the io.js and Node.js camps, said Belder.

The foundation's board of directors will tackle tasks like legal and organizational issues, marketing, financial development, and mentoring. Technical decisions on the platform will be made by the technical committee, whose members earn participation based on technical skills and involvement with the project. The exact number of seats on each panel is to be determined.

The foundation will have multiple levels of membership, including Platinum, which includes a seat on the board of directors and costs $250,000 per year; Gold, which costs $50,000 to $100,000 per year, with one of every three Gold-level members getting a seat on the board; and Silver, costing $5,000 to $25,000 annually. One out of every 10 members at the Silver level get a board seat, and a technical committee member will serve on the board. There is also an associate level of membership for individuals and other organizations. Hammond said he expects board member elections, with terms staggered to end at different times. Joyent, with the involvement of people including Belder, last week oversaw the long-awaited 0.12 release of Node.js.

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