Node-inspired development environments and cloud platforms are rapidly remaking the Web application stack
The story of Node.js reads like it came from a Hollywood script assembly line: Some kids are monkeying around with scrap they picked up around the Internet and find a new way to snap it together. The next thing you know, they're lapping the pack at the racetrack and coasting to the winner's circle.
Once people noticed the speed, they started actually using the tool and the challenges began. It's easy to make a car by bolting together spare parts that are lying around, but it's an entirely different task to make something that can carry a load or stand up to the daily commute. The first version of Node ran from a command line containing the name of the file where the instructions were stored. That's not a great way to run a big, stable, professional website.
The scruffy, junkyard quality of the Node realm is rapidly disappearing as programmers build extras for Node as quickly as Node itself was born. Now Node is more of an ecosystem, with its own conference and a collection of tools that orbit around it. There are IDEs, deployment tools, and companies looking to offer Node hosting as a service. All are helping to transform Node from science experiment to real contributor in the data center and the cloud.
These tools aren't luxury goods yet. They're largely the first builds, which means there are rough spots and glitches. They are typically small, simple, and far from full-featured solutions, but they're also a chance for the Node users to rethink what did and didn't work with the previous generation of Web tools. Node is addressing some of the problems people have found with the traditional stack and fixing them.