PayPal and Netflix cozy up to Node.js

The server-side JavaScript platform is busy converting Java users

Move over, Java. Node.js is coming through.

Node.js advocates at a recent event at PayPal's Silicon Valley offices told how they are moving over to Node.js, the server-side version of JavaScript, at Java's expense. In this case, major Web properties PayPal and Netflix are cozying up to Node.js.

Netflix is looking to move its website UI from Java to Node.js. "We're hoping to migrate all of that as soon as we can," said Alex Liu, a Node.js developer on the Netflix website team.

Although his team has not pushed anything into production yet, the team has high hopes that Node.js can scale and serve up pages quicker. Developer productivity, however, is a key driver of the effort.

"We're used to working in JavaScript all day long. Having Node just makes it feel like a very natural extension of our work environment," Liu said. In the six months working with Node.js, Netflix has seen "huge gains" in developer productivity, he said, It remains to be seen whether Node.js will have the scalability the company wants, Liu added.

PayPal also cites productivity benefits in switching from Java to Node.js. "It allows us to work really quickly," said Jeff Harrell, director of engineering. Almost all of the major portions of the site will be moved over to Node.js in the next year or sooner. "We had our old technology stack we were using. We wanted to make it so that we could iterate quicker," Harrell said.

Red Hat, meanwhile, is among the sponsors of Nodyn, a project that places Node.js on the Java Virtual Machine. Node.js APIs are ported to the JVM for better integration between Java applications and Node.js. In addition to luring away Java users, Node.js has had success penetrating Ruby on Rails shops.

Node.js devotees at PayPal's event were treated to a partial road map for the technology. Although details of an official 1.0 release of Node.js have not been ironed out, a developer working on the project is making assurances of backward compatibility. "In 1.0, we haven't really nailed down the entire interface yet, but what you can be assured of is it's going to be backward-compatible with what you're absolutely writing today," said TJ Fontaine, Node.js core project lead at Joyent, which has overseen development of Node.js.

A stable C API is planned for version 1.0. This will enable developers, when writing a module using a C or C++ library, to target Node.js upon compilation. Fontaine did not have a proposed release date for version 1.0, but version 0.12 -- due within a few weeks -- is set to feature buffering improvements, including reducing the memory usage in a Node.js app. In addition, the TLS/crypto (Transport Layer Security) capability has been revamped, with higher speeds. Dynamic tracing is also being added to the core of Node.js, Fontaine says. "This will allow you to be very explicit about what you want to trace," he said. Performance will be improved in the release's  streams3 capability, for communicating with network or file system IO.

This story, "PayPal and Netflix cozy up to Node.js," was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow on Twitter.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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