Q&A: Why io.js decided to fork Node.js

In an interview, io.js team member Mikeal Rogers discusses the motivation behind the action and what they hope to accomplish

Node.js devotees who are dissatisfied with Joyent's control over the project are now backing their own fork of the server-side JavaScript variant, called io.js or iojs. To get the lowdown on what and who was behind this move, InfoWorld Editor at Large Paul Krill on Wednesday asked Mikeal Rogers, who has been involved with the fork and is director of evangelism at cloud hosting service vendor DigitalOcean, about the effort.

InfoWorld: Are you the person in charge of the fork?

Rogers: Not even close. Fedor Indutny started the fork and the org, but the fork is under an open governance structure, a technical committee. That TC, which met for the first time this week, is:

  • Indutny (listed as a Node.js code team member)
  • Trevor Norris (also a Node.js core team member)
  • Isaac Schlueter (cited as a Node.js core team alumni)
  • Ben Noordhuis (also an alumni)
  • Bert Belder (another alumni and a Node.js maintainer)

Rod Vagg (Node.js supporter) also participates in the calls as he is creating and managing the build system. I just moderate and record the TC meetings and help to build the agenda.

InfoWorld: Why did this fork happen?

Rogers: We've been working with Joyent since July to try and move the project to a structure where the contributors and community can step in and effectively solve the problems facing Node [including the lack of active and new contributors and the lack of releases]. My guess is that Fedor was tired of waiting and set io.js up. He didn't promote it or anything, but those of us who were close enough saw it and jumped on. Then we moved all the Node core-related Node Forward work over, which has been building for some time but can't do a release due to trademark restrictions.

InfoWorld: Were the "forkers," for lack of a better word, not satisfied with Joyent's efforts at open governance for Node.js?

Rogers: We all think that the Advisory Board work is moving in a good direction, but we've been waiting a long time for something to happen, and nothing concrete has been implemented yet. In my opinion, the best way to move Node forward is to get the community organized around solving problems and putting out releases, so that's what we're doing.

InfoWorld: What goals do you have for io.js? I see someone at Uber already is committed to using it.

Rogers: Well, the first and most obvious goal is to get a release out. Having timely releases with new versions of V8 is at the top of the agenda. Along the way, we're trying to attract more people to the project under a more liberal contribution model and an open governance plan that ensures contributors can participate in decision-making. We also think it'll be easier to attract more companies to contribute to a pure community project than one owned by another company. As far as Uber using it, I didn't see that, but I'm not that surprised because they've been worried about the lack of releases for some time.

InfoWorld: Do you see any chance for reconciliation with Joyent and Node.js?

Rogers: Of course we'd love it if Joyent decides to put Node.js in a foundation with open governance, I don't think anyone is against it and we all hope that is what happens. But I don't see any reason that people who want to get to work solving problems should just wait around.

InfoWorld: What is next for io.js?

Rogers: [The] first release is scheduled for Fedor's birthday, January 13.

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