Working on the Web
Another company that’s built its product in Node.js is Cloud9. The startup recently opened NodeManual.org, a site filled with information about developing with Node.js. Ruben Daniels, CEO of Cloud9, said that Node.js’ community is quite different from previously influential language-based uprisings.

“The Node.js community is very different from Java,” he said. “Java has these huge libraries and frameworks that you either use or you don’t. Node has taken the Unix or Linux approach of having small modules you can reuse, and these are posted on GitHub. People are mixing and matching these modules, and the popular ones get well maintained. There’s a problem with so many libraries, though: People have duplicated efforts. But they’ve all done it a bit differently, and that has to do with the youth of Node.js.”

Daniels also said that despite the fact that Node.js really brings together three existing disciplines—server-side architecture, event-driven programming and JavaScript—it’s still opening up new territory for developers. “Although event-driven programming has been known for some time, it has never been used at the scale that Node.js allows it, so there are many patterns that need to be rethought,” he said.

dotCloud CEO Solomon Hykes said that JavaScript is not the only language at play here, either. He said that while Node.js’ core is JavaScript, there are modules being written in Python, Ruby and other languages.

Hykes said that, while Node.js may appear to be all about JavaScript everywhere, he doesn’t believe that will be the future of the movement. “The way Node is evolving is a nice metaphor for the way software in general is going. I wouldn’t say every application is going to be written in Node. I would say the Node philosophy is the opposite of that. It’s a bunch of small components that each do one thing. It’s very modular, almost to the extreme,” he said.

“If you look at a lot of the adoption patterns of Node, sometimes you write an entire application from scratch, but the overwhelming majority is Node used as part of something bigger, where there will be parts written in other languages. What I don’t believe is that everything is JavaScript.”

No matter what languages and services are used alongside it, Node.js is undeniably emerging as a hot new ecosystem for systems engineers. Said Daniels, “For us, there’s definitely a market. We’re targeting Node.js developers, and we care mostly about developers using our tool, not about them paying us money at all. We want to build the best tool, and we feel if we get enough eyeballs the business model will come later. Looking at the growth and what we expect from Node.js, I think Node.js will be bigger than Ruby on Rails. The Node.js community will probably will reach the size of the PHP community, or larger.”