Joyent Waves A White Flag, Hands Off Node.js To A New Foundation

[Note: This story has been updated throughout.]

Joyent announced Tuesday that it is stepping down as corporate steward of the Node.js project, effective immediately. The company will help form an independent foundation to oversee the open source JavaScript framework, Joyent CEO Scott Hammond stated at the Node Summit 2015 in San Francisco. 

“We will set this foundation up so it is representative of everyone who uses Node—individuals, hobbyists, companies large and small,” Hammond said. 

See also: Joyent Wants Fledgling Developers To Use Node.js—And It’s Willing to Pay

IBM, Microsoft, PayPal, Fidelity and SAP will join Joyent as founding foundation members. The Linux Foundation will advise on structuring and running the organization, which will take two to three months to set up, Hammond added. 

Family Feud

Over the past few months, the Node community has been roiled by a conflict between Joyent and Node’s core development team, leading to a split late last year. Frustrated by perceptions that Joyent’s stewardship was slowing down the Node project, core contributors launched IO.js, a version of Node that’s run by community consensus.

See also: What Developers Need To Know About The Node.js Fork

Isaac Schlueter, former lead on the Node project, predicted that in order for Node.js and IO.js to heal the split—and for Node to thrive in general—it would have to shift governance. When I spoke to him in December, he predicted the need for something like this foundation:

There’s this interesting transition that happens with an open source project where it goes from just one person, to needing some kind of organization heading it, to truly being owned by the community. Node is shifting from step two to three this year. It can be difficult for a corporation to see the benefit of handing control to over to a community, but my hope is that Joyent is coming around to this.

The first step was the Node Advisory Board, in which Joyent invited members of the Node community, both developers and corporate partners, to weigh in on the project. During board meetings, Hammond blogged, the idea of a foundation kept coming up. 

“It became clear that we could address the needs of the Node.js project and its diverse ecosystem more effectively via a neutral Foundation — one that will bring in additional resources, grow the Node.js contributor base and foster a healthy ecosystem of product and service providers,” he wrote.

It appears that Joyent has truly come around with the announcement of the Node Foundation. This will mark a new era for the open source project, transitioning from its corporate-led phase to a fully democratic process. Even as Joyent gives up the reins, however, it will continue to provide resources (such as legal support) to the Node project.

“Node has grown up. Node is a hugely successful project, and it is because of the work of everyone in the community,” Hammond said. “At the foundation we have the opportunity to accelerate that growth and involvement while taking up the tasks the technical team doesn’t want to take on.”

When asked about IO.js at the Node Summit, Hammond continued to remain optimistic regarding a resolution.

“I think it’s a good community, I have a lot of respect for them, they’re doing interesting things,” he said. “When that group forked, they were very interested in finding ways to rapidly innovate, they were looking for an open governance model. That’s what we’re providing here in the foundation. It would be great to have the community decide this is a great place to do their work. That would be great.”

According to Mikeal Rogers, a Node community organizer, core IO.js developer and informal spokesperson for IO.js, it’s a start. 

Photo of Joyent CEO Scott Hammond by Lauren Orsini for ReadWrite

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