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The Node Advisory Board

Alex R. Young

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The Node Advisory Board

Posted by Alex R. Young on .
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community node

The Node Advisory Board

Posted by Alex R. Young on .

The Node.js Advisory Board has been announced, and it aims to be an "open governance model" that helps advise Node's development. That doesn't mean it will take control of Node, but help Node's core team with certain key decisions.

Node's leadership has changed several times over the years, but having a single leader has so far kept the project tightly focused. I love the choices for things that go into the core modules, the source code is actually generally readable, and the API style is consistent.

Now our benevolent dictatorship may be changing, if not ending. There are many reasons why this should be taken seriously:

  • Will power be taken away from the more altruistic members of the community?
  • Will Node suffer the negative symptoms of "design by committee"?
  • Will the board members put economic interests ahead of less commercial projects?

Conversely, Node itself has issues that such an organization could help solve:

  • The core team has had turnover that has slowed development
  • In some ways Node is held back by JavaScript, and industry pressure could encourage the development and adoption of new JavaScript standards

What Joyent has proposed reads like a group that will help figure out long term goals, deal with community issues, and handle the legal requirements of a popular open source project. Therefore, I don't think it's comparable to Python's PEP or the W3C.

The only area that sounds PEP-like is section 7 of the Advisory Board document:

Open design: Roadmaps are discussed in the open, and designs receive input from all committers and contributors.

Some people have interpreted this move by Joyent as a knee-jerk reaction to criticism over Node's leadership and the development of Node Forward. Node Forward is a community project that aims to help people learn Node, build and test it, and develop the roadmap.

I'm not unduly concerned about the Advisory Board, and Node Forward seems like a healthy development. However, the Node.js Advisory Board refers to Node as a "language of choice" -- this post is written by Scott Hammond, Joyent's CEO. I'm not sure if it's acceptable for Node's "official" Advisory Board to get this kind of detail wrong. I hope Scott changes "language" to "platform" to restore Node's ambiguous and nebulous status that we've grown to love.