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Thoughts on the future of JavaScript and Node.js

A staggering 95% of the world’s websites use JavaScript. As one of the most popular languages, JavaScript plays a critical role in supporting our lives. With the size, importance, and diversity of the JavaScript ecosystem, like-minded supporters came together to create the OpenJS Foundation where JavaScript developers can collaborate on projects on a level playing field.

OpenJS Foundation logo

This month marks the one-year anniversary of the OpenJS Foundation which brought together the Node.js and JavaScript Foundations. Our contributors are deeply invested in the work of the OpenJS Foundation and are excited by the potential shown in this first year of our journey.

In this blog post, we look back at the past year’s success and what the future holds for the JavaScript community.

A great first year

We join the OpenJS Foundation in their celebration of a successful first year, full of sweat, deliberation, and lots of code. While we still have plenty of work to do (get involved!), we are also able to celebrate many successes from the first year. Let’s look at a few highlights.

  • New projects – We’re excited about all the new projects that joined the foundation this year, including nvm and Fastify in the beginning and Electron and AMP later in the year. No matter their size, each of project plays a valuable role in the community, and we are thrilled that they have decided to join the foundation.
  • Successful executive director search – The foundation is in excellent hands with Robin Ginn at the helm. Her experience and leadership is known within the industry and her announcement to join the foundation as ED was celebrated.
  • New member companies – Netflix, Skyscanner, and Vincit joined the foundation, and we think that their insight and involvement will be incredibly valuable.
  • Successful events – The Montreal Node + JS Interactive event and the two most recent Collaborators Summit events were all great successes. We look forward to what we can do virtually in the coming months and are eager to get the hallway track back in session once society returns to some sense of normalcy.
  • Node.js certifications – A project that has taken a lot of effort to complete, the professional certification program provides developers with another way to show their capabilities and provides companies another way to recognize valuable talent.
  • Governance – Members wrote, tested, and refined the foundational governance needed to support the work of the Cross Project Council and the foundation. This governance will continue to evolve and improve over time, but the work we did in the first year laid the foundation for success in years to come.

Looking forward

  • Greater collaboration for the success of the ecosystem. We want to grow and support opportunities for collaboration in areas which are important for the growth and success of the JavaScript ecosystem. This is separate from supporting JavaScript projects which join the Foundation. An example is the creation of a collaboration space for sharing non-project assets (best practices, lessons learned, tools) related to security in the JavaScript ecosystem. We’ve helped start discussion on this front, and you can check out this Pull request if you want to read more: OpenJS Collaboration Network.
  • Encouraging company participation. We think it’s important for more companies to invest in supporting projects within the JavaScript ecosystem — especially those that benefit their business. There are different ways to support the work, from joining the OpenJS Foundation, to giving their employees’ time to make regular contributions to the projects the company uses, or even supporting individual projects directly. There are great benefits from leveraging open source but these benefits are only sustainable in the longer term if its a two-way street.
  • Identifying projects which are the supporting pillars of the JavaScript ecosystem and working with them to see if there is mutual benefit to joining the OpenJS Foundation. In the cases where this makes sense, this will ensure the pillars of the community move towards open governance and allow companies to invest knowing that they have a level playing field. Supporting this effort should be a view on the different areas of the JavaScript ecosystem and how projects would fit into the whole of the OpenJS Foundation.
  • Supporting and enabling broad involvement in standards that affect the JavaScript community. Standards, or lack thereof, can have a significant impact on the success of an ecosystem. We have a good start on this work from the first year of the OpenJS Foundation culminating with the chartering of the Standards Working Group. We need to make sure that we grow and nurture this initiative in our second year.
  • Increasing the level of understanding and sharing between the projects within the OpenJS Foundation and looking for ways to share the unique knowledge each project has to build shared processes, approaches or ways of doing things that allow the sum of the projects to operate more easily, efficiently and effectively than any one of the projects could do on their own. A great example of this is the expansion of the Node.js collaborator summit as described above.

Why open foundations matter

IBM has a long history of deep involvement in open source and open governance going on nearly 30 years. From our work with Linux, Apache, and Eclipse in the early years of open source to our current work across a variety of technologies, communities and foundations, IBM has learned that communities that are inclusive and adhere to open governance principles tend to attract the largest following and most vibrant and healthy ecosystems.

Foundations are an integral part of open source, which allow for an equal and open playing field for people and companies to work together to forward the shared mission. It’s this kind of environment where IBMer’s love to contribute and can accomplish more than they could on their own by collaborating with the broader community. IBM has built a culture around such contributions and collaborations.

We understand that all of this will not be easy to achieve but feel that having goals is a large part of making sure you head in the right direction even if that changes along the way or if it takes a long time to get there.

We look forward to working with all of the other collaborators in the OpenJS Foundation and its member projects towards a successful second year.