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Embracing Node.js, Microsoft Seeks Open Source Dev Help

With the ascendance of JavaScript as a first-class dev approach, Microsoft has embraced the open source Node.js technology in its tooling and services, even reaching out to the community for help in the effort.

Node.js is an open source, cross-platform runtime based on Chrome's V8 JavaScript engine, commonly used for developing server-side Web applications. "Node.js uses an event-driven, non-blocking I/O model that makes it lightweight and efficient," the Node.js.org site states.

While support of Node.js isn't new -- Microsoft blogged about the "Top Benefits of Running Node.js on Windows Azure" almost 3-1/2 years ago -- the former bastion of proprietary development tooling has lately reinforced its commitment to the open source technology.

For example, in March, Microsoft's Visual Studio team unveiled version 1.0 of its Node.js Tools for Visual Studio (NTVS) after a year of development.

That was just another sign of the company's transformation into an open-source champion, as detailed by Redmond Magazine a few weeks ago. "I have personally worked with people at Microsoft on IoT initiatives such as the AllSeen Alliance and Node.js and the latest major open source effort, the Open Container Initiative," said Linux Foundation exec Jim Zemlin in that article. "These individuals are smart, humble and enthusiastic in their approach toward open source. Microsoft has clearly changed when it comes to open source and is a better company as a result."

That humbleness and enthusiasm was further demonstrated earlier this month when Microsoft reached out to the open source community for help with its effort to integrate Node.js with its Azure cloud services. Already sporting a Node.js Developer Center for Azure, Microsoft set up a Azure Mobile Apps - Node SDK site on the open source GitHub code repository (typical with such GitHub projects).

"The Azure Mobile Apps Node.js SDK is an express middleware package which makes it easy to create a back-end for your mobile application and get it running on Azure," the site states.

On the "Contribute" page of that site, Microsoft solicited help from open source developers for the SDK, specifically inviting contributors to:

  • Help answer questions on StackOverflow and MSDN.
  • Submit an issue with steps to reproduce the issue.
  • Give us feedback at feedback.azure.com.
  • Suggest changes/help fix our docs on azure-content.
  • Directly contribute to the source code.
  • Create a package for the community to consume.

All of which just speaks to the rising popularity of JavaScript -- in traditional and new-age implementations -- and Node.js in particular, as exhibited last week by IBM acquiring Node.js specialist StrongLoop for its own cloud service. Facebook engineers have even tuned their React JavaScript technology to let developers build native iOS and Android mobile apps.

With all that going on, you can expect the following Google Trends chart for Node.js to keep climbing:

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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