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Express Web Server Advances in Node.js Ecosystem

The Node.js Foundation, formed last June to advance development of the popular server-side JavaScript platform, is officially absorbing the widely used Express Web server framework into its ecosystem.

The Foundation yesterday announced Express is planned as a new incubator project of the foundation, which means the governing group will assist and mentor the project and provide stability for Express development efforts.

Currently, the open source Express project is commercially stewarded by StrongLoop, a company that acquired the rights to the project in 2014 and was subsequently acquired by IBM, which is now donating Express-related assets in the effort to transfer guidance of the Express project to the Foundation.

StrongLoop's Express Web site describes the project as "a minimal and flexible Node.js Web application framework that provides a robust set of features for Web and mobile applications." StrongLoop says it "provides a thin layer of fundamental Web application features, without obscuring Node.js features that you know and love."

Express itself is known and loved by a lot of Node.js developers, with the Foundation describing it as "the most popular Node.js Web server framework."

The asynchronous, event-driven Node.js framework is pretty popular also, reportedly being used by some 3 million developers a month from tens of thousands of organizations in more than 200 countries around the globe. For those new to Node.js, the Foundation describes it as "a JavaScript runtime built on Chrome's V8 JavaScript engine. Node.js uses an event-driven, non-blocking I/O model that makes it lightweight and efficient." Perhaps one of its biggest attractions is its npm (Node Package Manager) that lets developers instantly retrieve and install code packages -- such as utilities needed for certain functionality -- via a simple "npm install" command from a command-line interface (CLI). The Foundation claims npm is "the largest ecosystem of open source libraries in the world."

With those pedigrees, Node.js and Express are natural partners. "With 53+ million downloads in the last two years, Express has become one of the key toolkits for building Web applications and its stability is essential for many Node.js users, especially those that are just getting started with the platform," the Foundation said. Express is used in many prominent projects, including the kraken.js technology open sourced in 2014 by PayPal, along with the Sails.js Web framework and LoopBack API framework.

"This framework is critical to a significant portion of many Node.js users," said Foundation exec Mikeal Rogers. "Bringing this project into the Node.js Foundation, under open governance, will allow it to continue to be a dependable choice for many enterprises and users, while ensuring that we retain a healthy ecosystem of competing approaches to solving problems that Express addresses."

Foundation partner IBM also weighed in on the new Foundation project it's helping to form. "IBM is committed not only to growing and supporting the Node.js ecosystem, but to promoting open governance for the frameworks that enable Node.js developers to work smarter, faster and with more agility," said IBM exec Todd Moore. "We are thrilled that Express is being introduced as an incubated top level project of the Foundation. Express has a bright future and a new long term home that will ensure resources, reliability and relevancy of Express to the global Node.js developer community."

The Node.js Foundation was formed last year to bring back together diverging camps of Node.js developers, who were squabbling about the workings and direction of the project and forking it in different directions.

About the Author

David Ramel is editor in chief of Visual Studio Magazine and Application Development Trends Magazine.

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