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New Node.js v6 Is Faster, Nearing Full ES6 Support

The community-led Node.js Foundation is out with a new release of its namesake open source JavaScript developer platform, featuring performance upgrades such as faster module loading and more complete support for the new ECMAScript 2015 (ES6) JavaScript standard.

Node.js. v6 loads modules four times faster than v4 (the versioning is somewhat confusing), said the Node.js Foundation, an industry-backed consortium that operates under The Linux Foundation. "This will help developers dramatically decrease the start-up time of large applications for the best productivity in development cycles and more seamless experience with end users," the organization said.

"In addition, Node.js v6 comes equipped with v8 JavaScript engine 5.0, which has improved ECMAScript 2015 (ES6) support," it continued. "Ninety-three percent of ES6 features are also now supported in the Node.js v6 release, up from 56 percent for Node.js v5 and 50 percent for Node.js v4. Key features from ES6 include: default and rest parameters, destructuring, class and super keywords."

The JavaScript platform is enjoying tremendous popularity, described as "the world's fastest-growing open source platform," with a 100 percent annual growth rate that has put it in the hands of some 3.5 million users.

The Foundation last week published results from a new survey that show the platform is making inroads in enterprise development shops, giving new meaning to the term "full stack developer" with the platform's affinity for Internet of Things (IoT) development in addition to the traditional front- and back-end stack components.

Version of Node.js in Production and Upgrade Plans/Path
[Click on image for larger view.] Version of Node.js in Production and Upgrade Plans/Path (Before v6 Release) (source: Node.js Foundation)

With the growing IoT phenomenon, "the full stack is no longer 'front end and back end,' but rather 'front end, back end and connected devices,' " the organization said. The new definition describes "a combination of everything from the browser to a toaster all being run in JavaScript and enabled by Node.js."

To further accelerate the growing enterprise adoption, the Foundation is providing more documentation and testing around the new v6 release, along with improved security -- always a foremost concern in enterprise development.

"Security is top-of-mind for enterprises and start-ups alike, and Node.js v6 has added several features that impact security, making it easier to write secure code," the Foundation said. "The new Buffer API will reduce the risk of bugs and vulnerabilities leaking into applications through a new constructor method used to create Buffer instances, as well as a zero-fill-buffers command-line flag. Using the new command line flag, developers can continue to safely use older modules that have not been updated to use the new constructor API. In addition, V8 has improved their implementation of Math.random() to be more secure -- this feature is added into Node.js v6."

Mikeal Rogers, community manager of the Node.js Foundation, further emphasized the enterprise features.

"The Node.js Project has done an incredible job of bringing this version to life in the timeline that we initially proposed in September 2015," Rogers said. "It's important for us to continue to deliver new versions of Node.js equipped with all the cutting-edge JavaScript features to serve the needs of developers and to continue to improve the performance and stability enterprises rely on.

"This release is committed to Long Term Support, which allows predictable long-term stability, reliability, performance and security to the growing number of enterprise users that are adopting Node.js as a key technology in their infrastructure."

More information on the various releases and features, along with guidance on which versions should be used, is available here, while the latest version can be downloaded here.

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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