OpenJS Foundation Announces Availability of Node.js 21

The OpenJS Foundation releases Node.js 21 as "Current;" Node.js 20 gets LTS status.

The OpenJS Foundation today announced the release of Node.js 21, the latest release line of the open-source, cross-platform JavaScript runtime environment and library for running web applications outside the client's browser. It replaces the Node.js 20 line, which is being promoted to long-term support (LTS). 

The Foundation manages its releases this way: Major Node.js versions have "Current" release status for six months. This gives library authors time to add support for them. Node.js 21 will be the Current release until April 2024. The Foundation says that Node.js 21 is best for early testers working in specific environments, and it recommends Node.js 20 LTS for production deployments.

"If you're interested in getting access to interesting new features early, Node.js 21 is a great way to test and see what's coming," said aid Rafael Gonzaga, Node.js Technical Steering Committee (TSC) Member, in a statement. "Our release schedule specifically covers this. If you're already in active deployment or if you are planning for it, Node.js 20 and 18 LTS are for you."

Here is the full Node.js release schedule.

The list of Node.js 21 improvements includes, among others, an update of the V8 JavaScript engine to 11.8, stable WebStreams, a new experimental flag to flip module defaults (--experimental-default-type), and updates to the test runner that allow users to run functional tests and export results. Node.js has two module systems: CommonJS modules and ECMAScript modules. Node.js treats files with a .js extension by default as CommonJS modules. This can now more easily be flipped.

"Node.js demand among developers continues to grow as the need for reliable and scalable web applications rises," said Michaƫl Zasso, member of the Node.js TSC, in a statement. "With Node.js 21, you can evaluate the current state of Node.js features directly,". "As just one example, Node.js has had a stable test runner since Node.js 20. There's no need to install a third-party module, and you can create test scripts easily. Node.js 21 includes many improvements to the test runner."

Node.js is built on Chrome's V8 JavaScript engine, which parses and executes the JavaScript code. It uses an event-driven, non-blocking I/O model, which makes it fast and lightweight. It's similar in design to, and influenced by, systems like Ruby's Event Machine and Python's Twisted. It's considered generally to be best for building software and applications that require real-time, synchronous interactions, such as chat apps and websites. But it's also used on the frontend; the event-driven, non-blocking nature of Node.js frameworks is thought to be one of the reasons it is a popular choice for developers designing a flexible and scalable backend.

A full list of changes and commits is available here. And Node.js 21 is available here.

Download Node.js 21 here and get started testing right away!


About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].