Should You Pick Nodejs Or Iojs
Should you pick Node.js or io.js
Akbar S. Ahmed | Feb 10, 2015

Node.js vs. io.js

In case you weren’t satisfied with all of the client-side JavaScript choices, you now get to pick between Node.js and io.js on the server. So, should you use Node.js or io.js for your next project?

Don’t call it a fork

A fork is a fork is a fork. Node.js and io.js have some incompatibilities that will affect your code. Further, the developers who worked on Node.js are now fragmented into two camps, those who work on Node.js and those who work on io.js. Lastly, community focus is being divided between these two choices. All in all, the Node.js vs. io.js fork is causing a rift in the JavaScript world.

Which will win?

While the word “win” is not applicable, it’s our opinion at Exponential.io that Node.js will continue to be the primary server-side JavaScript runtime. While io.js has some nice capabilities, we think that it does not have enough compelling benefits to cause greater than 50% of the companies and JavaScript developers to switch from Node.js to io.js.

Which should you choose?

It’s our opinion that a wait and see approach is the most pragmatic. First, there are two possible paths forward for the fork:

  1. Node.js and io.js are re-unified into a single Node.js community
  2. io.js remains an independent fork of Node.js

Let’s address point 1 above first. We think a re-unification is the most probable outcome. Assuming a merge of Node.js and io.js is imminent, then it makes no sense to switch to io.js.

But what if we’re wrong and io.js remains an independent project? In this case, it still appears that Node.js would remain the dominant project. Why? There are a few main reasons we think Node.js would remain the primary server-side JavaScript runtime.

First, the current release of io.js has some nice new features, but not enough to cause 51 of every 100 companies/developers that use Node.js to switch. Further, if io.js releases new capabilities that are truly compelling, then we would expect the Node.js camp to quickly adopt those features to ensure it does not fall behind.

Second, as io.js seeks to differentiate itself from Node.js it will generate further incompatibilities. This matters because thousands upon thousands of JavaScript packages are/were written with Node.js as the target. Again, we think it’s unlikely that greater than 50% of these modules will updated to target io.js.

Third, due to the first two points we think its unlikely that greater than 50% of developers switch to io.js.

Did we mention that we think Node.js and io.js will be unified into a single project again. Whether or not were are right, we still think a wait and see approach is best where new projects target Node.js for now.

What of ES6?

Wide spread ES6 adoption and usage will likely occur in parallel with full ES6 support in the main browsers.

Our view on io.js

io.js is nice. No doubt. It’s introduction into the JS community has helped restart a discussion about how server-side JavaScript should move going forward. Ultimately, the biggest contribution of io.js may be that it was the “kick in the ass” that Node.js required to push it forward.




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