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Non-Technical Impressions of Node.js

If anyone had asked me what Node.js was a year ago, I wouldn’t have had any idea what they were talking about. Fast forward twelve months, and I find myself talking about Node.js all day.

My road to Node.js is not a developer’s tale. I came to NodeSource; a deep tech, super niche, Node-centric company, by way of Finance. Call it luck, call it intrigue, or call it fate. The real reason I ended up here was because I was ready to take on something new, use my existing skills in an unproven way, be a part of something a lot larger.

I’m here today as a member of NodeSource’s elite team. When I first started, I had no base-knowledge of what Node.js was all about. I was an ex-Finance guy. I had to hustle to understand what our people were talking about when throwing around words like asynchronous, modules, buffers, non-blocking I/O, etc. While I slowly began to understand what these words meant, there was a lot of non-technical learning going on as well.

Here are a few of my non-technical impressions of Node.js.

First things first, Node.js is an open source technology. Not only does this mean anyone and everyone has access to use Node.js however they want, they can also contribute to the improvement and functional growth of the technology itself. In fact, it is this collaboration that has landed Node.js where it is today, and is arguably the heart of Node.js.

Node.js is not strictly governed by a single company, person, or market. In fact, there are rarely industries like Node.js. Industries that are literally started by one person, and then given to a community to grow, iterate, and flourish under the watchful eye of, well, everyone. That’s the amazing thing about Node.js—it’s all of ours and it’s none of ours at the same time. A community owned and maintained technology. I sometimes wonder what other industries would look like if they were driven by the same concept of open-source, collaboration, and shared knowledge.

It’s an exciting time for this community as the enterprise shifts its attention to Node.js and starts to incorporate it into their own technologies. Although I would argue this was never the goal for Node.js, it’s a positive sign that this technology is viable and all of the community-based development of Node.js has gained credence with larger organizations.

As an ex-Finance professional, I love working in the Node community. There is a general sense of sharing, togetherness, and camaraderie. It’s not about who has the most commits, or who debugs code the fastest, it’s about arriving at a positive solution and moving Node.js forward for the sake of the wider community. From what I’ve seen, there is absolutely nothing like it in the Finance world.

It is these principles of the Node.js community that allow the technology to thrive in the enterprise setting. Enterprise participation in the Node.js community is a huge win for the platform itself and for the people using it. The enterprise is paying the Node.js community for their expertise in hopes of making their systems and infrastructure better. This furthers the open source effort, regardless of how the enterprise uses it. It also gives developers a chance to see what enterprise-level problems Node.js is running into and makes the technology that much better, for everyone. It’s a bit like the circle of life, with the enterprise, the Node.js community, and the companies and developers that are bringing Node.js to the enterprise. They all feed into each other and have a symbiotic relationship. People don’t realize just how rare this is.

It has been no easy task to wrap my head around Node.js. That being said, while I continue to learn as much as possible on the technical side, I don’t want to neglect the non-technical impressions that make Node.js what it truly is in the eyes of developers, enterprise, and people who have recently jumped head first into the community, like me.