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settlement.js not found: JavaScript package biz NPM scraps talks, fights union-busting claims

CEO speaks to The Reg as we dig into labor complaints, future of npm CLI

'When it comes to where the CLI lives or who manages it, that's still a work in progress'

Outside NPM Inc, there's concern that a private company has so much control over the JavaScript language commons, a sentiment expressed by Node.js creator Ryan Dahl at JSConf EU last year and amplified this year by CJ Silverio, who served as NPM's CTO until being sidelined in August last year and dismissed in December.

Bogensberger was brought in to turn NPM Inc into a profitable company and his pursuit of that mandate brought him into conflict with Silverio, who saw value in investments that benefited the JavaScript community. As one former staffer who spoke with The Register put it, the essence of the clash between the pair was that Silverio wanted to invest in the registry to make it faster and more reliable, while Bogensberger saw it as a cost center rather than a strategic investment.

On the phone, Bogensberger insisted he cares about NPM's infrastructure, noting that the company's site reliability engineering team has at least doubled in size. "We're bolstering the team and our process and tooling to make the registry the best it can be," he said. "Over the last six months, we've been able to attract some phenomenal people to the company. We've got seasoned people at every level. The growth of the registry is not slowing down."

Asked about the state of the CLI and claims The Register has heard that the company has been trying to shift oversight of the code to a foundation, Bogensberger said that's been a matter of discussion for some time. The sticking point, we're told, is that NPM Inc wants assurances that the client code will always point people to the npm registry to fetch files.

"When it comes to where the CLI lives or who manages it, that's still a work in progress," said Bogensberger, who stressed that it's important not to create confusion. "If we do the wrong thing, we disrupt build systems around the world. We need to make sure we don't introduce something that can cause confusion."

With alternative registries emerging – Open-Registry, GitHub Package Registry, and Entropic, spearheaded by Silverio and colleague Chris Dickinson – it may be too late to avoid confusion.

Asked about Silverio's defense of the JavaScript commons at JSConf EU earlier this month, Bogensberger declined to respond directly. But he suggested conflicts represent the natural order of the open source world.

"The great thing about open source is differing opinions are welcome," he said. "Anybody who's negative about different opinions doesn't get open source."

In open-source companies, however, opinions about work conditions and management may not go over so well. ®


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