The JavaScript ecosystem is 'hopelessly fragmented'... so here is another runtime: Deno is now a company

Would-be Node.js successor gets $5m cash injection


Deno, the JavaScript runtime from the creator of Node.js, is now a company with nearly $5m to fund development – though its developers say it will remain "permissively free."

Deno 1.0 was released in May 2020 by Ryan Dahl, Bert Belder, and Bartek Iwańczuk. Dahl, the original developer of Node.js, had reflected on what he considered to be his design mistakes, some of which he saw as unfixable, and therefore created Deno.

The new runtime ticks boxes for modern development trends, including being part-coded in Rust and having first-class support for TypeScript. Like Node.js, the project depends on the Chromium V8 JavaScript runtime.

The TypeScript element caused some debate when, in June 2020, the Deno team decided to "use JavaScript instead of TypeScript for internal Deno code," citing performance and cleaner code as reasons. This was seen as a dilution of the original intent, to use TypeScript everywhere, but the developers said it was "only applicable to a very particular, very technical situation in the internals of Deno."

Dahl and Belder have now "raised $4.9m of seed capital" from investors including Mozilla and Guillermo Rauch, the CEO of JAMstack company Vercel.

The investment will enable "a staff of full-time expert engineers," though Deno is to remain MIT-licensed. "We do not want to find ourselves in the unfortunate position where we have to decide if certain features are for paid customers only," they said.

Dahl and Belder claimed the server-side JavaScript ecosystem (which is dominated by Node.js) is "hopelessly fragmented, deeply tied to bad infrastructure, and irrevocably ruled by committees without the incentive to innovate." Server-side JavaScript has not kept pace with the browser platform, they said.

They also believe that for many of today's developers, the browser is in effect the client operating system. "Many are more familiar with the Chrome DevTools console than they are with a Unix command-line prompt. More familiar with WebSockets than BSD sockets, MDN than man pages," they said.

In this context, "JavaScript and TypeScript scripts calling into WebAssembly code" is the equivalent of scripts calling platform APIs from an operating system shell.

Deno can be used in many contexts, including serverless functions, desktop applications using Electron or similar, scripting for databases, and more.

Michael Dawson, Node.js lead for Red Hat and IBM and a member of the Technical Steering Committee, told us in October: "All projects are going to end up with some legacy, it's the price of success that you can't go back and just change all those things." As you would expect, though, Dawson takes the line that Node should be improved rather than replaced.

How will Deno Company make money? Dahl and Belder spoke vaguely about "commercial applications of this infrastructure," which will build on the open-source project. One example already available is Deno Deploy, which allows you to run Deno code on a hosted server with automatic deployment from GitHub.

The irony is that in attempting to fix the "hopelessly fragmented" JavaScript ecosystem, Dahl and Belder are fragmenting it further. ®

Similar topics

Broader topics


Other stories you might like

  • Running Windows 10? Microsoft is preparing to fire up the update engines

    Winter Windows Is Coming

    It's coming. Microsoft is preparing to start shoveling the latest version of Windows 10 down the throats of refuseniks still clinging to older incarnations.

    The Windows Update team gave the heads-up through its Twitter orifice last week. Windows 10 2004 was already on its last gasp, have had support terminated in December. 20H2, on the other hand, should be good to go until May this year.

    Continue reading
  • Throw away your Ethernet cables* because MediaTek says Wi-Fi 7 will replace them

    *Don't do this

    MediaTek claims to have given the world's first live demo of Wi-Fi 7, and said that the upcoming wireless technology will be able to challenge wired Ethernet for high-bandwidth applications, once available.

    The fabless Taiwanese chip firm said it is currently showcasing two Wi-Fi 7 demos to key customers and industry collaborators, in order to demonstrate the technology's super-fast speeds and low latency transmission.

    Based on the IEEE 802.11be standard, the draft version of which was published last year, Wi-Fi 7 is expected to provide speeds several times faster than Wi-Fi 6 kit, offering connections of at least 30Gbps and possibly up to 40Gbps.

    Continue reading
  • Windows box won't boot? SystemRescue 9 may help

    An ISO image you can burn or drop onto a USB key

    The latest version of an old friend of the jobbing support bod has delivered a new kernel to help with fixing Microsoft's finest.

    It used to be called the System Rescue CD, but who uses CDs any more? Enter SystemRescue, an ISO image that you can burn, or just drop onto your Ventoy USB key, and which may help you to fix a borked Windows box. Or a borked Linux box, come to that.

    SystemRescue 9 includes Linux kernel 5.15 and a minimal Xfce 4.16 desktop (which isn't loaded by default). There is a modest selection of GUI tools: Firefox, VNC and RDP clients and servers, and various connectivity tools – SSH, FTP, IRC. There's also some security-related stuff such as Yubikey setup, KeePass, token management, and so on. The main course is a bunch of the usual Linux tools for partitioning, formatting, copying, and imaging disks. You can check SMART status, mount LVM volumes, rsync files, and other handy stuff.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022