Linux Foundation Spurs JavaScript Development

The Linux Foundation earlier this week announced the addition of the JS Foundation as a Linux Foundation project. The move is an effort to inject new energy into the JavaScript developer community.

By rebranding the former JQuery foundation as the JS Foundation and bringing it under the Linux umbrella, officials hope to create some stability and build critical mass. The goal is to spark greater interest in pursuing open source collaboration by intermingling some promising new players with some venerable stalwarts.

“What we hear is a need for a center of gravity in the JavaScript ecosystem and that’s what we’re hoping to create via the JS Foundation,” said Kris Borchers, executive director of the JS Foundation.

“We want to drive the adoption and development of JavaScript technologies, and provide an environment that facilitates collaboration and encourages community for any project that drives innovation forward,” he told LinuxInsider.

Joining Forces

A number of initial projects will participate in a new mentorship program that is designed to encourage a level of collaboration and sustainability heretofore lacking. They include Appium, Interledger.js, JerryScript, Mocha, Moment.js, Node-RED and webpack.

Founding members of the JS Foundation include Bocoup, IBM, Ripple, Samsung, Sauce Labs, Sense Technic Systems, SitePen, Stackpath, University of Westminster and WebsiteStartup.

Although the communities are very different, they have a mutual interest in boosting support for their respective technologies.

“Javascript has suffered from a reduced interest of late, and they likely couldn’t sustain by themselves anymore,” suggested Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.

That is likely what drove the consolidation, he said.

“A large number of folks in both camps are volunteers, and with a severe shortage of programming talent in paid jobs in the industry, I suspect both thought they could better sustain critical mass together rather than separately,” Enderle told LinuxInsider.

One of the things Javascript users want is for the projects they’re using to be dependable, said Jonathan Lipps, director of open source at Sauce Labs.

Everyone loves to hate “javascript fatigue,” he told LinuxInsider.

“How much worse does that fatigue become when a project which has a lot of adoption all of a sudden loses its contributors, and all of the users are forced to migrate to something else?” Lipps asked.

One of the goals of the JS Foundation is to create a level of stability in the ecosystem that heads off that scenario.

“I think we’ll also see as a result a counterforce to the fragmentation trend.” said Lipps. “If we can get projects working together and collaborating under a nonprofit umbrella, maybe we’ll see more of them joining forces and providing the users with fewer, more sustainable choices.”

More Exposure, More Adoption

A new level of cooperation could pay dividends for Sauce Labs by encouraging wider adoption of its Appium platform. The company’s goal is for Appium to become the industry’s most popular mobile automation tool.

“Donating Appium to the JS Foundation is a great way to shove Appium even further into view for more developers,” Lipps said.

“From a development standpoint, specifically, we hope that giving up Appium’s copyright to a nonprofit will encourage other companies who make money off of Appium to be less shy about contributing code to it,” he explained.

Another of the initial projects in the program is JerryScript, a lightweight JavaScript engine first developed by Samsung. It can enable smartwatches, wearables and other small devices to operate across an IoT environment, noted Youngyoon Kim, vice president of the Software R&D Center at Samsung.

IBM’s Node-RED, another participant, has achieved widespread adoption in the IoT community, noted Angel Diaz, vice president of cloud technology and architecture, allowing users to innovate IoT applications more rapidly and with greater agility.

David Jones is a freelance writer based in Essex County, New Jersey. He has written for Reuters, Bloomberg, Crain's New York Business and The New York Times.

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