4 min read

Node.js 10.0.0 released, packed with exciting new features, it will be the next candidate in line for the Long Term Support (LTS) in October 2018. So what exactly is an LTS and why is the Node.js foundation releasing a major version every six months?  

Node.js History and the Significance of LTS

When Ryan Dhal first created Node.js, he decided to follow Linux kernel style odd/even version releases. Odd version releases represented internal development with no guarantee for stable releases, whereas even releases guaranteed stability. But this release scheme didn’t last long, as version 0.12 represented the last release under that versioning scheme.

Later in 2015, Node.js 4.0 was announced, dubbed famously as the “Converged Release”. This meant that both io.js and Node.js projects under the Node foundation were merged together, providing a unified release plan for all Node products.

In order to attract more enterprise users and to provide more stability to the platform, the Node foundation announced the “Long Term Support” strategy. The plan was simple, every six months a major version of the platform will be released which would follow semantic versioning. The even releases would be scheduled in April while the odd ones would come out in October and every even-numbered release will automatically become a candidate for the LTS.

Long Term Support release lines focus on stability, extended support and provide a reliable platform for applications of any scale. Most Node.js users and companies prefer to use the Long Term Support releases. A candidate covered in the LTS plan is actively maintained for a period of 18 months from the date it enters LTS coverage. Following those 18 months of active support, they transition into “maintenance” mode for 12 additional months. To read more about the LTS release plan and schedule visit the official Node.js Foundation Release Working Group page.

Source: Node.js Foundation Release Working Group

Node.js 10 features

Codenamed “Dubnium” Node.js 10.x comes with plenty of new features like OpenSSL 1.1.0 security toolkit, upgraded npm, N-API, and much more. Let’s take a closer look at each one of them.

N-API and Native Node HTTP/2 becomes stable

N-API, an abbreviation for Native API is used for building native addon, while Native HTTP/2 is module that improves the standard HTTP protocol. Both these features were first announced as experimental projects in Node.js 8 release and now have been confirmed as stable features in the 10.x release.

N-API aims to solve two main problems namely, reducing the maintenance cost for native modules and reducing difficulties in upgrading Node.js versions in production deployments for users. The native HTTP/2 module will help improve Node servers and the web experience that they provide.

Upgraded npm

npm has recently been upgraded from v5.7 to v6.0, while Node.js 10 ships with npm 5.7, the 10.x line will be upgraded to npm Version 6 later on. This major version increase in npm provides improvements in all areas including performance, security, and stability.

OpenSSL Version 1.1.0

With the recent finalization of the TLS 1.3 specification, a huge step forward for the security of the web, OpenSSL release their newest version of the security toolkit which supports this TLS specification. It didn’t take long for Node.js to start supporting OpenSSL, since it would provide more secure communication between applications on the Node platform. While Node is just supporting OpenSSL version 1.1.0 in this latest release, it plans to upgrade it in the future versions of the 10.x release, bringing the brand new TLS support for the developers.  

What to expect in the future releases

Plenty of exciting features like better support for the ECMAScript (ES) modules, JavaScript Promises, new infrastructure for build/automation support, and functional testing for third party modules are in line for the next releases. Node 10 will remain in LTS from October 2018 until April 2021. This LTS release will also mark the deprecation of Node.js 4.

While the features released so far are already very impressive, the Node team remains adamant on bringing even more cutting edge technology to the platform, making the life of developers easier.

To get a more detailed description of the new features or to download the latest version of Node.js, please visit their official web page.

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