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What's new in Node.js 4

13 Oct 2015
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4 min

A remarkable event took place on September 9, 2015. The Web development world has received a new version of popular software Node.js 4.0. It is known that in June Node.js project came back after it was forked at the beginning of the year by the io.js project. The first code release as part of the Node.js Foundation is currently out with version 4.0.0.

nodejs logo

Node.js new features

Node.js 4.0 brings lots of principal changes. The community team has worked for about 6 months to bring new opportunities for developers. Among the most important changes of Node.js 4.0 is ES2015 specification of JavaScript. Some modules and modifications such as REPL support, TLS encryption, PPC builds, the dgraph, node, and buffer modules are brought over from io.js.

Node.js 4.0 delivers also huge performance and memory usage changes. Express.js load tests show us that memory usage in 4.0 is about a quarter better than was at 0.12.x versions.

As we know, Node.js is running at V8 JavaScript engine and new release includes version 4.5 of this engine which is the same version as Google Chrome is running at. It allows developer to use a lot of new ES6 features, which are enabled by default. Block scoping, classes, typed arrays, arrow functions, promises, symbols etc. are among them.

New ES6 features are being added to V8 engine and Node.js Foundation will add them in next releases. Developer also may check which ES6 feature are currently in progress for current release of Node.js via grepping a command:

node v8-options | grep 'in progress'

Node.js is using very simple and at the same time beautiful module ecosystem. According to new changes of V8 engine, there is question raising about backward compatibility of modules, because every new release of Node or V8 may break native modules and each of them has to be updated to work with newer v8.

Released in 2013 by Rod Vagg NAN (Native Abstractions for Node) is aimed to prevent module break.

NAN is the npm module that allows Node.js developers to support multiple versions of V8 in different versions of Node.js from 0.8 to 4.0. Io.js versions are also supported.

arm-cortex-a57-armv8-arm-64-bit

Node.js 4.0 also provides excellent support for ARM processors for the first time, and the Node foundation has built an extensive testing suite to ensure it works consistently across Linux, Windows, FreeBSD, SmartOS and ARM devices, so all line of ARM processors including ARMv8 64-bit processors are now supported.

When to expect more updates

According to Node Foundation, this release is making a long term support branch available. The Foundation will guarantee 18 months of updates for stability and security without breaking changes. Also there should be 2 releases a year in October and in April.

'Long term support' are not empty words. As we can see from release history Node.js 4.0 got first minor stable releases 4.1.0 on September 17, 4.1.1 on September 23 and 4.1.2 on October 5 with few non-breaking changes for native modules and critical updates.

During the 18-months support work on new releases won't be stopped. The work will be going at the background to bring more powerful and optimized version of Node.js one of the most popular and loved by developers tools for web.

Node Foundations' approach to development gives hope for long-term and quality evolving of Node.js in future.

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