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The Rise of JavaScript and Docker


I loosely used JavaScript in this headline to refers to a set of technologies: node.js, Meteor, Angular.js ( or React.js). They share a communality with Docker that explains their (pun intended) meteoric rise.
Lets take a step back:
JavaScript on the server isn't exactly new. The first server side JavaScript was implemented 1998 and the Union mount, that made Docker possible, is from 1990. Client side JavaScript frameworks are plenty too. So what made the mentioned ones so successful?
I make the claim that it is machine readable community. This is where these tools differ. node.js is inseparable from its packet manager npm. Docker is unimaginable without its registry and Angular/React (as well as jquery) live on cushions of myriads of plug-ins and extensions. While the registries/repositories are native to Docker and node.js, the front-ends take advantage of tools like Bower and Yeoman, that make all the packaged feel native.
These registries aren't read-only, which is a huge point. Providing the means of direct contribution and/or branching on GitHub the process of contribution and consumption became two way. The mere possibility to "give back" created a stronger sense of belonging (even if that sense might not be fully concious).
machine readable community is a natural evolution born out of the open source spirit. For decades developers have collaborated using chat ( IRC anyone), discussion boards, Q & A sites and code sharing places. With the emergence of GIT and GitHub as de facto standard for code sharing the community was ready.
The direct access from scripts and configurations to source repository replaced the flow of "human vetting, human download, human unpack and copy to the right location" with: "specify what you need and the machine will know where to get it". Even this idea wasn't new. In the Java the Maven plug-in provided that functionality since 2002.
The big difference now: Maven wasn't native to Java, as it required a change of habit. Things are done differently with it than without. npm on the other hand is "how you do things in node.js". Configuring a docker container is done using the registry (and you have to put in extra effort if you want to avoid that).
So all the new tooling use repositories as "this is how it works" and complement human readable community with machine readable community. Of course, there is technical merit too - but that has been discussed elsewhere in great length.

Posted by on 09 May 2015 | Comments (0) | categories: Software

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