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Quick Read: The JS Foundation

By Elio Qoshi

Open Source Week

It’s Open Source Week at SitePoint! All week we’re publishing articles focused on everything Open Source, Free Software and Community, so keep checking the OSW tag for the latest updates.

In recent years, JavaScript has seen a staggering number of libraries and frameworks come and go. In can be difficult to make important decisions about which software to use in your projects, as there is always the risk of depending on a library that the maintainer will not be able to support and, at worst, may end up abandoning.

To try and tackle some of the issues surrounding the support and development of the JavaScript ecosystem, the well-known jQuery Foundation relaunched as the JS Foundation. Let’s remember that over a year ago, the jQuery Foundation itself merged with the Dojo Foundation (if only I had a cent for every time someone says “Foundation”!).

Forward the Foundation

Kris Borchers, Executive Director of the JS Foundation, released a statement regarding its inception:

“The Linux Foundation’s primary mission is to create the world’s largest shared technology investment. JavaScript is an extremely important programming language, which has seen numerous open-source projects arise around it.

Many of these projects are essential to the infrastructure of the Internet, so the Linux Foundation feels it is important to ensure they have structured support and neutral governance to ensure their stability, which is why the JS Foundation is being formed.”

It takes a great amount of selflessness to merge two foundations into one, so let’s take a moment and appreciate that. This could mean one of two things (or both):

  1. We reached the point of JavaScript fatigue. It’s hard to keep up with recent technologies anymore as workflows might change during the time you take your well-deserved developer vacations. There would be the need for a Caped Crusader to bring order in the messy proverbial city of JavaScript.
  2. The jQuery and Dojo Foundation had similar goals and values so they saw it fit to join forces.

With the first scenario being the reason behind various memes and jokes within tech communities, it might be a healthy step to clean up and unite everyone under a single banner. Decentralization is highly praised in open source communities, but it is also widely accepted that a benevolent dictator can actually improve the state of a project (or in this case, ecosystem) quite a bit.

A recent article poked fun at the current state of JavaScript, criticizing the constantly changing landscape of the language. While exaggerated, its message is pretty spot-on. If you haven’t been working with JavaScript for a while and have recently come back, you might have a steep learning curve ahead. Maybe this is where the JS Foundation can tackle some issues?

Governance

The foundation separates business and technical decisions by having two branches: the Board of Directors (who appoint the Executive Director), and the Technical Advisory Committee which handles all technical aspects of the Foundation, independent of the Board of Directors. A wise move, I must say.

Contributor License Agreement (CLA)

Like many other open source projects, the JS Foundation features a CLA as well. The terms apply to all contributions you make to the JS Foundation or its projects. It might sound scary for some, but it’s common practice quite often nowadays. If licenses confuse you, have a look at my article on Open Source licenses I wrote last year.

Projects

The JS Foundation serves as a home for a wide range of projects, and the list keeps growing. Among the most popular ones are jQuery (surprise surprise!), Grunt, and RequireJS. Quite a few projects were part of the jQuery Foundation before the relaunch as well, such as Lodash and ESLint. Among the new arrivals are Mocha, Moment and Webpack.

You can find the full list of projects on the JS Foundation site.

Uniting the Kingdoms

Additionally, the JS Foundation and the Node.js Foundation will collaborate closely, due to sharing similar goals. Most interestingly, the JS Foundation will possibly be in the position to facilitate the support of third-party packages, something the Node Foundation hasn’t tackled yet.

Interesting times indeed. The JS Foundation is still in its early stages but its plans already look promising. What do you think? Will it change the JavaScript landscape and help unite efforts under a single banner? Let me know in the comments!

The JS Foundation logo

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