The npm service has evolved from a simple apt-get-like developer tool for Node.js users, into the world’s largest software repository, supported by a 20-person company located in downtown Oakland. And it has a mascot: the Wombat.
As Supreme Emperor for Life of npm, Inc., Schlueter’s most recent focus has been on npm Organizations, a SaaS package privacy and permissions management offering that allows developers to build out their own repositories made up of whatever packages they’d approved for use in their work. The Orgs service was available on a per-user basis and was introduced in 2015.
Today, npm, Inc. introduced a free version of Organizations, available for all users. The only restriction on this free tier of Organizations is that the private repositories constructed by users must include only open source software. Thus, developers working on their own proprietary packages and working with those packages will still need to pay per user for Organizations.
Schlueter likened the system to GitHub’s Organizations offerings: open source efforts are given free use of the service.
A Modern Environment
For enterprise users, Organizations also allows for the restriction of access to various components within the repository. Thus, developers can be restricted to using only approved packages that have passed whatever standards set by management for internal usage.
“There’s been an interesting shift in what the low-end web user’s experience and landscape look like. Ten years ago, it was Microsoft Internet Explorer on dial-up. Today the low-end web user is using a latest and greatest, up-to-date browser, but over an unreliable network connection. This has pushed the shift more towards thicker front ends, serverless computing, or offline first approaches to building applications,” said Schlueter.
“You’re doing more in the browser, and there’s a bigger benefit to have better software development. The more you’re doing, the more modularity starts to win. The big growth opportunity for us is focusing on the needs of front-end software developers,” said Schlueter.
Modularity Par Excellence
Npm offers nothing if not modularity. In fact, it offers modularity on a scale never before seen in software development. This was shown quite clearly last year when a single 11-line package called Left-pad was removed from npm by its irate author. Those 11 lines of code were used by thousands of developers around the world, and the removal caused a day of broken software for many.
While the fix was simple, the actual effect of the removal was many-fold. First, it showed just how popular npm and its massive retinue of packages was. Second, it showed the true power of modularity, allowing developers to grab a supremely optimized snippet of code to speed the development of their own software. And finally, that incident showed that six million plus npm users are incredibly active and involved in their community.