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JS package catalog npm frees its team software for open source devs

With commercial success, npm can afford to be magnanimous

By Thomas Claburn, 22 Mar 2017

npm Inc, the company behind the Node.js package manager and command-line utility known by the same three letters, on Wednesday plans to make its developer collaboration tool known as Orgs free for open source projects.

Those using npm to manage private packages still have to pay. "This lets us decouple the paid features from the team management features," said npm cofounder Isaac Schlueter in a phone interview with The Register.

Orgs, or Organizations, depending upon where one looks on the inconsistent npm website, costs $7 per month per user. There's also a sensible requirement for at least two users. Otherwise it's not much of an organization.

npm Orgs is one of the company's two business-oriented products – the other being npm Enterprise, which allows organizations to host a private version of the npm Registry, the home for all public Node.js packages.

Schlueter describes the npm Registry as a giant database in the sky. "You publish your package to it using the npm CLI (command-line utility)," he said.

Schlueter said npm solves "a particular kind of dependency hell" where two software packages, or modules, in a project depend on different versions of a third module.

npm, the company, offers its Orgs tool to help groups share and manage code packages among team members. Now open source teams will be able to take advantage of capabilities like role-based access control, semantic versioning, and improved package search without paying the enterprise price.

"The notion of permissions and groups is kind of table stakes for professional software development," said Schlueter.

He observed that more than 100 billion Node.js packages have been downloaded since 2009 and that the npm Registry now lists some 425,000 packages and serves up 375 million downloads daily. He said there are 6.7 million npm users, a figure that represents about 60 per cent of all JavaScript developers.

Software consultancy RedMonk last week listed JavaScript at the top of its biannual programming language ranking. ®

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