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Updates in Node.js 8 and Node.js 9

Node.js has become widely popular everywhere implementing in the creation of APIs and building a new network of inter-operability across connections. Likewise, every year Node.js team has released a major version a few days back. Whereas, previous year Node.js 8 listed with Long Term Support (LTS) tag.
The first Node.js 8 version released with LTS status is Node.js 8.9.0. Before we walk through the features, let’s have a quick look at the release cycle of Node.js.

A Quick look at the Node.js Release Cycle 

In particular, even numbered versions and odd-numbered versions are released in the month of April and October respectively. Eventually, the odd-numbered version is released once the previous even-numbered version will be rolled out to the LTS.
The version with LTS tag is available with support and under maintenance for approximately 18 months. Whereas, the major version will be transited into maintenance mode for 12 months post completion of 18 months active support. This transition makes people prefer to use this version on production as a back-end service.

Node.js versions with Stable Tag

On the other hand, versions with the stable tag are available with support for approximately 8 months with new features and updates. Also, if Node.js is used for front-end services then this version is preferable for production. One can update their application without interrupting the environment by only working on the back-end.
Indeed, the choice of selecting node version is based upon the sensitivity of your application. Node.js 8.9.0 is the major release from Node.js community, with power-packed features and add-ons like async/await and highly focused on stability, security, better performance and lots more.

List of available features
  1. Equipped with V8 JavaScript Engine 6.1
  2. Fully supports Async/Await
  3. 20% increase in the performance rate compared to the predecessor version Node 6 LTS in web applications
  4. Compatible with NPM 5.0.0
  5. As a native add-on, a stable module API named “Node.js API” (N-API) is available as an experimental feature. N-API aimed to bring more stability, reliability to modules which rely on the native layer.
  6. HTTP/2 which is currently in experimental mode will help developers to use the new protocol to speed up the application development.

Now, let’s understand each feature of Node.js 8.9.0 in detail.

1. V8 Engine
V8 JavaScript Engine is the reason behind the low memory consumption and quick startup time across Node.js     applications. Whereas, V8.6.0 is entirely a new update which acts as Chromium’s JavaScript runtime (by default) which powers the JS execution within Node.js.
As a result of major updations in V8.6.0’s TurboFan and Ignition, the initial release of Node.js 8 was delayed by a month. It offers great performance across the variety of JS operations.
2. Async/Await
It’s the next evolution for asynchronous programming in Node.js 8 LTS which will be beating out callbacks and promises. In addition, Node.js 8.9.0 fully supports async/await that allows developers to write more linear code opposed to callbacks. Which is actually appealing to ones who maintain large code bases, JS newcomers and also the one who is moving from languages to Node.js.
3.  Npm v5
Last year, Node.js 6 LTS launch with [email protected] which brought many required improvements. In the latest release of Node.js 8 LTS, [email protected] is available with enhanced performance and quite impressive features as shown below:

  • Local caching with offline fallbacks
  • Lockfiles
  • SHA512 checksums and other small features

Considering performance, it involves a great speed of faster npm install.
4. N-API
Node.js API is a stable module API which is independent of the V8 changes and is available as an experimental feature in Node.js 8.9.0. Currently, Google, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, NodeSource and lots more are some of the top contributors.
N-API allow native modules to run against latest Node.js version without any recompilation.

Implementation Advantages

Here are some of the implementation advantages:

  • Releases the package maintainers from updating these dependencies
  • Increases the stability
  • Opens up the choice for those consuming modules
  • Sets up the foundation for VM neutrality
  • Compatible with environments in Iol, mobile, and other systems

The team has focused more on N-API to remove the tag of experimental status. Moreover, people, who are actively trying to adopt N-API reports about improved documentation and bug fixing. 
5.  HTTP/2
In Node.js, HTTP/2 is the major update core shipped with Node.js 8 LTS. After an exhaustive and long-term work, it’s out of the experimental mode and it will allow developers to use the latest protocol to speed up the application development. HTTP/2 allows JS developers to undo most of HTTP/1.1 workarounds that make the application faster, powerful yet simple.
In fact, HTTP/2 works equally different compared to the previous releases as it offers new and interesting workflows from the whole perspective to learn. It has been simplified to easily implement in the normal HTTP module.
6. Experimental ES Modules
V 8.7.0 was the flag version of Node.js in which ES modules came out. It also involves a lot of effort by the contributors who worked for so many years to make this as successful. In addition, ES module is a standard way to write modular JavaScript code to run both on the web and in Node.js.
Thus, Node.js uses the CommonJS pattern for module loading and this will continue to be the default behavior of Node.js during v8.x LTS. Currently, this experimental ES Module implementation aimed to allow developers to begin experimenting with the standardized module pattern.

Node.js 9 latest release

Node.js 9 is the latest version and is been found interesting to developers who are more into testing and experimenting. This latest release is not recommended to use in production as it is focused on implementing and testing the frequently updated features.

Node.js 9 Features

This latest release is available with the bulk of changes that involve the below-listed features:
1) Deprecation or removal of legacy APIs.
2) Equipped with Google v8.6.2 JavaScript engine.
3) Slow migration from core codebase to new error system. This aligns unique code with errors thrown by the system and allows changing error messages without considering as a breaking change.
4) Support available for HTTP/2 and N-API without command line flag in experimental mode.
5) Async Hooks – An async hooks module which provides an API for registering callbacks to track the lifetime of asynchronous resources created within a Node.js application. Also, appears in Node.js 8.x is experimental currently.
It’s an experimental feature with Node.js that gathers complete information regarding the process followed by Node.js. It enables to pull out detailed analytical information related to that process. More details regarding Async Hooks is available here.
Stay updated! Start migrating to Node.js 8.x LTS.
It is truly appreciable to the committed resources who have put their effort behind this launch and even in every release. We hope to get the same commitment in their every future release.
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