Bounce

Onwards and upwards for Artifactory with new npm-friendly additions

Lucy Carey
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We catch up with JFrog’s Frederic Simon following the Artifactory provider’s introduction of support for on-premise and cloud-based npm repositories.

Recently, Israeli-based Artifactory providers JFrog announced full support for on-premise and
cloud-based npm repositories within their popular third-party
library and binaries manager. With this latest update, Artifactory
has become the first private npm registry and proxy for the
extremely popular node.js framework.

Boasting a hugely active user base, node.js has
a vibrant ecosystem, which, along with npm, is growing at twice the
rate of any other software platform today. JFrog Co-Founder and
Chief Architect Frederic Simon attributes this stratospheric leap
in popularity to the vibrant community around it, which
demonstrates just how successfully the tech is solving module
issues.

Simon comments that the number of developers
putting packages for a tech is a critical factor that JFrog take
into account when considering a technology – this was the driving
factor for the explosion of Ruby,  as well as Java back in the
day – and now it’s the same for node.js.

(Source: JFrog - Private npm Registry With
Artifactory
)

As he points out, not all node.js and npm
projects at present are quite up to enterprise level – indeed, some
of them are very much in the beta phase in terms of quality. But,
he reflects, this slow and steady approach by the community is a
long-sighted one, with stabilisation of software happening as and
when is deemed appropriate.

On JFrog’s side, Simon comments that, “as long
as there is a need for customers to aggregate their APM inside
their production system, they will need proxy layers and control
layers- and this is exactly what we have in place. We are quite
good at being directional. Once the team have an npm package, it’s
easier for them to create a lot locally, rather than having a lot
of dirty packages pushed out because you have nowhere to put
them.”

As with any new tech, it took some time before
Node (create August 2012) was stable enough to be globalised. It
was at the behest of the community that JFrog decided to assist
node.js developers in aggregating and distributing the npm packages
they use.

Simon explains that the issue at hand was that,
once the Node and npm projects started to be used heavily on the
datacentre, to have a reliable repository became a critical issue
for big data centre deployment. Seen by many as  the de-facto
enterprise repository manager, JFrog’s Artifactory seemed the
perfect fit for the job at hand.

Providing the support was relatively simple for
JFrog, and a far easier task than they’d faced when working with
Ruby. Simon told JAXenter that, having already worked with JSON,
“it was kind of natural for us. The main thing was that the actual
specification of the npm protocol and client was almost
non-existent, so we had to do some reverse engineering, and for the
code, there’s quite a complicated history.”

To date, there’s been very warm reception to
Artifactory’s npm support, and Simon says that the sheer breadth of
use cases for Node and node.js technology means that the release
has been a “saviour” for many their customers.

Next in the offing from JFrog is support for
Python, although Simon is also keen to tackle bidirectional
integration with BinTray – JFrog’s ‘social’ platform for storage
and distribution of software libraries –  for Artifactory
customers.

For a full look at the present and future of
Artifactory, check out this interview with fellow ‘Frogger Yoav
Landman: 

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