Onwards and upwards for Artifactory with new npm-friendly additions

Lucy Carey

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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