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Foreword by Ryan Dahl

Foreword by Ryan Dahl

Ryan Dahl, creator of Node.js

In 2008 I was searching for a new programming platform for making websites. This was more than wanting a new language; indeed, the details of the language mattered very little to me. Rather, I was concerned about the ability to program advanced push features into the website like I had seen in Gmail—the ability for the server to push data to the user instead of having to constantly poll. The existing platforms were tightly coupled to the idea of the server as something that receives a request and issues a response sequentially. To push events to the browser, the platform needed to be able to constantly handle a number of open and mostly idle connections.

I knew how to make this work at the system call layer, in C. If I used only nonblocking sockets, the overhead per connection was very small. In small tests, I could demonstrate a server that could handle thousands of idle connections or pretty massive throughput. I knew that this was the optimal way for a user-space Unix server to be implemented. However, I didn’t want to work in C; I wanted the beautiful fluidness of a dynamic language. Although it was possible to issue the exact system calls I wanted in every programming language, it was very ugly and was always the “alternative” method of socket programming. My theory was that nonblocking sockets were not actually difficult at all, as long as everything was nonblocki....


  

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