One month ago the Node.js web framework community was rattled when Eran Hammer announced he would be stepping away from hapi, a comprehensive framework for building web services. Eran has acted as a true BDFL, using his unilateral vision for hapi to steadily progress Walmart's initial 2+ million dollar investment dating back to 2011, always prioritizing the quality of the framework over competing factors. Despite being downloaded one million times each month, for nearly three years the hapi issue tracker hasn't seen more than 30 open issues, and in its lifetime never more than 70. So the hapi community was understandably crestfallen.
As the news sunk in there was an immense showing of support. The hapi hour Slack was filled with brainstorming sessions on how to successfully commercialize hapi in such a way that it could carry forward as-is. But the real turning point occurred when core team member Colin Ihrig announced he would pursue a fork on his own if these other options didn't pan out.
in case anyone cares, i've already decided that i will be forking the hapi org if the current open source project really does come to a conclusion https://t.co/DbRiipK7w8
— Colin Ihrig (@cjihrig) July 2, 2020
This announcement incited lots of organic person-to-person chatter which resulted in a small group, consisting principally of hapi's original authors and core team including myself, self-organizing to secure hapi’s future. Eran agreed that we were a suitable group to hand the project off to, and since then we've been on our way. If you're interested to hear more about our plans and who we are, you can see our announcement.
This is actually a hapi dream team https://t.co/0x6WzdCPKc
— Vladimir de Turckheim (@poledesfetes) July 13, 2020
Big Room Studios closely monitored the situation for weeks throughout this process. For over five years hapi has been at the center of our stack, and we have a ton of institutional knowledge surrounding the framework. So it was honestly a bit of an existential crisis for us: if nobody steps-up to maintain hapi, do we pursue a fork of our own? Or is it smarter to switch frameworks— or even languages? Could a community fork without Eran's support gain any traction? We wanted to act in the best interest of our clients, but we also have deep roots in the hapi ecosystem and care about the fate of the community.
We are proud that our long-term investment in hapi through community engagement and sponsoring projects such as hapi pal has placed us in a position to simultaneously act in the best interest of our clients, protect our development team's institutional knowledge, and give back to hapi in the most direct way possible: sponsoring a developer to participate on hapi's leadership team.
That's right! Big Room Studios is sponsoring me to spend five hours per week participating in hapi's newly-established Technical Steering Committee, whose primary functions are to provide technical direction, onboard collaborators, and facilitate consensus-seeking within the community. And that is exactly where we find the silver lining in this whole ordeal: hapi is moving away from the single-minded BDFL governance model to a promising community-oriented approach that we've never tried before. As far as Big Room, plenty of hapi community members, and I am concerned— we're in exciting new territory and the path is bright!