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Node.js 20 Released – Guide to Latest Features and Updates
The latest version of Node.js, version 20, has just been launched, and it brings with it a plethora of improvements and new capabilities that programmers will love.
Whatever your level of Node.js expertise, you’re likely to find something new and exciting in this current release.
In this tutorial, we’ll dive further into Node.js 20’s most notable updates and enhancements, discussing how they can help you save time during development and produce higher-quality end products.
With everything out of the way, let’s dig right in and check out what’s new in Node.js 20!
Released on April 18th, 2023, Node.js 20 is the latest and greatest version and is packed with new and improved features that are guaranteed to please programmers.
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An Overview of Node.js 20
In order to get the most out of it, Node.js developers should upgrade to the most recent version if they are still using an earlier one. Node.js 20 upgrades are straightforward and trouble-free on both Windows and Mac.
As Node.js 20 is the “Current” release for the next six months, now is a good time to begin testing and prototyping with it in your development environment.
According to data gathered from GitHub, Node.js has 94.8K Stars and 25.7K Forks.
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What’s the Latest? The New and Improved Node.js 20
The number of people using Node.js is growing rapidly; in only the past year, billions of downloads of Node.js NVM, binaries, and containers have been reported.
After nine months of meticulous development, Node.js 20 adds a major new feature called the experimental Permission Model, which is intended to increase the safety of Node.js applications. By using this new approach, programmers are able to limit the scope of a program’s access to certain resources while it’s running.
Developers can take advantage of the following features and capabilities in the first release of the Permission Model:
- Restrict access to the file system (read and write)
- Use –allow-fs-read and –allow-fs-write
- Restrict access to child_process
- Restrict access to worker_threads
- Use –allow-worker
- Restrict access to native addons (same as –no-addons flag)
- Restrict access to the file system (read and write)
The new permission model in Node.js 20 can be enabled with a single flag: –experimental-permission flag.
The available permissions are documented by the –experimental-permission flag.
Better security and management are the results of this new model’s limitations on file system access, process spawning, and the use of node:worker_threads.
The –allow-fs-read and –allow-fs-write switches offer developers more granular control over file system access and additional experimental features.
Further details about the Permission Model can be found in the accompanying documentation.
With the addition of import.meta.resolve() in Node.js 20, developing geo-agnostic scripts is a breeze. To facilitate the creation of scripts that are not bound to particular locations or web application module configurations, this function allows synchronous returns, analogous to browser behavior.
Users can still define loader resolve hooks as asynchronous functions (or synchronous functions if they wish) despite this new synchronous behavior. This means that the application code can expect a synchronous response from import.meta.resolve() regardless of whether or not async resolve hooks have been loaded.
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Initial stability of custom ESM loader hooks
Loader-provided custom ES module lifecycle hooks (–experimental-loader=./foo.mjs) now execute in a separate thread from the main thread. This gives loaders their own isolated space, protecting application code from being corrupted by loader code.
The browser implementation of import.meta.resolve() has changed to return synchronously, however, resolve hooks in user loaders can still be async if their authors like, and import.meta.resolve() will continue to return synchronously in the application code.
These modifications completed the checklist for deeming ESM loaders stable. We want to set the loaders flag, import.meta.resolve, and the resolve and load hooks as stable after a sufficient amount of time has passed without major bugs being raised by the community.
By providing a consistent API, key stakeholders like instrumentation vendors can more easily use ESM and contribute to its growth through the creation of analytics and reporting libraries.
Web Crypto API
The Web Crypto API is made more compatible with other implementations thanks to this improved method of validation and coercion.
Stable Test Runner
The test runner has seen various revisions since its inception, including:
- Invoking the test runner via the command line with Node –test
- Test reporters that can be configured and altered with the –test-reporter option.
- Coverage of experiments with the –experimental-test-coverage option
- Capabilities for mocking
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Single Executable Apps
Microsoft, a member of the OpenJS Foundation, is investigating the functionality to lessen the prevalence of vector assaults; it involves converting your code into a binary for distribution. This is a major upgrade to the underlying Node.js architecture that will benefit developers and end users.
Windows ARM64 has official support
People appear to desire Node.js to function on all architectures and platforms, which bodes well for its portability. We’re pleased to announce that Node.js now ships with ARM64 Windows binaries, enabling native execution on the operating system.
In addition to supporting all major systems, the Node.js download site also provides an MSI installer, zip and 7z packages, and an executable. To avoid regressions and guarantee compatibility, the CI system was modernized, and all changes are now extensively tested on ARM64 Windows.
Progress on Web Assembly System Interface (WASI)
The WASI integration with Node.js is still being developed. Though still in its experimental stages, the need for a command-line option to enable WASI has been eliminated. Using this method ought to facilitate consumption.
The WASI development team has made some adjustments in preparation for preview 2. That’s why it’s important to specify the version number when calling a new WASI(). There is no default value for the version in the 20.x release series.
This is crucial so that, as new versions of supported software become available, programs don’t automatically switch to an older, less reliable version. Any code that used the default version will now need to be modified to ask for a specific version.
The WASI team in Node.js and the uvwasi team, which is used in other contexts besides Node.js, are always looking for new members.
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In conclusion, Node.js 20 is an exciting release that brings a host of new features and updates to the table. From the introduction of the V8 engine to improved performance and security, there are plenty of reasons why developers should be excited about this release.
Whether you’re looking to optimize your code, improve the efficiency of your applications, or take advantage of new features like the Diagnostic Report API, Node.js 20 has something for everyone.
By upgrading to Node.js 20, developers can stay up-to-date with the latest advancements in Node.js and take advantage of new tools and features that will help them build better, more powerful applications. So, if you haven’t already, be sure to upgrade to Node.js 20 and start exploring all the amazing new features and updates it has to offer!
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Yes, Node.js 20 is backward-compatible with previous versions. Upgrading to Node.js 20 without worrying about breaking existing code should be straightforward.
Node Version Manager (nvm) provides an easy way to upgrade to Node.js version 20, while downloading it directly from its official website can also help.
Async local storage makes it easier to pass data between functions without passing it as an argument, making your code cleaner and more readable.
Node.js 20’s http2 module makes it possible to quickly create an HTTP/2 server, with improved performance and compatibility with other implementations of HTTP/2.
The updated V8 engine delivers better performance and memory management, as well as several innovative new features like support for optional chaining and nullish coalescing.