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Next Genpm

So many web projects use npm to pull in their dependencies, for both the front end and back. npm install and away it goes, pulling thousands of files into a node_modules folder in our projects to import/require anything. It's an important cog in the great machine of web development.

While I don't believe the npm registry has ever been meaningfully challenged, the technology around it regularly faces competition. Yarn certainly took off for a while there. Yarn had lockfiles which helped us ensure our fellow developers and environments had the exact same versions of things, which was tremendously beneficial. It also did some behind-the-scenes magic that made it very fast. Since then, npm now also has lockfiles and word on the street is it's just as fast, if not faster.

I don't know enough to advise you one way or the other, but I do find it fascinating that there is another next generation of npm puller-downer-thingies that is coming to a simmer.

  • pnpm is focused on speed and efficiency when running multiple projects: "One version of a package is saved only ever once on a disk."
  • Turbo is designed for running directly in the browser.
  • Pika's aim is that, once you've downloaded all the dependencies, you shouldn't be forced to use a bundler, and should be able to use ES6 imports if you want. UNPKG is sometimes used in this way as well, in how it gives you URLs to packages directly pulled from npm, and has an experimental ?module feature for using ES6 imports directly.
  • Even npm is in on it! tink is their take on this, eliminating even Node.js from the equation and being able to both import and require dependencies without even having a node_modules directory.
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