Deno LandDeno
Deno Land, Inc.

Announcing the Deno Company

March 29th, 2021
Ryan Dahl, Bert Belder

Of the myriad ways to program computers, scripting languages are the most effortless and practical variety. Of these, the web browser scripting language (JavaScript) is the fastest, most popular, and the only one with an industrial standardization process. It is clear that the web will be with us for a long time to come; and thus JavaScript will be with us for a long time to come.

Extending web programming beyond the browser is not a novel idea. Indeed, we have done that with moderate success in our “Node.js” project. But over a decade later, we find server-side JavaScript hopelessly fragmented, deeply tied to bad infrastructure, and irrevocably ruled by committees without the incentive to innovate. As the browser platform moves forward at a rapid pace, server-side JavaScript has stagnated.

Deno is our attempt to breathe new life into this ecosystem. To provide a modern, productive programming system that adheres to browser APIs. Deno is not a monolithic system, but rather a set of technologies that we believe can be repurposed to a variety of needs. Not every use-case of server-side JavaScript needs to access the file system; our infrastructure makes it possible to compile out unnecessary bindings. This allows us to create custom runtimes for different applications: Electron-style GUIs, Cloudflare Worker-style Serverless Functions, embedded scripting for databases, etc.

In order to vigorously pursue these ideas, we have raised 4.9 million dollars of seed capital. Our investors are Dan Scholnick from Four Rivers Ventures, Guillermo from Rauch Capital, Lee Jacobs from Long Journey Ventures, the Mozilla Corporation, Shasta Ventures, and our long-time collaborator Ben Noordhuis. This investment means we will have a staff of full-time expert engineers working to improving Deno. We will ensure that issues are addressed, bugs are fixed, timely releases are made; we will ensure Deno is a platform others can build on with trust.

Rest assured that Deno will remain MIT licensed. For Deno to grow and be maximally useful, it must remain permissively free. We don’t believe the “open core” business model is right for a programming platform like Deno. We do not want to find ourselves in the unfortunate position where we have to decide if certain features are for paid customers only. If you watch our conference talks, you will find we've been hinting at commercial applications of this infrastructure for years. We are bullish about the technology stack we've built and intend to pursue those commercial applications ourselves. Our business will build on the open source project, not attempt to monetize it directly.

Many are more familiar with the Chrome DevTools console than they are with a Unix command-line prompt. More familiar with WebSockets than BSD sockets, MDN than man pages. Bash and Zsh scripts calling into native code will never go away. But JavaScript and TypeScript scripts calling into WebAssembly code will be increasingly common. Many developers, we think, prefer web-first abstraction layers.

The Deno company hopes to enable the millions of web programmers out there to maximally leverage their craft in other domains.

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