Max Ogden | Open Web programmer
July 2015
What's the deal with iot.js and JerryScript
Node.js will soon be running on tiny low power chips
July 2015
Electron Fundamentals
A quick intro to Electron, a desktop application runtime
May 2015
HD Live Streaming Cats to YouTube with the Raspberry Pi Camera
A how to guide
May 2015
Interdisciplinary Open Source Community Conferences
A list of community organized events
April 2015
Setting up HTTPS with a wildcard certificate and Nginx
How I set up HTTPS with Nginx
April 2015
A Month of Modules
Modules Mafintosh and I wrote this month
February 2015
Tessel Powered Plant Watering System
Make an HTTP accessible water pump
January 2015
Portland Fiber Internet
Review of 1Gb fiber from CenturyLink
January 2015
node-repl
An interactive console for node
January 2015
Nested Dependencies
Insight into why node_modules works the way it does
July 2013
Node Packaged Modules
Bringing NPM modules to the web
March 2013
Kindleberry Wireless
A Portable Outdoor Hackstation
January 2013
Bringing Minecraft-style games to the Open Web
A status report from the one month old voxel.js project
November 2012
A Proposal For Streaming XHR
XHR2 isn't stream friendly. Lets explore why and propose a solution!
October 2012
Scraping With Node
Useful modules and a tutorial on how to parse HTML with node.js
October 2012
Building WebView Applications
Things I learned while building @gather
May 2012
Fast WebView Applications
How to make web apps feel fast and responsive
April 2012
Node Streams: How do they work?
Description of and notes on the node.js Stream API
December 2011
Gut: Hosted Open Data Filet Knives
HTTP Unix pipes for Open Data
July 2011
Little Coders
Elementary school programming

Node.js will soon be running on tiny low power chips.

iot.js is a Node.js compatible runtime being written by Samsung. The project is still in active development, is open source and Apache Licensed. It hasn't yet had a stable release but has been in development for over a year. It is built on a new JavaScript VM called JerryScript (named after Jerry Mouse) that they are also working on. Node.js is built on V8, and iot.js is built on JerryScript. The major goal of iot.js is to run Node code on low power devices.

JerryScript doesn't have a logo yet, so I made one:

jerryscript

The current hardware requirements for iot.js are around 350KB ROM and 100KB RAM. This is a huge difference compared with V8, the VM that Node.js is built on, which is notoriously memory hungry and doesn't run on devices with less than 64MB of RAM (the lowest power device I've seen running it is the Arduino Yun).

As you can see on their wiki and the current implementation, iot.js is a Node.js compatible JS + C runtime that binds to JerryScript.

The first two officially supported devices are the STM32F4-Discovery and the Raspberry Pi 2:

STM32F4

raspi2

The exciting thing about this stuff is that it makes low power hardware more accessible to coders like me who know JS and can install modules from NPM but don't want to deal with C and compiled language tooling and debugging headaches.

I've done a number of projects with the Arduino which can't run Node but has great battery life, and the Raspberry Pi which can run Node but has poor battery life and requires Linux sysadmin skills to operate effectively. The Raspberry Pi (or any Linux machine) is totally overkill for a lot of the projects I'm interested in doing (e.g. a computer that lives on my bicycle, or on that sits in my garden measuring soil moisture levels). Low power node.js seems like the sweet spot for me - I can leverage the Node + NPM ecosystem to deploy stuff to hardware that can potentially run for weeks on a single charge.

In the future they will work on support for other devices (according to their wiki), including the Intel Edison and Samsungs recently announced Artik 1.

edison

artik-1

Perhaps the closest thing to iot.js is Espruino, who both develop a custom JavaScript runtime as well as manufacture development boards like the Espruino Pico. The major difference between iot.js and Espruino is that Espruino is not Node.js compatible. The Espruino boards use a family of chips (STM32F4) that iot.js supports, so it should be possible to run iot.js on Espruino hardware in the future.

In addition to JerryScript and Espruino there is also Duktape which is "an embeddable Javascript engine, with a focus on portability and compact footprint". There is a project called Duklove that combines Duktape and LibUV, which in the future could form the basis of a Node.js compatible runtime build on top of Duktape.

It would be interesting to get the authors of JerryScript, Espruino and Duklove to sit down and talk to each other.

Another similar device is the ESP8266, which is a low power microcontroller with an integrated WiFi networking stack. They are really cheap - you can get ESP8266 development boards for around $8 from Amazon or the raw chips in bulk for around $2 a piece. However, with only 64KB of RAM and ROM it is not quite beefy enough to run iot.js. The closest thing you can get is Lua through a project called NodeMCU or the ΞΌScript project.

I think a low power Node.js runtime is long overdue and am looking forward to the first stable iot.js release.