Rhinola: JavaScript for the Server!

Martin Dittus · 2005-10-29 · links, software, tools · 4 comments

Chris Zumbrunn has news in the comments of my article "RFE: Server-Side Javascript?": There is a new JavaScript execution framework called Rhinola which looks like what I asked for: a framework that enables server-side JavaScript web development!

A quick search leads to an enthusiastic article ("whoa! rhinola rocks!") on the haboglabobloggin' blog (which just went offline while I was writing this...), but the author mentions that the current incarnation of the software requires quite some Linux admin-fu to get it working; I assume this will change over the next year as the product matures.

Rhinola is currently based on the Servlet-container mod_gcj, but apparently could easily be ported to other environments (someone called hns comments on haboglabobloggin': "possibly, rhinola might become bigger than mod_gcj, so it will eventually start a life of its own". And he adds: "basic performance is very fast.") Rhinola is as close to mod_js as it can get.

So my earlier prediction has become true: JavaScript is gaining popularity as an all-purpose development language. One thing's for sure: there are more and more JavaScript-based frameworks popping up for all levels of application development. Cf. my other article on the topic, "TrimJunction: JavaScript on Rails", and the frameworks Chris mentions in his comment, Helma and OpenMocha (which apparently is Chris' baby).

Just in case you wonder about why this is such exciting news to me, I'll repeat an excerpt from the first article I wrote on this topic:

I'm not actually in a position to compare the technical merits of each of the popular scripting languages available, but I couldn't care less which of them has briefer syntaxes for string operations, better database support, better libraries etc. What I do care about is the amount of time it takes me to get into the zone with the tools I'm using. I'm changing contexts on a regular basis, which means I have to be fluent in a lot of tools, not necessarily in-depth, and the amount of time it takes me to get re-acquainted with a software is directly related to my productivity.

Be sure to also read oriba san's comments on JavaScript as a development language to put my excitement about this into perspective -- he made me realize that I wasn't really aware of what I was asking for. JavaScript might be a popular and easy to learn language, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's well suited for this job. So I will have to check out Rhinola myself at some point to find out if server-side JavaScript it's actually as cool as I thought it was.

Next article:

Previous article:

Recent articles:


In one point, oriba san's comment is certainly right: "I can't seem to find one good information resource for javascript. it's scattered all over the web. javascript is a mess." That is true, which is why I believe so strongly that we should make tabula rasa and call the paradigm shift towards modern client/server-side Ecmascript by its original project name: Mocha! Because that "mess" fortunately does not translate to the server-side use of Javascript. If we could use "Mocha" as the tag and keyword for client/server Ecmascript, we would know what we get when we google for information resources.

Regarding more and more server-side JS frameworks popping up... Well, in the case of OpenMocha and Helma they might be "poping up" more, but they've been around and have evolved for several years. So, has Whitebeam. And Trimpath Junction isn't on the server-side (but could be, using Helma). All these projects' roots go back to the 1998-2000 time frame. In retrospect I must say, neither me nor Hannes did a very good job at telling people that our projects were "server-side Javascript". Selling Javascript as a "feature" was hard until the Ajax hype came around and broke the ice.

Chris, 2005-10-30 12:59 CET (+0100) Link

Chris, thanks for the clarifications.

martin, 2005-10-30 13:03 CET (+0100) Link

Nice, server-side Javascript seems to be quite interesting. I'll look into rhinola. I'm already familiar with mod_gcj, however you are correct when you say "admin-fu". No doubt, getting those frameworks up and running can be a pain, I'm sure. Thanks for the info.

Anthony White, 2005-11-14 23:05 CET (+0100) Link

Hi, maybe you can take a look at firecat, a server-side JavaScript Webserver:

David Fu, 2006-01-24 12:10 CET (+0100) Link

Comments are closed. You can contact me instead.