FAQ

On Dec 20, 2013, at 2:45AM, Richard Marr wrote:

Mikeal,

To sum up the way I currently see it, switching to immutable packages would:

* solve a whole class of subtle problems caused by unrequested code changes sure.
* allow aggressive caching, reducing the cost of the npm registry and making npm use faster for most use cases
this isn't an issue. the cache control can, and must, be proactively invalidated on _changes from the database for document urls anyway, it's trivial to do the same for tarball changes. it can literally cache forever so long as it responds to pro-active invlaidation.
* change behaviour only for version-locked dependencies when that (and only that) specific patch is unpublished
i'm not disagreeing with you but when you say things like "change in behavior" you're sort of sugar coating the fact that packages will fail to install at a greater rate than they do now. this "change in behavior" is not trivial, there is no notice sent to someone when their package can no longer resolve a dependency, it will usually require someone to see a failed install, report an issue, and the maintainer to intervene. the only way to avoid this is to never version lock your dependencies which we know people don't do and that there are tens of thousands of packages in npm today with some number of version locked deps.
That's two HUGE wins, and one downside. The downside can be reduced into obscurity being very rare by making it hard to unpublish, so that authors only bother to do it if they genuinely need to... i.e. serious legal or security reasons... cases where it's actually the right thing to do to break dependent apps.

From what I've heard so far, force republish is mainly used to keep patch numbers slow and sequential, which seems like a much lower priority requirement than introducing behaviour changes silently and unexpectedly into dependent apps.

Please do contribute more if you have more time... I do want to understand the root cause of your replies, and please set me straight if I've missed or misunderstood any of your comments
I don't misunderstand you, I don't even think that we disagree on what would or would not happen and the potential wins and loses. What I don't think we are in alignment about is the severity of the up and down sides of the available options.

We don't get a clean slate. At this point in time we can't afford to make changes that might break parts of the existing ecosystem even if it makes the future a little better. We can only really entertain strategies that make current and future packages less prone to these problems without the potential to break existing ones.
Rich




On 19 December 2013 23:49, Mikeal Rogers wrote:
They won't :)

Oh well :)

It's better for things to work than for everyone to agree.

-Mikeal
On Dec 19, 2013, at 3:47PM, Alex Kocharin wrote:


Well okay, just one silly argument. How will these people know that they're doing the wrong thing if nothing will ever break? :)


20.12.2013, 03:42, "Mikeal Rogers" <mikeal.rogers@gmail.com>:
First off, if someone version locks they are already doing the wrong thing. Saying "make my package ignore bugfix releases" is almost always the wrong thing. In this case it's better to keep their package working for them since they clearly don't know what they're doing.

If they **really** didn't want any changes coming in that they didn't know about then they had two other options that would still work: 1) check the module in to git if they are deploying at app or shrinkwrap publish if it's not something being deployed 2) stick the md5 in package json to ensure nobody can give them another tarball for the same version.

We have to deal with what people are doing in practice when they don't necessarily understand the best practice and it's especially important when you maintain a common dependency to do what you can to keep everyone who relies on you working even when they don't do things correctly.

-Mikeal

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