Core-js Maintainer Considers Closing Source Code After Being Broke and Angry

Denis Pushkarev, the primary maintainer of the open-source project Core-js, which is used on hundreds of millions of websites, is considering making it closed source or walking away from the project altogether. In a frustrated 11,000-word post on GitHub, Pushkarev said that his donations had been largely cut off due to western financial firms not dealing with payments to Russia. He also added that the community had been little support, saying that when he started raising funds to support the development of Core-js, the result was only $57 per month.

Pushkarev said that he started to receive a continuous stream of hate when he added a Patreon link in the Core-js installation code to drum up more support. Now, he is considering changing the next release to closed source. Core-js is a modular standard library for JavaScript that provides a host of useful operations, including polyfills, or ways of implementing modern browser features.

The project is described in more detail on npm as a modular standard library for JavaScript that includes polyfills for ECMAScript up to 2023, promises, symbols, collections, iterators, typed arrays, many other features, ECMAScript proposals, some cross-platform WHATWG/W3C features and proposals like URL. Over 13 million developers are listed as using it on GitHub, and it gets downloaded more than 43 million times every week via the npm registry.

The primary Core-js maintainer was imprisoned for 10 months in 2020 after hitting and killing a teenager on his motorbike. The project survived with the rest of its small maintainer contributing, but the status quo is unsustainable, he wrote today. He is considering various options for the future, including appropriate financial backing, being hired by a company that pays him to work on open source and web standards, making it closed source and commercial, or a slow death.

Pushkarev said that the free version would be significantly limited if he takes the license-changing approach. All extra functionality will be paid for. Core-js will continue to evolve appropriately and, in the scope of this project, will be created many new tools for ensuring web compatibility. Responding to the anticipated comment “It’s open-source, we will fork it, fuck off,” he said that he sees such comments regularly, but he has said already too many times that if someone will fork and properly maintain Core-js, he’d be happy.

Pushkarev’s position met some sympathetic responses, with some people noting that Core-js is another example of critical open-source infrastructure that is entirely hidden from view. It is a vital building block that very few are aware of. And like so many of these projects, it is almost entirely written and maintained by a single individual, who receives very little reward.

To support Pushkarev’s significant efforts, Open Collective, Patreon, or Bitcoin (bc1qlea7544qtsmj2rayg0lthvza9fau63ux0fstcz) are the ways to do so.


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