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Platformatic: Fast Backend Development Made Easy

Today, we are excited to announce our investment in Platformatic, a new company that is building a fast backend development platform to free developers from the complexities of repetitively building and operating distributed application backends, allowing them to focus on business logic instead. In today’s digital world, businesses of all shapes and sizes are undergoing digital transformation initiatives in order to keep pace with the growing need to deliver robust, reliable and scalable software. However, with application architectures moving from monolithic to distributed, building and operating these distributed backends is becoming increasingly complex.

While frontend application development has benefitted from modern frameworks and platforms, backend development has lagged far behind due to its complex and rigid nature. Platformatic aims to change that.

Built on top of Fastify, one of the most popular Node.js development frameworks with a powerful plugin architecture well suited for speed and customization, Platformatic abstracts away all the complexities of building backends for distributed applications and allows developers to focus on delivering great software, at speed.

Platformatic’s co-founders, Matteo Collina and Luca Maraschi, are longstanding Node.js developers and community leaders – Matteo is the co-creator of open source Fastify and Pino, a fast logging system, in addition to being a board member of the OpenJS Foundation and member of the Node.js Technical Steering Committee. We asked Matteo and Luca to share their vision and mission for Platformatic in our founder Q&A:

Where did you grow up and what were your childhoods like?

Matteo: I grew up in a small Italian town called Forli. My dad was an architect who came from a long line of civil engineers - they designed schools, hospitals, and train stations. More importantly, my dad was a sailor and an international regatta judge - he taught me how to catch the wind, and how to make my own wind out of thin air. My mom came from a family of entrepreneurs - my grandfather founded a clothing wholesale business that my mom is still involved in - and she herself is into art having served as director of museums and multiple heritage organizations in Italy. As a result, I grew up with a strong appreciation for engineering, art and entrepreneurship.

Luca: I come from a family of entrepreneurs in Pavia, a small city in Italy near Milan. My father was in real estate and my mother was a child psychiatrist. I remember asking my grandfather, who had a rags-to-riches entrepreneurial journey, what his secret to success was. His answer – “right place, right time and right people” – has guided everything I have done in my life ever since.

When did you first discover computers?

Matteo: My father was among the first in Italy to adopt CAD back in the 1980s. He was also interested in video games, but one couldn’t buy those in Italy at that time. So, he bought magazines and transcribed the code on a Commodore 64 in the evenings. My earliest memories from those days are of sitting on my dad’s lap learning to type on his computer - I was 4 years old and was yet to learn how to write.

Luca: My introduction to computers was also via a Commodore 64. I was in elementary school when I started reverse engineering video games. I soon got into hacking – my call sign was n0b0dy – and hacked into our local ISP to get extra hours on the Internet. It was all fine until one day, when the police showed up at our door. Imagine my parents’ reaction, especially with my dad being a lawyer by training! I was grounded for several months, but by then I was already a convert into the hacking way of life.

A young Matteo hacking away on a Commodore 64

What motivated you to become entrepreneurs?

Luca: My entrepreneurial journey started early. While in high school, my hometown Pavia became the first small city in Italy to launch a “digital government” portal called ePavia. I pitched an end-to-end encrypted peer-to-peer file sharing service as part of that portal and won that contract. That was my first entrepreneurial experience. My second entrepreneurial stint came when I started college. An agency offered me 500 euros to write a C program for dog tracking transponders. I was incredibly proud when I finished the work in a week and invited my dad to attend the demo. After finding out that the agency was developing this product for Mars, my dad encouraged me to buy out the two owners of the agency. A few months later, I completed the project and sold the agency for 2.5x what I bought it for. That was the moment I learned how to make a living out of combining the right vision with efficient execution.

Newspaper article featuring Luca’s work for the “digital government” of Pavia

You are the creator of Fastify, one of the most popular web development frameworks out there. What motivated you to create it?

Matteo: I was an early Node.js developer way back in 2010 when I decided to use it for my PhD research in IoT device management. I started using several of the then-popular Node.js frameworks like Express, Hapi, etc., but felt that I could build one that would be faster, have better data validation and native logging support. Thus Fastify was born. Together with Tomas Della Vedova, I created and open sourced Fastify which is used at scale by the largest enterprise users of Node.js today. Fastify just works out-of-the-box, scales well, is extremely configurable and has a phenomenal plug-in ecosystem thanks to a fantastic open source community. The framework is used by thousands of organizations and has over 625 contributors and 27,000 stars on GitHub. We are building Platformatic on top of Fastify, meaning that for any developer building applications using Fastify, it will be a really easy on-ramp to Platformatic.

What problem are you trying to solve with Platformatic?

Luca: Platformatic was born out of our own personal journey in the software development industry. Both Matteo and I have spent countless hours building software solutions for businesses of all sizes, and it has shaped our perspective profoundly. As developers, we've faced mounting pressure to deliver reliable and scalable software rapidly, as every business strives to become a software company.

However, the shift from monolithic to distributed architectures, while helping developers to work in parallel, has introduced tremendous complexity into the application development process. Today, before even writing a single line of code for a service, developers must weave together a sophisticated "backend" that includes database integrations for seamless data access, authentication and authorization for robust security, CI/CD for swift and reliable code deployment, feature flags to control functionality delivery, observability and telemetry for performance monitoring, and an API gateway to provide code as a service for other teams to use.

Moreover, all of this must be done ideally in an infrastructure-agnostic manner so that applications can run anywhere - on-prem, cloud-prem or the public cloud. Building such a backend and operating it at scale requires significant investments in time and human capital - an investment that is often repetitive across enterprises - and distributed systems expertise that is scarce.

With Platformatic, we provide an out-of-the-box backend that lets any developer, regardless of their experience with distributed systems, get a robust and scalable backend up and running so that they can focus their time and effort into writing application code. Because Platformatic is built on Fastify, it offers a powerful plugin architecture and the opportunity to extensively customize. Finally, Platformatic - just like Fastify - is entirely open source, letting developers tinker with any parts of it and add new plugins, thereby enabling a dynamic ecosystem of powerful, needle-moving contributions from the community.

What is the long-term vision for Platformatic?

Our vision with Platformatic is to offer a great developer experience that completely abstracts away all the complexity of building and operating a backend platform so that developers need not reinvent the wheel ever again. We plan to build Platformatic such that it just works out-of-the-box and yet provides all the reliability, security and scalability that developers and enterprises so desperately need. Additionally, while the out-of-the-box Platformatic experience provides an “opinionated” view of how distributed backends should be, it allows for customizations to address bespoke enterprise needs. Our goal is to be “opinionated without being prescriptive” and the rich plug-in ecosystem around Fastify provides the best platform to accomplish that vision.

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