What’s next after Angular? Take the Meteor challenge!

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This month the Meteor framework hit version 1.0. We’ve been waiting to see this for a while here at Packt, and have definitely not been disappointed. Meteor celebrated their launch with a bang – Meteor Day saw old hands and n00bs from around the globe gather together to try out the software and build new things. You might have experienced the reverberations across the Web. Was it a carefully crafted and clever bit of marketing? Obviously. But in Meteor’s case, we can forgive a little fanfare.

Maybe you’re jaded and worn out with a barrage of new tools for web development. You should make an exception for Meteor. Maybe JavaScript isn’t your thing, and you don’t have any interest in working with Node on the backend. You should make an exception for Meteor. I’m not trying to shill anything here – every resource I’ll mention in the course of this post is entirely free. I just think the Meteor web application stack is something special.

Why does Meteor matter for a modern Web?

If you haven’t come across it before, Meteor is a full stack JavaScript framework for the modern Web. It’s agnostic about how you want to structure your app – MVC, MVVM, MVW, stick everything in one folder with filenames such as TestTemplate(2).js –hey, man, you do you! As long as you keep your client and server concerns separate (there are special built-in rules for the client, server, and public folders to help it do its synchronous magic), Meteor won’t judge.

The framework’s clarion cry is that creating application software should be radically simple . We all know that the Web looks different now than it did even a couple of years ago. The app is queen. Single-page web apps have made the Internet programmatic and reactive. The proliferation of mobile apps redefining the online path between customers and businesses are moving us even further away from treating the Internet as a static point of reference. “Pages” are a less and less an accurate metaphor for the visualization of our shared digital realm. Today’s Internet is deep, receptive, active, and aware.


Given that, it’s hard to argue against making JavaScript app development simpler. Simple doesn’t mean shoddy, or hacky. It comes from thinking about the Web as it exists now and making the right demands of a framework. Meteor.js lives its philosophy – a multi-user, real-time web-app can be put together in a couple of hours with time to spare for pretty UI design and to window shop for packages. Don’t believe me? Try it out for yourself!

Throwing down the gauntlet

Originally, we wanted to do a Meteor challenge for the staff here in our Birmingham offices. The winner would have gotten something sweet – perhaps an extra turn on the water slide or an exemption from her turn feeding the Packt scorpions. Alas, in the end the obligation to get on with our actual jobs (helping you guys learn software) got in the way of making this happen. So I’m outsourcing the challenge to you, dear reader.

Your mission:

  1. Download Meteor 1.0.
  2. Prototype an app.
  3. Use the time left over to feel pleased with yourself.
  4. You get extra credit if:
    1. The app has a particular appeal for book lovers (like us!)
      or
    2. It contains a good pun

If you’re a Linux or Mac user you can get started right away. If you’re on Windows, you’ll need to use a virtual environment, either in your browser or using something like Vagrant. Don’t worry, the Meteor site has tutorials to get you started in a trice. After that, you can check out all kinds of great learning resources made available by the devs and the community. Get started with the official docs and tutorial, then move on to more hardcore tips and tricks at BulletProof Meteor. The more aurally inclined and those of you who like to code while you drive might prefer to check out the Meteor Podcast. (Please do not code while you drive! – The Legal Team.) When you get stuck, hit up the community on the G+ group. Or browse MeteorHelp for a collation of other sources of information.

Most importantly, let me know how you get on with it! We’re excited to see what you come up with. Do you see yourself making Meteor part of your workflow in future?

Check out our JavaScript Tech Page for more insight into Meteor and full-stack JS development.

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