Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Meteor JS

Here at Hedtek we are all passionate about technology, always eager to try out something new: Like playing with a new web framework that has just been released, or even experimenting to see whether it's possible to have 4 different displays on a single Ubuntu machine (more about this in a later post).

Last week we decided to do a short on , the framework that has gained a lot of popularity over the last few weeks. Some results of this spike are reported here.


First impressions? 

Wow, Meteor is pretty cool: Using it feels like installing and using  for the first time! We managed to create a basic webapp having two nested entities in less than an hour, without having any previous familiarity with the framework. This is actually excellent, considering that it gives us responsiveness and concurrency amongst multiple browser instances for free.

If you aren't convinced yet, watch the screencast available on their website, at http://www.meteor.com/screencast.

How to get started 

Follow the example at http://www.meteor.com/examples/leaderboard. You will be able to generate a skeleton for your app in just seconds. You can then proceed and edit the HTML template and the JavaScript file and add custom functionality.

Other observations

  • Meteor is very fast, enables fast, responsive user interfaces and seems to handle concurrency very well 
  • It's pretty easy to grasp the syntax and structure, mostly because the structure is very lightweight (only 3 files); also, having some familiarity with Handlebars was useful
  • It enables fast development, at least for a small example application 
  • Lack of a more complex structure can be an impediment for developing large applications, having everything in the same JavaScript file is not very efficient while developing large applications 
  • The documentation is sometimes unclear, and needs to be improved, however having a look at http://docs.meteor.com/ was definitely helpful 
  • Meteor stores data in collections, which are easy to set up 
  • Data is persisted in , a document-store that we have enjoyed using in the past, which means it supports schema-less data, suitable for storing JSON objects 
  • You can add "smart packages"; e.g. coffeescript adds support for CoffeeScript, so you can write your apps in Coffee rather than simple javascript 
  • Finally, Meteor is not to be mistaken for Meteor HTTP server

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