Meteor aims to make JavaScript programming fun again

The framework, aimed at streamlining the creation of the new breed of Web apps, moves toward 1.0 release

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Another challenge: How do I get new data? So some change happens in the world. Let's say that someone else posts a story about me on Facebook. How do we get that piece of information into all of the running copies of Facebook in different people's browsers throughout the world that want that to update their screen? There's a feed of information on the right-hand side of that app. Or in Twitter, I want to explain new tweets as they come in. To do that, I need a new wire protocol. I need a streaming wire protocol that lets the server publish data into the client. HTTP won't work for that. It's request-response protocol that was designed for a different model. Meteor includes a real-time wire protocol called DDP (Distributed Data Protocol).

Another example is the very act of how do you deliver one of these rich applications to the browser? [As a developer] I need some infrastructure to bundle that up into JavaScript and CSS and HTML, and I need to be able to deliver that into a browser when they first come to my app, and as I make updates, I have to have a story for how I'm going to push those updates going to push those updates into the client without disrupting the user. The story of Meteor is it's not one thing, it's an end-to-end or a full-stack framework that addresses all those different pieces in a unified way with one language and one API for how to write an application like this.

InfoWorld: When did you first release Meteor? It was only about a couple years ago, wasn't it?

DeBergalis: April 2012 was the first public announcement, and we were absolutely overwhelmed at the level of interest because it was far from finished, and we wanted to show off what we were thinking.

InfoWorld: What are some of the major success stories with Meteor? Can you point to any major websites, Web projects, whatever, that were built using it, or is it still early for that?

DeBergalis: It is early, and we have had to caution people that it's rapidly changing. The interfaces are still undergoing, in some cases, rapid change. There's an app gallery on our website so you can see some examples of what people have gone ahead and used Meteor in production. One theme you'll see is startups where development velocity is very important and where they're comfortable with new technology. We've seen companies take advantage of Meteor just to be able to develop an interactive rich application very, very quickly, faster than they could have otherwise.

InfoWorld: At what stage of development is Meteor?

DeBergalis: We're at, I believe it's 0.6.6 [release] today, and we have announced a road map for a 1.0 release in early-2014.

InfoWorld: What improvements are you planning for Meteor between now and with the 1.0 release?

DeBergalis: There's a few big-ticket items. I can talk about those in a second, but the main point about 1.0 is that signals when Meteor's APIs are stable, the core APIs are stable and we can stand behind those for a company that's looking to build a significant app, where they want to know that they can depend on those interfaces for, say, a year and that we would be able to support that. Specifically, there's a couple things in flight that we're wrapping up. One of them is a scalability project around the interaction of MongoDB, which is our database, and the real-time queries that let us push new information into the browser. And one of them is Meteor UI, which is our technology for automatically redrawing the screen.

This story, "Meteor aims to make JavaScript programming fun again," was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow on Twitter.

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