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26 July 2012, 11:32

Meteor web platform gets $11.2 million funding

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Meteor logo The developers of Meteor, the open source JavaScript-centric web platform, have received $11.2 million funding. Meteor, which was first previewed at the end of 2011 as SkyBreak, quickly generated excitement as development progressed. The platform allows developers to write JavaScript applications for browsers which automatically synchronise clients and server data without needing to add code for that purpose. Meteor is now at version 0.38 and is still developing rapidly.

Geoff Schmidt, CEO of the Meteor Developer Group, has announced that the $11.2 million funding, mostly from Andreessen Horowitz, will allow the core team "to focus entirely on Meteor for several years". The funding also "eliminates any possibility of talent acquisition" and the developers "control the company's board". Andreessen Horowitz's seat on the Meteor board is to be filled by Rod Johnson, creator of the Spring framework who recently left SpringSource and VMWare.

The immediate plan for the developers is to make Meteor "the best platform for writing most any kind of app" and they have set a goal of being as ubiquitous as "SQL, Apache or Java". While assuring Meteor users that it will always be open source, a longer term plan is to produce a commercial, enterprise grade, multi-tenant hosting environment for Meteor applications which will be called Galaxy. "Galaxy is a long distance in the future," says Schmidt.

Meteor uses Node.js for serving code and web content and the MongoDB API for managing data. Meteor applications create collections which are stored in the MongoDB database on the server, while clients cache them. Applications are written in JavaScript and Meteor can run the same code on the client and the server, although developers can take control of how code is deployed. Clients and servers see the same API to the database and when the data changes in a client's cache, that change is transmitted to the server, which then propagates the change to all other subscribing clients. Meteor sets out to transfer only data, rather than HTML, between client and server for more efficient handling of those changes.

Although Meteor itself is built around the Node.js server at the backend, it actually breaks from Node.js's asynchronous model to run each request on its own thread (node fiber); this does make it somewhat incompatible with the rest of the node.js ecosystem. The Meteor framework is, though, powerful enough that this would not be a problem for many developers. Meteor has, to date, lacked an authentication system but an early version of a new auth branch is available.

Meteor is MIT licensed and details on how to download and install it are included in the documentation. Source code is available from the project's Github repository.


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