For me, this represents the end of the magic of Meteor and here’s why…
About a year ago, I was on the hunt for a new toolkit for building web apps. Until then, I had been using Rails, which on one hand is a fantastic framework, but simply wasn’t created with the modern web app paradigm in mind.
That’s when I discovered Meteor.
But to me, all those cool features is not what made it magical. The real magic, for me, was when I was completing the Meteor tutorial and I came to the step where you typed the following simple command into your terminal:
meteor deploy myfirstapp.meteor.com
Moments later, I got the message:
Now serving at http://myfirstapp.meteor.com
Oh my gawd. I just couldn’t believe it. This was so cool!
Now, why you might ask was this such a big deal? It was just the simple magic of it, the fact that I could just ship an app and have it be live and available to the world with just a keystrokes.
Yes, if someone today asks me what I think is great about Meteor, the fact that you can deploy an app for free is not the first thing that comes to mind. But that’s not what matters here…
If it weren’t for the ability to deploy apps for free, I wouldn’t have started using Meteor
It was that initial experience that is the reason I started using Meteor in the first place, and have been an enthusiastic and passionate user of this tool ever since.
It was that initial experience that led me to start building web apps with Meteor, and teach workshops on Meteor, and attend Meteor Meetup events, and become an active participant in the community.
Soon that magic will be gone.
Adding insult to injury: two weeks notice and a broken promise
To make things worse, MDG had previously said that the free tier is “never going away” (see above) and on top of that decided to only give users of the free tier two weeks notice. Yes, they are shutting down the free tier in two weeks.
If nothing else, this is just incredibly unprofessional. I would have expected at least a couple months notice from a hosting provider. This has been the case when getting a notice from Heroku.
If I had been asked to enter my credit card info to deploy my first app, that would likely have been a show-stopper
The Meteor Development Group is recommending that users either switch to the Galaxy pay-as-you-go option or consider free hosting on Heroku.
If I had encountered Meteor after the free tier shuts down, and I would have been asked to enter my credit card info to deploy my first app, that would likely have been a show-stopper and I would have moved on to some other framework or tool.
Yes, of course, I expect to have to pay for professional grade hosting, but not just to try something out.
Why not have an explicitly degraded free option?
One thing that baffles me about all this is the complete shut-down of the free tier. Why not do something similar to what Heroku does and provide free hosting that is explicitly degraded? (Eg Heroku’s free option sleeps after 30 minutes of inactivity and must sleep 6 hours in a 24h period.)
The complete shut-down of the free tier, in my opinion, is a huge mistake.
No more community sites, no more quick demo or test apps
Another major reason for keeping the free tier is the ability for members of the Meteor community to post demos, either of a package they’ve built or an app, or just to test something.
This will now all be gone. Many of the posters on the forum have said they would not want to have to pay to be able to post demos like this.
And why should they? They are contributing to the Meteor community. They basically sharing with the world examples of all the cool stuff you can do with Meteor.
Where to go from here
As for me, I will continue to use Meteor for the time being, but now that I will be paying for even the posting of a quick test or demo app, I will be looking around much more actively for other options.