The view from the Plimton Lodge’s deck

Tales of Adventure and Intrigue from the Inaugural Meteor Space Camp

50 Meteorites and 1 lodge in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

Friday, October 23

The aroma of home cooked food and a cold beer placed in our hands greeted us as we entered the lodge and joined a total of 50 Meteorites for Meteor’s first official Unconference. Boisterous conversations and laughter filled the lodge’s high ceilings as developers met others who had authored familiar packages, or other developers with whom they had collaborated with online, yet had never met in person. It wasn’t long until the plastic was stripped off the boxes of board games provided and competitive play broke out before the hacking began.

Only a handful of the games provided for Meteor Space Camp

The night concluded with the live filming of the Crater Podcast. Josh Owens and Ben Strahan, who had traded their usual computer chairs in lofty armchairs set against the backdrop of a fireplace, discussed the week’s trending topics on Crater. The audience chimed in during a live Q&A, with a surprise MVP emerging from the crowd: Chet Corcos.

Saturday, October 24

Meteorites awaiting Pete Corey’s presentation: “Why You Should Always Check Your Arguments”

The Unconference kicked off in the late morning after the Meteorites fueled up on coffee and a hearty breakfast. A handful of the developers were running on only a few hours of sleep, but none were deterred when it came to bringing their A-game during presentations.

  • Rest2DDP” by Paul Dowman. Rest DDP allows a user to publish a live updating DDP API for any existing REST API with no coding required. Only a few weeks prior, this package had won 1st place against 1000+ participating developers at the first Meteor Global Distributed Hackathon.
  • “Meteor Kills Dinosaurs” by Madhan Sundaram. Madhan covered his journey from Java based technologies to Meteor.
  • “Meteor + Neo4j” by Chet Corcos. Chet talked about how using a graph database, such as Neo4j, can perform complex relational queries.
  • “Juggling Async in Javascript” by Dean Radcliffe. Dean discussed alternative methods to callbacks such as promises, fibers, reactivity and ES6 generators.
Dean Radcliffe during his presentation: “Juggling Async in Javascript”
  • “Why You Should Always Check Your Arguments” by Pete Corey. Pete’s experience in software security allowed him to share a few tips in safeguarding your Meteor app when it comes to publications and DDP.
  • “Why Slides Are Important” by Aiko Cheslin. Aiko shared his tips and tools on how to organize a successful event for developers based upon his experience as a co-organizer for Meteor Denver.
  • “Monkeypatching” by Gregory Shwedock. Gregory discussed how to override a Meteor Method e.g. to have a universal callback.
  • “Deploy To Windows?” by Eric Terpstra. Eric proved he is a champ when it comes to programming with Meteor in Windows by sharing the challenges and work arounds to make it possible — all while sipping a glass of scotch. Cheers, Eric!
  • “Webpack + React + Meteor + CSS Modules” by Ramsay Lanier. Ramsay discussed the many benefits of using Webpack and why it should be a core feature to your build. He also shared his app in-development, Push Quotes, wherein a speaker can increase the efficiency of twitter engagement through predetermined quotes and hashtags.
  • “Let’s Make Moolah” by Ben Strahan. Ben shared the idea of using Meteor to build Moneybot, an app for automated trading by identifying high probability investments involving currencies.
  • “Making Church Modern” by James Baxley. James leads the development team for NewSpring Church. “Church is full of different people, and the world is full of different devices. With Meteor’s help, we have been working to roll out new products to every device possible at once.”
Matt McClard sharing his experience on Shark Tank
  • Special feature: Matt McClard. Matt co-founded Foot Cardigan, an online sock subscription company built entirely with Meteor. Matt and his co-founders had the opportunity to pitch their product to investors via ABC’s television show, Shark Tank.

Once the presentations concluded, the group dispersed to enjoy dinner and play board games.

Matt McClard and Jesse Florig playing Settlers of Catan

Sunday, October 25

The hackathon started late on Sunday morning. Groups of three were randomly selected to create a Meteor project within an 8 hour time period. Josh Owens, organizer of Meteor Space Camp, judged the contestants and selected the top three teams to be awarded with Raspberry Pi 2s.

Aiko Cheslin and Mitchell Wulfman programming during the hackathon on the deck
Ramsay Lanier and Adam Smith collaborating during the hackathon

“Times up!,” Josh announced sharply at 7:00pm. The Meteorites removed their hands from their keyboards and migrated to the second level of the lodge for group presentations.

The resulting winners of the hackathon:

  1. Once Upon A Tweet by Aiko Cheslin, Mitchell Wulfman and Matt McClard. This app would scan trending topics on Twitter every 24 hours and kick off a story in the form of a tweet to encapsulate group story telling.
  2. Sauce CMS by Dave Bascom, Devan Beitel and Jesse Florig. This Meteor package allowed for a simpler CMS experience by creating editable content in the browser. For example, an admin would be able to click on a h1 tag and retype a headline in the browser.
  3. ReRuled by Ramsay Lanier, Adam Smith and Kendall Smith. This app allowed for users to create custom sets of rules for board or card games.

The hackathon revealed many exciting projects. One group created an events app to upload and share photos, without user accounts, to host everything in one place. Another group used the d3 library to create intriguing visualizations from data provided by The Cato Institute, while another group took an entirely different approach by utilizing packages and libraries from presentations from the previous day, such as Rest2DDP and Webpack, to create a calendar app using the Google API. Another group created a CMS app via a shared link for group collaboration to eliminate the worry of version control.

Josh and Wendy Owens, the hosts of Meteor Space Camp

Special shout out to Josh and Wendy Owens, our gracious hosts and organizers for Meteor Space Camp. Thanks to them, a large group of Meteor developers were able to forge new friendships and pave the way for future collaboration. Cheers to you both for igniting the Meteor community and orchestrating a wonderful weekend full of laughter and learning for all involved!