My First Workshop Meteor London

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A free t-shirt is the best t-shirt

Ladies Who Code put on a competition to win a scholarship to Meteor London’s first workshop, and guess who won! I’m incredibly grateful and so glad I went.

Meteor is an awesome Javascript framework. A framework helps you build websites and apps more quickly, as it gives you a skeleton. This skeleton in Meteor’s case is made up of Javascript, CSS, HTML and MongoDB (a database).

I’ve done some of Michael Hartl’s Ruby on Rails tutorial. A good part of any beginners Rails tutorial is spent saying “don’t worry about all that other stuff, concentrate on what I’m talking about” so it was amazing having only three files to start off with and knowing what all of them did. Also when you edit something in the code your edits are live straight away, which was a nice departure from Rails.

This was the last section.

All these discoveries were made before the workshop started using Meteor’s official beginner’s guide, so I was optimistic. I’d also ran Javascripting, recommended as a primer before the event, and felt okay about all the concepts. I’ll admit at this point I did have misgivings: it all felt far too simple! I listened to a Code Newbie podcast on Meteor on the way down and the speaker confirmed my fears.

I was right; it was nowhere near that simple. The introduction started off fine, but after about fifteen minutes there was a chunk of time in which I wasn’t sure if anyone in the room was speaking English. Ines, from Ladies who Code, assured me her first workshop had been just the same. Oli, one of the people running the event, said immersion was the point, and this was to show me what being a developer was really like.

The participants and tutors communicated online through gitter, a message room attached to github, which was populated with helpful notes. I could also ask questions if I got stuck whilst Oli and Alan roamed the room.

I learnt a lot about the cool features of Meteor. One that sticks out is its authentication packages: if you want Facebook authentication, you install a package, type a very short of bit of code that amounts to “put it here” and then you have a login box. It’s magical and after Rails it was great to see how fast a (seasoned) newbie could make an application.

We also went away with t-shirts and a free copy of Discover Meteor, the canonical text of Meteor 1.0.

This experience has shown me how much more I have to learn about Javascript, how simple frameworks can be built up into applications and how developers learn once they know how to develop. Off the back of the Code Newbie podcast I found Meteor Academy, which is aimed at beginners. They suggest a few Javascript resources and I’m going to do Eloquent Javascript and make sure all the fundamentals are there.

All in all a great if stressful day. I met a lot of inspiring people confident in their field and saw how these things run from the inside. If I could go back and do it all again, I would. This time though I’d take a voice recorder!

Written on November 5, 2014