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Is React the Future of Meteor?

by David Iffland on Jan 23, 2016 |

After a series of blog posts on the JavaScript platform Meteor, developers are left scratching their heads, unsure of the platform's future.

Sacha Greif published a series of posts on the "State of Meteor", a somewhat disingenious title given that he does not work or speak for Meteor Development Group. Still, the posts sparked a flurry of conversations on the also-ran JavaScript platform.

In Part 1, "What Went Wrong", Greif says that "It's no secret that Meteor is in a state of flux right now." He goes on to describe how Meteor requires developers to go "all-in", adopting the technology on both the front- and back-end. While this technique has benefits in the short term, getting users up to speed quickly, the long term story results in added complexity:

Once a new Meteor user starts to go beyond the basics and look into things like routing, pagination, subscription caching & management, server-side rendering, or database joins, they realize that the difficulty curve quickly ramps up.

The second installment, "What Happens Next", prescribes that the future of Meteor relies on adopting React as the technological underpinning. It describes Meteor as the glue that makes developing a React-based application simpler because Meteor controls the whole stack. Instead of using their own technology components such as the Blaze front-end, React components are used on the front and back, connected with Meteor's technology.

Right now, using React requires cobbling together multiple bricks: React itself, its plugins, Webpack, some kind of data management system, to say nothing of a whole back-end stack. But Meteor is in a unique position to solve that challenge for you, and in essence become the best possible platform to build React apps.

These controversial posts had plenty of comments from the community. In a discussion on Hacker News, user magicmu concurred with the some of the pain points:

[Meteor has a] learning cliff that you hit after a certain point. We used FlowRouter since it has React support, but managing subscriptions correctly (let alone caching them) took way more time than we had anticipated. It wasn't until near the end of the project that we realized none of us actually had a total mastery of what was going on under the hood in meteor, which was a terrifying realization.

The confusion is palpable. Hacker News user desireco42 summed it up:

It is kind of sad that this wonderful framework, from total awesomeness, came to this situation where I am not sure what will future bring and should I make my projects in Meteor.

Requests for comment from Meteor Development Group were not immediately returned.

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Why Meteor? by James Tan

Everyone is moving to ReactJS/ReactNative now. Why would we bother about Meteor?

Re: Why Meteor? by wander cleiton

Because the proposal is another, Meteor and Framework full stack while React is just a lib to solve views

Re: Why Meteor? by Stefan Neumann

So I guess I'm not everyone ;) React will not survive beyond its current hype. It's just an architecturally overblown solution to problems you don't have, if you know how to code properly. WebComponents are the future and as Adobe and Microsoft have already learned: You can't beat the standards.

It seems Meteor tries to ride on the React-wave now, but that won't help them on the long term either. In my opinion they should have concentrated on the client, decoupling it from certain backend-necessities by a message-based system.

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