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Well-funded Meteor poised to impact web development

The 'web era' of apps was so five minutes ago

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The developers behind the Meteor open source project say they want to revolutionize how applications are built, and they've just been handed a whopping $11.2m in Series A funding to do it.

Meteor is an open source platform for building web applications with rich user interfaces that run on the client rather than the server – applications like Gmail, Twitter, Quora, or the Facebook photo viewer, for example. This is a style of software that Meteor's Matt DeBergalis says is becoming the new norm.

"Today's users expect and demand that quality of an app," DeBergalis tells The Reg, "but for the typical developer it's out of reach."

Meteor, he says, allows even "weekend coders" to build complete, functioning browser-based applications in a matter of days.

The challenge of writing applications that run mostly in the browser, DeBergalis says, is that the application code is running on a system that is far away from the data it needs. Meteor aims to create standard protocols that make it easier to connect browser-based applications with data hosted in cloud services.

Meteor applications are written in pure JavaScript, eliminating the need to learn a second, server-side language, such as PHP or Java. Moreover, one of Meteor's core principles is that application UIs should run solely in a user's browser or mobile device, and that only data should be transmitted over the network – never HTML.

10 minutes to web REVOLUTION!

DeBergalis says the shift toward client-based computing represents nothing less than a revolution in application development, and that it signals the beginning of the end of how applications have been built for the last decade – what he calls "the web era."

"The new world is not going to be based on HTTP," DeBergalis says. "We're going to move toward something that's really designed for this world." Meteor, he says, might be it.

The company's funding round, which was announced on Wednesday, was led by Andreessen Horowitz and Matrix Partners. Andreessen Horowitz's Peter Levine and Matrix's David Skok will join Meteor as special advisors. SpringSource founder Rod Johnson will also join the company's board.

"$11.2 million is a lot of money," writes Meteor CEO Geoff Schmidt in a blog post. "What it gives us is certainty. No matter what else happens in the world, the core team will be able to focus entirely on Meteor for several years, without taking on consulting work or trying to create some other application on top of Meteor to sell."

For now, DeBergalis says, Meteor plans to concentrate on fleshing out and refining the Meteor code base, which is currently still in alpha, as well as building and nurturing the open source community around the product.

In the long term, Meteor plans to market software called Galaxy that makes it easier to integrate modern web technologies, such as Meteor, into enterprise IT environments. For now, however, the company's focus will be on the Meteor framework.

"Deals like these have a lot of moving parts and take a long time to close," Schmidt writes. "It's a relief to make this announcement and get back to coding." ®

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