1: Creating the app

1.1: Install Meteor

First we need to install Meteor.

If you running on OSX or Linux run this command in your terminal:

curl https://install.meteor.com/ | sh

If you are on Windows:

npm install --global meteor

You can check more details about Meteor installation here

1.2: Create Meteor Project

The easiest way to set up Meteor with React is by using the command meteor create with the option --blaze and your project name:

meteor create --blaze simple-todos-blaze --release 2.2 

After this, Meteor will create all the necessary files for you.

The files located in the client directory are setting up your client side (web), you can see for example client/main.js which is where your app begins on the client side.

Also, check the server directory where Meteor is setting up the server side (Node.js), you can see the server/main.js. If Meteor, you don’t need to install MongoDB as Meteor provides an embedded version of it ready for you to use.

You can define which are the main files (client and server) on your package.json like this:

{
  ..,
  "meteor": {
    "mainModule": {
      "client": "client/main.js",
      "server": "server/main.js"
    }
  }
} 

You can now run your Meteor app using:

cd simple-todos-blaze
meteor run

Don’t worry, Meteor will keep your app in sync with all your changes from now on.

Take a quick look in all the files created by Meteor, you don’t need to understand them now, but it’s good to know where they are.

Here is a small summary of some files created:

client/main.js        # a JavaScript entry point loaded on the client
client/main.html      # an HTML file that defines view templates
client/main.css       # a CSS file to define your app's styles
server/main.js        # a JavaScript entry point loaded on the server
test/main.js          # a JavaScript entry point when running tests
package.json          # a control file for installing npm packages
package-lock.json     # describes the npm dependency tree
node_modules/         # packages installed by npm
.meteor/              # internal Meteor files
.gitignore            # a control file for git

1.3: Create Task Component

To start working on our todo list app, let’s replace the code of the default starter app with the code below. From there, we’ll talk about what it does.

First, let’s remove the body from our HTML entry-point (leaving just the <head> tag):

<head>
  <title>Simple todo</title>
</head>

Create a new directory with the name imports inside simple-todos-blaze folder. Then we create some new files in the imports/ directory:

imports/ui/App.html

<body>
    {{> mainContainer }}
</body>

<template name="mainContainer">
    <div class="container">
        <header>
            <h1>Todo List</h1>
        </header>

        <ul>
            {{#each tasks}}
                {{> task}}
            {{/each}}
        </ul>
    </div>
</template>

<template name="task">
    <li>{{text}}</li>
</template>

Now we need the data to render on this page.

1.4: Create Sample Tasks

As you are not connecting to your server and your database yet, let’s define some sample data which will be used to render a list of tasks. It will be an array of list items, and you can call it tasks. Go ahead and create a new file called App.js on your file ui and type this code on it:

imports/ui/App.js

import { Template } from 'meteor/templating';
 
import './App.html';
 
Template.app.helpers({
  tasks: [
    { text: 'This is task 1' },
    { text: 'This is task 2' },
    { text: 'This is task 3' },
  ],
});

You can put anything as your text property on each task. Be creative!

Inside our front-end JavaScript entry-point file, client/main.js, we’ll remove the rest of the code and import imports/ui/App.js:

import '../imports/ui/App.js';

You can read more about how imports work and how to structure your code in the Application Structure article of the Meteor Guide.

Now let’s find out what all these bits of code are doing!

1.5: Rendering Data

Meteor parses HTML files and identifies three top-level tags: <head>, <body>, and <template>.

Everything inside any <head> tags is added to the head section of the HTML sent to the client, and everything inside <body> tags is added to the body section, just like in a regular HTML file.

Everything inside <template> tags is compiled into Meteor templates, which can be included inside HTML with {{> templateName}} or referenced in your JavaScript with Template.templateName.

Also, the body section can be referenced in your JavaScript with Template.body. Think of it as a special “parent” template, that can include the other child templates.

All of the code in your HTML files will be compiled with Meteor’s Spacebars compiler. Spacebars uses statements surrounded by double curly braces such as {{#each}} and {{#if}} to let you add logic and data to your views.

You can pass data into templates from your JavaScript code by defining helpers. In the code above, we defined a helper called tasks on Template.mainContainer that returns an array. Inside the template tag of the HTML, we can use {{#each tasks}} to iterate over the array and insert a task template for each value. Inside the #each block, we can display the text property of each array item using {{text}}.

1.6 Mobile look

Let’s see how your app is looking on Mobile. You can simulate a mobile environment by right clicking your app in the browser (we are assuming you are using Google Chrome, as it is the most popular browser) and then inspect, this will open a new window inside your browser called Dev Tools. In the Dev Tools you have a small icon showing a Mobile device and a Tablet:

Click on it and then select the phone that you want to simulate and in the top nav bar.

You can also check your app in your personal cellphone. To do so, connect to your App using your local IP in the navigation browser of your mobile browser.

This command should print your local IP for you on Unix systems ifconfig | grep "inet " | grep -Fv 127.0.0.1 | awk '{print $2}'

You should see the following:

As you can see, everything is small, as we are not adjusting the view port for mobile devices. You can fix this and other similar issues by adding these lines to your client/main.html file, inside the head tag, after the title.

client/main.html

  <meta charset="utf-8"/>
  <meta http-equiv="x-ua-compatible" content="ie=edge"/>
  <meta
      name="viewport"
      content="width=device-width, height=device-height, viewport-fit=cover, initial-scale=1, maximum-scale=1, minimum-scale=1, user-scalable=no"
  />
  <meta name="mobile-web-app-capable" content="yes"/>
  <meta name="apple-mobile-web-app-capable" content="yes"/>

Now your app should look like this:

1.7 Hot Module Replacement

Meteor by default when using Blaze is already adding for you a package called hot-module-replacement. This package updates the javascript modules in a running app that were modified during a rebuild. Reduces the feedback cycle while developing, so you can view and test changes quicker (it even updates the app before the build has finished). You are also not going to lose the state, your app code will be updated, and your state will be the same.

You should also add the package dev-error-overlay at this point, so you can see the errors in your web browser.

meteor add dev-error-overlay

You can try to make some mistakes and then you are going to see the errors in the browser and not only in the console.

Review: you can check how your code should look in the end of this step here

In the next step we are going to work with our MongoDB database to be able to store our tasks.

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