Meteor for the Enterprise: Scoutzie's Internal Dashboard
An important step for any new technology is being used in production by a major player: LinkedIn with Node.js, Twitter with Scala, Google with Go…
While this hasn’t happened with Meteor yet, under the surface many companies are already using Meteor for side projects and internal tools.
Today we highlight one such company, YCombinator-backed Scoutzie, who developed an internal dashboard after reading Discover Meteor. Scoutzie founder Kirill Zubovsky was nice enough to answer a few questions.
Sacha: First of all, what does Scoutzie do?
Kirill: Scoutzie is a design marketplace. We make it incredibly easy for any designer to start an agency. Scoutzie provides designers with tools to market their work, to collect payments from clients, and to project-manage their work. For clients, we make searching for the right designer very simple, and we also provide the environment to ensure design projects go smoothly and everyone is happy at the end.
Sacha: Apart from Meteor, what’s Scoutzie’s tech stack like?
If I were to build things from scratch, I may try a more front-end centric arrangement
Sacha: And when did you start looking into Meteor?
Kirill: Actually, just about the time when Discover Meteor hit the virtual books shelves [note: May 2013]. It was perfect timing.
Sacha: When you got into Meteor, what was the learning process like? What were your biggest challenges?
Kirill: Well, this is how we learned. First, @jaigouk , our co-founder from Seoul, took a few days to do nothing but read up on Meteor, including your book. He put together a prototype, and then with some of Jai’s help, I was able to catch up and figure out how things worked too :)
The book was extremely helpful!
The book was extremely helpful! There are still not many resources available out there to quickly catch up with Node, and there are even fewer for Meteor. Being able to look at your app in the book and to match what the code does with the physical output, I think that’s priceless.
[Meteor] is different from what I am used to, so it takes a little while to get things right
The biggest challenge I have with Meteor is its structure. The way events are handle and how the template is structured, it’s different from what I am used to, so it takes a little while to get things right. Jai is more of a backend guy, and he says writing an API server with Meteor is a bit of a challenge, comparing plain node.js frameworks like Express.
Lastly, hosting was a problem. We kind of “threw spaghetti at the wall” and architected our app in a very memory inefficient way; so heavy, in fact, many hosts were erring out :) The problem is of course not with the hosts, but with our design. It’s just something Meteor users should keep in mind when building their first app.
One piece of advice for everyone thinking of buying the book - don’t be a cheap skate, buy the Premium Version! Seriously, saving a hundred dollars is not worth the time you could save yourself with extra learning content [Note: Thanks Kirill!].
Sacha: So how exactly are you using Meteor at Scoutzie?
Kirill: We have an admin dashboard running Meteor. It shows me how many new projects we got each day, how many users have joined, and it lets me browse through our users to see whether their profiles are set up correctly and so forth. Meteor is very useful for this because all the data is already in the database, and Meteor simply shows it to me in the fastest way possible.
[Note: I would’ve loved to show you images of the actual dashboard, but Kirill informed me that they havn’t had a chance to make it look presentable yet… So you’ll just have to imagine it for now!]
Sacha: So your Meteor dashboard talks to Scoutzie? How does that work?
Kirill: We have a private API that’s capable of making some calls to Scoutzie, but to keep it secure, we kept it pretty limited for now.
Sacha: People often wonder why they should pick one technology over another. In your opinion, how does Meteor compare to other solutions you’ve tried?
Kirill: The first version of our admin dashboard was using Sinatra. Jaigouk put it together in a couple of weeks. It was useful, but after a few months it because obvious that we needed something faster, easier to maintain, and most importantly real-time.
We got [our dashboard] up and running in less than two weeks!
Meteor was a much better solution, and with the help of your book, we got it up and running in less than two weeks!
Sacha: Finally, do you have any plans to use Meteor for more projects?
Kirill: We are certainly going to continue using it for our dashboard and will expand the capabilities. There is still a lot we can learn about Meteor, so I would not build production pieces on it yet.
Not because it won’t work, but rather because we are a small team and I don’t think we can allocate sufficient resources to explore and to test enough Meteor pieces that it would flawlessly work for our customers. So I would first like to run a few personal projects on Meteor, to learn more.
Thanks a ton to Kirill for answering my questions! It’s always interesting to see how actual companies are using Meteor, and we’re of course very happy to hear that the book helped the Scoutzie team get up to speed faster!