Sharethis, Meteor and the Lean Startup

by Ishika Paul, Principal Engineer

Sharethis has recently adopted the Lean Startup Approach. This philosophy focuses on Work Smarter Not Harder:

  • Learn and iterate
  • Develop the idea
  • Build on the idea (Code, prototype, unit tests!)
  • Deploy the idea to clients and measure results

Meteor embraces this philosophy. It allows engineers to be productive and build features right out of the box.

What is Meteor:

Meteor is an open source javascript framework which utilizes a nodeJS backend, along with a deep integration with MongoDB as a data store. For the frontend, Meteor provides Tracker and Blaze libraries. These technologies married together provide developers incredible power to easily build apps and products. Below I will discuss how Meteor helped us “Work Smarter Not Harder”.

It just worked:

Installing meteor on your machine is easy:

curl | sh

It has given you a full stack platform! You will have a server, client and a database (MongoDB) out of the box. You just have navigate to


There you will see your test app running in your browser. Now we can create our app and start coding!

One Language:

Building web apps no longer means just working with the front end. There is quite a considerable amount of server development required to get the desired functionality. In most cases the server code is usually in another language, which introduces developer frustration and confusion. Meteor server is built on top of NodeJS. Developing in Javascript across the stack frees the developer to focus on building features and products and not on different programming language idiosyncrasies.  

MongoDB Integration

Meteor is deeply integrated with MongoDB. The framework allows you to seamlessly interface with the database without a lot of coding and logic. The db calls are common and available across the server and client.

Reactive and Responsive

We all want our products to be fast and responsive. This is one of the philosophical foundations of Meteor. Developers do not have to add complex web sockets or polling logic to provide this ability. Meteor leverages the publish/subscribe ability of MongoDB to harness their real-time ability. Once a pub/sub relationship is created for a collection, changes to the collection are seamlessly propagated from the database to the templates and UI.

Velocity and Testing Support

Testing is at the heart of the “Work Smarter Not Harder” philosophy. As the development team is churning on ideas and features, there is a high probability that bugs and regressions creep back into te product. During the early stages of development, it takes discipline to integrate a testing framework. Meteor provides Velocity from their first install. Just integrate your favorite javascript testing library and you are ready to write your tests!

Free Stuff!

Meteor is open source technology and easily integrates with additional frameworks. The community is very active and there are many open source packages for Meteor that will just work out of the box. We have used several to build complex features. Our development time was reduced significantly because we didn’t have to built it from scratch. Since these packages are built for Meteor, the server/client integration is already there for you to leverage.

Now you can see why at Sharethis  leveraging Meteor has allowed the team to iterate faster and more reliably. There is no other web framework out there that gives us the power that Meteor does. We are able to successfully release products and features to our customers with a short turn-around time.

Some useful links: