Best practices for cross platform Meteor apps with a single codebase?

Goal is a small easy to maintain cross platform App (Browser, Android, iOS) with hot code push support in the Material Design from a single codebase without the need to make bigger changes for each platform. (Hosted on Galaxy)

Is it best to stick to the Meteor basics like Blaze with Material Design Lite and Cordova to achieve this goal or what are the current best practices for this kind of situation?

Is it much more afford to maintain a React (Native) codebase for different platforms?

This was my goal when I started. We ended up sharing non-ui codebase and have separate UI/client code for the following:

  • one for android and ios through cordova
  • one for web

We realized along the way that each platform has completely different use cases and ended up having separate UI according to the use cases.

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My top suggestion would be to get familiar with imports, dynamic import and how all of that works with Meteor’s packaging system. You could easily create different clients as packages and then import them where appropriate.

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Our application has similar approach and it seems to work just fine - single code base for webapp, android and ios —using Blaze.

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Thank you, I will look into imports. But I really try to do the KISS or “One new feature for the App, one change in the code for all platforms” approach and I guess every new feature for the App would involve massive changes all around the codebase with imports.

I have been thinking a lot about this. I hope more suggestions come forth.

I really don’t think you should use Blaze at this point. Sure, it still works and it’s pretty easy to use. But you’ll have a lot more options using a UI later with a larger community (React, Vue, etc). Also easier to find people to work on it.

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That is exactly my question. Is there another or better way for a “cross platform but single codebase meteor app” in 2019?
Is it possible with other frontend frameworks like React and Cordova to build a single codebase without a hassle?
A KISS or “One new feature for the App, one change in the code for all platforms” approach is the goal.

React + ReactRouter + ReactMeteorData + Material UI

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React seems to be the way to go in general for Meteor, let’s see if this combination is suited for single codebase apps. Will look into it. Thank you.

We have a single code base app that runs on web, Android and iOS. We currently run react v16.8.6, react-router v3.2.1, material-ui/core v4.0.0-alpha.5 and our own customized version of the functions composeWithTracker and compose derived from react-composer v2.0. As you are starting a new app probably best to take @awatson1978 recommendation to use react-meteor-data.

I’d highly recommend you also consider using simple schema with uniforms for form generation as it is really easy and customizable. There is a uniforms Material-UI package as well.

We also make judicious use of Meteor.isCordova with dynamic imports to load code that is only needed on mobile or not. For layout changes on mobile versus web, and for different mobile screen sizes, we make use of Material UI’s breakpoints, dynamic styling, and their withWidth() component, but you can do the same with their media queries.

All in all, the latest version of Material UI is pretty good for mobile apps if you are fine with the styling on iOS. We are as our app is an enterprise app so our user’s don’t expect everything to work exactly like a full Apple iOS app. Good luck!

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If you use Material UI here are some examples of how we do global theme changes based on screen size or if running in Cordova.

See the Material UI themes documentation. In your custom theme you can not only set custom colors such as

export const colorPrimary = '#cb4545';

but also layout values you can import and use to dynamically change the layout at run-time.

export const drawerWidth = 280;
export const miniDrawerWidth = 64;
export const appBarHeight = Meteor.isCordova ? 56 : 64;

Here are some example of using overrides and props to change layout of components globally and dynamically. For instance, we change font size for inputs to 13px on web as this looks better and is more dense, but for mobile set back to default of 16px.

// Customize my theme definition
const myTheme = createMuiTheme({
  palette: {
    primary: {
      main: colorPrimary
    }
  },
  props: {
    MuiTextField: {
      fullWidth: true,
      margin: 'dense',
      variant: 'outlined'
    }
  },
  overrides: {
    MuiFormLabel: {
      root: {
        fontSize: 13 // Default 16
      }
    },
    MuiInput: {
      input: {
        fontSize: 13 // Default 16
      }
    },
    MuiOutlinedInput: {
      input: {
        fontSize: 13 // Default 16
      }
    },
    MuiToolbar: {
      regular: {
        minHeight: appBarHeight // 56, 64
      }
    }
  }
});

// Make fonts larger on smaller mobile screens
myTheme.overrides.MuiFormLabel.root[myTheme.breakpoints.down('sm')] = {fontSize: 16};
myTheme.overrides.MuiInput.input[myTheme.breakpoints.down('sm')] = {fontSize: 16};
myTheme.overrides.MuiOutlinedInput.input[myTheme.breakpoints.down('sm')] = {fontSize: 16};

export default myTheme;

Hope this helps.

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I run www.virtualinout.com from a single codebase with Web, iOS and Android apps, using Cordova and Material Design Lite (using zodiase:mdl but if I was to start over I would probably use Material Components).

Every feature and UI is written once and runs happily on all platforms. Material Design adapts nicely and seems to work well on all devices - you just need to test the layout on a variety of screen sizes and play with the grid or CSS media queries to make things work.

For the UI framework I cannot recommend Vue.js highly enough. My app started with Blaze, then I begrudgingly converted to React to achieve SSR, but I never liked the verbosity of React. Recently I converted the whole thing to Vue.js because (in my opinion) it it is much easier & faster to work with. Two-way binding (if you want it) just works, computed properties make re-rendering more efficient, and I personally find the template easier to work with in HTML rather than JSX.

I’ve posted in the Vue.js forums about the performance results of the switch from React to Vue.

Good luck!

My favourite stack atm is Meteor/Apollo backend with react-native codebase for web, ios and android powered by react-native web.

So you have two native apps and a very performant webapp with one codebase. In future I will release a ui kit for react-native build with web in mind.

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progressive web apps
They are recognized by android and iOS as apps
both will allow you to put a shortcut on their apps menu
no app store needed
and in the case of android, it will even show a splash screen that you can configure with a manifest
and pass a variable so you can show some extra stuff in your “app mode”
I don’t use that but there you have more options
The only thing you need to make for this, is a very responsible UI
bootstrap is recomended

Here’s one of my apps that work this way (desktop, webapk -natively added from browser-, and iOS browser -that can also add it as a webapk-), all of them from the same single source, changing behavior depending on the screen size




about the manifest

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I really want to try Apollo, I’ve been reading and it solves many things like going from mongo to MySQL and such, an surely way more things that I’m yet not aware of

I’m happy with: Meteor,Vue and vuetify (material design with UI cpmponent) before that I used meteor blaze, MDL

Completely agree and they are fantastic. However, in my experience most users don’t understand this, and they want an app they can install from the App Store. I started off with progressive web apps but got so tired of having to explain that the web app has exactly the same functionality in the end I gave up and compiled with Cordova. Meteor made this so easy.

Also, from a sales perspective, having a presence in the app stores is another route to market, plus having prominent app store buttons on the web sales pages in beneficial.

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@wildhart I’m planning on doing the same. Any pro tips? Did you simply follow the Meteor Guide?

The meteor mobile guide is comprehensive and fantastic - everything you need to get setup, compile and submitted to the app stores is there.

I guess a good tip is to be very selective which Cordova plug-ins you use - if any. There are many plug-ins out there, including forks of forks of forks, so finding one which is up-to-date, still maintained and compatible with your version of Cordova can be a challenge sometimes!

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