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Latest commit 3c57ba0 Jan 7, 2017 @xavcz xavcz committed on GitHub Merge pull request #1534 from dominictracey/master
fixed deployment instructions typo


Telescope Nova

Looking for the Apollo/GraphQL version? Check out the devel branch.

There are currently two distinct versions of Telescope: Nova and Legacy.

Nova is the new, React-based version and all development will happen on this version going forward. It's used by the master and devel branches.

Note that as of December 2016, the devel branch now uses GraphQL as its data layer while the master branch is still on the previous, non-GraphQL version. It is recommended you use the devel branch for any new projects if possible.

Legacy is the old, Blaze-powered version of Telescope and you can find it on the legacy and legacy-devel branches.

Note that both versions use the same data format, so you can go back and forth between them on the same app and the same database.

Table Of Contents

Getting Started

First Steps

Install the latest version of Node and NPM. We recommend the usage of NVM.

Install Meteor:

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

Clone this repository locally:

git clone git@github.com:TelescopeJS/Telescope.git

(or https://github.com/TelescopeJS/Telescope.git)

Install the necessary NPM packages:

npm install

Then run the app with:


You'll then be able to access it on http://localhost:3000.

Creating An Admin Account

The first account you create (via Log In > Register) will automatically be given admin rights.

Deleting Dummy Content

On its first run, Nova seeds the site with a few dummy posts. You can remove them by opening the browser console and calling Meteor.call('removeGettingStartedContent') while logged in as admin.

Example Custom Package

This repo also includes an example of how to customize Nova using a custom package. To enable the custom package, simply uncomment the line # my-custom-package in .meteor/packages (remove the #).

For more information on customizing Nova, refer to specific sections in this documentation. Note that you should never customize core files directly (files in nova:* packages).

Instead, either extend the object you want to customize from your own package, or disable the initial package, clone it, and modify your own copy.


Updating with Git

If you've cloned this repo and are using local packages (i.e. nova:core, nova:posts, etc. are in your /packages directory) you'll have to pull in the changes from this repo with git pull origin master.

Updating with Meteor

Alternatively, if Meteor can't find a package in your local /packages directory it will look for it in the Atmosphere package directory. This means you can also update the app by following these steps:

  • Delete all nova:* packages from /packages to force Meteor to use remote versions instead.
  • Run meteor update.
  • If that didn't work, delete the .meteor/versions file to force an update.

If you're comfortable with Git workflows the first method is recommended, if not you can use the meteor update technique instead.

Upgrading From Older Versions

To update to Nova from an earlier version of Telescope, I suggest you create a new repo and start from scratch. That being said you can use the same database seamlessly since Nova uses the same database schema.

For local development, an easy way to do that is to simply copy the .meteor/local directory which contains your local database to your new repo.


The best ways to get support are Telescope Meta and the Telescope Slack Chatroom.


Settings can be configured in your settings.json file. For legacy compatibility reasons, settings can also be specified in your database, but note that settings specified in settings.json take priority over those stored in the database.

Settings can be public (meaning they will be published to the client) or private (they will be kept on the server). Public settings should be set on the public object. You can find a full example in sample_settings.json.

To use your settings.json file:

  • Development: meteor --settings settings.json
  • Production: specify the path to settings.json in the tool you use to deploy (i.e. mup deploy --settings settings.json, see below)


The recommended way to deploy Nova is by using Mup, at least v1.0.3.


You should have a Linux server online, for instance a Digital Ocean droplet running with Ubuntu.

Install globally the latest kadirahq/meteor-up.

npm install -g mup

Create Meteor Up configuration files in your project directory with mup init. In the example below, the configuration files are created in a .deploy directory at the root of your app.

cd my-app-folder
mkdir .deploy
cd .deploy
mup init

This will create two files :

mup.js - Meteor Up configuration file
settings.json - Settings for Meteor's settings API

Then, replace the content of the newly created settings.json with your own settings (you can use the content of sample_settings.json as a starter).

Fill mup.js with your credentials and optional settings (check the Mup repo for additional docs).

Note: the ROOT_URL field should be the absolute url of your deploy ; and you need to explicitly point out to use abernix/meteord:base docker image with a docker field within the meteor object.

meteor: {
  path: '../' // relative path of the app considering your mup config files
  env: {
        ROOT_URL: 'http://nova-app.com', // absolute url of your deploy
  docker: {
        image:'abernix/meteord:base' // docker image working with meteor 1.4 & node 4

You can take inspiration (or copy/paste) on this mup.js example.

Setup your server

From this folder, you can now setup Docker & Mongo your server with:

mup setup

Deploy your app to your server

Still in the same folder, to deploy your app with your settings file:

mup deploy --settings settings.json


Just like Settings, you can specify categories either via the in-app UI or via settings.json. Note that if you want to delete a category, you'll have to both delete it via the UI and also remove it from settings.json.

Social Login

To add new social login options, you'll first need to add your API keys to your settings.json file. For example:

"oAuth": {
  "twitter": {
    "consumerKey": "foo",
    "secret": "bar"
  "facebook": {
    "appId": "foo",
    "secret": "bar"

(Make sure these are not in the public block of settings.json)

Then, add the relevant Meteor package:

meteor add accounts-twitter accounts-facebook


Nova's codebase is split across multiple packages, with the philosophy that you should be able to add and remove packages depending on which features you actually need.

Core Packages

These packages are necessary for Nova to run.

Name Description
nova:lib Utility functions used by the app; also handles importing most external packages.
nova:events Event tracking.
nova:core Import previous core packages.

Optional Packages

These packages are optional, although they might depend on each other. Note that dependencies on non-core packages should be weak whenever possible.

Name Description
nova:api Generate a JSON API for posts.
nova:categories Posts categories.
nova:comments Comments.
nova:email Send emails.
nova:embedly Get metadata (thumbnails, origin, etc.) from Embedly when submitting new posts.
nova:forms Generate forms for inserting and editing documents (README).
nova:getting-started Generate dummy content on first run.
nova:kadira Kadira integration.
nova:newsletter Send an automated newsletter with Mailchimp.
nova:notifications Notifications.
nova:posts Posts.
nova:RSS RSS feeds for posts and comments.
nova:search Search across posts.
nova:settings Legacy support for publishing settings.
nova:share Easy social sharing.
nova:users Users.
nova:voting Voting on posts and comments.

Customizable Packages

These are the packages that you might commonly need to customize or replace to tweak your app's layout, design, and behavior. You can either clone these packages and modify them directly, or extend their contents (see the Customizing Components section.), but you should not modify them directly.

Name Description
nova:base-components The default components that make up the Nova front-end.
nova:base-styles Default styles (includes Bootstrap).
nova:base-routes Default routes.
nova:email-templates Email templates.
nova:i18n-en-us Contains English language strings.

Extra Packages

These packages provide extra features but are not enabled out of the box.

Name Description
nova:forms-tags A component for autofilled tags.
nova:cloudinary Automatically upload posts thumbnails to Cloudinary.

Debug Packages

These packages are provided to help you when doing local development.

Name Description
nova:debug Provides routes and utility for debugging.
nova:demo A demo of how to use custom collections.

Application Structure

Nova's application structure is a bit different than most other Meteor apps. Generally speaking, we can distinguish between three ways of organizing code in a Meteor app: default, module-based, and package-based (which is what Nova uses).

The default app structure is what legacy Meteor apps such as Microscope use. Files are stored in /client, /server, /lib, etc. directories and imported automatically by Meteor. This approach requires the least work, but also gives you less control over load order.

Starting with Meteor 1.3, the module-based approach is the pattern officially recommended by the Meteor Guide. In it, all your files are stored in an /imports directory, with two /client/main.js and /server/main.js entry points that then import all other files. The main difference with the previous pattern is that files in /imports no longer run automatically.

Finally, with the package-based technique, all your code is stored in Meteor packages. Packages can be loaded from Meteor's package server, or stored locally in your /packages directory. Note that it is recommended you use modules within your packages.

When customizing Nova, you can use any of these three approaches for your own custom code. But if you can, I would recommend sticking with Nova's package-based approach just to maintain consistency between Nova's codebase and yours.

Also, using packages for customization means you have an easy way to turn off any customization you've added if you need to track down the source of a problem.


Nova tries to maintain a consistent file structure for its main packages:

  • config.js: the package's main namespace and set basic config options.
  • collection.js: the package's collection schema.
  • callbacks.js: callbacks used by the package.
  • helpers.js: collection helpers.
  • methods.js: collection methods.
  • published_fields.js: specifies which collection fields should be published in which context.
  • custom_fields.js: sets custom fields on other collections.
  • routes.jsx: routes.
  • views.js: views used for query constructors.
  • parameters.js: the collection's query constructor.
  • email_routes.js: test routes for email templates.
  • server/publications.js: publications.

Customizing Components

Apart from a couple exceptions, almost all React components in Nova live inside the nova:base-components package. There are two main ways of customizing them.


If you only need to modify a single component, you can simply override it with a new one without having to touch the nova:base-components package.

For example, if you wanted to use your own CustomLogo component you would do:

const CustomLogo = (props) => {
  return (
    <div>/* custom component code */</div>
Telescope.components.Logo = CustomLogo;

Or, if Logo is defined as an ES6 class:

class CustomLogo extends Telescope.components.Logo{
  render() {
    return (
      <div>/* custom component code */</div>
Telescope.components.Logo = CustomLogo;

Components are generally defined as functional stateless components, unless they contain extra logic (lifecycle methods, event handlers, etc.) in which case they'll be defined as ES6 classes.

For components defined as ES6 classes, make sure you extend the original component. This will let you pick and choose which methods you actually need to replace, while inheriting the ones you didn't specify in your new component.

You can make the override at any point, as long as it happens before the <Telescope.components.Logo/> component is called from a parent component.

Clone & Modify

For more in-depth customizations, you can also just clone the entire nova:base-components package and then make your modification directly there.

Of course, keeping your own new components package up to date with any future nova:base-components modifications will then be up to you.

Naming Conventions

If a component deals with a collection (Posts, Comments, etc.) its name should start with the collection's capitalized name in plural form, followed by the component's function using camelCase formatting.

For example: PostsShare.

The outermost HTML element within the component will have a class of the same name, but with a dash instead: posts-share. If possible, classes for all other elements within the component will start with the component's class: posts-share-button, posts-share-divider, etc.

Get current user

The current user is given to the components via the React context. You can access it via this.context.currentUser (class) or context.currentUser (stateless-component).

The component needs to define currentUser in its contextTypes. If contextTypes is not defined, then context will be an empty object and you won't be able to access to the current user.

Example :

const CustomHeader = (props, context) => {
  // if a user is connected, show its username; else say hello
  return context.currentUser ? <div>Hey ${context.currentUser.username}!</div> : <div>Hello!</div>

// if you don't define `contextTypes` for `CustomHeader`, then the `context` argument will be an empty object
CustomHeader.contextTypes = {
  currentUser: React.PropTypes.object

Customizing Emails

Unlike components, emails don't use React but Spacebars, a variant of the Handlebars templating language.

All email templates live in the nova:email-templates package. In order to register a new template or override an existing one, first you must import it as a text asset in your package.js file (or store it in your /public directory):

api.addAssets(['path/to/template/newReply.handlebars',], ['server']);

You'll then be able to load the contents of the file in your code with:


You can add a template with:

  newReply: Assets.getText("path/to/template/newReply.handlebars")

Or override an existing one with:

Telescope.email.templates.newReply = Assets.getText("path/to/template/newReply.handlebars");

Custom Fields

Out of the box, Nova has three main collections: Posts, Users, and Comments. Each of them has a pre-set schema, but that schema can also be extended with custom fields.

For example, this is how the nova:newsletter package extends the Posts schema with a scheduledAt property that keeps track of when a post was sent out as part of an email newsletter:

  fieldName: 'scheduledAt',
  fieldSchema: {
    type: Date,
    optional: true

The collection.addField() function takes either a field object, or an array of fields. Each field has a fieldName property, and a fieldSchema property.

Each field schema supports all of the SimpleSchema properties, such as type, optional, etc.

A few special properties (insertableIf, editableIf, control, and order) are also supported by the nova:forms package.

Note that Telescope provides a few utility function out of the box to use with insertableIf and editableIf:

  • Users.is.admin: returns true if a user is an admin.
  • Users.is.memberOrAdmin: returns true if a user is a member (i.e. has an account and is currently logged in) or an admin.
  • Users.is.ownerOrAdmin: (editing only) returns true if a user is a members and owns the document being edited; or is an admin.

Additionally, the publish and join properties come from the Smart Publications package. Setting publish to true indicates that a field should be published to the client (see also next section).

You can also remove a field by calling collection.removeField(fieldName). For example:


Publishing Data

In order to make data available to the client, you need to publish it. Out of the box, Nova includes the following publications:

  • posts.list: a list of posts
  • posts.single: a single post (includes more data)
  • comments.list: a list of comments
  • users.single: a single user
  • users.current: the current user (includes personal data)

While most publications look up each field's publish property to figure out if they should publish it or not, some (like posts.list and comments.list) only feature a smaller subset of properties for performance reasons, and thus have their own specific list of published fields.

For example, here's how the nova:embedly adds the thumbnailUrl,media,soureName, andsourceUrlfields to the list of published fields for theposts.list` publication (after having defined them as custom fields):

import PublicationUtils from 'meteor/utilities:smart-publications';

PublicationUtils.addToFields(Posts.publishedFields.list, ["thumbnailUrl", "media", "sourceName", "sourceUrl"]);


If you create your own new subscription, you can tell Nova to preload it (and wait for it to be loaded) with:

Telescope.subscriptions.preload(subscriptionName, subscriptionArguments);

For example:

Telescope.subscriptions.preload("posts.featured", {featuredPostId: "foo123"});

Loading Data

To load data and display it as a list of documents (or a single document), Nova uses the React List Container package to connect to the publications mentioned in the previous section.


Nova uses a system of hooks and callbacks for many of its operations.

For example, here's how you would add a callback to posts.edit.sync to give posts an editedAt date every time they are modified:

function setEditedAt (post, user) {
  post.editedAt = new Date();
  return post;
Telescope.callbacks.add("posts.edit.sync", setEditedAt);

If the callback function is named (i.e. declared using the function foo () {} syntax), you can also remove it from the callback using:

Telescope.callbacks.remove("posts.edit.sync", "setEditedAt");

Methods support three distinct types of callbacks, each with their own hook:

  • method callbacks are called within the body of the method, and they run both on the client and server.
  • sync callbacks are called in the mutator, and can run either on both client and server, or on the server only if the mutator is called directly.
  • async callbacks are called in the mutator, and only run on the server in an async non-blocking way.

Posts Parameters

In order to filter posts by category, keyword, view, etc. Nova uses a system of successive callbacks to translate filtering options into MongoDB database queries.

For example, here is how the nova:search package adds a callback to handle the query parameter:

function addSearchQueryParameter (parameters, terms) {
  if(!!terms.query) {
    var parameters = Telescope.utils.deepExtend(true, parameters, {
      selector: {
        $or: [
          {title: {$regex: terms.query, $options: 'i'}},
          {url: {$regex: terms.query, $options: 'i'}},
          {body: {$regex: terms.query, $options: 'i'}}
  return parameters;
Telescope.callbacks.add("posts.parameters", addSearchQueryParameter);

The callback takes two arguments: the current MongoDB parameters (an object with a selector and options properties), and the terms extracted from the URL.

It then tests for the presence of a query property in the terms, and if it finds one it then extends the parameter object with a MongoDB RegEx search query.

Finally, it then returns parameters to pass it on to the next callback (or to the database itself if this happens to be the last callback).

The view, category, after, before, etc. URL parameters are all handled using their own similar callbacks.


See nova:forms package readme.


You can use regular Meteor methods, or Smart Methods.


Customizing Routes

Here's how you can add child routes to your app (using React Router):

  name: "foo",
  path: "/foo",
  component: Foo

To change the index (/) route, you can do:

Telescope.routes.indexRoute = {
  name: "myIndexRoute",
  component: myIndexRouteComponent

For more complex router customizations, you can also disable the nova:base-routes package altogether and replace it with your own React Router code.

Using React Router In Your Components

If you need to access router properties (such as the current route, path, or query parameters) inside a component, you'll need to wrap that component with the withRouter HoC (higher-order component):

import React, { PropTypes, Component } from 'react';
import { withRouter } from 'react-router'

class SearchForm extends Component{

  render() {
    // this.props.router is accessible

export default withRouter(SearchForm);

Groups & Permissions

User groups let you give your users permission to perform specific actions.

To test if a user can perform an action, we don't check if they belong to a specific group (e.g. user.isAdmin === true), but instead if at least one of the groups they belong to has the rights to perform the current action.

Permissions API

Users.createGroup(groupName); // create a new group

Users.methods.addGroup(userId, groupName); // add a user to a group (server only)

Users.getGroups(user); // get a list of all the groups a user belongs to

Users.getActions(user); // get a list of all the actions a user can perform

Users.canDo(user, action); // check if a user can perform a specific action

Users.canView(user, document); // shortcut to check if a user can view a specific document

Users.canEdit(user, document); // shortcut to check if a user can edit a specific document

Documents can be Posts, Comments, or Users.

Note that some groups are applied automatically without having to call addToGroup:

  • anonymous: any non-logged-in user is considered anonymous. This group is special in that anonymous users are by definition not part of any other group.
  • default: default group for all existing users. Is applied to every user in addition to any other groups.
  • admins: any user with the isAdmin flag set to true.

Assigning Actions

// assuming we've created a new "mods" group
Users.groups.mods.can("posts.edit.all"); // mods can edit anybody's posts
Users.groups.mods.can("posts.remove.all"); // mods can delete anybody's posts

You can also define your own custom actions:

Users.groups.mods.can("invite"); // new custom action

Here's a list of all out-of-the-box permissions:

// anonymous actions

// default actions

// admin actions

The *.*.all actions are generally used as a proxy to check for permission when editing restricted properties. For example, to check if a user can edit a post's status, a check is made for the user's ability to perform the posts.edit.all action (as there is no dedicated posts.edit.status action).


Nova is internationalized using react-intl. To add a new language, you need to:

  1. Create a new package containing the internationalized strings (you can use nova:i18n-en-us as a model).
  2. Publish that package to Atmosphere and then add it to your app using `meteor add username:packagename.
  3. Set locale to the locale name (fr, en, ru, etc.) in your settings.

Note: make sure the locale you set matches the language package you're adding.

If you create a new internationalization package, let us know so we can add it here!


You can access a dynamically generated cheatsheet of Nova's main functions at http://localhost:3000/cheatsheet (replace with your own development URL).

Third-Party Packages

  • Post By Feed: register RSS feeds that will be fetched every 30 minutes to create new posts automatically.
  • Post To Slack: A package that automatically sends your posts as messages to any connected Slack Team.
  • Upload Images: A package that extends nova:forms to upload images, like an avatar, to Cloudinary from a drop zone.