Build a chat application in less than 60 minutes in Meteor - Tutorial
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The one-hour Meteor chat

This is a tutorial to build a simple chat application in less than 60 minutes using Meteor.

This tutorial application is voluntarily focused on mobile and includes:

  • user login with username
  • instant message updates
  • send pictures to chat with phone camera or laptop webcam

You can see the app live here:

Taking pictures is possible both on desktop and mobile thanks to the mdg:camera package.


  • The package I am actually using is a fork of mdg:camera and fixes a bug so that you can use the camera on a mobile browser as well without Cordova. (there is a permission issue in the original package).
  • When you check out step-9, there is a fix for step-6 -> There should have been a check on error when the MeteorCamera.getPicture callback is fired.

Downloading the code and start following the tutorial

git clone
git checkout -f step-0

Checking out a tutorial step

git checkout -f step-N
meteor    // or meteor run android-device

Tutorial structure

There are 10 steps, from 0 to 9. This has been designed as part of an introduction to meteor presentation.

This presentation is publicly available here.

I am planning to write a blog article to guide you through the tutorial but for now you can look at the git diffs to follow the progression between each step.

##step-0: Project file structure##

  • Project structure with styles.less file (so that we can focus on Meteor, not css), mdg:camera custom package and lib.js (tool for manipulating image and autoscrolling), meteor logo
  • Introduction to directory structure (client / server / public / other)

##step-1: Basic ui structure and mobile build##

  • Add semantic:ui-css, less and bluereef:camera packages

  • Add menu bar and main structure without templates

  • Build mobile application and run it on iOS emulator and device.

meteor add-platform ios
meteor run ios-device

meteor add-plaftorm android
meteor run android-device

Now you can see that hot code reload works also on the mobile app -> no need to go through app market updates.

  • Introduction to debugging mobile app using chrome:

##step-2: Introduction to templates##

  • Messages templates
  • Template helper

##step-3: Introduction to collections##

  • Declare messages collection, simple messages template with display of text, date
  • Use command line to insert new message
  • Show how you can query the collection

##step-4: Adding new message input##

  • Input template with action buttons
  • Insert collection on form submit event
  • Scroll to bottom when entering new message
  • Scroll when loading new message

##step-5: Users##

  • Introduction to accounts package
  • Add accounts-password and accounts-ui
  • Add login menu in menu bar
  • Accounts config: Username only
  • Add user to newly created message
  • Hide input template when user not logged in.
  • Add welcome to login message

##step-6: Camera##

  • Add picture button on form
  • Add event on click and get the picture
  • Save picture with new message
  • Update message template to display picture

##step-7: Security##

  • Delete message from command line
  • Remove insecure package
  • Add allow / deny rules in Messages collection

##step-8: Publications##

  • Remove autopublish
  • Add publication
  • Subscribe to new publication
  • Limit number of messages sent to client

##step-9: Finishing touch and exercises##

  • Improve date formatting (with momentjs:moment)
  • Put own chat messages on the right of the window to make them stand out
  • Don’t scroll when user has moved the message list
  • Prevent empty messages
  • Get message list to scroll to bottom when opening keyboard on mobile