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Telescope Nova

There are currently two discinct 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.

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


  1. Clone this branch to your local machine
  2. Run npm install
  3. Run meteor

Note: the nova:* packages are not currently published to Atmosphere.


To keep your codebase up to date, you'll have to manually pull in the changes from this git repo for now. Automated updating via meteor update is not yet supported, although it will be soon.

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 way to get support is the #nova channel in the Telescope Slack Chatroom.

You can also check out the Nova roadmap on Trello to see what needs to be done.


The recommended way to deploy Nova is by using MupX.


Settings can be configured in your settings.json file (although any settings published to the Telescope.settings.collection collection will also be taken into account).

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 mup.json

See also the /settings route inside your app.

Social Login

To add new social login options, just add the relevant package (accounts-twitter, accounts-facebook, etc.) to your .meteor/packages file with (for example):

meteor add accounts-twitter

Note: you will need to configure the service's oAuth tokens via the log-in UI, using the service-configuration package, or directly in the database.


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:i18n Internationalization package.
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:categories Posts categories.
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 need to customize 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.)

Name Description
nova:base-components The default components that make up the Nova front-end.
nova:base-styles Default styles (includes Bootstrap).
nova:email-templates Email templates.

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.


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: collectiom 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:

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

Nova components are resolved at render. So you just need to make the override anytime before the <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.

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 cient, 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, and sourceUrlfields 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"]);

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("postsParameters", 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.


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