Discovering opportunities beyond design: Sacha Greif on ‘Discover Meteor’

Sacha Greif
Sacha Greif during a visit to Tokyo last year

Sacha Greif is a designer and developer born in France, now based in Osaka, Japan. I’ve been interested in his work for some time, as he is also a prolific writer who frequently shares what he’s doing on his blog and on Twitter. Practical side projects of his (like Patternify and Folyo [1]) are valuable assets to the design community. For me, with my rather limited development and design skills, what I like about his output is that he can express the technicalities of development and design as well as he does. It’s all amazingly accessible, for people of all skill levels.

Among Sacha’s most recent projects has been a book called Discover Meteor, written with Tom Coleman, devoted to explaining the Meteor web framework. For those not familiar with it, Meteor is a relatively easy-to-use framework built on Node.js. I’m a (perpetually) novice programmer, and even I could get set up with Meteor thanks to a handy tutorial over on the Discover Meteor blog. Incidentally, for anyone who’d like to try Meteor, Sacha and Tom have made the first four chapters of their book available for free online [2], and obviously that’s a great place to get started. For folks here in Tokyo who want to connect with other Meteor enthusiasts, Sacha is organizing a meetup Thursday night:

Discover Meteor – Tokyo Meetup

When I met with him late last year, Sacha explained to me that the framework and the book are growing side-by-side, right along with the Meteor community:

There is more interest in Meteor, and people are talking about the book, which has sort has become the default book to learn Meteor. And even the guys at Meteor themselves use this as a training material and recommend it to other people.

The book has just recently passed its one year anniversary, and is now being translated into many different languages by the Meteor community. Those translations are being made available for free, which is a great way to help grow the community beyond Meteor’s San Francisco roots [3].

The full edition of the book even comes a couple of screencasts, and in my own learning experience, watching someone go through tasks step by step on the command line in immensely helpful. I like that the Meteor tutorial doesn’t assume much prequisite knowledge on the part of the user, and it provides useful links to further resources to fill the gaps when appropriate.

Sacha noted that while Meteor is a powerful tool, the way that it’s built really helps learners jump in without encountering major problems:


What’s really cool is that the back and front end are integrated into one environment. It removes a lot of barriers, because, for example if you want to build a Rails app you’ll need to know HTML, CSS, Ruby and Rails, Javascript, and you may need a Javascript framework like Backbone or Angular. With Meteor, you still need HTML or CSS, but it’s much simpler to learn I think.

I understand the book has been selling pretty well, with 313 books sold (including 55 upgrades) during their recent 10-day anniversary sale.

For developers and designers who are leaders in a given field, what Sacha and Tom have done with this book is an interesting example of building a revenue stream while building a community around a growing technology. If you haven’t checked out Meteor or the Discover Meteor book yet, I encourage you to give it a read!

  1. When I mentioned to my brother, a graphic designer, that I’d be speaking with Sacha, he instantly recognized these tools as ones that he has used and loved.  ↩

  2. You can get this in PDF form by signing up for their newsletter.  ↩

  3. Regrettably, no one has stepped up to contribute to a Japanese translation of the book. So if there are any Japanese speaking Meteor enthusiasts out there, it would be great to see some involvement on that front. You can learn more about that here.  ↩