Friday, December 5, 2014

Surfs Up! Build a Mobile Meteor App in 15 Minutes!

Growing up in NY and then transplanting to the Florida Gulf Coast I pretty much suck at surfing, though I do enjoy trying, especially during hurricane season.  In fact, I don't even have a board anymore but I do have plans to build a wooden longboard later this year (a future post maybe)!  The problem with living on the Florida Gulf Coast is that there are very few good surf days.  Sometimes it is just fun to go romp around with a boogie board, but the problem is it is usually flat around here.  You just never know when there are good surf conditions!

Tampa Bay Meteor Meetup's Thursday Dec 4th meeting had a speaker scheduled to talk about Meteor and Mobile Development.  Unfortunately, the speaker got sick and I was left without a speaker but with a talk scheduled about Meteor and Mobile Development.

So, in anticipation I took it upon myself to kill two birds with one stone.  I needed a presentation on Meteor Mobile Development for the Tampa Bay Meteor Meetup and in anticipation of completing my wooden longboard next year I needed a mobile app with marine weather and surf conditions.

So, I built Surfs Up, a Meteor mobile marine weather app and I made a presentation showing you how to build it yourself in 15 minutes or less or your app is free!


So, I was a little intimidated at first.

I had not yet built a mobile application with Meteor and I only had a few hours before the Tampa Bay Meteor Meetup.  Six hours to be precise.

So, I had to build an application and a follow along presentation for it.

How hard could that be?

Well, literally not hard at all.

In fact, it was a breeze and took less than a couple hours to build a fairly good Meteor mobile tutorial application.

Most of the time was spent building a logical step by step presentation!

The Surfs Up presentation provides a fairly self explanatory set of follow along steps showing you how to build the application.  In fact, only about 25 of the 37 slides are cut & paste code resulting in a functioning application.  Most of the code is very basic and should be very self explanatory.

If you want to take a gander at the source code then mosey on over to the Surfs Up github repo.  I left the weather api key in the source code because it isn't a paid API and I felt it would be easier for people to get going with the application rather than having to go register for an API key.  You should go register for your own API key when you have a chance.

Also, a little bit of a disclaimer.  I really couldn't find any good free surf conditions API's.  The good ones require a paid subscription and the ones that were freely available were very limited in geographical scope.  Meaning, they didn't cover the beaches near my hacienda.

So, instead I used a general marine weather API.  It works for anyone familiar with swells and wind patterns that has the ability to surmise whether there are decent breaking waves.  I think a good future enhancement would be to use NOAA APIs or feeds and develop something from that.

Another good improvement would be to add Meteor Accounts so that people can post surf condition updates and setup automated alerts/notifications from both the system and from other users like..."Yo, it's breaking 3 to 5 with a slight chop, sorta close, with a SE wind at 10 over at Honeymoon cuz of Hurricane Isabella! Not crowded!  Locals Only!"

Maybe add the ability to post photos and videos of current conditions!

Maybe tap into all the existing surf cams!

I only had a few hours, so maybe some rainy day I will get around to these or maybe you can submit a PR!

For now, I think Surfs Up will be more valuable for sailing because I will be able to determine what the general marine conditions are and if they are suitable.  By the way, suitable sailing weather means burying a rail or flying a hull!

Want to play around with the live application?

Ditch Work!  Go Surfing!  Surfs Up!

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