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Meteor: Etherpad Founder & Other Rockstars Team Up To Make Web App Development A Breeze

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Web apps look a lot different today than they did a decade ago. Today, in the era of smart clients, web and native apps have to communicate with an array of distributed cloud services, and, while legacy infrastructure remains, these new frameworks present ever-trickier problems for app developers. Having to deal with creating software that runs across data centers, communicates with intelligent devices, and integrates with software built by scores of third-parties? Not so simple.

Launching without much fanfare today is a new startup called Meteor that is looking to significantly reduce the friction inherent to developing modern web apps with “a new application platform for this new era.” According to the startup’s mission statement, the platform is based on “smart packages,” or bundles of code that are essentially adaptable, allowing them to run on a client or a cloud service and can “manage their lifetime inside the modern distributed environment.”

And even though the team behind Meteor is small at this point, it’s packing a lot of talent, as the co-founders include Geoff Schmidt, an inventor of audio fingerprinting, one of the original authors of decentralized web TV platform, Miro, co-founder of MixApp, and early employee at Asana; Matt DeBergalis, the founder and operator of fundraising platform ActBlue; Nick Martin, who most recently was building the infrastructure behind Mochi Media and who co-founded MixApp along with Schmidt; and David Greenspan, the author of Etherpad, which he sold to Google before going to work on Google Wave and Google App Engine. Greenspan is also the founder of AppJet.

From what we can tell, the team has been working on Meteor for about eight months, before soft-launching today. Meteor remains in “early preview,” meaning that its platform is still in flux, with “major API changes” likely in each release, according to the startup’s website.

Without stumbling through a more technical description, for a little more on that, you check out the site’s FAQ, Meteor’s goal seems to be to radically simplify the process of building powerful apps, apps that will be prepared “to handle the next two decades of technological change.” As developing apps and writing software is a painful, demanding process, Meteor wants to find a new way to create software that is simple, elegant, and is accessible to as many people as possible.

According to the site, Meteor is open-source software licensed under the GPL, and v1.0 of the platform will be made available in “more than a month, less than a year,” and it’s going to “mature faster than any framework you could afford to build in-house, unless you’re Google or Facebook.”

Judging by the promotional blurbs about Meteor on its home page, this ambition seems justified, with words of support from Facebook and Asana Co-founder Dustin Moskovitz, Posterous co-founder and Y Combinator partner, Garry Tan, and Founder of Graffiti Labs, Ted Suzman.

As a matter of fact, not long after launch, Tan tweeted his approval of Meteor, calling it the “dawn of a new era of JavaScript.” Look out, tweet below!

It remains unclear as to whether or not Meteor has raised any outside funding, or whether the team plans to bring on additional staffers. We’ve reached out to the team, and will update when we learn more.

For more, check out Meteor at home here, or check out the startup’s video walk-through below: