Graphql with Apollo, Meteor and React

For my last project I had to build a web application to administrate a MongoDB database. Due to using Meteor quite a lot I heard about Graphql and the Apollostack. Graphql, which is a specification done by Facebook engineers, promises to be the better REST API (which I hope it is). I became curious and decided the build the server API with Apollo. First I tried to evade using the Meteor as build system as I don’t want to get too accustomed to this full-stack ecosystem. However, building a live-reload server and client build system in ES6 with Node.js, Babel and Webpack was simply too much work compared to building this simple web app. So in result this was my stack:
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Chatbot dialog design – a best practice proposal

While working on a new chatbot I had to come up with good examples to start and led a conversation with the chatbot. For this I analyzed other bots, tracked the steps it takes to achieve a specific goal and kept notes on repeating patterns. In result me and my team came up with a few basic principles to design dialogs in conversational bots.
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Node.js dynamic settings

As I’m relatively new to Node I had to wrap my head around a very basic thing. Getting external variables into my app. Loading settings for different environments from config files and via environment variables (for heroku deployment) should supposedly be an easy challenge. However, none of the solutions I’ve found were well enough for my scenario:

  • Store config in json file.
  • Have different configuration files (development, production, …).
  • Load configs from environment variables.
  • Fallback from environment to config file.
  • App lives in one folder.
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Hello Google Cloud Platform and good bye AWS

Yesterday late afternoon I had the great idea to update my AWS EC2 instance to Ubuntu 16.04 LTS. This website and two other sites are hosted on this machine. A Piwik installation and a mail forwarder as well. So it’s not that much, but still very essential to me. The upgrade didn’t go well, the system literally broke.
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OLMOTO – An app built by beginners

One month ago I started teaching a friend the basics of JavaScript with Meteor, Mantra and React.
Together we’ve built an app to create and share events with friends. It was an awesome experience. Yesterday we launched a private version on heroku. For us this was a great accomplishment. I learned a lot from this project and thought about sharing it with world.

Some technical features and challenges we solved:

  • Access control for methods, publications and routing.
  • Mobile first ui with material design.
  • Fulltext search everywhere.
  • File upload to Dropbox with Meteor-Files.
  • Images with different thumbnails.
  • Keyboard navigation in single views.
  • Ready for deployment to heroku.

Thanks to the makers of Meteor, React, Mantra and Mantra-CLI.

React image loader with a spinner

hey there, I’ve spent as usual a lot of time with React, Mantra and Meteor. While building a simple app I checked out the new Meteor standard for file handling Meteor-Files. It works great, I really recommend this awesome package. But that’s not what I want to show you. The app I’m working on loads pictures form the dropbox api. Downloading the pictures always takes a while. To make sure the user doesn’t get impatient the app is now displaying a spinner when the image is loading. I would to like to show you how I’ve built this image loader and spinner component.
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Can the European Union Learn from Switzerland? – An Essay by Till Rahn

I questioned this as well. Why shouldn’t a state or union such as the EU copy successful models. Till Rahn wrote an essay about this topic, which is right now more relevant than ever. With GB leaving the EU there are a lot of unanswered questions. I really enjoyed reading his essay. In order to preserve it I made a copy:
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