Bonnie Eisenman bio photo

Bonnie Eisenman

Software engineer, author, knitter, Esperantist. Member of NYC Resistor and author of Learning React Native.
Email me: bonnie.eisenman@gmail.com.

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My mind is buzzing! React Europe has just wrapped up. As usual I want to go home and build all the things. That impulse is really why I like going to conferences.

This was the second year of React Europe, and the first time that I was able to attend. I gave a talk! It’ll be online, eventually, and I’ll post the link on my speaking page when it’s available.

Here are some cobbled-together impressions from the conference:

Big Ideas

This was less of a year for revolutionary announcements, and more for refinement. If we look at React conferences in 2015, we had a lot of big announcements: React Native at React Conf; and Redux at React Europe. The focus this week was much more on existing tools, libraries, and languages, and iterating on them.

So we had some very practical hands-on talks, e.g. explaining ListView optimizations on React Native; as well as #ThoughtLeader-style arguments about the role of abstraction. (Sorry, Cheng Lou, you’re officially a Thought Leader now. My condolences.)

There was a lot of interest in GraphQL - I know very few people who are working with it, but many who are interested in it. I’d like to see more talks about it from a server perspective, as well as practicalities around implementation; the argument for why it’d be great for frontend development is already really convincing.

We also saw talks about performance, testing, React Native, Relay, and Redux.

The attendees

I had lots of good conversations with attendees at React Europe! There were ~800 people, from a variety of backgrounds: mobile developers who were just getting into React Native; folks working with React for web; backend engineers or new coders just getting into React; and so on.

Strugs

Something always has to go wrong; it’s a law of the universe or some such.

  • A/V is hard (why is plugging in a series of Macbooks such a complicated endeavor?)

  • Coffee shortages: oh god the coffee shortages.

The talks

I thought that the quality of the talks was quite high - it was great to be able to share a stage with this group of speakers! I was surprised by how many Facebook employees gave talks, though; I would have liked to hear from more community members.

The videos will be posted on React Europe’s YouTube channel. There’s a ton of content; I think each day was like 10 hours long.

Some highlights (mostly from the first day - I was too exhausted to take notes on day two!):

Christopher Chedeau on success in open source

TLDR; be nice to people, generate interest, spend time on community building. One thing I loved was that he actively sought people out and individually asked them to write blog posts to make it seem like React was active. (“Oh, there’s thirty blog posts! Must mean lots of people are using React. Nah, just that thirty people are using React and I asked all of them to blog about it.”)

I love technical blogs. A lot of people are hesitant to start blogging. Please don’t be! Especially if you think you don’t know what you’re doing; there’s a lot of value in saying “hey! I’m trying this thing, idk if it’s a good idea or perfect or whatever, but here is my approach & motivations & etc”.

Lin Clark’s illustrated talk on performance and React

There are plenty of blog posts and talks explaining the most basic of React performance optimizations, but few that focus on explaining why these best practices exist. Lin’s talk blitzed through the actual underpinnings of why these techniques work. I guess it shouldn’t surprise anyone that to really get great performance, you need to understand what you’re working with.

Plus, illustrations are just…great.

Dan Abramov’s keynote on Redux

About a year ago, people talked about Flux like it was some kind of arcane magic instead of just a pretty simple architecture pattern. (Obviously unidirectional data flow can be complex - I’m not arguing with that - but people pronounced “Flux” like it meant “magic that I couldn’t possibly understand”.) I love how Dan is able to explain the basic ideas behind Redux in, oh, 10 minutes. And then he goes on to describe some really neat use cases.

(I need to rewrite some projects to use Redux, probably…)

Eric Vicenti on NavigationExperimental

Navigation is kinda important when you’re building apps. The Navigator API on React Native right now leaves a lot to be desired. I’m really excited to see NavigationExperimental and I’m looking forward to trying it out.

Mike Grabowski’s lightning talk on rnpm

Have you tried rnpm (the React Native package manager) yet? It’s magic! Seriously, I love this tool, and I’m so happy to see it getting merged to React Native.

TLDR;

Great conference! Thanks so much to the organizers. Now, I need a nap.