ReactFest 2018

A few days ago I was fortunate enough to attend  ReactFest, a conference/festival organized by the React community in London. From an awesome and diverse speaker lineup to a well laid out venue, the end result made more than one happy attendee declare that it was the best conference they had ever been to.

ReactFest

ReactFest

The format was unique and worked really well. One day with one single track packed with no less than fourteen sessions, no defined order, no Q&A and plenty of break time, enough to keep us well-fed and able to chat to speakers and fellow attendees alike. I also have to mention Jani Eväkallio, part-time JavaScript developer and part-time JavaScript poet, who did an excellent job as Master of Ceremonies.

GraphQL everywhere

As the sessions went on, a few leitmotifs became apparent, one of those being that 2018 is and it will continue to be a great year for GraphQL.  Peggy Rayzis, made the audience's faces glow when she explained how  apollo-link-state makes it possible to query both external and local data with the same GraphQL interface (and therefore share developer tools).  David Gomes inspired everyone to get creative, by showcasing scenarios where a GraphQL server at the client might make sense. If you are wondering why you would use GraphQL instead of REST, let Philipp Melab give you the GraphQL elevator pitch, and then you might want to read more on how GraphQL and Drupal can be good friends.

Peggy Rayzis at ReactFest
Peggy also explained how listening to feedback helped provide good defaults for beginners, without limiting more advanced users (see apollo-boost).

It’s all about context

While lots of doors were being opened for all of us, a sound piece of advice kept popping up - before jumping on using a particular approach, tool or technology, make sure it makes sense for that specific context. A good example was Sara Vieira, who shared all the goodness of using  styled components but reminded us that it is not necessarily the best way and definitely not the only one. Or Jan Monschke, who made sure we wouldn’t introduce unnecessary complexity, by following Soundcloud’s solution to collect garbage.

Kitze at ReactFest
Kitze making a case for healthy mixes and not falling for the hype when it comes to state management.

We are all learning together

In the same way that there is no universal right or wrong, there are no rockstar-ninja-superhero-flawless developers. Kitze made that very clear from the first second he set foot on stage. All the speakers seemed to share the same attitude, which helped demystify concepts and made for a relaxed and open atmosphere and in turn a very enjoyable event.

Marcel Cutts
Marcel Cutts teaching how to draw an owl. He noted that more often than not there are only resources for beginners ("draw two circles") and for super-advanced users ("just draw the rest of the owl"). He encouraged everyone to use types and helped bridge the gap.​

We live in the future

As the sessions began to wind down, Tomasz Łakomy showed us that (even though we just learned how to center elements with CSS) the web has unlimited possibilities and that Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality add a new dimension to the equation.

Dan Abramov (who happens to quite literally import modules from the future) ended the talks by enlightening the audience with the new capabilities that async rendering unlocks for your components (API design is not final, but it is real – there’s a pull request!). Check out his sneak peek of upcoming features that will enhance the experience for everyone interacting with React-based interfaces.

 


I could go on and on and on trying to share what made ReactFest so awesome, but let me wrap up by thanking everyone who made it a reality and celebrate that there is such a vibrant and cool community out there. All the sessions were recorded, so keep an eye on ReactFest’s YouTube channel if you are interested or follow them on Twitter. Enjoy the rest of your day!

March 19, 2018
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