React Europe Highlights


July 3, 2015

react-europe

 

This week Paris hosted React Europe, a conference that brought together some six to seven hundred of React community members from all over the world. So many bright ideas and minds came together to celebrate the phenomenon called React.

All the great names from the React community participated in this festival of application development, from the core developers, proclaimed community members, to developers who write code for big name companies (such as Twitter or Yahoo). You can take a look at the schedule on the official conference web site.

There were four main themes/takeaways of this year’s React Europe:

  • React as a universal, target-agnostic view rendering engine
  • GraphQL and Relay
  • Universal (isomorphic) Flux
  • Developer Experience (DX)

React as a universal, target-agnostic view rendering engine

React is a component rendering platform that allows us to define views in a declarative way. However, the rendering target is an entirely separate thing, whether it’s DOM, native iOS/Android components, WebGL, canvas, or something else. React Native is an obvious example of this strategy.

The upcoming React 1.4 will decouple the rendering target (currently DOM) from the core framework, making way for even more exciting ways of using the framework. This is a gigantic step forward for the Facebook open source program, as this important milestone may mark a new era in application development.

GraphQL and Relay

At Modus Create we’ve seen numerous examples of network communication misuse. Mobile apps are especially sensitive of over- and under-delivery of data. GraphQL is an attempt to solve that with a smart query language with user-friendly syntax for describing data interactions. Simply said, it’s a promising new approach for sending and receiving an optimized amount of hierarchical data.

One of the strongest convincing points is that GraphQL requires very little effort to introduce to an existing application stack. There’s no need to change the database model, ORM, server-side language or anything of that sort.

Aside from requesting and returning the minimum amount data, GraphQL is special as it can seamlessly serve multiple versions of an app. Your clients use a year old version of your mobile application? Problem solved!

The immediate availability of GraphQL specs has been ceremoniously announced at React Europe. We are looking forward to implementations arriving in the near future.

To make us want the product even more, useful developer tools such as GraphiQL were hinted at a few of the talks at React Europe.

Relay, a new framework that provides data-fetching functionality announced at the first React conference in January 2015, is said to be released later this summer, likely in August.

Universal (isomorphic) Flux

Whether you call it isomorphic or universal, using Flux (and React) on both server and client side was a big theme in Paris. Re-using Flux on both environments is a great option to mix enhance user-perceived performance, SEO-friendliness, and legacy browser support in single page apps (SPA).

As for flux libraries, we have seen demos of Redux and Fluxible, both showing remarkable feature sets and performance. A benefit of the Facebook team releasing a spec is that it lead to different implementations allowing for developers to pick and choose the right one for their needs. The existence of the various implementations strengthens the technology as it’s building a larger Flux community. Christopher Chedeau (Vjeux) referred to it as Simulated annealing, a process in which temperature (hype) is quickly raised, then left to cool down slowly leaving the strongest to evolve and survive.

Developer Experience (DX) or Ergonomics

Debugging tools, hot reloading (think Redux), state history management (also Redux), inline styles (think Radium), ES.next (+ Babel), and React itself are all here to make it easier or more ergonomical for a developer to create phenomenal user experience (UX). Many speakers at React Europe spoke to DX from various perspectives as being almost or just as important as UX.
Many of the tools mentioned above are just months old, which is a clear demonstration of how much we still need to work on DX as a community.

Wrap-up

It has been a fruitful year for React, and this conference not only proved just that, but it promised an exciting future to React’s blooming community.
Were you one of the lucky attendees in Paris? How do you feel about the state of React and supporting technologies? Please share your thoughts with us.


Grisogono_Grgur square
Grgur Grisogono is a software architect at Modus Create, specializing in JavaScript performance, React JS, and Sencha frameworks. He helped clients ranging from Fortune 100 to major governments and startups successfully release enterprise and consumer facing web applications. He has also organized three tech conferences and co-authored Ext JS in Action SE. If Grgur's posts were helpful, maybe his 16 years of experience could help your project too.


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