Vconnect’s Justice Mba Flies Africa’s Flag At React Rally 2017

Justice Mba, a Front End Developer with Vconnect was one of the 20 speakers at 2017’s React Rally held in Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.A.

The two-day event featured talks from Tech companies like Twitter, Pinterest, Eventbrite, Adobe and many more.

Ok, let me back up a moment here and explain what React is. React, as described on Facebook’s GitHub page, is a  JavaScript library maintained by Facebook for building user interfaces. It makes it painless to create interactive UIs (User Interfaces), so understandably,  it is quite popular with UI developers.

React powers applications like Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp on the web and more.

However, React is still a relatively new JavaScript library, it has only been around since 2013, so the fact that Justice was one of the speakers invited for the React Rally is a pretty big deal.

I sat with him to talk about his experience at the event and the importance of conferences like these for software developers, here are some of the things we talked about:

How did you get invited for React Rally?

JM: There was a call for proposals, I submitted mine and I got an invite.

Why did you want to speak at the event?

JM: I believe that speaking at a conference is a way of learning, speaking is a form of teaching, and when you teach, you learn more.

What did you speak about?

JM: My topic was ‘Demystifying setState()’. The talk was motivated by an article I wrote on the same subject.

In the React community, because of a lack of understanding of how setState works, a lot of people run into bugs trying to use it. A lot of people do not know how it works under the hood. There was a huge reaction to the article which motivated my going to speak at the conference.

Justice doing justice to his paper (Sorry, couldn’t help myself)

How does your knowledge of React help your work at Vconnect?

JM: There is something we are building for Vconnect called a PWA (progressive web app).

A PWA is a web application that seems closer to a native app. This means that when you are using the web, the way it responds to user interaction will be similar to that of a native application. React is a great application for achieving this. Companies like Twitter have used React to build their app to run this way.

So for Vconnect, with a PWA it becomes a web application that consumes less data, that would load faster on devices even with 2G network and have that native feel, so there is an overall improved user experience when using the site. This way users can access the Vconnect site without worry too much about data consumption and have a pleasant experience when on the website.

Hopefully, this will be live within the last quarter of this year.

We talked about you being nervous before heading out for the event, how did you cope with that?

JM: I was scheduled to speak on the second day, and after I heard people speak on the first day, I thought ’how would I ever top that?’

So come the second day, I was nervous as hell. I couldn’t even eat lunch. Before I went on to speak I met one of my mentors from Facebook, Dan Abramov.

He is one of the guys working on React at Facebook, he was the person who motivated me to write about React in the first place, he was also the one who pitched the idea of submitting a proposal at the conference.

That afternoon he asked if I was nervous, and I said yes I am, I should be nervous. So he started telling me about the first talk he gave and how it was a dud;  his time elapsed when he was in the middle of his talk.

He gave me tips on how to deal with my anxiety, he told me to look for faces I’m familiar with and pretend I was explaining to those people. So about a minute into my talk, I saw him and I found my groove.

Spot the hacker

How come you were the only African speaker at the event?

JM: I don’t know why for sure. What we are pushing for in the tech community now is diversity. We don’t care where people come from or their gender, we don’t care about their colour. What matters is how you can help the community.

I consider myself a junior developer, but the organisers considered my application regardless of this. So I believe it was more about the proposals submitted and then again we only had 20 speakers out of nearly 200 proposals.

What would be your advice to developers looking to learn React?

JM: Learn and understand JavaScript first. Many would tell you to start straight from React, but I think it is important you learn JavaScript first.

When you are done with JavaScript, then the official documentation for React is a great place to start. There are also a lot of resources on the internet that are helpful. I will personally recommend Tyler McGinnis’ React Fundamentals. That’s where I learned, and then there is also the book ‘Full Stack React’.

With THE Tyler McGinnis!

For you, what was the most interesting part of attending the conference?

JM: The most interesting part of the conference and why I think every developer should attend a conference of their choice, is the opportunity to interact with the same people who you have spent days and nights studying what they have built.

Seeing that they are just regular people like you gives you the motivation to do more too.

It’s been great catching up with you Justice.

JM: You’re welcome.

 

Also read:  SME Conference 1.0: This why we are doing this

You can watch all of Justice’s speech on YouTube here, and find him on twitter as @daajust.

Also, see for yourself how Vconnect is working with software developers like Justice to help users hire service professionals easily. Visit www.vconnect.com/getquote

 

Jimi Osheidu

Jimi is a content developer and screenwriter. Bizarrely, he has never been seen in the same room with Batman, leading many to believe he is indeed the Dark Knight. He refuses to comment on these claims.

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