React Rally is a developer conference created around the library of React.js and the community that uses it. It was the first of its name. It was the first React-centric conference in Salt Lake City. I had a great time. Here are a few of reasons I liked it.
It was a happy conference. A great mood was set by Jamison on stage, who MC'ed most of the conference. He's a fun, quirky guy who's not self-important and who did a great job putting speakers and the audience at ease. There were a ton of participants and attendees at the conference that also fit this (good!) description. This led to great conversation between sessions. There were plenty of breaks, some 30 or 60 minutes at a time. They were well-spaced, allowing plenty of time. There was a pleasant Rangle.io-sponsored lounge to gather in.
There were no on-stage questions and answers portions at the end of the talks. I wondered how I'd like this, since who doesn't like answer to their questions, right? It turned out to be refreshing. Speakers finished their talks at the appointed time. No one had to wait around uncomfortably wondering when either the speaker or the audience would let everyone else off the hook. No embarrassing questions. It was nice. All the speakers were great anyway, but I think this feature also helped prime the conversations that were expected to happen after the talks in the breakouts, giving extra motivation for everyone to be available and approachable.
The Spoken Word
I was excited going into the conference because of the solid lineup of speakers. Not all the talks were the best I had heard or the best treatment of every subject. There were some highlights thought, and on the whole it was really, really good. Each of the speakers had obviously prepared a great deal and had taken their time on stage seriously (or not seriously in the case of Dave Smith, whose talk was memorable and awesome as well, btw).
The conference wasn't wholly about React. There's just so much around React that is exciting. The community is pushing boundaries all over the place. (And still all the content in the conference was appropriate, yay! :) For instance, there were a great many mentions of Elm. For my part, I spent much of the conference tinkering with that very thing.
It'll reveal how much art does for me, but when I first learned about the conference, one of the things that excited me the most was the website. It had a fun design! There were illustrations, interesting colors, and it looked like a fun theme. (Of course, at the time there was literally nothing else to be excited about outside the mailing list input box.)
We need more illustrations. We need more mascots. A menacing purple squid with a React symbol on its forehead? Yes, please! My previously bare brushed metal laptop lid is now bestickered with the sweetest conference stickers I have. So fun!
I'm still not sure what the theme was intended to be. My interpretation was Creatures of the Black Lagoon in Space. Right?!
Feels Like the First Time
The organizers did a great job. The preparation was obvious. They assured me they were putting out fires for the duration of the two days. That was not apparent. The thing went off without a hitch. I can only poke at the annoying AV glitch of a blinky project screen in some talks.
Everything seemed in its place. The conference was small, about 250 participants, and it seemed like a large house party most of the time. The venue was prepped very well. I'm glad they opened up the downstairs lounge. The food was great. The breakfast trucks were a wonderful touch, especially Saturdays Waffles day. Mmmmm, waffles. The gift card for lunch was a thoughtful touch. Atlantic Cafe provided my delicious cevapi sausage on the 2nd day.
I have many thanks for the great speakers, the effort of the organizers, and everyone in between that made the 2 days great. I felt inspired. I left more informed. I met a group of fantastic people. It's been my favorite conference in Salt Lake City so far.