ReactEurope 2017 interview #6 with Nikhilesh Sigatapu

Nikhilesh Sigatapu

In this sixth ReactEurope 2017 interview, we have the pleasure to learn more about Nikhilesh Sigatapu aka @snikhilesh.

Nikhilesh works at Expo and made the React Native game Floatyplane and recently helped reimplement WebGL for iOS and Android.

Read more about Nikhilesh here:

Tell us a bit about yourself, where are you from, what do you do?

I’m Nikhilesh Sigatapu. I work for Expo (https://expo.io). I’m from India, have grown up in Qatar since I was two, went to college in the US and am now living in San Francisco.
I like to make artistic things -- so I like to draw or play music -- and I feel about computers the same way. I got into computer programming as a way of making computer games as a kid, and since then became interested in building tools and game engines too and not just the games. So Expo makes sense for me since it is such a tool for making apps!
I would really love to make tools that turn "programming" into the sort of experience that a painter has making their art or that a musician has playing music -- they are able to engage directly with their piece in real-time. Maybe the next question is how to make it social too, like when you jam music together with your friends.

What were you using before React?

Most of the coding I did before Expo was for games or game engines, which I did mostly in C++ or C. These engines usually had a scripting layer, which I did in Python or Lua. I've used a bunch of stuff, but I would say my biggest influences are Game Maker, OGRE, C/C++, Lua, Lisp.

What made you switch to React?

I hadn't used React before starting at Expo. When I tried it, it really made a lot of sense to me. I was playing a bunch before with Haskell and things like "functional reactive programming" with Elm. React seemed to be a way to bring those ideas into a more mainstream context with JavaScript and also bring a HTML-like UI-description format (JSX) into the same place. The first thing I worked on using it was a game and it actually managed to fit fine!
I really like to explore attempts at re-thinking paradigms so it was very interesting to me. Also JavaScript, being an interpreted language, was amenable to the "live coding" interactions I was yearning for so that was exciting (especially with ClojureScript etc.).

What’s your greatest React projects, open source or not that you’d like to tell the world about?

One fun React Native project is Floaty Plane, a game that is like Flappy Bird. You can play it at http://expo.io/@exponent/floatyplane with Expo and you can find the source code at https://github.com/exponent/floatyplane.
My biggest recent project at Expo is a WebGL implementation which allows you to render arbitrary graphics, even 3d. You can see a demo of that at http://expo.io/@community/gl-test. I’m writing a blog post about how this is implemented that I will release soon!

What do you expect from the conf?

I want to see what everyone is up to and meet some great people and learn from them! Also to get inspired by everyone’s excitement. I think seeing someone’s excitement in person is so much more impactful than through their words on the internet (thought that has huge impact too!).
Also I haven’t been to Europe since I was a child and I’m interested in seeing the culture there surrounding technology and also in general.

Anything else you want to tell future attendees?

I really respect how helpful and positive the React community is and it puts a smile on my face to see how it is so easy to enter for people that are new to the scene. It's really important that we are welcoming to newcomers. I hope people will continue making great contributions. Excited to see what comes in the future! :)

There you go, you now know a bit more about Nikhilesh Sigatapu and hopefully you will be able to meet him personally at the conf.

If you haven’t done so, make sure to grab your ticket to the conference or one of our workshops! You can also get in touch with us if you want to sponsor.

You can follow @ReactEurope on Twitter or Facebook to get the latest news about the conference and interviews.

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