React: Looking Forward
A webpage is a living, breathing, ever-changing thing. I envision the web browser like a happy puppy waiting with it’s ears perched for you to do something that it can react to (pun intended, see what I did there…). Whether you know it or not, the browser is “listening” to you. It knows things like where your mouse is resting on the page and how long you’ve been sitting there watching that panda video. It is listening and waiting for you to take some action so it can do it’s cool tricks. Think of all the clickable things on your Facebook page. How many things can you count that require your browser to do something? And when you click your notifications you expect the little red alert button to go away, your message to pop up , and all of it to get synced in the background. Now think about how many clickable things are happening right now on the Facebooks worldwide and how all that gets rendered and coordinated by the Great Wiz of the Internets. It would be easy for things to get out of sync and that appears as a bug in the page to you. Also, as a user you probably don’t care all that much but all those information updates get expensive when you are moving massive chunks of data around. React was invented by some really smart people at Facebook to help manage all that. React essentially takes a picture of the page, remembers it’s “state”, and only updates the parts of the page that are changed when something is changed (click on a notification, submit a message, unfollow your crazy Uncle Larry). That means less data moving around, which explains the efficient part of it’s definition and also means that your notifications are in sync now. Thanks Facebook!
OK, I realize even Mom is probably not reading anymore but here is what this means for me.
I’m excited about creating things that inform, entertain, and serve people in a compelling and beautiful way. I have been doing that with music, film, audio and design for practically my whole life. I am interested in software development because it is a new and powerful medium for me to continue doing those things. It is really hard to compel people with a great website or video if it underperforms or doesn’t get delivered smoothly. I am excited about React because it seems to promise a great experience for the end user and the developer as well. Heck, it even seems to cut costs for the company which the boss will surely like. I’m having a hard time seeing a downside here.