Facebook hosts an annual developer conference, F8, where their employees speak about Facebook’s latest product launches and hold workshops to teach developers about their technologies.
I got the opportunity to attend my first F8 this past week. Though much of the conference was focused on privacy and augmented/virtual reality (AR/VR), the most interesting and relatable takeaways for me were 1) what Facebook is doing with video, 2) their use of React in many different products, and 3) the insights I gained through conversations with developers from around the world.
Facebook × video
Video-tech is an exciting space to work in and it’s inspiring to see Facebook prioritize video and release a number of video products.
In the initial keynote this year, Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook plans to finish/improve video over the next three to five years.
Facebook released Watch Party which lets users watch real-time videos with friends. They announced photo/video reels for birthdays which hasn’t launched yet, but sounds exciting.
“Instead of all of us writing on your wall to wish you a ‘happy birthday,’ how about we pull together, over the course of the day, a photo and video reel, which you then receive as a package at the end, saying, ‘happy birthday.’”
— Chris Cox, Chief Product Officer, Facebook
As far as camera updates go, Facebook debuted new AR Camera Effects for Instagram and Messenger. Messenger now also allows users to share 4K photos and HD videos. It’s great to see larger platforms like Facebook prioritizing high quality video.
I attended an excellent panel discussion that included speakers from Facebook, Skype, TaskRabbit, Vogue, and Postlight. These brands all have one thing in common: they’re using React Native. They all spoke about how React Native allowed their developer teams to move faster and share most their code between platforms. At Air, React Native has allowed us to share code between platforms, including our web app.
“For all of our apps we see around 93% code reuse between platforms. That’s not a typo.”
— Sophie Alpert, Engineering Manager, React, Facebook [source]
Wow! As one who cares deeply about portable code, I’m inspired to hear a large company like Facebook has such a high percentage of reusable code.
What do Instagram and Oculus have in common? They both use React to build their apps. Instagram builds on top of React Native, while Oculus uses React 360 (formerly React VR), a new React library for building 360 degree VR interfaces. As the React ecosystem grows, it opens up more opportunities for developers to build on exciting new platforms.
Conversations and resources available
One of my favorite aspects of F8 was meeting with Facebook employees and getting their thoughts on our development process. I got to schedule a 1-on-1 meeting with a Facebook product designer to chat about design systems and spoke with a Facebook developer that worked on the React team about how they use React internally. I also enjoyed meeting many of the speakers after their presentations.
To sum up my post-F8 experience: I’m excited to work in video, build apps in the React ecosystem, and have a lively and helpful developer community around me.