ReactEurope interview #10: Michael Chan

Patrick Aljord
3 min readMar 30, 2015

In our 10th interview, we talk to Michael. At the conference, Michael will talk about Inline Styles: themes, media queries, contexts, and when it’s best to use CSS. Michael loves teaching React and drawing awesome live sketches during conferences. Here’s his full interview:

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

My name is Michael. Friends call me “Chan”. It seems “Michael” is too long and my mom hates “Mike.” Feel free to call me whatever feels right.

I live in California with with my wife Nellie and two ridiculous children. Nellie and I survive on great coffee and choice ramen.

At Planning Center we develop software for growing churches. My charge is to develop the UI framework shared by our 6 web apps. React has saved me from writing terribly buggy UI code.

In my free-time, I like to help newcomers find their footing in the industry. I organize a small meetup called Full Stack Talks where we teach people how to develop well.

What were you using before React?

jQuery and lots of yelling.

I made attempts to land Angular and Ember into our stack. Now that we’re on React, I’m glad those attempts failed.

What made you switch to React?

Pete Hunt’s talk “Rethinking Best Practices.”

Like most of the world — in 2013 — I was skeptical about JSX. I wrote a few toy components but wasn’t convinced React was a major threat to frameworks like Ember.

Last spring, @seven1m and I were given the assignment of re-building a very old jQuery application. We took two days prototyping; he used React and I used Ember. He smoked me. It wasn’t even a fair fight. We’ve been sold ever since.

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

I’ve been working on screencasts and articles at to help newcomers make the transition to React.

React has a number of great resources but few targeted at absolute beginners. I hope these lessons can help new developers in their first steps.

What do you expect from the conf?

I’ve spent the past year being a React-nerd stateside. I’m excited to be a React-nerd internationally.

The speaker-lineup looks incredible. The best part of React.js Conf was seeing what other teams were doing with React. I’m excited to see a fresh batch of experiences.

Anything else you want to tell future attendees?

The React community is the best community in JavaScript. Get uncomfortable and meet people ferociously. If you’re scared, meet me, I’m a safe bet ;)

There you go, you now know a bit more about Chan 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 before they’re all gone and see you there!