ReactEurope interview #11: Joseph Savona on Relay

Patrick Aljord
2 min readApr 8, 2015


Here’s our latest ReactEurope interview after a small hiatus. Joseph is an architect of Relay and contributor to React Native at Facebook. He was an early adopter of React, building what is likely the first React app to be installed at a correctional facility. His previous experience includes teaching ESL abroad, interaction design and prototyping, and web/native UI development. At the conference, he will talk about “Relay: An Application Framework For React”. Here’s the interview below:

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

I’m originally from New Jersey and lived in NYC and Japan before ending up in San Francisco. I speak Japanese, write JavaScript, and read about distributed systems theory for fun.

I work on product infrastructure at Facebook, supporting our product teams by building libraries to complement React & React Native. My primary focus is Relay.

Tell us a bit more about Relay, how it came to be and its relationship with GraphQL and React.

Relay is a new framework that rethinks the way applications access data. We found that typical approaches were limiting and didn’t allow us to move quickly enough. For example, adding a single property to a view required developers to make a cascade of changes throughout an app. And developers could rarely remove data-fetching logic with confidence that a view somewhere wouldn’t break. We knew we could do better.

Relay expands on React’s component architecture, using GraphQL to declare and fetch exactly the data each component needs to render. A good analogy is that GraphQL is to data what JSX is for the view. Because Relay components are truly modular and encapsulated, it’s significantly easier to reason about and the system can eliminate an entire category of bugs. Together, Relay & React let developers focus on the interactions that make their products unique.

You can find more information on the React blog:

What do you expect from the conf?

I can’t wait to hear about the amazing things people are doing with React. We learned so much from the community at React.js Conf in January and the motivation boost hasn’t faded.

Anything else you want to tell future attendees?

I’m consistently impressed by the openness and collaboration in the React community. Come talk to us and pick our brains!

There you go, you now know a bit more about Joseph 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!

Make sure to follow @ReactEurope on Twitter to get the latest news about the conference and interviews.



Patrick Aljord

Hacker, organizer, cheese eater.