ReactEurope interview #5: Kevin Robinson

Patrick Aljord
3 min readMar 16, 2015


There goes our fifth ReactEurope speaker interview today with Kevin Robinson from Twitter. Twitter is one of the most data hungry app on the web and it needs to act on most of this data in real-time.

At the conference, Kevin will talk about how React helps save time at Twitter and he will show new approaches they've been taking in simplifying the data layer.

I think it’s fascinating to learn how companies such as Twitter, Yahoo and Facebook deal with data complexity at their scale and with their constraints, that’s why I'm so excited to have Kevin, Michael from Yahoo and the Facebook crew at the conference. On the other hand, it’s also great to have amazing people from (not that) smaller companies such as Dan, Mikhail or Elie, as they tend to have less constraints and can be less conservative to try new things faster… yeah, I know Facebook runs on React master but I still think of Facebook, Twitter and even Yahoo as startups that grew bigger than expected. Things like continuous delivery and CI servers allow even huge startups to move fast _without_ breaking things.

Here’s the full interview:

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

I’m especially interested in exploratory data science and visualization, working to create user experiences that directly help users do what they need to do, or understand what they need to know. I love connecting knowledge from different fields, and at the moment am particularly inspired by engineering work from the React and ClojureScript communities.

I currently work as an engineer at Twitter in Boston, as part of the Fabric team developing tools for mobile developers. In a past career, I worked as a teacher and continue to volunteer working with high-school and undergraduate students teaching about engineering.

What were you using before React?

Primarily Backbone, with Marionette in some places.

What made you switch to React?

The flexibility of factoring with React’s component model, and the ease of making changes. This was an improvement over moving between View and template code in Backbone, and with swapping between View types in Marionette code. Using React components made making changes simpler and faster, and also helped with ramp-up times for other engineers.

The first production use was a UI with an input box as a filter. This was written with Backbone, but adding the filter meant losing the pure `render` method, and writing mutative methods in order to maintain the focus and cursor state on the input element. React made it more fluid to make these kinds of changes, and moving compute to the read-side made the model layer trivial.

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

We use React in several places on the Fabric team, and I’m excited to share more during the conference!

What do you expect from the conf?

I hope to share what we’ve learned and some work we’ve done that might benefit others, and to meet members of the React community and learn from them as well.

Anything else you want to tell future attendees?

I’m excited about improvements in the field of UI engineering, and making it simpler and faster to make amazing products and user experiences. Over the next year, I’m particularly enthusiastic about what will come out of the React community beyond React itself.

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

If you haven't done so already, make sure to grab your ticket to the conference before they’re all gone and see you there!