Takeaways from F8 2018

Farewell shot at Facebook’s F8 2018

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.

Mark Zuckerberg presenting Facebook’s 3, 5, and 10-year plans

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.

A presentation on Facebook Live and its companion video platform, Watch Party

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.

Photos from the “How React Native Helps Companies Build Better Mobile Apps” panel discussion

React everywhere

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.

Photos from the talk “Building With React Native & React VR”

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.

Photo from the “Jest Automated Testing” workshop

The workshops I attended at F8 were informative, including the Jest workshop that covered automated JavaScript testing. I also got to meet incredible entrepreneurs from around the globe and hear about their tech stacks and business strategies.

Entrance to F8 2018 at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center
See videos from the conference in my “F8 2018” reel on Air: airc.am/BybjKC-Cf

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.


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