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11 lessons learned as a React contractor

  • I’ve been writing code for 18 years, professionally for about 13
  • For 6 of those years I was a dedicated Flash developer
  • After Steve Jobs’ open letter all the Flash work went away
  • Remembered I could write HTML, CSS and JS, brushed up those skills
  • I struggled with the major Javascript frameworks for a while, they felt like they were hiding too much logic and in a pre NPM world were monolithic brittle beasts
  • Left my full time job to start contracting, mostly prototyping
  • Watched a few conference demos of React
  • October 2015, I bluffed my way onto a React project and loved it
  • January 2016, I changed my job title on LinkedIn to React developer…

and these are some of the things I learned

1: Multiple simple components are better than one highly customisable one

2: Always raise an Issue or Pull Request if you find bugs in libraries

3: Implement a build process first, then React

4: Raw SVG >= D3 for simple data visualisations

5: When all you have is two weeks, keep it lean

6: Relying on CSS animation alone to move a lot of elements can be slow

7: Boilerplates are a great starting point, but…

8: Maintain a predictable Components, connected Components and Container pattern

9: Strict linting is a blessing and a curse

10: Retrofitting Universal React rendering into an existing Express project is doable…

11: Learning Sagas may melt your brain



Elijah McClain, George Floyd, Eric Garner, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Michael Brown, Oscar Grant, Atatiana Jefferson, Tamir Rice, Bettie Jones, Botham Jean

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