Given there are so many conferences out there already, why would you visit React Finland specifically? Spoiler: not for weather.
Each conference has its own identity and I believe after arranging two last year, we have found something that makes sense for us. As an experienced speaker, I have seen many different setups and I think we found a good compromise for our events.
Although the older reasons still apply, I’ve tried to list seven more specific reasons below.
Full Day Workshops
One of the things we learned from the first React Finland is that we should arrange workshops in full day format with ample breaks (lunch and two coffee breaks included in the price). The advantage of this is that in addition to being more relaxed, you’ll get better value for your money. It’s better for the speakers too as they can focus on your specific needs better.
We’ve decided to cap workshops to twenty attendees and will provide assistants for the most full ones to assure things go smoothly.
This time around, we tried to cover different angles and skill levels. There are less workshops than before, but I believe we found a good composition from which to choose. To keep things affordable, we also offer combo tickets which include access to one workshop and the entire conference.
Single Track Format
I’ve seen many multi track conferences. It can work well if the tracks have clear themes but it also brings problems in form of more complicated logistics (you have to more around) and decision fatigue. Sometimes you might miss a good talk because there are two interesting ones at the same time. On the plus side, having more tracks means you can have more speakers.
In our events, we’ve settled with a single track format. In React Finland, we’ve split the talks over two days and there will be something at the end of each conference day.
Multiple Related Talks Per Session
One of the things we discovered by accident in the first React Finland was that having multiple related talks in a same session is a good idea. Doing this gives you perspective as each speaker has their own viewpoint on the topic. In addition, keeping the presentations short (up to 30 minutes) allows the conference to flow well.
We are going to run with the idea this time around and we’ve organized the schedule so that it’s themed per session. The additional advantage of doing this is that it allows the speakers to collaborate with each other and design their session together so that it works well.
Professional MCs Instead of Amateur Ones
Although Finnish slapstick humor isn’t the worst thing in the world, we hire a couple of professional MCs to make sure everyone can enjoy their conference days.
For me personally, a small conference is often better than a big one. It’s easier to connect with other people and discuss with the speakers. From conference organizer perspective, this also helps with the logistics as there’s less to manage. Combined with the single track format, each person will get shared experiences to discuss.
Because of this, we’ve decided to cap the capacity of the conference to 400 people and won’t go above that even if there’s demand.
Some say the actual conference happens outside the talks. I know everyone won’t agree with this observation but I tend to follow the opinion. Although having great speakers and presentations is one of the core points, it’s also about connecting with people.
For this reason, we try to provide enough breaks for people between the session to refresh and to meet other developers. It’s also a good chance to check out what our sponsors have to offer although this bit is optional and we’ve tried to give sponsors their own space for this reason.
I believe the reasons above contribute to the atmosphere of the conference. By heart, it’s a Finnish conference and in a way it showcases our Nordic culture that has been forged between empires and has somehow managed to retain an identity of its own.
For a foreign visitor, it can be a chance to see what Finland is like up close. To quote an introvert visitor from the first conference, he felt like he was initiating conversations and actually being an extrovert for a while. In addition to enjoying the conference, he gained perspective on himself and learned something about the country in the process.
I know React Finland isn’t the perfect conference in any way but I feel it’s a great showcase for React in Finland. The event allows us to connect with the surrounding world given its international appeal and speakers. It’s maybe one of the better reasons for a web developer to visit Finland and put it on a map.