Midwest JS 2018 Wrap-up

Yesterday marked the end of the fifth year of Midwest JS. It was my third year attending and I'm already looking forward to coming back next year! There were a lot of great talks and I met a lot of great people, so I wanted to do a quick write-up while everything is still fresh.

For those unfamiliar, MWJS is a small regional conference that draws the majority of its attendees from the midwest (surprise!). The first question everyone asks me when they find out I traveled from CA for it is, "Why?" I had this exact conversation at least a dozen times, so here's why: The smaller conferences are the best because there's no ego and no pitches, just people sharing whatever they're excited about. It has more of a meetup vibe than anything, which is awesome.

I saw a lot of talks and I'd love to write up a summary on everything, but I'm trying to get this done before the hotel kicks me out so I'll just pick a few of my favorites.

A Practical Approach to the Component Library Challenge

This was my favorite talk. Amy managed to cram a ton of information into her presentation without it feeling rushed at all. I've always been intrigued by the idea of having a component library because I think it would make the design-to-implementation process a lot smoother. This talk walked us through the benefits and difficulties of building out a component library and I'm excited to bring it back to DroneDeploy to see where we can go with it.

Slides are available here.

Automated Testing with Cypress

Mike presented on Cypress, a new-ish framework for UI testing. Cypress is something that we have started looking at recently and I was able to glean a lot of great information from this talk. The most exciting thing about Cypress is that it moves away from JsonWire/WebDriver/whatever and instead executes directly in the browser. This alone should reduce E2E flakiness by a ton and I am very much looking forward to the day when we can dump Selenium.

Mike published his slides here with a sample application here.

Using JavaScript to write Native Applications/SDK's for iOS, Android and the Web

I believe this wins the "longest title" award, but the content was awesome. Derek and Siddharth walked us through a new hybrid application framework they built at PayPal called Syr. Its goal is to feel like React Native while also dumping a ton of the bloat; Preact Native, if you will. I've been experimenting with React Native recently and I've definitely hit some of the pain points described in this talk. Syr is still new (the version number on the website is "Unstable 1.4.5"), but I'm looking forward to trying it out.

Check out the slides here.

Quick thoughts

  • There was a big focus on accessibility this year, which is cool and super important. I know that I need to take steps to make my site accessible and I'd encourage you to do the same.
  • An entire track dedicated to Vue! It's pretty impressive how quickly Vue has grown in the past few years and I think I need to get up to speed on it.
  • I hope the MWJS team takes a look at Dustin's Gatsby version of the conference site. It's amazing how much better it performs!
  • It's always fun to watch my brother's presentations. I'm sure everyone puts a ton of time into their talks, but it's fun to watch all the work he puts in "behind the scenes" and then see the finished product.

Closing

This was a pretty tiring trip for me because I spent last week away from home too, so I'm looking forward to being back in my own bed for a while. That being said, I had an amazing time and enjoyed meeting a ton of cool people. I'm already excited for next year!

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