I had the privilege to participate in React Next 2017 as an invited speaker. Participation gave me a good chance to learn more about Israel and also a good excuse to showcase webpack to a wider audience. I also gave a surprise talk about my site generator before the event and even sponsored it a bit.
We arranged a small surprise meetup before the event. In addition to my presentation about Antwar, the plan was to have Kyle present Gatsby. Sadly he had problems with his flight, and we ended up having only my presentation and a QA with another speaker in the end.
I tried to keep the talk simple, but in the end, it was likely too technical for most people. If I ever get to present it again, I'll reduce the difficulty level a notch and show how to build an entire site using it. The main problem is that I didn't design it usability in mind. It's more about flexibility.
Developing something like create-react-site on top of Antwar would likely alleviate this problem, but I don't want to maintain something like that as it could become famous.
To be honest, I would look into alternatives like Gatsby and Phenomic over Antwar. I designed Antwar around my use cases, and there's no community around it. I prefer the current situation, though, as maintaining a popular tool becomes a chore soon.
Tour of Israel#
All the speakers were invited to a two-day tour of Israel. We spent time in the old city of Jerusalem first. After that, we headed to a "bedouin camp" where we rode camels and slept through the night.
Unless you prefer excitement, don't ride the first camel.
Especially the sunset and sunrise were magical. I happened to wake up early enough to enjoy a short morning run. That was truly a unique experience and one of the highlights of the entire trip for me. Sometimes you find the best things outside of the official program.
We spent the second day of the tour exploring the fortress at Masada. Once you get there, you realize whey they built one there roughly two thousand years ago. The visit was again one of those memorable experiences that will remain with me.
After visiting the fortress, we headed to the Dead Sea. It was nice to see but to be honest, it wasn't my favorite place. That said, now I can say I've gone there and done that.
I did touring of my own after the main event. Especially the art museum is a treat if you like modern architecture combined with nice exhibitions ranging from modern art to classics.
The event itself was professionally organized. There were roughly 700 people this year, and the atmosphere was amazing. The two tracks were filled with speakers from all around the world with primarily React related topics. Overall the quality of the talks was high although I skipped most.
My talk, Webpack - The React Parts, was a bit of a challenge for me. I tried to condense as many little techniques within the thirty minutes I had, and I like to think I succeeded to some extent in this goal. My only gripe is that I ruined the last topic, Universal Apps, slightly due to time pressure.
The live coding portion of the presentation went mostly smoothly although I had to
npm install at a certain point. That's scary to do while on stage.
I also managed to sneak in a couple of dry jokes in the presentation. I don't know how I do it. I try my best to be as unfunny as possible, yet this always happens.
The presentation demo could be pushed further by moving the code to use Preact and using a CDN. There's also potential for smarter code splits.
I think the trip was a success overall. I was given a chance to see a strange new country and perhaps make some new friends. I have a greater appreciation for a cool climate now at least, and I can see Israel in a more realistic light than before. Perhaps I will travel back there one day!