React withstood the test of time

Holy sh*t, React is 7 years old already

As I was writing the last article, Why you should learn React in 2021 I’ve realized that it’s already been 7 years that React was released. I was very surprised as I’ve known that it was released around 2013, but holy smokes 7 years is a long time. So I wanted to talk a little bit about the history of React. There aren’t many articles about this. The few awesome ones I found are these two: History of React and Modern JS Frameworks by Francisco Brusa and The History of React.js on a Timeline by Ferenc Hámori. Definitely go check them out, they are worth the read.

Beginning of React

The story starts at Facebook, where the code of their ads was getting messy, as they were adding new features all the time and had to add more developers. Therefore as most of you can relate the code became quite buggy and hard to manage. I’m sure you’ve had the same experience, it can also happen in smaller teams, let’s say 5+ people. Facebook has even introduced xhp into its php stack, but that didn’t help.

So the code became harder and harder to manage until one of the developers said they’ve had enough and developed the first prototype of React in 2010. This developers name is Jordan Walke and the name of that prototype is FaxJS. You can even view it on Walkes github as an illustration in an art gallery, a unique piece, that laid the ground for React. The guy should sell it as an NFT, just like Jack Dorsey did with his first tweet. I bet it would go for a lot, just as a piece of history. Here is a great article about NTFs.

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Release of React

The year is 2012 and Facebook acquires Instagram. The Instagram team also wanted to use the new technology, called React. So they had to decouple piece of the React code from Facebook and make it public open source. And that’s exactly what they did. In 2013 React gets open sourced and was introduced at JSConfUS by Jordan Walke. React developer tools became an extention of Google Chrome and with that, life got a lot easier for the developers. What made life even easier was the release of hot reload in 2014. This meant that the components are live reloaded with the changes without loosing the state data.

Adoption of React

The year 2015 was huge for React as a lot of companies started using React in their applications. At first a lot of the first adopters were skeptical, but they soon realized they made the right choice. Netflix, AirBnb, Twitter, Spotify, Slack, WhatsApp, all of them used React in their apps now. When Facebook released React Native in 2015, some companies even used React in their mobile applications.

Additions to the React stack

We also saw the release of GraphQL and Relay in the same year(2015), which was huge and still is to this day. I love GraphQL, it’s one of those technologies that just make sense and once you start using them, you can’t let them go. Also 2015 saw the release of Redux by Dan Abramov.

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In 2016 Mobx was released, which is btw still to this day my favorite global state management library. It’s just so elegant and simple, although they do change the setup over the years quite a lot, but still it’s very much enjoyable to use.

In 2016 React had over 50k stars on github already, today it’s over 165k.

React hooks

In 2019 React hooks were released, which was huge. We no longer need classes, we are finally free, functional all the way. Almost every new project now uses hooks instead of the old classes. In my opinion this is the best update the React dev team has ever released. Also in the same year they released React Suspense and Concurrent Rendering which is pretty awesome as well.

Conclusion

Now it’s April 2021 and we are waiting what great new features and quality of life the React dev team will deliver to us next. React will be officially 8 years old by the end of May this year. Jordan Walke created his prototype 10 years ago. This is completely crazy to me, it’s been so long already and I am super grateful and happy to be on the React journey with all you React developers and React dev team. Thank you guys so much, you are awesome!

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