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React Conf 2024 Review

React Conf 2024 Review

A lot has happened since the last React Conf, so 2024 was action-packed. The conference lasted two days in Las Vegas and was focused on all the new stuff coming with React v19. Day one was centered around React 19/Server Components, and day two was React Native. There were some exciting reveals, fantastic talks, and demos.

This post will cover the conference's big news, specifically the main keynotes from days 1 and 2.

Day 1 Keynote

The main keynote included several speakers from the React team, and early in the talk they mentioned a goal of “Make it easy for anyone to build great user experiences.” This sounds great but I was curious to see exactly what they meant by this since it seems like React has arguably gotten more complex with the introduction of Server Components and related API’s.

The keynote was split into 3 sections:

State of React - Lauren Tan

Lauren shared the staggering adoption React has received over the years and thanked all the contributors and the community. She also highlighted the amazing ecosystem of packages, tools, and frameworks.

It’s hard to argue against these points, but React seems to be in a weird in-between state. The framework is headed in this new direction but doesn’t feel quite there yet.

React 19

A few team members collaborated on a walkthrough of React 19, which included all the new features and a bunch of quality-of-life improvements.

The main highlights were:

  • Server Rendering & Suspense - One of the coolest bits was showing how to co-locate and load stylesheets and other assets in components. “HTML Composition for Bundlers, Libraries, & Apps”
  • Hydration - This was a fan favorite, and the TL;DR is fewer hydration errors with better messages and debuggability.
  • Actions - This is one of my favorite new features, as it feels like something that was missing from the React toolkit for a long time. The new Actions API is a “First-class pattern for asynchronous data updates in response to user input”. It includes Remix inspired form behaviors and API’s that replace a lot of boilerplate for handling async operations like loading and error states.
  • JSX Improvements

One of the most applauded announcements was the changes to refs, which are now automatically passed to every component 🙌

React Compiler !!

Yes, we’ve all heard the news by now. They are finally open sourcing the compiler that they teased over 2 years ago. React compiler understands React code/rules and is able to automatically optimize/memoize our application code.

One of the big complaints of React has long been that there’s a lot of mental overhead and thought that needs to be put into optimizing and building fast components. So, the goal is to remove that burden from the developers so that they can focus on writing their business logic.

One of the slides mentioned that the compiler has the following behaviors: Dead Code Elimination, Constant Propagation, Type Inference, Alias Analysis, Mutable Lifetime Inference, HIR, and Diagnostics. I’m not going to pretend to know all those things, but I’ve already heard a lot of positive feedback about how it works and how advanced it is.

The team mentioned that they are already running the compiler in production on and some of their other websites.

Day 2 Keynote

Day 2 opened with sharing the incredible growth in downloads and adoptions that React Native has had (78M downloads in 2023). They shared some meta info about the recent releases and talked about all the partners helping to push the framework forward. They mentioned the Meta investment in React Native and shared about some of the ways that they are using it internally in places like Facebook Marketplace.

Next they shared about all the work that Microsoft is doing with React Native for things like supporting building Windows apps with React Native. I was surprised to learn that the Windows Start Bar is a React Native app 🤯.

New Architecture

"Rewrite React Native to be synchronous so it’s possible to be concurrent"

I was surprised when I read this since these two things seem to conflict with one another. The new architecture allows for the concurrent mode in React.

This section opened by describing the original architecture of React Native (JavaScript code with a bridge for passing information back and forth from the native layer)

The new architecture replaces “the bridge” with a concept called “JSI (JavaScript Interface)”. Instead of message passing, it uses memory sharing between the JS and Native layers.

The big announcement was that the new architecture has been moved into Beta and they have released a bunch of things to help with compatibility between the old and new architecture to minimize breakages when upgrading.

Production Ready Apps

The section opened by talking about all the complexities and pieces involved with shipping a high-quality app to Android and iOS. If you’re a mobile developer, you know it’s quite a lot. They highlighted a new section of the documentation that provides details about “React Native Frameworks”. They are recommending using a “Framework” with React Native, just like they are recommending for React on the web.

I had never even considered the idea of a “React Native Framework” before, so I thought that was pretty surprising. I guess it makes sense that Expo is a Framework but I’m not aware of any others like it.

So the recommendation from the React Native documentation is: “Use Expo”. Which leads to the next part of the keynote….


This part of the talk went more in-depth on a lot of the complexities with mobile development that Expo helps you solve. They highlighted an amazing suite of modules that they have dubbed the “Expo SDK”. The SDK consists of well-defined modules that handle some type of integration with the underlying Native platforms. They also have a Modules API to help build your own Native modules.

Another new feature that I wasn’t aware of is API routes with Expo Router. How does that even work???

The next thing they mentioned was a feature called CNG (Continuous Native Generation). I’ve played with this a bit and it’s pretty nice. Expo will generate the iOS and Android projects/code that is needed to build the final application. The sales pitch is that this will help with upgrades if you aren’t managing and changing your native code by yourself. If you’ve upgraded a React Native app before you know how painful this can be.

I am interested to see if CNG is practical in the real world. In my experience most projects have ended up ejected from expo and require managing your own native code.

This section wrapped up with talking about builds and deployments with Expo Application Services (EAS). I don’t have experience with EAS yet personally but builds and deployments have always been the biggest pain point in my experience. I would definitely give it a try on my next project.

As someone who has worked with React Native and Expo quite a bit over the years, it truly has come a really long way. Expo is amazing.


There were a ton of really exciting announcements and content just between the two keynotes. My impression from the conference is that a new era of React is kicking off and it’s really exciting. I’d hate to be one of the people betting against React as they’ve shown time and time again that they are willing to take risks and innovate in this space. It’s going to be a busy year in the React ecosystem as more frameworks adopt Server Components and more applications give it a try.

There were a bunch of other really incredible talks in the conference and I’m really excited to write about a couple of them in particular. I wish I could have attended in person but the live stream didn’t disappoint!

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