React Day Berlin 2017 conference review

React Day Berlin is a one-day programming conference about ReactJS and React Native that took place on 02.12.2017 in Berlin. I went there, and I would like to share my opinion about it, from the point of view of an attendee.

An attendee conference pass for React Day Berlin

Talks and Schedule

There were 10 half-hour talks and 6 lightning talks. The event took 8 hours in total. Topics varied from GraphQL, ReasonML, and Redux-Saga to writing documentation and designing UIs. More details can be found here. All talks took place right on schedule, with a tiny and acceptable delay of 10 minutes by the end.

Talks are always the main reason I go to conferences or meetups, and I definitely was not disappointed this time. Having 1,5 years of experience with React and 3 years of experience with front-end development, I found something new and interesting in almost every talk. I particularly enjoyed Marcel Cutts’ talk about ReasonML and Kristijan Ristovski’s talk about state management when using GraphQL. In addition to great content, both presenters had a great sense of humor and charisma.

Recordings of all talks, according to the organizers’ promises, should be available on YouTube soon.

I left the conference with a long list of tools and ideas to try. “Just-got-back-from-a-conference” effect fully achieved!

Venue

The event took place in Kalkscheune, on Johannisstraße 2 in Mitte, a central district of Berlin. It is fairly easy to reach with U-Bahn and S-Bahn. There was a self-service dressing room to leave your coat, a networking area with hot beverages and snacks, and a big talk room. All signs were bilingual, English and German.

Screenshot of Google Maps showing the location of Kalkscheune

The size of the venue was moderately well-fitted to the number of people attending the conference. The networking area might have been too small for all conference attendees to go there at the same time for lunch, and the corridors were a bit crowded during coffee breaks, but the room in which the talks took place was the right size.

I find it hard to judge the quality of sounding because I sat in the second row just in front of the stage, so I heard everything very well, but that might or might not have been the case for people in the last row on the sides. On both sides of the stage, there were big screens with the presentations, so everything should have been well visible from both sides of the wider-than-longer talk room.

Gender-neutral toilets

All toilets were marked as gender-neutral. I’m suspecting it was done by the organizers of the conference because the sign was a piece of paper stuck to the door, probably covering the original “men/women” signs.

I am really happy about that. Unfortunately, programming conferences usually experience a big disproportion between the number of men and the number of women attending, so designating half the toilets as women-only seems like a waste of resources. Additionally, I believe gender-neutral toilets are more friendly to people who might not identify with any of those two options, or identify with both, and I would like our community to be inclusive for everyone that wants to code.

Lunch

The conference schedule listed lunch as just “lunch”. Now, in all my other conference experiences, “lunch” meant “go out and find something to eat in a restaurant on your own”. I assumed the same would happen here, so I brought my own lunch for convenience. That was not the case. As lunch started, people started queueing in the networking area to receive a meal. I believe it was vegetarian soup and sandwiches. I can’t say much about it, as I ate my own food.

It’s always very nice when the conference organizers provide food for lunch, but I wished it was communicated more clearly. I would like to see a statement in the schedule that would say: “a meal will be provided” so that I could read it a day before, alongside with a description if vegetarian and/or vegan option will be available. As a vegan, I find it annoying when I have to ask what is in the food people are giving me for free, so instead, I usually choose to opt out of that meal altogether. I usually do not expect my food needs to be catered to by event organizers, but if somebody wanted to be more inclusive, I believe it’s a good choice to have a standard meal with meat and a vegan meal for vegans and vegetarians.

Additionally, from the very morning, there were baskets with different kinds of pretzels on the tables, including my favorite pretzels with poppy seeds, which made me forget that I had to get up in the early morning on Saturday. It was a very good choice of snacks, as pretzels are delicious and they are the thing I would urge anyone to try when visiting Germany.

Gift bags

There were no gift bags with t-shirts, pins or lanyards, and that’s good! I don’t think those gadgets are an efficient way of advertising amongst software developers, as we already have a lot of this junk, and we do not wear it. Instead, the organizers chose to encourage people to promote the conference and its presenters by tweeting a lot and writing reviews.

Afterparty

The afterparty took place in Mein Haus am See on Brunnenstraße 197-198.

As I am a homebody for whom a party without a strategic board game is not a party, I chose not to attend. I’d love to know how others liked it though.

Final verdict

I am very glad I went there, and I am even more happy that the organizers announced it will happen again next year. I definitely want to attend React Day Berlin again!