The appearance of React.js dramatically widened the opportunities for front-end developers in creating user-friendly interfaces.

To show its unique features, we’ve been publishing a lot about React.js. Moreover, our excellent front-end expert, Miklos Bertalan has started a series of live streams where he shows how to build React apps on a free, locally hosted server - created by another brilliant engineer at Risingstack, Robert Czinege.

To have a better understanding of React, let’s have a sneak peek at how everything started. I have collected the most significant milestones in the history of React, which you’ll be able to see in this timeline below.

The need for a better code

Back in 2011, the developers at Facebook started to face some issues with code maintenance. As the Facebook Ads app got an increasing number of features, the team needed more people to keep it running flawlessly. The growing number of team-members and app-features slowed them down as a company. Over time, their app became difficult to handle, as they faced a lot of cascading updates.

After a while, engineers at Facebook couldn’t keep up with these cascading updates. Their code demanded an urgent upgrade to become more efficient.

They had the model right, but they needed to do something about user experience. So, Jordan Walke built a prototype that made the process more efficient, and this marks the birth of React.js.
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Let's look at the history of React.js on a timeline

From 2010 until now (March 2018):

We got a feedback that certain dates were incorrect in our timeline: React was open sourced in May, during the JS ConfUS 2013, and React London 2014 was held on April 7-9. Now, we have updated our timeline. Please, if you find any other inaccuracies, do let us know in the comment section below or on Twitter.

2010 - The first signs of React

2011 - An early prototype of React

  • Jordan Walke created FaxJS, the early prototype of React - shipped a search element on Facebook.

2012 - Something new had started at Facebook

  • Facebook Ads became hard to manage, so Facebook needed to come up with a good solution for it. Jordan Walke worked on the prototype and created React.
  • April 9: Instagram was acquired by Facebook.
    Instagram wanted to adopt Facebook’s new technology. By this, Facebook had a pressure to decouple React from Facebook and make it open-sourceable. Most of this was done by Pete Hunt.
  • Sept 8-12: TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco, Mark Zuckerberg: "Our Biggest Mistake Was Betting Too Much On HTML5". He promised that Facebook would deliver better mobile experiences very soon.

2013 - The year of the Big Launch

2014 - The year of Expansion

React had gradually gained its reputation and started to go through to 'early majority' of its potential users. At this point, they needed a new message instead of solely relying on its technical benefits, and it is: how is React stable? By focusing on this, they aimed to appeal to enterprises, like Netflix.

  • Early 2014: #reactjsworldtour conferences started, to build community and to 'turn haters into advocates'.
  • Jan 2: React Developer Tools becomes an extension of the Chrome Developer Tools.
  • February: Atom was introduced - A hackable text editor for the 21st Century
  • April 7-9: React London 2014
  • June: ReactiveX.io emerged.
  • July 13: The Release of React Hot Loader. React Hot Loader is a plugin that allows React components to be live reloaded without the loss of state.
  • Dec 12: PlanOut: A language for online experiments. The release of PlanOut 0.5, which includes a React-based PlanOut language editor, and brings the interpreter into feature-parity with the latest version of PlanOut used internally at Facebook.

2015 - React is Stable

2016 - React gets mainstream

2017 - The year of further improvements

2018 - What is now?

What's next?

This journey has been fun so far, but there is certainly a lot more to learn about React. With this in mind, we decided to host a React Training in Warsaw, on June 21-22. If you are considering to deepen your React knowledge, don't hesitate to join us there.

Did I miss anything from the list? Or did you find any inaccuracies? Leave a comment below or find us on Twitter and let us know.