We kicked off our 2020 Manchester Meetup calendar with a bang last week with our first Northern Trending.JS! Hosted at NorthCoders brand new office space in Manchester Technology Centre, we welcomed around 70 members of Manchester’s Tech Community (and a few non techies too)! It was a truly successful evening for everyone in attendance who took home useful insights from all three talks. A huge thank you to our three amazing speakers: Kristian Epps, Matthew Tsinontas & Alan Ionita. If you weren't able to make it, we've shared a summary of each talk below!


Kristian Epps, Front End Lead at Matillion - React vs Vue


Kristian's talk compared Vue and React and shared the process taken by his team at Matillion when attempting to decide which would be the right choice for their company to rebuild their flagship ETL product with.



“First, we took a look at how you build components in both frameworks and the feature sets available to us. This told us that both Vue and React were viable choices for the project. So next we looked out to the industry. I went through an internal company survey, an international survey and some anecdotal evidence from recruiters. This gave React a bit of an edge, but not by much. We also took a quick glance at Angular and Svelte to show why these weren't considered at the moment (but I am keeping my eye on Svelte).


Finally, I thought I'd attempt to build some core functionality we would have to build later to see if this gave either Vue or React an edge. However, I discovered a library that replicated the core functionality of what I was trying to build that had adapters for both React and Vue, so this wasn't much help with my decision.


This was where I made my realisation that every successful project that I'd worked on or seen was successful, not due to the language or framework, but because of the passion of the engineers working on it. It didn't really matter what I chose, just that I hired a group of passionate people who shared my vision and enthusiasm. My message for the audience was to find the things they enjoyed using and were passionate about, and then find a company that shared those passions. This would mean they would do better, get further, and suffer less burn out!


In short, you do you!”


Matthew Tsinontas, Senior Software Engineer at Infinity Works - White Labelling an E-commerce WebApp


Infinity Works were asked to help a client rebuild their existing ecommerce platform with a view for making it a white-label product (so they can sell it to other companies). They broke this task down into 3 main sections: styling, content and feature flagging. 



“For styling, building components with a theme focus in mind was key - instead of thinking about hex codes and font families, think about brand colours and brand fonts. We used popular CSS in JS framework Styled Components to theme our components and allowed us to simply 'inject' a theme object for each client and the entire site would update.

For content, we refactored our components to be completely dynamic with no hard coded content - then using a mixture of a content management system (CMS) and locally stored translation files we were able to give the end clients the ability to build their own content with their own tone of voice, whilst also allowing the site to work in any language.

For features, we used the internal React ContextAPI to apply popular principle DRY (Don't repeat yourself) to the code base and wrap our feature components behind flags. This gave us the confidence features could be turned on and off, and the relevant components would render - then if the client wanted to remove a feature flag they could remove the code in 1 place and have it appear everywhere!

The end result was a product which allowed the client to sell internationally whilst allowing their internal development team to focus on building new features.”


Alan Ionita, Front End Engineer at Code Computerlove - Server side vs Static Files


We live in a time where server-side rendering is easier to do thanks to fantastic frameworks like NextJS. 


However we should always consider the use case from the perspective of our products: do we need fast regular updates?; are we happy to spend £ on server costs?; are we happy to use framework APIs or do we need a custom solution? 


We also live in a time where caching and CDN services are really good and easy to use. This enables us to make use of static content and deliver it quickly and cheaply. Static content is also inherently simpler than server-side rendering so there’s less risk involved. 


All in all my opinion on this is that static content and static content build frameworks (like Gatsby) are a better solution for the web. The use of server-side rendering should be a carefully considered decision. “



We rounded up the evening by thanking our fantastic speakers for their efforts and to the audience who were super engaged throughout all three talks. As mentioned by Steph Yacoubian (JavaScript Recruiter) at the end of the evening, we’re planning our event schedule for 2020 with the next one taking place on the 26th March, Burns Sheehan ‘Test Talks’ hosted by MoneySuperMarket in their Spinningfields offices. She also asked the audience to reach out to her if they are interested in doing a talk themselves in future! We are always looking for passionate guest speakers to partner with. So please do not hesitate to get in touch and Steph would love to grab a coffee with you to discuss.



After the talks, we headed off to Hatch for drinks afterwards where the networking carried on through to the late hours of the evening! It was a great opportunity for everyone to catch up and get to know each other.


All in all a fantastic evening and we are looking forward to organising the next one – watch this space!