The first JSConf that I attended was in 2014. Tickets were sold out, but I managed to procure one from someone on Twitter that wasn't able to attend at the last minute. I had heard a lot of positive things about the conference but didn't realize how much attending would effect my life.
On the first day of the conference I bumped into Ryan Florence in the elevator. Ryan and I are both from Salt Lake City, but our interactions were mostly limited to crossing paths at meetups. We had both brought our wives along to the conference and while Ryan and I were attending sessions at the conference our wives hit it off and they spent their days at the pool and exploring Fernandina. In the evenings the four of us went to dinner together. We became fast friends and still get together as often as occasion permits.
One of the things that I love about JSConf's format is the hack day they have between the two days of talks. This provides an opportunity to explore hardware or other things that you may not have tried on your own. For my first JSConf I signed up for the Nodecopters. This was my first time programming something that effected the real world and it was exciting! After I returned home I ordered my own Parrot AR.Drone. I wrote a program that allowed me to control the drone with a gamepad and had a HUD in the browser. One thing that I found lacking was a module that would allow me access to the status of the drone from the browser. I wanted to show elevation, battery life, etc. This resulted in me creating node-dronestatus, my first npm module (I have since published 14 others).
I took Ryan's advice and dug into React. After going through a 60 minute tutorial I was very intrigued. To get a bit more experience I built react-tabs and react-draggable. By this point I was sold. I was already not loving Angular and now that I had a taste of React I was hungry for more. Ryan told me that the company he was working for was starting to use React and it was only a matter of time before he convinced me to quit my job and come work with him. I'm still at the same job and getting paid to work from home making open source React components.
One of the things I missed going to React from Angular was the $http service. You can roll your own XHR easy enough, but Angular's $http has some niceties about it, like Promises, interceptors, and transformers. From this longing for $http I ended up creating axios, an HTTP client very similar to $http that works both in the browser and node. I wrote the first version of axios in my hotel room one night while attending Midwest JS, a member of the JSConf family.
After working on React for a while I started talking with Jamison Dance about creating a React conference called React Rally. At the time there were no conferences focused on React, and we thought there would be a good market for it. Both of us ran meetups, but neither of us had done anything as ambitious as a conference. We brought Joe Eames on as an advisor to draw from his experience from organizing ng-conf. Shortly after we started planning our conference Facebook announced they would be holding React.js Conf. We decided to still go forth with our conference, but pushed our date back.
I attended JSConf 2015 during this time and incidentally Facebook was one of the sponsors. I was able to connect with some key people at Facebook that were involved with React that helped us with our event, and I met several people that ended up being speakers at React Rally.
I loved the experiences that I had at the two JSConfs that I had attended. I wanted to somehow bottle some of that and use it for React Rally. I constantly found myself asking "WWJD?" (What Would JSConf Do?). Chris Williams was kind enough to get on a conference call with me and Jamison to give us some pointers (thanks again for your time Chris!). Our event turned out be a great success with 250 attendees and 20 speakers. We are currently beginning planning for React Rally 2016.
These are just a handful of things in my life that directly point back to JSConf. From friends that I've made, to getting into contributing to open source, to my current day job, to organizing a conference myself, all of which is a result of Chris and Laura's incredible work organizing JSConf.
I am currently sitting in the lobby outside Sunrise Cafe at Omni Hotel. JSConf Last Call has ended and everyone has left to catch flights. I find myself full of mixed feelings as I reminisce. I have had so many amazing experiences, met so many wonderful people, and learned so many incredible things here at the last three JSConfs. I know many others have had similar, even more profound experiences than mine. A part of me is feeling very melancholy at the thought of this being the end. A larger part of me however is grateful for the journey thus far and I find hope in believing that this isn't really the end.
Chris and Laura the community that you have fostered is like family. We will weather this storm together as a family does. You have our love and support. I have no doubt that in time someone else will carry the torch in your stead. Know that we are all better developers and better people as a result of what you started. Thank you!