I am Michael Jackson, Thriller, co-author of React Router and creator of unpkg. Ask me anything!

Held on 27 September 2019, 6:00 pm

Hey Hashnode community, ๐Ÿ‘‹

I am Michael Jackson. I co-authored React Router in 2014 and started React Training in 2015. I also built unpkg.com along the way.

I will be answering your questions live on Friday, September 27, 11 AM PDT / 18:00 GMT.

Ask me anything.

Bolaji Ayodeji's photo

What inspired the creation of ReactTraining ?
I see that you offer courses, expert training and workshops on React, what plans do you have or have in place already to encourage and support underrepresented groups.


React Training started very naturally, with very little planning on my part. In early 2015 I was working in San Francisco at a small startup, and working on React Router with my co-founder Ryan in my spare time on nights and weekends. It was around that time that React really started taking off and we were seeing people from all over come through our GitHub issues and pull requests. One of these people was an engineering manager at Visa, and he asked me if I could stop by for a few days and do a formal training session with his team. And it went so well that we decided we'd like to do it full-time. Ryan and I both quit our jobs and put the word out that we were looking for more customers, and it sort of snowballed from there.

As for our plans to encourage and support underrepresented groups, I'm glad you asked! It's an important topic. We recently announced a diversity and inclusion program that we hope will give the chance for more underrepresented people to attend some of our upcoming workshops.

Bolaji Ayodeji's photo

This is amazing, thank you for quitting your job to train the future! I'm glad to see you have a Diversity and inclusion program put in place already, thank you for doing this.

James Sanders's photo

Hi Michael, Thanks for hosting the AMA. What are your key takeaways from creating and maintaining popular open-source projects like React Router?


No worries, thank you for your question :)

I actually wrote one of my main takeaways in a tweet the other day, and it was this: that the vast majority of the work in open source is communication and education, not code. It seems like the code is the hard part. But in my experience, it's usually the quickest to produce. The hard part (and I believe the most important) is communicating effectively with people about what you've done and helping them understand it. Could be a blog post, a tweet, a conference talk, video, codesandbox, whatever. But the more they know about what you're doing, the better chance you'll have at success.

When we started working on React Router, Ryan would write all the examples and I would write the code to run them. The code was important to have, but I don't think anybody would have used the router if we hadn't provided really good examples for them to copy/paste into their app.

Melvin's photo

unpkg is awesome. How did you come up with the idea? What motivated you?


Thank you ๐Ÿ˜…

unpkg is actually an idea that I had while working on React Router. People would ask us occasionally if we had a copy of the router hosted on a CDN somewhere so they could just drop in a <script> tag and use it on their project.

At that time the main CDN provider was CDNjs. So I checked out their GitHub repo and tried to add React Router. But the git clone took about half an hour and it took several minutes just to check out a new branch because all files on CDNjs are stored in that repo! In addition, once I finally submitted my PR I was told I needed to change some stuff, so I was going to have to go back and change things. And that's when I thought, y'know, we're already publishing our global UMD builds in our npm package. If there were some kind of reverse proxy in front of the npm registry that could just serve files with the right Content-Type, I bet that's all we'd need. So I hacked something together in an airport one night as I was waiting to board the plane and published it as npmcdn.com. About a year later I changed the name to unpkg.com and it stuck.

BTW, I want to say here that I've had the pleasure to work with some awesome sponsors for unpkg over the years, the main one being Cloudflare. If you haven't used them for your sites, check them out!

Aniketh Saha's photo
  1. How do you share your open source project words?. Like how do you get people to know about it.? I tried posting on twitter , reddit, and other platforms but didnt work so well (Yeah maybe my project was not so problem solving...)

  2. How to stick to a plan.? I am getting new new projects idea every couple of days now and really want them to create but not able to kickstart them. how to convince yourself - "that your project idea is not worth it"

  1. When sharing my work, I try to remember to ask myself "how is this going to solve someone else's problem?" or "why would they care about this?". It really is all about communication and trying to put something out there that solves a real problem for someone else. I have spent A LOT of time working on projects that have gone nowhere because there were already decent alternatives available. So if there's something else that already works well enough, just move on. There are greener pastures ahead ๐Ÿ˜„

  2. If you're having a hard time focusing, you're asking the wrong person for advice :) I have ideas all the time that I'd like to work on. One thing that I do often is that if I get a few hours into something and then realize it's just a huge waste of time, I delete all the code before I change my mind. Then I can't go back and pick it up later, because I already decided it wasn't worth my time! ๐Ÿ˜…

Aravind's photo

Hey Michael, thanks for the AMA. I'm really curious to know how you go about designing/making something. What is that process like for you?


That's a great question, Aravind. Thanks for asking :)

I think it depends on what I'm making. When it comes to code, I always try to start with the end API in mind. It's a little counter-intuitive, I think, because I tend to think "well, none of this will even work until I build the backend, so I should do that first". But whenever I go that route, I realize that you never really know what the backend even needs to be until you know the needs of the front-end. So I try to start at the finished product (the final API) and work my way backwards. I hope that makes sense :)

I think this mentality applies in other areas as well. One other thing I like making is music. Sometimes I start with a really cool chord progression on my guitar. But the best songs I've made start with a good melody. You can always figure out the chords later if you have a strong melody.

Milica Maksimoviฤ‡'s photo

Hi Michael,

What does your average day at work look like? Do you even have those days at all?


I do! When I'm not traveling to a conference or workshop somewhere, I work from home in a spare bedroom in my house. When working from home, I try to start by doing something that will get my creativity going like writing in a journal or reading something inspirational. Then it's GitHub, code, email, etc. The usual stuff. One other thing that is really important for me when working from home is to GET OUT of the house. It's easy to spend a whole day just cooped up inside in my pajamas. So I try to do things like take my children to school in the morning or get out for lunch or some exercise.

Harry Zamorestein's photo

Is React.js dying?


Nope. React is currently used at every single large tech company I know. I know this because I've personally trained people from Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Netflix, etc. They are all using it!

Harry Zamorestein's photo

React or Vue or something else? Which frontend framework/library are you using in your upcoming projects?


I'm using React. But I know people who like Vue too. Totally up to you.

Thibaud Ducasse's photo

Hi Michael!

What's your background? Did you study computer science? Did you work in the industry before creating your own thing? How did you convince yourself that it was the right move?

Thanks ๐Ÿ˜€


Thanks for the questions :) I graduated from BYU with a degree in Information Systems, which was more of an accounting degree with a little bit of databases, networks, and programming thrown in. I really liked the programming side, so as soon as I graduated I got a job writing code at a company in Utah called Omniture. They were a big web analytics company, later acquired by Adobe. I later moved to the SF bay area where I spent 6 years working in various startups like Path, Twitter, and Luxe. I also applied to Y Combinator and was part of the 2013 summer batch of companies, but our company ran out of money before we shipped. It was a huge learning experience for me, and very humbling.

When I started React Training, I was encouraged by the fact that we had money on day one. It wasn't like some of the other startups where I had worked that were still trying to figure out how to make money. So that was a huge confidence booster. It's hard enough to build the technical side of a startup without having to worry about the business model as well. If the business model is already in place, you can focus on the tech.

Malay Mangalprada's photo

What is the roadmap to become a react developer?


Everyone has a different path into coding, so I can't really say there is a roadmap. For React specifically I think the best guides are probably still the official docs.

Max Nelson's photo

What in React Router or other Open Source projects you maintain/follow could use the most help and why?


We could use some help with react-router-native, if you have any expertise in that area. I haven't dealt with a lot of React Native, so it's just unfamiliar territory for me.

Max Nelson's photo

Thanks! I'll take a look :)

Matt Wood's photo

What are some of the biggest A-Ha Moments you've witnessed in your students as you've taught React over the past few years?


I think the light bulbs start to turn on when someone finally understands they don't have to manage the DOM anymore. I always say "that's not your job anymore!" and just wait until that piece sinks in. And then they realize that all those little things they were so used to doing like toggling class names, setting properties, adding/removing events, setting styles, etc. ALL of that stuff is just a side effect of the state of the app. When people start thinking in terms of state instead of in side effects, that's when they really become productive with React.

Rico Kahler's photo

You said no holding back so here it goes: how can you continue to host workshops about react hooks when react-router still doesnโ€™t have a hooks API. (sent with โค๏ธ )

Rico Kahler's photo

Oh man apparently I missed this: github.com/ReactTraining/react-router/relea..

Nice work Iโ€™m very excited to start using these!

Stanislavas's photo

Hello, Michael, What do you thinking about firebase, coin and props? When do you suggest to use it in projects? And compering MERN stack vs Reacvt+Redux+Firebase which stack have a future or they not compete between ?

alfieqashwa's photo

Which one will you suggest to learn between reach router and react-router? Can you explain the main different between them? Thanks.


My partner Ryan actually wrote a blog post about this here: reacttraining.com/blog/reach-react-router-f..

The tl;dr is that React Router will be the surviving project but reach/router 1.0 will still be maintained with bugfixes. So if you're starting a new project, I'd probably just start with React Router 5.1 that we released earlier this week.

alfieqashwa's photo

Thank you for the answer.

Paul Rumkin's photo

Hi, Michael, thanks for you work. Unpkg declaring itself as opensource project, but there is no repositories in Unpkg organization on Github. It's not open source anymore or yet?

Matt Wood's photo

What projects in the React community (that aren't from the React core team) are you most excited about?


I spend a lot of my time working on our stuff, so my reply is totally biased :) But one of the projects I'm currently most excited about is our Reach UI project. It's a baseline for building accessible components with React on the web that I think is going to really move the React community forward in terms of building accessible apps.

Matt Wood's photo

Thank you for the response.

Milica Maksimoviฤ‡'s photo

What fun project/tool did you discover recently? Also, is there a tool you use that not a lot of people have heard about, but they should? ๐Ÿ˜ƒ


One cool new little tool I just discovered this morning is carbon.now.sh. It's handy for posting good-looking snippets of code online w/out having to take a screenshot of your editor. So many times when communicating with other devs, code speaks louder than words ๐Ÿ˜…

I can't think of very many tools that I use that aren't already fairly popular. My editor is vim. I also use a lot of the standard JS tooling like Prettier and ESLint. Perhaps one tool that I think is underutilized is Rollup, for bundling JavaScript. It's currently mostly used by JS library authors, and not so much for apps. Most people building apps prefer webpack. But I've been using Rollup recently and it works really, really well. And the output is very readable, which I enjoy.