Behind the scenes: Next.js Conf 2022

October 29, 2022 (1y ago)

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Next.js Conf exceeded all my expectations this year.

110,000+ registered and 55,000+ joined live to watch the keynote and community talks. Hundreds of developers joined live in San Francisco, London, and New York.

This conference was unlike any I've attended before – we put so much effort into creating a unique experience, both for those online and in person.

Building and growing a community is the most rewarding part of my role, and I'd like to take you behind the scenes on all things Next.js Conf 2022.

Better ingredients, better pizza, Next.js Conf

'Twas the night before Conf™️ and we hosted a small community dinner at a local pizzeria. It was invigorating. Old friends getting back together after years – and new friends joining from around the world to talk JavaScript and the Web.

One person told me:

"The food was good, the people were great, and the conversation was even better"

Honestly, it doesn't get much better than that for me.

We'll do it live¹

Our team sprinted towards the Conf finish line, trying to get everything ready for the big day. I told myself "Oh, we'll worry about the pre-show later, first we need to do [x, y, z]". Welp. Turn out preparing for things makes you more prepared.

It was kind of hilarious – Delba and I went to practice that morning and we both couldn't really make words come out of our mouths. A combination of nerves and excitement. I became stressed, 30 minutes before we were scheduled to go live in front of thousands of people.

But... the lack of scripting and planning actually led to a great outcome. We truly did it live – it felt authentic. To warm up the conference before the keynote, Delba and I bantered back and forth about the upcoming day of talks and brought community members and conf speakers up on the stage.

Thank you again Rich, Una, Dan, Swyx, and Kap for joining us. Y'all are the best.

Next.js 13 Pro Max by Vercel: Starting at $1299

After finishing the pre-show, Delba and I walked backstage to get mic'd up before the keynote Q&A. Guillermo was about to go out on stage. We wished him good luck, and off he went.

I watched the live monitor backstage and heard the crowd cheer. The gravity of the moment sunk in. I started jumping around with excitement. All the work had led to this moment.

There were so many tweets. I think my phone froze. And the memes – the memes were incredible.

The light-hearted jokes and slight roast of our very-clearly-Apple-inspired-love of the keynote made me smile and seemed fun for the whole community.

Me hosting the Q&A with Next.js and React team members after the keynote.

You can rewatch the keynote in case you missed it, or read my summary tweet thread.

Hybrid theory²

After some Q&A, we kicked off the 27 community talks.

We wanted an equally great experience, whether you attended online or in person. I think there's still room to improve, but there's one specific piece I'm very happy with.

The community talks were pre-recorded. Speakers were able to prepare, polish, and submit their best work ahead of time. Then, we flew them to San Francisco so they could all meet each other, interact with the community, and enjoy the day. No pre-talk anxiety.

The quality of content and speakers this year was the best it's ever been. We're releasing all of the talks on the Vercel YouTube, if you want to check out the playlist¹.

And after the party is the hotel lobby³

Hassan and I spent a lot of time thinking about the after-party. An event where you could have a drink and enjoy some music, or instead, escape to a quiet space to socialize and play games.

My original inspo was "make it like a Daft Punk concert" but with arcade games. By the end of the night, most people were in heated competition in foosball or table tennis.

Kudos to Hassan for an event well done.

Disney adults or Pokémon trainers?

The most underrated part of the conference was pin collecting and trading.

There were 15 different collectible pins. You could only obtain some by talking to specific people (like Evil Rabbit or Rich Harris for Svelte). Others you had to visit specific places (like the after party).

Watching everyone collect/trade pins and flaunt them on their conference lanyards was awesome. I didn't know this was a Disney thing until someone pointed it out. I was just trying to level up my Nexteon, which I'm going to assume is one of the Eevee evolutions.

Making ship happen

Oh yeah, we also shipped some stuff:

I can't understate the team effort it took to pull this event off. So many Vercelians played a vital role in its success. Notably, a major kudos to the Next.js and Turbo teams for their last-minute push on bug fixing, developer experience, documentation improvements and suggestions, and more.

This conference marks a major leap forward for the Vercel and Next.js ecosystem. I'm looking forward to diving further into the community feedback on the new app/ directory in Next.js, Turbopack, Vercel Analytics, and more.

Until next time.


¹This was me and Delba preparing for the Next.js Conf pre-show.

²Linkin Park, anyone?

³It was actually JJ's apartment, with no shortage of people or excitement.