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MagnoliaJS 2020 conference notes

MagnoliaJS was thrown a COVID-19-sized curve ball for it’s second annual conference. But that didn’t stop the organizer’s from hosting Mississippi’s only technical conference: they cut the price and pivoted online with Zoom.

Niche graciously “sent” me to this two-day remote conference and here are some of my notes:

Day 1

Keynote: I’m Techie and I Know It

Speaker: Nashlie Sephus | @phenomenashlie

ES8, ES9, ES10+… Let’s explore JavaScript’s exciting new features

Speaker: Tyler Clark | @iamtylerclark


Static generated sites === great performance. What are you waiting for?

Speaker: Debbie O’Brien | @debs_obrien


Design Systems & CSS Variables: 2 Design 2 Systems

Speaker: Scott Tolinski | @stolinski


Vintage Bundles: Modern JavaScript for Modern Browsers

Speaker: Sia Karamalegos | @TheGreenGreek


Twitter Driven Development, Redux

Speaker: Justin Samuels | @ThugDebugger

Create Dynamic Web Apps With Serverless and the Jamstack

Speaker: Jason Lengstorf | @jlengstorf


Day 2

Which Database? How to Choose the Best Place for your JSON Documents

Speaker: Suphatra Rufo | @skprufo

  1. Database overview
    • Relational databases developed by IBM back in the 1970s
    • Non-relational databases respond better to unexpected events
      • Instagram spikes at New Years handled better by non-relational dbs
    • JSON is the de facto way to communicate data
  2. Key value
    • Dictionary data structure
      • Pros: simple, ess memory, better performance, partiionable, horizontal scaling
      • Cons: no query language, key management is vital, freeform search impossible
    • AWS DynamoDB
  3. Document-oriented databases
    • A better way to store JSON
  4. Multi-modes
    • Support and mange different models
    • Couchbase can normalize and denormalize documents
    • SQL querying with NQL

Thar Be Dragons: Rebuilding Native UIs on the Web

Speaker: Chance Strickland | @chancethedev


Svelte and the Great Space Elevator

Speaker: Shawn Wang | @swyx

Slides | Talk

Progressive Enhancement in React

Speaker: Kayla Sween | @_kaylasween


Building JAMstack CMS: A Full Stack CMS for the Modern Age

Speaker: Nader Dabit


Handling Data with React Query

Speaker: Domitrius Clark | @domitriusclark

Slides | Course

Canvas: The Final Escape Hatch

Speaker: Ken Wheeler | @ken_wheeler


How to Supercharge Teams with Carefully Crafted Conventions

Speaker: Chris Ball | @cball_



I enjoyed having a single track of JS-focused talks. The remote conference had it’s own technical issues, but overall I think it was a great content delivery method for these types of topics.

Some of the talks were prerecorded, which might sound like a let down, but the speakers were presents in the chat and willing to answer questions live. That was a neat feature that other conferences cannot offer.

Whether it’s remote or in-person in 2021, I recommend checking out MagnoliaJS Conference.

About the author

Sean McPherson is a software engineer for Khan Academy who specializes in web and mobile app development. He lives with his wife, sons, and dog in Pittsburgh, PA.