Skip to content

Is Reactive Extensions for JS the framework that missed the wave?

I recently listened to two episodes from The Web Platform podcast (riding the subway a lot “gives” me more time to listen to podcasts). I first listened to a recent episode featuring React.js, and then listened to an earlier episode featuring Reactive Extensions (Rx).

As I was listening to the Rx episode, I started out of my seat when I heard something along the lines of “when we released Rx for JavaScript in 2010 …”

Wait, huh?

Very so often I get fascinated by ideas that have circled around and back, the timelines of emergence and adoption, and listening to these two episodes side by side made me think:

Is React the late-to-the-party version of Reactive Extensions?

In the research for Choosing a JavaScript Framework, a story behind the timeline emerged; 2010 was the time to release a JavaScript framework. During the book process, I spoke with Aaron Quint, author of Sammy.js, and he had some awesome insights that didn’t make it into the book (because the book sadly wasn’t on the sharing and development of knowledge, but on JavaScript frameworks). One of my favorite quotes from the interview, talking about 2009/2010: “The idea of having a framework or something simple to wrap your mind around having pages, and having actions, was kind of foreign [then].”

It was a time where many people were encountering and surmounting similar challenges, a time of people weary of monolithic application.js files, a time ripe for change. And so they came, the JavaScript frameworks. And luckily for developers (and unluckily for people deciding what to learn/focus on), multiple good ones emerged that form the larger framework followings we have today, some 5 years later.

When you look at initial release dates for those major frameworks, it goes like this: Angular: 2009, Backbone: 2010, Ember: 2011 (but was a fork of SproutCore so … I’ll skew that a little earlier in my head).

And don’t forget about Reactive Extensions in 2010!*

Hmm, yup, Rx was coming to the party at the same time as the rest of the zeitgeist.

Now, React.js is definitely its own piece of work from Rx, but in the episode, the guest (Sebastian Markbage) pretty much outright says that React.js was inspired by Reactive Extensions, and in the Rx episode, the guest expressed a general hope that React was inspired by their work.

So I ask, is all the fuss about React merely a late reaction to the release of Reactive Extensions?

*If you’re interested in Reactive Extensions for JavaScript, there’s a nice single-page tutorial available.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.