Building a Better Web
June 11–12, 2018: Training
June 12–14, 2018: Tutorials & Conference
San Jose, CA

How to build a real-time app without losing your soul

Matthew Larson (FamilySearch), Ian James (FamilySearch)
3:35pm–4:15pm Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Secondary topics:  Hands-on, Technical
Average rating: ***..
(3.50, 4 ratings)

Who is this presentation for?

  • Frontend and full stack developers

Prerequisite knowledge

  • A working knowledge of JavaScript, HTML, CSS, React, and Redux
  • A basic understanding of WebSockets and Node.js

What you'll learn

  • Understand how to use Web Sockets, Redux, and Redux on the server
  • Learn patterns for building real-time web-apps


From tracking a shipment to collaborating on designs, real-time data is the magic sauce that makes modern web experiences come alive. But for developers, managing real-time data brings its own host of problems for which traditional web technologies (REST, Ajax, MVC, etc.) don’t offer much help. To make matters worse, dealing with a flurry of real-time messages can give rise to a codebase that is hard to reason about. Thankfully, there is an alternative.

Matthew Larson and Ian James share an approach to real-time data that is easier to understand and scales well using Redux and WebSockets and demonstrate these principles in action with a real-time multiplayer game. Along the way, they explain how this method applies to other products besides games and illustrate how to deploy real-time features in production (including how to scale for millions of users).

Photo of Matthew Larson

Matthew Larson


Matthew Larson is a software developer and UX designer at FamilySearch, where he works on a team tasked with exploring new and interesting ways to help people discover their family history. Previously, he worked in freelance web development and graphic design and founded and ran a small studio. Matthew started his college career in computer science. Well into his program, he felt something was missing. Four years later, he graduated with a BFA in industrial design. Ironically, most of his time since then has been spent developing software.

Photo of Ian James

Ian James


Ian James is a rapid prototype developer at FamilySearch, where he can usually be found comping screens, running user tests, or deep in complex JavaScript with one of his teammates. Previously, Ian worked for industry-leading game developers in a variety of startups. He’s passionate about the process of bringing thoughts to life. Time and time again, he finds his way to the middle of the action because that’s where he loves to be. After studying the visual fine arts for more than a decade as a youth, Ian received a degree in physics and illustration.