Recapping Render 2024

It seems like just yesterday I was at React Miami, and now here I have another conference recap for you! Last month, I attended Render in Atlanta, Georgia and had a fantastic time! The networking opportunities were great, the talks were engaging, and there were plenty of happy hours to go around.

Drone show on opening night

Every year kicks off with a rooftop party at Ponce City Market - this year we got a drone show too!

Favorite Talks

I always start these posts talking about some of my favorite talks. Since I'm working on building an integration platform at Kizen, as well as a design system, I decided to focus on talks around design systems and Javascript security.

Building Successful Design Systems

Working on an internal design system has taught me that a lot of thought goes into building the perfect system for your organization's needs. A talk by Dan Mall got into the details of what makes a successful design system.

Dan talked about creating your design system, not just a design system. Sometimes, it can be valuable and useful to mimic existing solutions, but your design system should be tailored to your organization's needs. What works for one organization might not work for you.

Gall's Law came up too, which states that "All complex systems that work evolved from simpler systems that worked". In short, don't complicate things too early. If you start with a simple system that works well, you can let it evolve over time as needs changed and new complexity is warranted.

We also learned about picking a system that gets your organization excited. Maybe that's a component library in Storybook, or maybe it's a simple set of design guidelines. Maybe it's even as simple as a defined process for design - like Jira templates or a pipeline for reviewing and approving design changes.

The most important thing I took away is to show examples of what can be made with the system. Rather than only a bunch of disjointed components like icons, buttons, and grid containers, I want to create examples of how our various foundational components can fit together in order to make a useful UI. The more examples I can build, the more clear it will be how our various components can work together.

CSS: From the Creator Himself

We got to hear from Håkon Wium Lie, who created the first version of CSS back in 1994. He told a lot of stories of his time at CERN and how the language, and the web at large, came to be.

Håkon Wium Lie on the Render stage

To celebrate the 30th birthday of CSS, we went through the history of web technologies and browser support for different features, and heard some stories about trying to get browser vendors to pass the Acid2 Test.

It was great to hear from Håkon directly about how things got started, and what it took to get to where we are now!

Hostile Javascript

I've been working on an integration platform for Kizen for a while now, and it's essentially a way to run Javascript plugins that can interact with our app, to integrate with third parties (like a dialer platform). Security has been at the forefront of that project. Introducing an arbitrary code execution engine to the app means I had to be very careful with our approach, and learning about historical attacks and the vectors they used is crucial to inform my decisions building this project!

Todd Gardner talked about some of the classic exploits, and how they worked:

We learned about platforms like Coinimp, a Javascript framework for mining crypocurrency on users' computers while they browse your site. You really shouldn't do this even on your own site, but if it's injected into a site by an unaffiliated party through a supply chain or XSS attack, it becomes an exploit.

Thinking about my integration platform example: A good code review process for new integrations can prevent developers from writing a malicious plugin that's only goal is to mine crypo in the background. Some static code analysis can help prevent this as well.

Todd talked about keylogging attacks, like Magecart, a web skimmer that was injected into over 70,000 online stores at one point, stealing credit card and other sensitive information via a keylogger.

Thinking about my integration platform example: The Javascript for a plugin runs in a dedicated worker. Every function for each plugin creates a new worker to execute in, so plugin code can't do things like attach global event handlers or mutate the DOM.

After hearing some of the common ways major sites have been attacked in the past, I now have a good sense of how to mitigate those risks going forward.


This year, as always, I had a strong focus on meeting new people and networking. I always build a custom webpage for each conference I go to. This year was keegan.codes/render24. I took it a step further this time, and printed some stickers with a QR code to this page, via my custom link tracking service so I could track how many scans I got throughout the day.

My badge with a QR code

Sticking a QR code on the back of my badge meant I always had it accessible and ready to scan! I also had one on the back of my phone in case I went to an evening event without my badge.

Wrapping Up

Render is a great opportunity for people of all skill levels. There are great opportunities and talks for juniors, but plenty of engaging conversations for senior+ folks as well! I plan to continue going back every year, and tickets are already on sale for June 2025. Hopefully I'll see you there!

If you do plan to go next year, give me a shout on Twitter or anywhere else you can find me online!