2016: Year in review

It’s the first time I do a post like this, as I typically leave them to people with far more interesting things to say and greater achievements to report. But this time around, I felt it made sense to put my year into perspective and share some of the good things, the bad things and, more importantly, the lessons I learned in the process.

I’ll also share a bunch of goals for next year — if nothing else, it’ll be fun to see me fail spectacularly at achieving them.

The good things

First and foremost, I got married. Crazy, right?! Really grown-up stuff. Me and my best friend flew to New York, walked the Brooklyn Bridge on a warm, sunny day, got married at the City Clerk’s Office by a nice lady called Edwina and ended the day with a Broadway show. I’ve had worse.

Me and Elsa waiting to get married at the City Clerk's Office

On a professional level, I started the year with a fairly recent job at DADI. Looking back, I still find it hard to believe that I get to work on fully open-source projects for a living, and I’m quite excited about the stuff we’ve been doing.

I’ve had the opportunity to dip my feet into the developer relations area a bit, by writing and talking quite a lot about our platform and reaching out to the developers using it.

As for side projects, I launched Staticman and got it to a pretty stable place. Since the launch, the platform has been processing almost 1,000 entries per month, which is nothing to write home about, but still an achievement considering the size of the static site ecosystem. Seeing the community writing about it and sharing with others how the platform solved a problem they had is incredibly rewarding.

I also built SpeedTracker, which I wrote about in an article on CSS-Tricks. The project is still in its early stages, but I’m planning to add new features and to write and talk about it more in the next year. Again, it feels nice to build something that the community can benefit from.

I finally managed to launch a redesign of my site, which was long overdue, and I started contributing to Mozilla’s MDN.

Nothing really to report on include-media, as it’s now quite a mature library with pretty much nothing on the roadmap. It’s still great to see that it gets over 12,000 downloads a month on npm though!

The bad things

Maintaining open-source projects is hard. When users face an issue, they often choose bad wording to report it. From passive-aggressive emails to GitHub issues without a trace of please or thank you, it’s very easy to feel demotivated from dealing with these problems. And when users don’t face an issue, most of the times you just don’t hear from them.

Another challenge I faced was managing my own expectations. I worked a lot for the things I achieved, but also worked for some others I did not. I have the habit of expecting a lot from myself and being quite ruthless when it comes to my own failure. This is probably a self-defense mechanism to avoid feeling stale in my career and to constantly push myself to conquer as much as possible in this period of my life, but it often backfires.

The lessons

Time is money isn’t just an old cliché. I admit I’m stating the obvious here, but time is indeed a very precious thing. During this past year, I learned that people use the sentence “you’ve got nothing to lose” in situations where, in fact, there’s something tremendously important at stake, that you’ll never get back: time.

Whether you’re reading a massive book to prepare for an interview, learning a framework for a side project or building a few websites to make some cash on the side, you’re paying with your time. Time that could’ve been used to learn other things, interact with people and see places. It’s time that you could’ve spent with your family.

I’m not saying I will be less hungry for new challenges and projects, quite on the contrary. I just need to be smart about managing and prioritising them according to the type of return I’m looking for. A year ago I would’ve said yes to every single idea or collaboration that crossed my path and only later figure out how to accommodate them, having no consideration about the subsequent impact on other projects and on my life. In that respect, I’ve changed — it’s called growing up, I’ve been told.

The plans

I want to see my existing projects mature and succeed, then start some more. I want to create more content — more articles, more screencasts, more talks. I want to be hard on myself but not panic with the unavoidable failure. I want to be smart about managing my life. I want to become a better engineer without ever becoming a worse husband.

Bring it on, 2017. I’m ready for you. ∎

Comments

Kirk

Friday, January 13th, 2017, 10.16am

Just stumbled upon your work tonight while exploring the capabilities of Jekyll for my portfolio. Helping me out a lot with the New Year so I hope 2017 is treating you well my man!

Alec

Tuesday, January 24th, 2017, 01.35pm

May 2017 be a very happy and healthy one for you.

Am at the very beginning stages of moving a Wordpress site to Jekyll. Staticman looks like a perfect adjunct. Thank you for taking the time to make it and offer it so generously to those of us who would have a very hard time trying to figure out how to do anything like that ourselves.

And Disqus is for the birds. Just my opinion. :)

Alec

Monty Flatts

Monday, July 10th, 2017, 01.27pm

Thanks for the article. Really like what I’ve seen on your blog so far. And big thumbs up for making Staticman.

Regarding open source issues and demotivation: Personally, receiving issues excites me. It means that someone cares about my product and that together we have a chance make it better. You have to realize that the Issues section of Github is there to report issues, not to shower praise on the developer. If you still have a hard time dealing with the tone of strangers on the internet (which half the time is misinterpreted), I would kindly recommend undergoing some emotional hardening. It will come in handy throughout your life.

Thanks again, Monty

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