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A Year In Review - 2018 Edition

·1330 words

Last year I started writing down a summary of some things that I accomplished and learned in the previous 365 days. It’s a good way to put things into perspective and compile a high-level plan for what can be done differently in the coming year!

View of the Vancouver harbor

It’s time to re-visit this tradition for an overview of 2018, and set some goals for 2019! Now, I am not that big into setting resolutions because one should be able to do dope stuff on a rolling basis without some arbitrary time markers, but it’s nice to have a baseline against which you can measure progress.

Personal growth #

Every year I set the goal to grow as a person - this can encompass many areas, that I tried to break them down in their own sections below.

Blogging #

I remember the late January of 2010 when I started this blog. Look at that snazzy WordPress theme!

GIF of the first version of this blog from 2010

Running on a shared host, in a hard-to-manage WordPress instance (blog posts would randomly not save - it was a pain) and with a FeedBurner widget - times sure have changed since then, with this blog now running in the cloud, behind a CDN and with content being written and published from GitHub.

I really feel like blogging is a much better outlet for me to create long-lasting content than any of the social media sites. Instead of shelling out tweet storms, I started working on putting together more thought-through blog posts that can live within my own little universe, that is this site. In the past year, I’ve made some pretty good progress in this direction, which can be seen in the audience growth.

Screenshot of Google Analytics documenting the current audience volume on this blog

The number of daily page views went up from 62 to about 300-360, netting a total of almost 100,000 page views this year alone (for comparison, in 2017 that number was 15,000) - a vanity metric, for sure, and I am working to make the numbers a bit more actionable. There is more work to be done - I already have a long list of blog posts that I need to write in the coming months. Speaking of which, this year I found time to put together 30 blog posts (from 24 last year) - baby steps, but this number is going up as well.

Looking back, these are some of my favorite posts from this year:

2019 Goal: Put together 50 high-quality technical blog posts and grow my photo timeline.

Reading #

I’ve really ramped up my reading numbers this year, all in an effort to be a better program manager - that turned out to be a worthy endeavor, as I got to read 14 books on the subject. Not all of them were good (there is a good amount of fluff/common sense titles), however there are some gems that really helped me get a better grasp on what it means to deliver value and ship customer-oriented experiences. Some favorites include:

2019 Goal: Read 50 books out of the ever-growing reading list for the year.

Engineering #

The one way I can describe 2018 from the engineering skill growth perspective is “full of Python”. I’ve moved into an environment I barely used and forced myself to write tools in Python instead of the well-familiar C#, and I loved it. I spent some time working on foggycam, my Nest recorder project (182 stars on GitHub - wow) - all done entirely in Python. And what am I doing with it now? Learning how to write unit tests in the language.

I’ve barely used Visual Studio this year, instead relying entirely on Visual Studio Code - I work on a Mac, so the tool became a good lightweight option to get coding done. This taught me how to be more proficient with deeper debugging tools and the terminal instead of relying on purely visual/surface-level debugging. Arguably, tools are there to make our engineering lives easier, however I do want to have a much better understanding of how things are operating behind the scenes.

In addition to that, I am actually really proud of my GitHub contribution graph this year:

GitHub contribution graph for dend

A lot of it is to documentation, but also a large chunk of it is in repositories that deal with tools, scripts and extensions (speaking of which, I also wrote my first VS Code extension). After visiting GitHub Universe in San Francisco this year, it finally clicked with me - the future of software communities is going to be with GitHub. And if you know me, you know that I am excited about everything GitHub, and I am more and more excited to work with the tools and services offered by the company to work in the open - this was a huge shift in habits that I intend to extend in the future.

2019 Goal: Contribute more to open-source projects and build out new projects in the open (thank you GitHub).

Work at Microsoft #

This year has been super-productive, if I do say so myself. I am part of the team that builds, and this year I got the honor of focusing and helping define the API documentation and code samples infrastructure charter - there is so much we still have in store to make lives for developers better.

Some of the features that I get to work on with a fantastic engineering crew, that shipped, include:

In addition to this, we’ve done so much work to automate internal processes, making the release of up-to-date API documentation a minutes-long process (it normally could take several hours). We’ve also moved the site feedback from UserVoice to GitHub, making it that much easier to actually provide feedback, track progress and assign work items to the right people for follow-up.

And of course, the lovable @docsmsft (the mascot’s name is Doc, by the way) grew from a mere 5,000 followers to 16,000 - we really did catch people’s attention with (ocassionally humorous) tweets this year.

2019 Goal: Ship more developer experiences and reach out to more customers to get their feedback and insights.

Conclusion #

There is a lot to be excited about in 2019, both personally and professionally - big plans and a lot of enthusiasm about creating more impactful projects.