Horizon

My 2017 WordPress resolutions.

Last year I caught the State of the Word on WordPress.tv after the event. This was mainly because a) I was fairly new to all things WordPress and b) I didn’t actually even know it was a thing. This year I knew about WCUS well in advance so I registered for the live stream and planned my life to be able to watch Matt’s talk. I am so glad I did.

The new things planned for WordPress in 2017 are really going to shake things up. I’m not here to report on those changes, I’ve leave that up to people way better than me, Brian  from PostStatus and Sarah from WPTavern.

My take away from Matt’s talk was a deep introspection into what areas of WordPress I want to grow into next year. My goals this year were a) become fully self employed b) focus on WordPress as a platform c) speak at WordCamp. I’ve managed to achieve those goals, so it’s time to push myself a little harder in 2017.

As Matt put it so well (quoting Krista Tippet)

“We only learn to walk when we risk falling down, and this equation holds — with commensurately more complex dynamics — our whole lives long.”

It’s time for me to fall down a bit (again).

A more stable work environment

This past year has had it’s ups and downs (in more areas than one). For 2017 I want to focus on doing three things better.

1) A better work/life balance
2) A 25%/70% split on client work and plugin development
3) Project estimation

That last one is pretty important. One thing I have learned is that I still (after 12 years of doing this) tend to under estimate my time when it comes to project work. For 2017 I want to manage this better, not only when it comes to how long I think something will take, but also to value my experience more. This in in turn will allow me to split my development time in a way that I control (not the projects I’m working on) and be able to spend more time with my family

5 for the future.

You’re probably wondering about that 25%/70% split above, and where the other 5% is. That 5% of my development time I want to use in contributing better to WordPress. Some of the areas I want to become more involved in next year include:

WordPress Core, Calypso

Two areas that fall under the 5 for the future banner above are core and Calypso. By the end of 2017 I want to have contributed at least one patch to WordPress core and one patch to the Calypso project. This will help me become both a better WordPress developer and force me to learn React and Redux, two areas I have wanted to look into for some time now.

WordPress theme review

The WordPress theme review team is extremely under supported so I want to try and learn how to review a theme with the goal of being able to actually do one theme review once a month. I don’ know how long it will take me to get up to speed, but I need to start somewhere.

PolyGlots

This year saw the inclusion of a new locale for South Africa (Xhosa) and two new locales soon to be submitted. While I do not speak these languages I am excited to assist the new Global Translation Editors in getting these languages up and running for WordPress.

WordCamp

This year I spoke, next year I plan to be a part of it, either as a volunteer or a member of the organising team. Watch this space…

REST API powered plugin

Next year I want to either build a new plugin or rewrite an existing plugin that uses the REST API for at least some part of it’s functionality. I already have an idea for which plugin I will be doing this with and I hope to get started on it very early in the new year.

Twenty Seventeen theme

Another thing I would like to do is have my personal blog run the Twenty Seventeen theme. I’ll probably need to spend a bit of time learning all the new stuff that has been released, but I am hoping this will lead to a continuing trend of my blog always running the official WordPress theme.

WPHackerCast

This is a personal project of mine, a podcast by developers aimed for developers. I have a specific idea in mind here and it’s really a passion project that I know I will enjoy and I hope you all do to.

 

That’s a whole list of things I want to achieve. I’m not fooled into thinking I’ll be able to do all of them, but at least I can try.

What are your resolutions for the new year?

Getting ready for 2016

Digital Resolutions.

2016 sees a new direction for me. For the first time since I started programming in 2004, I will be 100% self employed.

This doesn’t mean that I have always been employed by a boss for the last 12 years. There were some attempts at working for myself in the past, but each time it was at the request of someone else. This time it is a decision I have come to after much consideration and planning.

I am quite looking forward to this new direction. It will no doubt come with its struggles, but I get to focus on one of the things I like the most about working in the digital space, namely working with clients and solving their problems via technology.

To prepare myself for this new journey I have made a few digital ‘resolutions’ for 2016.

1. I will not reinvent the wheel.

Open source content management sytems have come a long way since I started custom coding CMS’s in 2004. With the worldwide adoption of WordPress as the CMS of choice and the multitude of top quality free and premium themes and plugins available, there really is no reason to develop a website from scratch any more. More often that not, when discussing various user requirements for a website, a quick Google search will reveal that (to coin the Apple catchphrase) ‘there’s a plugin for that’.

So my plan is simple. Instead of writing all the code myself, I will build on top of the shoulders of giants. Similar to what my colleague Ross has done over at Shopcreatify, I will be offering my services as a website ‘fitter’. A digital foreman if you will. I’ll get my hands dirty every now and then, but first and foremost I will use tried and tested themes, plugins and services, developed by experts in their respective fields, to deliver amazing web and mobile solutions to my clients.

2. Back to school

One of my secondary goals for 2016 is to spend as much of my free time as possible learning new skills. Not specifically development skills (e.g. new languages and/or technologies) but skills that will allow me to bring a more rounded service to my clients. A large part of this will be a focus on digital marketing. This isn’t just to be able to provide basic digital marketing services to my clients, but also to grow my own marketing experience, both for my digital business and the jiu-jitsu school I run.

4. Personal projects

There are a couple of personal software projects that I am keen to build on and grow.

A few years ago I wrote a piece of web based software to help a client (and my jiu-jitsu instructor) manage his students. This has huge potential for all the other martial arts gyms in South Africa and I just haven’t had the time to develop the idea to a point where I can offer it to multiple clients.

I am also part of a family run business with my wife. There is a lot of scope for converting manual processes into digitally driven ones and I am keen to get my hands dirty making our lives easier by improving our processes through automation.

3. Family man

The primary reason I am taking all of the above steps is to be able to spend more time with my family. Over the past four years I have been working on site at a great local development company but time with my family suffered, due to the hours I was busy with the various things I was involved in. Starting off on my own will hopefully give me some flexibility to spend a little bit more quality time with my family.

I’ve never been one for new year resolutions, based purely on the fact that most people never see them through. So I don’t really want to call these resolutions, the are life decisions I have made (for good or for ill) that I plan to live on a day to day basis.

I can’t wait to see how 2016 turns out.