2022: Year in Review

Lloyd Atkinson

These are my thoughts on what I’ve been doing this year and what I’ve worked towards and achieved as well as personal news. I’ve never written a “year in review” before but it felt like a nice way to reflect. Plus, my first post once I’d created my site was in October 2021, so I’ve been doing this for just over a year.

Personal news

  • The biggest news this year is that I got engaged! ❤️

  • Won a hackathon project with prize money

  • Finally achieved a senior promotion (I had been working at that level for quite a long time)

Other highlights

  • Written several very-well received articles that have made, I think, some small waves and a few big ones

  • Reached a wide audience in the process, including having an article about Git practices featured on the GitHub YouTube channel

  • My site has received 94.5k unique visitors with 175k page views - Considering I’ve had this site for just over a year I think this is good

  • Developed my so-called “personal brand” - this site

  • Advocated for better software practices, and in particular I wrote a lot about C#/.NET, TypeScript, and React and how to write better code with them

  • I’m very proud of the work I’ve done to promote and implement code quality practices and improvements in my current job (which were virtually non-existent). I’ve had some great feedback, including one I’m particularly proud of: “You have single-handedly improved the quality of the entire project, and several developers have stated they greatly benefited from the training resources you provided.”

  • I could have possibly had a small part to play in starting an online movement/shift/campaign that questions and objects to the cripplingly dumb software project management cult (fake agile/scrum/etc) that is damaging the industry

  • Like the previous year, I made a Christmas quiz! 🎄 You can read how I wrote it and play it here

Article views

My first year of writing posts has been a success, with 94.5k unique visitors and 175k page views - way more than I expected! I’m so pleased to have reached so many people.

The most popular posts are listed below. The data isn’t really fair though. Some were published more recently than others so will have a reduced number of views so far. One of my articles about the problems with agile/scrum had a huge traffic spike from Reddit followed by Hacker News.

I’ve also had people contact me directly thanking me for writing about a topic. I really didn’t expect anything like that! Also, as best as I can tell from analytics, 15 newsletters have featured various articles.

PostViews
Eight Points for One Team Is Two Points for Another Team28.5k
Default Exports in JavaScript Modules Are Terrible26.5k
React Conditional Rendering With Type Safety and Exhaustive Checking18k
Consider Disabling Browser Push Notifications on Family and Friends Devices16.8k
Modelling Workflows With Finite State Machines in .NET14.2k
Should You Squash Merge or Merge Commit?8.1k
My Thoughts on What I Want to Do As a Software Developer6.3k
Automate Pull Request Labels Based on Changed Files With GitHub Actions7.4k
Flexible Design System Components With “as/is” Props5.3k

What I’ve worked towards

As always personal growth, learning, and development were some of my main goals this year. Saying that though, a lot of what I’ve worked on was organic and not planned. I’ve found that these sorts of spontaneous projects are often fun and rewarding to work on.

Travel 🇬🇧 🇵🇱

I mainly visited locations within the UK with one trip to Poland. This was my second time there and I really enjoyed it again.

Blogging

I have only been writing articles for just over a year. So this makes this year the first time I’ve written at least one article every month. Most months, I averaged 2-3. I have always wanted to write my ideas and thoughts about software engineering (and other topics) somewhere I can easily refer back to and share publicly online.

I have a lot of thoughts, ideas, opinions, and feelings about software engineering. Sometimes it’s my thoughts and ideas; sometimes, it’s a response to something I’ve read, watched, or listened to. I have often been asked to explain X, or describe Y, or demonstrate Z, so that is what I’ve been doing!

In some cases I’ve described my disdain and criticisms of the terrible, technically incompetent, and creatively bankrupt software project management practices that seem to have taken over the industry. More on that later.

Hackathon - Open Source

I won the Astro 2022 Hackathon with my submission for an E-Commerce integration with Snipcart. The submission was an intense project I worked hard on, with multiple commits every day at all hours of the day. It’s an open-source project!

After that success, I reached out to Snipcart three times to show them the project, what it does, and how it integrates with Astro (they even have a specific e-mail address for this). This would be great for them to look at, as they had published an article about Astro a few weeks before. My project allows developers to dive straight into creating their online shop instead of following the long steps shown in their post.

Unfortunately, they didn’t get back to me. Puzzling, as the project will bring them more customers…

Hackathon - Job

I’ve been in three hackathons at my current job. In 2020, our team won with a significant improvement to the existing design system, which had much interest, but it was never adopted due to politics, technical debt out of our control, and constantly shifting goalposts. In 2021, we had another submission that was part of the communications platform we were developing.

A favourite had already been chosen as the winner before it started. This was very obvious and uncomfortable for almost everyone involved. Of course, I am bitter about this lack of progress, but at least my team and I learned a lot more about how to (and how not to) develop design systems.

In 2022, I was the only solo participant presenting a proof of concept. After seeing how the organisation ignored the first two hackathons, I didn’t plan on being involved but was asked to submit my project anyway. Again, it was well received.

Unsurprisingly, this, too, was forgotten about literally weeks later despite one of the comments being, “this is how we will build all our systems and features going forward.” Isn’t politics fun?

If you’re interested, I wrote an article explaining it here and a presentation I gave here.

My posts on the software industry

As friends, acquaintances, and regular readers most likely know, I despise much of how typical software projects are managed and run. I will only repeat a little of that here as I wrote two articles (with more on the way next year!) where I elaborate more. Eight Points for One Team Is Two Points for Another Team and My Thoughts on What I Want to Do As a Software Developer. Both articles, the first especially, have been very widely received.

Although I can’t say for sure that this is the direct result of my articles, I have noticed an increase in articles questioning and criticising agile, scrum, and all the rest. Due to how many people read my take on it, I may have had a slight involvement in raising awareness that software doesn’t have to be managed this way.

To summarise, I believe that most organisations no longer prioritise the needs and values of the customer while at the same time crippling the enthusiasm and productivity of their developers, thus contributing to developer burnout.

The rant about hackathons and software management are enough negativity for this post! Moving on.

Tech stuff I want to do next year

  • I’ve contemplated trying out Obsidian to create some kind of personal notes space/personal knowledge wiki with a section of it being publicly accessible on my site

    • This would be part of a so-called digital garden which seems like a really exciting way of creating the notes/wiki/knowledge system

    • I would really like to create this, but I need to figure out an efficient workflow and that raises questions I haven’t answered yet like:

      • How much of the site should be managed by Obsidian or a digital garden?

      • If I have a new “notes” section of my site that is the publicly accessible part of the digital garden, what about the rest of the markdown files for articles and projects? It seems inefficient to have a workflow for only half of my content

      • If I have everything fully managed by Obsidian/the digital garden then it becomes a type of CMS - that’s pretty cool but what workflow considerations do I need to consider for that?

  • I want to add a “now playing” component at the top of my site that fetches the song I’m playing currently or most recently if I’m not listening to anything right now

  • Continue developing and enhancing my site and it’s design system - I should write more articles on design systems too

  • I’d like to work on some desktop software using either WPF or WinUI

  • I have some electronics and embedded systems projects I’d like to work on

Conclusion

Well, I hope this was considered a “year in review”. I’ve read a few from authors I like and it seems there’s definitely no set way of writing one, they are personal after all.

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© Lloyd Atkinson 2023

I'm avaliable for work 💡