Looking Back Year 2017

Last year, I started a new tradition of writing a “Looking Back Year” post at the end of the year. My 2016 year-end post is here. For my 2017 year-end ‘looking back’, I am starting slightly different than the previous year.

Year 2017 remained a good and productive year. Like last year, I made good progress in my technological skill development. For 2018, I have set very ambitious goals for myself and am hoping to make it another productive learning and skill-enhancement year with many new opportunities.

I began writing “Looking Back” post series as my new tradition to look back at the previous year and make critical self-assessments on what worked, what didn’t work, and set goals for the next year. In this post I am highlighting my 2017 progress and goals for the coming year 2018.

Last year, I had set the following broad goals for the year 2017:

Learning WordPress basic deeply with emphasis on PHP, JavaScript & J Querry, CSS will be my priority in 2017. In addition, I plan to develop one new theme to power my social connections using BuddyPress & bbpress plugins.– Looking back Year 2016 post

What Worked

Book Keeping & Work Environment
  1. Monitoring learning progress: Last year I had set a goal that I would maintain a weekly learning goal where I would document my daily progress. I successfully met this goal with my 52-week post entry. After getting used to it, I found this practice to be a useful and encouraging habit.
  2. Because my blogs don’t contain my opinions but only to record and make a brief observational note. I wanted to separate posts as general interest or professional interest, and make each entry accordingly. This would enable the easy retrieval of post archives when desired. I started my professional site in late 2017. Since, I have made 88 post entries in general blog site and 31 post entries in professional blog site.
  3. A private learning journal-site: I had a plan to set up a private learning journal site to document all my learning progress and write post drafts. In 2017, I have 88 post entries in this site.
  4. Multi-site installation. Because I maintain more than 30-40 practice/test sites between my different machines, it is very time consuming to make updates to every new WordPress releases. This inspired me to learn the multi-site WordPress install from Rachel McCollin (wpmudev.com). I now maintain my local theme development, as well as my test sites as a multi-site install.
  5. Lets Encrypt SSL is available free as an open source certificate authority to encrypt all websites. Most web hosting services provide this feature. Now all my sites have LetsEncrypt installed.
Learning Progress
  1. Custom Post Types (CPT): I learned to develop a CPT Plugin to display portfolio section (My Themes, My Plugins, My-Widgets) in one of my personal sites.
  2. Learning from Default themes: One of my goals for 2017 was to learn from default themes like twenty seventeen, Shoreditch and Karuna, and others. The header components of Shoreditch and Karuna themes was customized and being used in my current themes, including this site. Morten Rand-Hendriksen’s Hume theme was also inspirational in my theme layout.
  3. Atom text editor: I have been using Note++ for almost three years and I am quite familiar with it. Since there is no Note++ for Mac OS, I have to use the other popular text editor, AtomAtom is also the most popular text editor among the developer community. While I have started the Atom editor more often, I still have not been able to completely give up my Note++ editor yet.
  4. Development Workflow: After spending couple of years learning theme development, perhaps it was time for me to start some learning by doing projects on workflow automation. After completing a few prerequisite courses from the Lynda library, I got a jump start from Building Themes from Scratch Using Underscores by Morten Rand-Hendricksen. The course materials contain a chapter to set up Gulp, Node & NPM and scripts (exercise file) for theme development.
CSS Grid Layout Dominated 2017

One of my main goals for 2017 was to learn CSS deeply. I started learning CSS from January and was making progress, but by mid-summer posts on CSS grid layout from Rachel Andrews, Jen Simmons and others started appearing, and it changed everything. I changed gears and started learning CSS grid from Grid by Example from Rachel Andrew and Jen Simmons’ grid lab.

  1. I spent a lot of time watching and learning from Rachel Andrews’ videos and practicing CSS grid using Grid by Examples and Jen Simmons lab sites.
  2. To put my learning into practice, I started applying CSS grid layout based on Building Production-Ready CSS Grid Layouts Today by Morten Rand-Hendriksen.
  3. I developed two CSS grid-based themes: one with sidebar display, and other with wide single-column (no-sidebar) display, with post format styles and used in this site.

What Didn’t Work

One of my 2017 goals of Learning WordPress basic deeply with emphasis on PHP, JavaScript & JQuerry remained in the back burner because of the announcement of Gutenberg editor. The JS learning will be my main goal in coming year.

Inspirational Posts Pick

This was an interesting year for the WordPress Development community, especially after the announcement that Gutenberg editor will replace the current TyneMCE editor. The Gutenberg editor has become a very controversial project and has invited heated discussions in the WordPress community forums, and still remains so. I find the following posts on Gutenberg and learning to code most inspiring:

  1. Allie Vogel’s post How hating code made me a better designer in Medium is very interesting and I couldn’t agree more with her view on learning code.
  2. A very inspiring story Advice From A 19 Year Old Girl & Software Developer from a teenage software developer motivating others to learn coding and join the tech world. She also opens up her own daily routine on how she has been learning coding to become a software developer.
  3. How Gutenberg Will Shape the Future of WordPress by Morten Rand-Hendriksen (linkedin.com).
  4. We Called it Gutenberg for a Reason – by Matt Mullenweg (ma.tt).
  5. Gutenberg, or the Ship of Theseus– by Matias Ventura (matiasventura.com)

2018 – Year of Learning

Gutenberg Watch

Gutenberg editor is new and requires lot of learning to have a good handle on it. There is lot of documentation and more is coming. How Gutenberg-ready themes works is a curious matter to all WordPress enthusiasts. You need to have a constant watch on it all the time.

Development Workflows

For my workflow improvement, I plan to use the Atom editor more frequently and would like to make it my primary editor and slowly move away from Note++.

Building Themes to Building Gutenblocks

During the State of the word 2015 address, Matt Mullenweg gave everyone in the WordPress Community the homework to start Learning JavaScript, deeply. Mr Mullenweg said the future of WordPress relies on JavaScript (JS) powered applications such as REST API. He predicted that JavaScript-based applications are the future of the web.

I believe quite strongly that JavaScript and API-driven interfaces are the future of not just WordPress but the web. Matt Mullenweg
State of The Word 2015 Address

We are entering into 2018 soon! Gutenberg editor (a JS heavy editor) is already in development. With Gutenberg editor (when fully developed), the use of themes will be unnecessary for a page/site layout. All WordPress content will be structured into Gutenberg ‘blocks’. Gutenblocks are written in ReactJS. To be able to create customized content blocks (e.g. custom post types), good JavaScript knowledge is essential.

Learn Javascripts & ReactJS Deeply!

Because themes, widgets, and CPT are going to be absolute with Gutenberg and WordPress 5.0, it is a waste of time to continue with theme projects. For the same reason, the customary Twenty Eighteen default theme is delayed too. Since nothing much is going on in the meantime, why not learn and improve my JavaScript skills. Makes perfect sense to me!

I have already set up a Learn Code site (a private JS learning site) to collect learning resources and to document my learning progress in 2018. During my learning, I plan to document all my learning notes and maintain a personal JavaScript & ReactJS learning journal.

Single Page ReactJS Site

Inspired by by #NEWWWYEAR and JS based single-page site (like this & this), I plan to create a single page ReactJS based site too.

Happy New Year 2018