Year 2020 – Looking [Back] Forward

As the year 2020 is coming to an end and 2021 is beginning soon, it’s to time to make reflections of the past year and beginning to start thinking/planning for the coming year. Though 2020 was an unprecedented year from the coronavirus pandemic and political polarization perspective, it was not an ideal year for a self-learning environment. Unlike previous years, my learning-progress took a hit this year. For reference, here are links to my previous year-end 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 posts.

Anticipating a normal year and more time than previous years, I had set an ambitious learning goals for the year 2020. But unbearable background ‘noises’ (pandemic, polarized elections, other restrictions) that struck on our face was a major distraction. Thus this year-end post is more looking forward than looking back to 2020.

What a Year 2020!

This year was nothing we had experienced before. Coronavirus pandemic pulled down everything. Things that we took granted were suddenly disappeared or closed, or cancelled, or postponed, or even collapsed. Sports events were reconfigured without stadium audiences. Many of us lost jobs and thus sources of income. More than 30K families lost their loved one’s due to COVID-19. Amid this sadness, uncertainty, frustration and fear, many individuals and organizations found ways to do some good work. We owe them gratitude!

Learning as Distraction

Sarah Drasner writes in Medium postcoding is a distraction‘ but ‘learning (is hard)’ too as she writes reflecting on 2020. Normally, I do find an everyday learning habit as a distraction to ‘noises’ that we experience in our everyday life. I was benefiting from my daily-learning routine until this year. Yet, this year was different.

This has been a deeply unsustainable year for so many. Showing up and making it through each day and making any progress is enough. Not giving up and trying again, day after day, is success.

Natalya Shelburne in CSS-Tricks

My more ambitious year 2020 goals got reality check due to unforeseen pandemic-related events and isolation. Even so, I was able to do some, whereas a few slipped through the cracks. As Max Box writes in his year 2020 review post on his personal blog site that it’s OK to skipped if things didn’t go the way we expected. “I’m not going to compare my goals from last year with what I’ve accomplished in 2020. I don’t think it matters. Give yourself a break this year – it’s OK if things didn’t turn out the way you wanted.”

Year 2020 Goals: A Brief Overview

REST API vs WPGraphQL: Realizing the targeted search query benefits of WPGraphQL over REST API to retrieve WordPress data for headless front-end development, I had started digging into the Gatsbyjs for the past few years. That interest lead me to gatsby source wordpress experimental plugin. Though I spend significant time to learn and use the plugin, its fast developmental iterations together with changing WPGraphQL search schema were hard to keep up to update my project. Yet, I kept a constant watch to the development iterations and waiting for its more stable version release.

Git & GitHub: GitHub is one of the essential skills for all developers, especially for project collaboration and maintaining different versions of a project. Even as a solo aspiring developer, this year I took a leap and started learning Git & GitHub and continue next year as my ongoing learning goals.

Gatsby Source WordPress Experimental Plugin: I spent significant time understanding and learning the use of plugins to create a WordPress powered headless Gatsby site. As state before, the constantly changing UI due to developments iterations hampered completing the project and related learning-note post. Once the more stable version of the plugin is released along with some use case examples then I plan to return the project and share my learning experience through publication.

Learning & Sharing: One of my major 2020 goals was to create more contents and share with others. This went well at the beginning of the year when I was learning to use Headless WordPress site using WPGrapgQL and published the following two articles on the CSS-Tricks. But, after that pandemic, isolation and other restriction started to take a toll on my learning too. I got distracted to learning about the coronavirus and making daily notes to archive the unprecedented event.

Personal Health & Community: This definitely got priority this year. I was able to develop a simple 45min to 1-hr daily morning activity routine with stretching and treadmill walk. This simple daily routine helped me keep healthy & fit as well as improved in my learning task too.

Reorganize & Archive My Learning Notes: This task barely started this year and would give a high priority in the coming year.

Frontity React Framework for WordPress

Frontity React Framework was a new to me and did small initial learning by doing projects to understand its concepts and its working. I liked the framework, though slightly different from Gatsby, but it is simpler to create a WordPress powered headless site without learning WPGraphQL.

Realizing that Frontity is much simpler and more suitable for my personal use case, I spend a couple of months studying codes from use case examples and creating a concept theme project of my own. My Frontity theme project is almost complete, and now I plan to start documenting how I learned and share with others through open sourcing my theme project and writing articles about it.

Year 2021 Goals

While continuing the ongoing projects of 2020, I am hoping to focus on the following goals for the year 2021:

  • Frontity Frame React Framework: Plan to spend time in documenting my learning note posts and complete the my Frontity theme and open-source it for sharing with others.
  • Frontity-based Headless site: To put my recently gained knowledge in Frontity, I plan to run one of my WordPress site as Frontity-based headless site as part of my learning by doing project.
  • WordPress Block-based Editor. WordPress UI is under constant development for the past two years with Gutenberg block-based content editor. In the 3rdPhase of its development, full-site-editing (FSE) features are being added along with block-based themes. I hope to keep a watch on these developmental iteration cycles and may jump into trying to fully block-based experimental theme later this year.
  • Document and Share Gatsby Source WordPress Learning Project: Now that the plugin development has stabilized slightly with a more stable version release, I plan is to complete the project in early January and share my learning experience through publication.
In Closing

While summing up, I would like to quote Natalya, who describes this year’s learning experience so eloquently, and I agree with her fully.

I spent a lot of energy shifting my focus from “the year I wished for” to the one I was experiencing. I used every trick in the teacher’s handbook on myself to keep my love of learning intact, feel some progress, and keep up. No matter how much I did, I still felt like I didn’t do enough. It was just the kind of year when everything felt like it took more energy (because it did).

Natalya Shelburne in the CSS-Tricks

Let’s anticipate a better year 2021 for learning & Happy Coding!