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2015 in review

Continuing the trend from last year, here’s my personal review of 2015.

2015 goals

  • Algorithm course
    Wanting to plug some gaps in my knowledge, I signed up for an algorithms course on Coursera. I didn’t complete the course, but it did highlight some things I definitely need to work on. I’ll be taking that into 2016, and I may look at completing the course in full at some point.
  • Design patterns
    Continued learning/implementing design patterns. Brought basics of UML into teams to help communicate ideas and it has been very effective.
  • Docker
    Intended to get to grips with Docker but something always seemed more pressing. Now seeing mixed feedback on Docker used in practice, and have decided to sit this one out a bit longer until it gets a bit more mature.
  • Responsive SalaryBot
    2015 was the year SalaryBot.co.uk finally got responsively redesigned to work well on mobile devices.
  • X new SalaryBot customers
    I didn’t quite hit the mark with this one, but it’s been an interesting year for SalaryBot, having attained a global company listed on NYSE as a customer, and also creating relations with an exciting recruitment startup. Looking forward to seeing what the new year will bring.
  • X blog posts
    Only just scraped past the finish line on this goal. My focus has really been on microblogging (Twitter). I really could do with ramping this back up again. Will try harder this year.
  • ES6
    Attended the odd talk about ES6, and have used features here and there (primarily tinkering in React Native) but I just need some more hands on experience with it. Have a React Native project this year so hopefully will get some good experience there.
  • Increase OSS contribution
    Open sourced the SalaryBot lib, Trace Test Listener, contributed pull requests and opened a number of issues. An improvement on the last year, but there’s always room for more.
  • PHP7
    Wanted to make sure I was ready for PHP7, so I did a talk on it at Sky forcing me to research it well. Oddly enough I ended up learning a bit of Python along the way to help ensure a Sublime Text plugin was ready for PHP7.
  • Functional Programming
    Really wanted to jump on the FP bandwagon in 2015, but just didn’t create enough time. I hope to make amends for this in 2016, although still a bit unsure on where to start.
  • Finish Code Complete
    I found quite a bit of overlap between this and Clean Code, but gained some great insight. It took a while to finish but the knowledge I’m building direct from the great minds of this industry is serving my career well.
  • Read refactoring
    To summarise, I’d describe this is a catalogue of blueprints. It offers a great selection of problems that we face in software and instructions on exactly how you’d tackle (refactor) it. Really compelling stuff, but after reading Clean Code and Code Complete you do begin to see patterns. Nonetheless, it’s a respected book for a reason and I’d recommend having it if just for the reference.
  • Run a 10k
    Hadn’t done a 10k in a while, so I decided to get back into it in 2015. It was the first time running in York, and I enjoyed it apart from running the whole race completely injured (which was a silly thing to do). Definitely looking to get back into exercise this year, just need to formulate a plan.

Books read

Personal achievements

  • Moved into a dream house.
  • Visited Cuba.
  • Executed my first ever best man speech wearing a kilt!
  • Organised a great stag do in Amsterdam for my friend.
  • Became a line manager at Sky.
  • Completed my first ever hack day.
  • Helped Sky in their ambitious recruitment with leads, technical reviews and interviewing (13k recruitment related tweet views/500 blog post views/LinkedIn reach unknown).
  • Moved into some fancy new offices.
  • Various work achievements including;
    – Influenced modern development practices amongst the team including Vagrant adoption and unit testing.
    – Finally launching a homepage for Sky Sports that uses responsive design.
    – Relaunched the F1 section that works for mobile.
    – Launched new and improved match pages in time for RWC2015. Allowed us to reuse for Rugby League and Football with great effect.
    – Paved the way for standardised UI component development within Sky Digital Content.
    – Started the long journey of moving away from a tired untested monolithic library of code, towards modular, high quality and testable composer packages.
    – Won the bragging rights to the Christmas coding competition! :p

Goals for 2016.

They’re written up and ready to go. You’ll see them at the end of 2016 when I’ve had a good stab at them.

What did you achieve in 2015? Have you thought about what you want to do in 2016? Invest in yourself and get thinking!

Chris Bell

Chris Bell is a software engineer based in Leeds, UK. Enjoy his personal accounts and insights into the weird and wacky world of software development.

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