Daniel Strunk

Happy one year anniversary!

I was always something of a serial blogger in the past, creating niche sites, updating them for a month or two, then forgetting about them completely. After being an internet nomad for several years, moving from domain to domain, I finally settled on dstrunk.com exactly one year ago—December 21st, 2012 (that’s right, I started my blog at the end of the world). This time, instead of creating a niche site I was marginally interested in, I decided to stay true to what I enjoyed: talking about front-end development, WordPress, and the Open Source community as a whole. Talking about things that interested me proved to be the formula needed to keep up the writing habit (who knew?). Now, here we are, 52 posts later (averaging a post a week—not bad, considering my previously mentioned history with blogs), celebrating one year of writing. On this site’s birthday, I’d like to do something similar to what I do on my real birthday—reflect on everything I’ve learned over the past year, and outline some goals to shoot for over the next year.

2013: A Retrospective

The more you know, the more you don’t

I don’t think there’s ever been a truer statement. Over the past year I’ve gone from a self-admitted jQuery plugin-(ab)user to learning actual JavaScript. Once I would have automatically loaded jQuery for something as simple as an alert (hyperbole, but just barely); now, my decisions aren’t based on, “I don’t know how to do this in vanilla JavaScript, better load jQuery!” Of course, the above paragraph only covers the more I know. Now onto what I don’t know (everything). One way I learned JavaScript was looking at libraries like jQuery or similar. Looking through these libraries has shown me just how much I still have to learn. BackboneJS, Ember, UnderscoreJS and Angular: all are fantastic libraries that abstract and modularize difficult code that is becoming more and more common, and all are miles ahead of anything I could write right now.

Be careful not to get caught up in the hype

It’s easy to get caught up in the Next Big Thing. Become an advocate of that Thing with such certainty, forsaking all other things in favor of yours. In front-end development, that might mean choosing Angular over Backbone or Ember, and being quite vocal about it. But what I’ve generally learned over the last year is, there’s usually a right time and place for the tool you’re spouting on about. Yes, you: AngularJS might just be overkill for your small application. And you: maybe Ember is a bit too opinionated for your bespoke app.

Old and busted? New hotness.

Especially with regards to new technologies, I’ve learned it’s important to try your best to remain objective in the face of new hotness. Does it work for your business use-case? Use it, and ignore the hype.

Looking forward to 2014

Changing interests

In late September I wrote about always learning. I’ve since been tinkering with Ruby on Rails for about a month and a half, and it’s going great. I’ve found a new love in working with the back-end of web applications, and it’s something I’d love to continue to pursue. My skills in database schemas and normalization are a bit weak, not coming from a computer science background, so I’d like to focus on strengthening those areas. I’ve enrolled in Stanford’s OpenEdX Engineering course, Introduction to Databases, which starts at the beginning of the year. I’ve also picked up a couple of books related to ActiveRecord and relational database design in general.

 A blog redesign

Of course a redesign is coming! I feel like this blog still hasn’t found its visual voice, so to speak, so I’ve begun working on a redesigned site that should show its head early next year. This will be a major theme update, and my first one since the site’s initial overhaul in early June. The redesign is looking more energetic (read: not sparse), while attempting to stay true to the design language I set out with in June.

Onward and upward

Next year should be exciting—I’ve got a lot of things planned, and I’m looking forward to continuing my growth as a developer. Here’s to many more years!