My 2018 in a Blog Post

I see many folks writing about their 2018 and I thought why not? It’s good to look back at the previous year and account for what went right, what didn’t and what you want to improve on. So, here is everything in a nutshell (I mean a blog post).

Sunset at Panadura Beach

Accomplishments

I managed to do a few interesting things last year. Some of them are:

Smashing Magazine

I started writing for Smashing Magazine in 2017 but my first article on creating a WordPress theme with React was published in March last year. The second article on creating a React Native eCommerce app was published two months later. The third article for the year, about building a Gutenberg block was published in late 2018.

Overall, I received a lot of praise for my articles and some criticism too, which is essential if you want to grow as a writer 🙂 .

Along the way, I made many friends and got offers to write on other platforms as well, which I may take up this year. I also became an expert reviewer on Smashing Magazine later last year.

Gatsby

I saw the rise of Gatsby.js and immediately wanted to get my hands dirty with it. So, I built three websites with it, two of them with a WordPress backend:

https://laccadive.io/
https://muhammadmuhsin.com/
https://www.minitreatslk.com/

If you visit any of the sites above, you will notice how quickly they load. Not even very fast, but instant!

I’m eager to contribute back to the Gatsby project, hopefully by the end of 2019.

React Native

I explored React Native and published a basic app to the store.

WooSesh

WooSesh is an online conference about WooCommerce initiated in 2018 by Brian Richards and Patrick Rauland. I gave a talk here alongside legends like Chris Lema. My talk was titled “Creating a WooCommerce Mobile App with React Native” and telling from the live comments, people loved it.

Learning

I learned things like CSS Flexbox and Grid, CSS custom properties, GraphQL, React Native and some other concepts like DNS and hosting on Netlify. I took Wes Bos’ course React for Beginners among others to recap my knowledge of React etc.

Work

Work wise, I accomplished some interesting tasks. However, I cannot talk about everything here. Moreover, some of them would require a blog post of its own.

Books

I completed reading the following books in 2018:

  1. The Passionate Programmer by Chad Fowler
  2. User Experience Revolution by Paul Boag
  3. REMOTE by Jason Fried and DHH of 37Signals

This is not even half of what I wanted to achieve, but better than reading no books I guess.

Mistakes

I made a ton of mistakes and learned a lot of lessons. Here are some of them:

Too many books

Bought way too many books (mainly on Kindle) that I did not even start. Started many but did not finish. A well-read person advised me not to do so, “or else you will end up with an anti-library”. I did not know an anti-library was bad until then.

Distractions

We all know they are bad, but notifications have become unavoidable to most of us. They are everywhere and not being able to focus have become a common denominator. 2018 wasn’t the best year when getting myself to focus on the task at hand.

Not exploring more

Exploring, whether it was by travelling or trying out technologies wasn’t much this year. I learned a few things but everything was centered around React and WordPress, my core competencies. I didn’t explore what I was uncomfortable or unfamiliar with enough. For example, I could have learned Flutter but kept myself busy with React Native.

Health

I didn’t exercise enough or eat healthy. The whole year was a mixed bag with long walks and healthy food in between. Nothing was consistent.

Goals for 2019

While I can call 2018 a fairly successful year, I’m hoping 2019 will be even better. Specifically, I intend to pursue the following:

More meaningful work

I hope to do better work for better clients. I want to work on things that can be reused or open sourced so that more people can benefit from my work.

More books

I wish to complete 12 books in 2019, which is one book per month. I’m already behind schedule, so let’s get on track after writing this 🙂 .

More content creation

Perhaps on my blog, my company blog or even for other publications, I intend to write more. I want to cover different subjects that can help more people. I want to write at least one blog post per month, on whatever platform of choice.

A prominent publisher approached me last year to create a video course on their platform. Although I agreed to do it, technical difficulties crept up later which means I may not do it. I plan to create at least one video course this year, probably on my own platform.

Let’s see how that goes.

Speaking engagements

Apart from WooSesh 2018, I was selected as a speaker for WordCamp Kochi 2018. I bought air tickets and made travel arrangements but the floods prevented the event from happening in September. It was postponed to November, but I could not attend due to other commitments.

In 2019, I hope to speak at more meetups or events.

Exploration

There are so many technologies I want to learn. Already started learning server-side React with Next.js and GraphQL with Apollo and Prisma with Wes Bos’ Advanced React course. I also want to learn Flutter, JavaScript with types, more Node.js, JavaScript Testing and accessibility.

I want to travel more in 2019, especially within Sri Lanka. There are so many things to explore, do and enjoy and I hope I get the most of it this year.

Conclusion

That was my highlights of 2018. I did not want to bore you with more items or details. I really hope you had a great 2018 and starting off 2019 on a better note!

Although January is almost over, I thought I’d write it anyway. Thanks for reading this far! Again, wish you the very best 🙂 !

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