2010 is now well and truly behind me and I am sitting inside on a sunny day (sunburnt) reflecting on the year that was. It’s been a busy year. I thought, more so for my own sake than yours, that I would jot down a few notes to wrap things up.
Firstly my blog, Aschroder.com. 2010 has been good to me in several respects. From a traffic point of view my final tally (according to Google Analytics at least) clocked in at a touch over 100 thousand visitors and over 200 RSS subscribers, I feel like this is a recognition of the quality of my continued articles on Magento development.
It also validates my views on content and SEO. I always say to people trying to attract traffic to websites, start by writing interesting, compelling content – as far as on site SEO goes, if you don’t have something interesting and original to say, why would Google send any traffic to you, with or without good meta tags.
My blog has also been a great way to meet and interact with other developers and web business owners. Nearly everyday I am contacted by someone seeking advice, or wanting to get some ideas about Magento or Ecommerce. In London I even had a chance to meet in person one of the regular contributors to my blog, J.T. It was really fun and has convinced me that if he’s indicative of the kind of developers that read and enjoy my articles, then I’m doing something right.
My involvement in the Magento community has expanded over the last 12 months. It’s been really satisfying to be a part of the growth of Magento over the last 2+ years. In April I was invited to speak at the Magento Developers Conference in Mallorca, which was a real honour for me, sadly the volcano in Iceland had other plans. Luckily the event was re-run in October and I was able to make it back. I met so many clever developers at the conference, and despite being a tad nervous, had generally positive feedback about my presentation on Engineering Magento with extensions.
Our New Zealand Magento community continues to grow, with 66 members at the end of 2010. I have been contributing to the Magento developer site MageBase.com too. Kristof and Robert are both brilliant developers that I have met through the NZ Magento community, they are excellent sounding boards for Magento ideas and development – it’s been a pleasure meeting with them throughout the year.
As much as I think it’s just a fad, I have started tweeting this year, it seems to be a good way to involve myself in Magento development happenings. That, or it’s a substitute for time-wasting news websites (which I have sworn off this year).
I have been continuing to develop my Magento extensions this year. I count a little over 10 thousand downloads all up – another great mini-milestone for 2010.
I have a number of updates that I need to squeeze in for various issues, but this year I have a few new ideas that I’ll be trying to implement too. I think it’ll be an exciting time for Magento, god forbid they ever release Magento 2.0 though, by the sounds of it (at MDP) it’s going to be a complete re-write, which will probably break everything I’ve written so far.
I haven’t managed to get _much_ web development done this year – but I have tinkered with a few little apps. I am totally sold on the concept of platform-as-a-service, Google Apps just nails it in my mind. You write an app to a particular API*, and bam, it scales, it runs all the time, it’s deployments are managed and you just pay for the usage above some reasonable free-threshold. Gentlemen, I present to you the future of computing.
(*Note, the API is not actually too dissimilar to industry standard APIs – so you’re not selling your soul or anything)
Webmaster is too underused these days, the jack-of-all-trades sysadmin, webdev, designer, SEO expert (…) catchall feels like the perfect title for me. Going to IRWD at the start of 2010 was a great way to fuel a bunch of creative web development ideas in all of these diverse specialties.
However finding time to implement them all is always tricky, when balanced against more pressing projects. Looking down the list, I did manage to get a few things actually completed, and even managed to document my results in at least one case – customer communication.
From a business point of view 2010 has been really encouraging. World Wide Access has continued to grow, we have boosted the US sales of our current suppliers far beyond what they previously were. In addition to that we have taken on several new suppliers at the end of 2010, and they will be launching soon. We released our first software product Cloud Backup, albeit in beta, and feedback has been really positive. We’ll be aiming for a commercial release early this year, so stay tuned. One of my key goals for 2011 will be to grow the software aspect of World Wide Access into a fruitful venture in it’s own right.
If you follow my blog closely you’ll know that I also periodically help out with a couple of other businesses. My sister runs an After School Drama Class called Drama Club. My Fiancée, Cindy, runs Cheap Titles, it’s a place to buy Certificate of Titles and also get resource consent advice. I’ve really enjoyed being involved in the development of these businesses and look forward to seeing them grow over the next 12 months.
Behind the Scenes
I do sometimes get away from my computer. This year has been pretty exciting for non-computer related activities. Most notably I got engaged to my long-time girlfriend Cindy. Spending all my money taking her on a trip to Europe and buying an engagement ring wasn’t the most rational thing I have done this year, but it was fun and turned out to be absolutely worth it!
I had also set myself the goal of running a marathon in 2010, sadly I did not manage to complete this, so I have ‘carried it forward’ to 2011. I did finish the North Shore Half Marathon. I think I’ll get some sort of GPS tracker for mapping my runs, it seems like a great way to keep motivated.
Lastly on the Music front I got to see some great bands this year.
The XX are a real favourite of mine and Vampire Weekend were great too.
I also got to witness first hand the Mint Chicks melt down – “Start your own fucking band” has to be one of the most classic storming-off-a-trashed-stage lines ever.
Two special mentions that you probably haven’t heard of, Homebrew Crew and Tommy Ill:
Homebrew totally get it; my favourite quote in an interview was “You can’t download a t-shirt” with reference to why they give their music away free and then sell merchandise. I think that sort of mindset is what it will take to bring the music industry kicking and screaming into the 2000’s. After all, if you haven’t got scarcity, you haven’t got a product to sell.
Other weird personal milestones; I am now two years without a TV and am delighted with the results. I am convinced owning a TV both sucks IQ and time from you. I highly recommend you ditch yours this year – try it.
<tinfoilhat>Also, proudly one of the very few people on the internet who is not on the Facebook. Just wait, I’ll get the last laugh when you all realize that every website in the world with a like button is actually just Facebook tracking your every move in anticipation of an adSense style advertising network that knows everything about you. </tinfoilhat>
And what will 2011 hold?
It’s more than a little narcissistic but it’s been a fun little jaunt down memory lane for 2010. Looking ahead to this year my focus will be on software development. As much as I enjoy working with Magento, at World Wide Access we have a number of software projects in development, with an eye to making them available publicly. In addition to this I plan on fleshing out my suite of web apps (magespeedtest.com, tweetbeeper.com and monitor.aschroder.com) and making them look and feel more consistent. I think there is some real value there for people running Magento stores, I’d like to see them being used more.
There’s probably more to add here, but alas I can’t think of any now, I’ll update this when I get a chance.
In closing. Thanks to all of you who read this blog regularly and contribute, it’s been swell and I’m looking forward to an exciting 2011. Stay tuned!