2012 Reflection & Working Environment


At the end of every year I like to look back and see what was changed and why I changed it. This helps me to realise where I’m at and where I’m going. It also helps steer my time. I’ll explain more about this as I progress through this post, but I highly recommend looking back at the changes you’ve made throughout the year and why they were made to see where you’re progressing in the new year.

The biggest changes that I made throughout this year were:

IaaS Services

This year I moved away from Amazon’s AWS (IaaS) and moving to Redhat’s OpenShift (PaaS).

This has helped me immensely in being able to focus on what I enjoy most: writing content, styling sites, toying around with HTML and Javascript (i.e. – all the front-end stuff).

I certainly valued the time spent learning server-side technologies, but found at the end of the day that I was breaking things too frequently and when my sites crashed I’d be scratching my head for a few hours trying to get things back up.

Now I just focus on the front-end, and the OpenShift guys make everything else work. I don’t have to worry about setting the Apache web server, PHP mail, and all that jazz. Another wonderful benefit is that the cost of setting up a site is (currently!) free – with more speed and processing power additional gears can be purchased. Definitely check OpenShift out! I’ll to report again soon on the stuff I enjoy about OpenShift.

WordPress Themes

This year I moved away from WooThemes to Genesis.

While I certainly haven’t given up on everything WooThemes, as I still use WooCommerce, I have found applying CSS changes easier in the one file Genesis provides.

I also found Woo Dojo’s custom CSS a little annoying when applying CSS styles that required apostrophes font-family:'Rouge Script',cursive;. WooThemes would escape these characters and therefore be unapplied in the browser (I even tried using HTML entity replacements, but it still didn’t work). Genesis didn’t seem to have any problems when adding CSS styles in the </head> textarea.

Moving into 2013

Coda 2 IDE

I’ve enjoyed the ease and use of Coda 2 throughout the year, and I’m still continuing with it. I found with moving to a new MacBook Air at the end of this year, from a MacBook Pro, to be quite seamless with this piece of software thanks to it using iCloud (yes, I bought it from the App Store).

WebStorm IDE

This piece of software has been great with handling JavaScript. I purchased a licence throughout the year and have been tinkering around with it for small projects. Certainly don’t use it as much as Coda, but would need to watch a few videos to become more acquainted with it.

WordPress

Am still enjoying the ease of creating websites for clients with this platform, especially with great plugins like WooCommerce.

MeteorJS

I have tinkered around with this throughout the year, but not enough to really create anything meaningful. This has therefore hindered my development in it and every time I have a spare moment I’ll pick it back up and try to run something with it, but inevitably drop the ball.

I will continue to monitor its progress and hopefully I can design something useful to see whether it suits my needs. Am also hoping for more screencasts on its use, but I think it would need to mature further before training sites begin creating courses on how to use it. Maybe 2013 will be the year for Meteor.

Leaving in 2012

Sublime Text 2

It seemed everyone went crazy over this IDE and like the rest of the coding community I tried it out and tinkered around with it. It has a wonderful community that provides heaps of additional plugins for extending the software’s use, however, I didn’t find it as user-friendly and meeting my needs as much as the other two editors (Coda & WebStorm) mentioned above. Personally I think one needs to be careful in software being created and maintained by an individual – I think it runs the risk more of being abandonware, especially if it’s not open-sourced. There’s only so much one person can do, but a group…!

Currently playing around with

RStudio IDE

If there’s one thing I really love about this free little application with web development it’s the creation of content. Most web developers use Markdown and there are an array of wonderful apps that can render Markdown pages into HTML pages well, however, RStudio has taken it up an extra notch. In integrating this software with Pandoc you can edit your .Rprofile settings to make images --self-contained by using the data:base64 attribute in <img> tags. It’s a great little feature for applying to small inline images and I’ve been amazed at the results.

Watching in 2013

Brackets

It certainly has piqued my interest with its screencast on core functionality. I haven’t used it yet, but will certainly be keeping an eye on it.

Laravel 4

I haven’t had much of an opportunity to play around with it, but will be keenly keeping an eye and possibly tinkering around with once it’s released. Hopefully it can be released soon (before I go back to work).

Anyway, that’s been the year for me and what I’m working with currently.

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