I went into 2016 with the goal of leveling up my development skills and filling in some of the gaps I was missing when building front ends. Before this I had spent most of my development time reverse-engineering existing code and tweaking parts to achieve a desired outcome. I didn't have a solid understanding of the languages and what was happening as a whole. I started this process at the end of 2015 by taking part in makerscabin.com. It definitely provided a great explanation of core PHP principles, working with templates and building databases.

At this point I knew some more specific areas I wanted to learn about, including Laravel, React, Flexbox, and a better handle on SASS. I took reactforbeginners.com which was an incredible dive into React and allowed me to use it on my own site, with much less confusion than I would have had otherwise. At the same time I was still working on my front end toolset including learning Flexbox via flexbox.io and flexboxfroggy.com. I was working on the front end a lot and decided to dedicate some time to improving my design process as well, by improving my Sketch workflow with the help of leveluptutorials.com.

Midway Point

About halfway through the year, I had been continuously learning one topic or another, and definitely noticed an increased ability in what I could build and how much I could understand the conversations I would see happening online. I went to Laracon 16' and it was there I realized how much more I needed to understand of Laravel and VueJs. I had been rebuilding my site, using a static site builder based on Laravel called statamic.com and was able to start introducing some of the new things I had learned, but really wanted to push it even further. I took a few classes from laracasts.com on PHP principles, JavaScript fundamentals, building projects with Laravel, and using Vue 2.0. In November of 2016 I was able to launch the latest version of my site using VueJs for the front page toggle, a more advanced and BEM styled CSS structure, and a better understanding of what was happening from the server management to the animation debugging of the JS.

I was feeling pretty good at this point about what I had accomplished, and knew there was still many gaps I needed to fill in for my knowledge of Vue and Laravel, more having to do with the PHP and Javascript underlying foundations. But I had a good grasp on the frameworks, at least enough to know why they were a benefit.

Looking towards 2017

While I was continuing on my learning path I wanted to expand my network, open opportunities and go into 2017 with many things on the Horizon. In December, I went to 3 Meetups and learned from some great designers and entrepreneurs on design systems, early stage products and more about the startup scene in my area. I also took part in https://www.outofofficehours.com/ started by @dustin. Over the course of 2 weeks I met with @thinmatt, @renn, @cfaydi, and @Brilliancrank. What I learned from these individuals was invaluable. Probably worthy of a blog post on its own. But it provided great introspection into my career and what value I could offer, as well as what were some opportunities to further my growth in the coming year.

In the last 2 weeks of 2016 I started planning for hosting an event in spring of 2017, getting halfway through a client branding and site project, starting a conversation about building a template library for a potential client, and in the midway point of launching a side project of my own. I plan on keeping this pace up, and I can't wait to see what doors open in 2017 as a result of 2016's grind!