Katie Fenn

2015 in Review

27th December 2015

I've never written an annual review before, but because this year has been a turnaround year for me, and because I've been inspired by Chad's writing, now seems like a good time to start.

Cool Things

In February, First Play Sheffield raised £500 for Special Effect by taking part in GameBlast, a twenty-four hour videogame marathon. I almost completed a full run of Ocarina of Time.

My album of the year and film of the year are both space-related, being The Race for Space and The Martian. Both are love letters to the golden age of space exploration and capture all of the drama and euphoria.

I starting diving lessons at Ponds Forge. It was a hobby that I'd dipped my toe into when I was young, and I have always wanted to take it seriously. Diving is unique; the excitement and focus shakes a difficult week of work out of you, and it's the best thing that has happened to me in a long time.

The Lead Experiment

I've been trying out the lead developer role in 2014 and 2015. I've helmed two projects, I'm very proud to have guided them to completion and to have worked such talented, hard working people.

I've enjoyed many of the challenges that the lead position brings. We replaced a clumsy desktop / mobile site with a single responsive site, simplifying the technology while introducing a crisp, modern design. We also introduced Sass, Grunt, Patternlab and SVG graphics. The key to the success of the project was a close relationship between designers and developers, involving both in planning meetings and pairing up to make sure the design worked as well as it looked.

Staying on top of such large changes with a geographically divided team was hard work, and although planning everything was an interesting experience, I regretted spending such a long time away from programming. I was very unhappy with the direction my career was taking, and losing out in several interviews for development jobs I wanted very much because of a lack of recent experience hurt.

Back to the Old Ways

I left behind many good friends at Inviqa and took a full-time Javascript role at Sky Betting and Gaming. I've since been working on a cutting-edge React app, with lots of new ideas such as Flux, functional programming and immutable data structures. The last six months have made me realise how rusty I'd become, and how much I enjoyed writing code again.

I've also had two pull requests merged into Ghost, and I'm working on another for Chrome DevTools. The warmth these communities have shown me has convinced me to increase participation in community development in 2016. This will be at the expense of solo efforts like Parker, but I think I will be a lot happier being part of something bigger.

Part of Something Big

The highlight of 2015 has been visiting and speaking at some amazing events (in rough chronological order):

  • Leeds JS*
  • Sheffield JS*
  • Scotland JS*
  • Up Front
  • Manchester JS*
  • Manchester Girl Geeks Barcamp **
  • McrFRED*
  • Reject JS **
  • JS Conf EU
  • CSS Conf EU
  • Frontend London*

* Speaking ** Speaking (lightning talk)

The community continues to be the most fulfilling thing about being a developer. There are many cool people out there who are doing some incredible work. It makes me proud to have spoken at some of those events.

My hope for 2016 is to write more articles, write more talks, and write more pull requests.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.