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At the end of each year I like to look back and take stock of what I've done in the previous year (I've done this a few times now: 2017,2016,2015, 2013). 2018 was an exciting year for me, featuring a number of "firsts".

I visited America!

Undoubtedly one of my highlights of the year was my first ever visit to the USA for the Microsoft MVP Summit. I had an amazing time there, making many new friends and learning loads about what's new in the world of developer tools and Azure. I'm very grateful to Microsoft for letting me be part of this program, to my employer NICE for letting me have the week off work and covering my flights, and to my wife for freeing me to go for a week while she looked after our five children! For a flavour of what goes on at the MVP Summit check out this great writeup from David Pine.

MVP Summit

I was also very privileged to be re-awarded as an MVP in July, which means I'm going to make my second visit to Redmond in 2019 which I'm really looking forward to.

I spoke at some conferences!

Another huge first for me was speaking at two developer conferences. I've always done lots of technical talks, but that has generally been in the context of my work, or local user groups. After being rejected from the first few conferences I submitted to, I found myself accepted at two in short proximity. First, I spoke on Azure Durable Functions at ProgNET in London, and then on LINQ at the inaugural Techorama Netherlands conference. Both conferences were really well run, and as always, were wonderful opportunities to make new friends.

Of course, I still gave a number of local user group talks, including

I've submitted some more conference talk proposals for 2019, and so hopefully I'll have some news to share in the near future. I'm also open to speaking at local user groups, especially in the south of England, so feel free to reach out to me if you'd like me to visit your user group.

I published four Azure related Pluralsight courses!

The two main technologies I've been focusing on this year are Azure Functions and Containers on Azure, and that's reflected in the four Pluralsight courses I released:

One great thing about the two "Microsoft Azure Developer" courses is that they are being made available to anyone to watch for free, even if they haven't got a Pluralsight subscription, as part of the excellent Microsoft Learn initiative.

I've not finalised my plans for Pluralsight courses in 2019 yet, but expect plenty more Azure content, and I'm also hoping to update my Azure Functions Fundamentals course to reflect the updates to the platform since I first released it.

I created lots of blogs, videos and GitHub projects!

Wherever possible I like to share the things I'm learning for free, and so this year my contribution to the community this year included:

The major topics I covered were of course Azure Functions (especially Durable Functions) and Containers on Azure, but also my Techorama talk made me revisit LINQ and produce a series of tutorials on MoreLINQ.

There were a few things I sadly didn't find as much time as I hoped for. Though I've done a lot of prototyping of a .NET Standard version of NAudio, there are a couple of tricky decisions around UWP support I haven't yet decided how to resolve. And although I made a good start on this year's Advent of Code, this December was a little bit too full for me to continue past day 14.

What else?

A few other things worth noting from this year. In my day job, working with NICE as a software architect, the software we're building to help police forces manage digital evidence is being really well received by several forces who are at various stages of adopting it. This project promises to keep me busy staying on top of best architectural practices for Azure, and will no doubt drive much of my learning focus for the next year.

And of course life is much more than programming. One of the reasons I try to keep travel to a minimum with work is to spend as much time as possible with my family. This year I've taken my eldest son around various university open days, as well as taught various children guitar, football, computer maintenance, bike riding, and (of course) programming (we're currently enjoying the Get Coding books).

I also love being part of my local church community, where I have been teaching my way through the minor prophets, as well as enjoying playing more electric guitar and piano with a great bunch of musicians. One of the things I appreciate most about my church is the great diversity: it's made up of people of all ages, nationalities, social and education backgrounds, and is intentional about serving and welcoming those who are disadvantaged in various ways. So it's been great to see a big focus in the world of programming over the last year at improving diversity and inclusion.

Finally, I want to say a big thank you to everyone who's supported me this year, watching my courses, attending my talks, reading my blog posts. It's been great to meet many of you in person and hopefully I'll connect with more of you in 2019.

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