2009 in retrospect

28 Dec 2009

As 2009 is drawing to a close, it’s time to look back and see what I’ve accomplished this past year. My professional goals for 2009 were to work on challenging software development tasks, preferably on larger projects. I wanted to continue to grow my skills working with .Net in general and SharePoint in particular. In addition, I wanted to be more involved with higher-level development decisions, such as requirements gathering and solution design.

So how did the year go?

  • Changed jobs to one that gravitates more around larger projects. The rationale being that larger projects come with larger engineering challenges. I spend six months on an Asp.Net project followed by three on a SharePoint project. For various reasons, I wasn’t as involved in higher-level development decisions as I would’ve liked to.
  • Did two presentations. One on Unit testing and mocking for the Asp.Net project that I was working on at the time. The other presentation was on Parallel page rendering with Asp.Net and SharePoint for my current project. None involving rocket science, but I find so few are familiar with the techniques.
  • Made my way through three certifications. The 70-536: MS .NET Framework, Application Development Foundation, 70-562: MS .NET Framework 3.5, ASP.NET Application Development, and Prince2 Foundation. I’ve mixed feelings about certifications. Certainly, I learned valuable lessons studying for each one. Yet, given the same amount of time, I’m inclined to think I would’ve learned more studying books, blogs, listening to various podcasts, and writing.
  • Attended the Jaoo conference on software engineering. It was my first time attending a conference and it sure was enlightening. I intentionally went for a conference not tied to a specific vendor because I felt I’d learn more that way. My issue with Microsoft conferences like Tech-Ed or PDC is their focus on the latest technology buzz. Buzz that quickly becomes obsolete or is already heavily exposed on the web. Not to mention that most sessions are available online afterward.
  • Learned functional programming. My focus on new technology has mostly been on various aspects of functional programming. A subject that’s interested me for years, but one that’s only recently started to permeate C#, my language of choice. I learned a great deal about F# when I generated fractal terrains and about XSL when I had to jump through functional loops and about functional programming in general.
  • Wrote 16 blog posts (25 pages, 10,000 words). Compared to previous years it’s a record. Naturally, not all posts were equally good. Nevertheless I enjoyed learning about the subjects and feel they helped advance my writing skills. The posts on Basic unit testing guidelines and Why not to comment code did manage to gain traction on Reddit, though.

All things considered, I’m pleased with 2009. The only thing I regret is not being more involved in higher-level development decisions. I like coding, but it’s a means to an end. Being involved with a task from start to finish is what ignites my fire. I must push harder on that in 2010.