So that was 2017
Time for another of these roundup posts where I look back, baffled at how quickly time has passed.
TripIt tells me that I spent 158 days on the road last year, visiting 56 cities in 16 countries and travelled 184,988 km. That did include a holiday in Nice, but otherwise my travel was conference or CSS Working Group related. I also got to attend Google I/O which I enjoyed far more than I had imagined I would. A huge thank you to all the conference organisers who have invited me to share my thoughts about CSS on their stages, and the attendees who have listened, and asked great questions that will inform what I do next.
- Newcastle upon Tyne for Frontend NE
- Lisbon, Portugal for the Netcentric Summit
- Oxford, UK for Render Conf
- Seattle, Boston, Washington DC, Chicago, San Francisco and Denver for An Event Apart
- San Francisco, USA and Freiburg, Germany for Smashing Conf
- San Francisco for Google I/O
- CSS Working Group meetings in Seattle, Paris, San Francisco and Tokyo
- Reading, UK for the Breaking Borders meet up
- Berlin, Germany for CSSConfEU
- Athens, Greece for Frontend United
- Amsterdam, The Netherlands for CSS Day
- San Jose, USA for Fluent
- Brighton, UK for Patterns Day
- Rovinj, Croatia for Web Summer Camp
- Krakow, Poland for the GDE Summit
- Stockholm, Sweden for NordicJS
- Toronto, Canada for Web Unleashed
- Dublin, Ireland for 404.ie
- Braga, Portugal for MirrorConf
- Bochum, Germany for RuhrJS
- Nantes, France for DevFest Nantes
- London for Mozilla View Source and also for Google Developer Group DevFest London
I ran several workshops on CSS Layout over the course of the year, including in-house at The BBC on behalf of Mozilla.
CSS Grid shipped
Having been wandering the globe talking about CSS Grid for almost five years, Grid finally shipped in browsers in 2017. This was good, as I didn’t really want to be some kind of CSS vapourware lady. I knew Grid was important the first time I read the initial spec. I had no idea how my championing of the specification would change my life, and allow me to get to work with so many interesting people.
There is so much I could link to from this year relating to CSS Grid, here are some personal highlights.
When Firefox, Chrome and Safari all shipped Grid within a couple of weeks in March.
At An Event Apart in Seattle, when Rossen Atanassov pulled up a slide of an email from me in 2014, when I’d been chasing up Microsoft to update their grid implementation.
I wrote the documentation for Grid on MDN - and followed it up by publishing a similar set of material on Flexbox.
I’ve responded to questions from the community with a number of pieces on Smashing Magazine:
- CSS Grid Gotchas and Stumbling Blocks
- Naming Things in CSS Grid Layout
- Using CSS Grid: supporting browsers without grid
My 2016 talk on Grid was published by An Event Apart, while that talk was recorded prior to Grid shipping, the information is still all pretty relevant and I’m glad to have a recorded version.
My work was mentioned at both the Google Developers Experts Summit, and Chrome Dev Summit.
What has been fantastic is that the community has, in the most part, given credit to the work that Jen Simmons and I have been doing to promote Grid, and layout in CSS. As have people from the various browser vendors. I don’t do this stuff to be internet famous, however recognition means I can get work that pays the bills and therefore continue to work on CSS. I can continue to create learning materials, and show up at community conferences and everything else I do as an independent person who cares about the web.
If you’ve shared my stuff or remembered to reference my work when writing about Grid, thank you. It means a lot.
My main interest in CSS is layout, both for the web and also for print and EPUB. Which meant that reviving work on the Multi-Column layout specification was entirely relevant to my interests. We republished the specification as a Working Draft, in order to work through and fix the outstanding issues, leading Drew to suggest I was regressing the web. I have a lot to learn as a spec editor, but I am enjoying doing so.
As part of this work I’ve been learning how to write tests for Web Platform Tests, I wrote about that for 24 ways this year, as working on tests is a brilliant way to start contributing in a meaningful way to the platform.
Book no.22 - The New CSS Layout
I wrote another book, and in October it was published by the lovely folk at A Book Apart. The feedback has been amazing. I really wanted to place Grid and Flexbox into the overall picture of layout in CSS. To explain where we came from, and where we are heading.
From November 1st I’ve been the Editor in Chief of Smashing Magazine. I landed there right in the middle of their major site relaunch, and I feel as if I’m still finding my feet. We have some fantastic content coming your way in 2018 - I know because I read all of it! I’m very keen to help make Smashing the best place for practical content for web developers, stuff that helps you to do you job better.
I’ve updated our guide for writing for Smashing, and we are always keen to hear from potential authors.
Shipping Perch and Runway 3
Drew and I shipped a major update to our products in 2017 - Perch and Perch Runway 3 launched in March. We also went to making a free download available for testing for the first time, and it has been fantastic to see new people discover the products for the first time.
We’re especially keen on the Perch Runway Headless CMS mode, and the Webmention functionality we’ve also added this year.
In addition to Perch and Runway we’ve been working on a brand new product. Notist aims to be a hub for your speaking events, and the resources that go along with them. We announced in the last part of 2017 and we’ll be launching very soon.
We’ve added the ability to import your Lanyrd data in preparation for launch. You can read about that here.
CSS Layout News
I’ve continued to send my weekly CSS Layout News email. Tomorrow will be Issue 127 and there are now over 7,800 subscribers. I’ve had some lovely sponsors this year, who have helped with the cost of sending out the email.
Not all work
Work and life have always merged into one thing for me, and quite purposely. I’m doing the things I want to be doing, that I find important, and along the way trying to find ways to make a living out of it. I have lots of things I like to be doing that don’t involve running a business, writing code or CSS specifications.
I’ve had something of a disastrous year as a runner. At the end of 2016 I had more surgery on my elbow, which has given me back use of my right hand and a lot less pain. However the problems caused by one wonky arm have plagued me all year as I have bounced between hip and ankle injuries caused by how much out of alignment things are. In the final weeks of 2017, things seem to be improving, I’ve started CrossFit, wonky arm and all, and I’m hoping to be fit and well to run the Berlin Marathon in 2018 as I’ve got a ballot place. Berlin is my favourite city in the world, doing the marathon there will be amazing.
I did get to do my 100th Parkrun. Drew and I managed to sync up our progress so we could run our 100s together at Ashton Court. In addition to parkruns close to home I did my first Canadian parkrun, with Drew at Beach Strip in Toronto, revisited Crissy Field in San Francisco, and visited Waterstown in Dublin.
An “empty nest”
My daughter graduated from college this year, we didn’t get to do the whole graduation thing as she was already working as a performer in Bulgaria. She has been working ever since, and we’ve just enjoyed Christmas together after she finished a run playing Cinderella in Wales. She went away to college at 16, so her not being around all of the time is fairly usual. However, she is now independent of us, doing her own thing, exactly as it should be.
I’m glad that she still wants to hang around with us. That we’ve come out the other side as close friends, which makes it almost more sad she lives in another city! However I’m grateful for the fact that via Instagram, or Facebook and Twitter we can share our lives.
Learning to fly
For the last 12 years, any spare money I had was being directed into school and then college fees for my daughter. I’ve not had the chance to indulge any hobby of my own that cost money. The aforementioned empty nest means that I can for the first time spend a bit of money on fulfilling a dream of my own, and so I’ve started to train for my Pilot’s License. It is the hardest thing I have ever tried to do, but that just makes it more appealing as far as I’m concerned. I’m currently “on the circuit”, until I can safely land the Cessna 150. My landings are best described right now as interesting, and no-one wants an interesting landing!
I did set up a Slack for people who fly or who are interested in flying. Sign up here.
Goals for 2018? To get Notist launched, and also to promote Perch Runway more to people who didn’t already use Perch.
To bring together the work I’ve been doing on CSS into one place. I’ve got some lovely illustration that I haven’t quite had chance to implement yet, as part of an effort to combine a lot of the stuff I’m doing. That’s a pretty immediate goal - I’d hoped to do it over Christmas but the need to move our server infrastructure to Germany while things were quiet took precedence!
To get the outstanding issues in the Multi-column Layout spec tidied up, with a solid test suite.
To update my online CSS Workshop with the new material I have. I need to spend a week recording video. It’ll all be available to existing subscribers too.
To progress towards my Pilot’s License. I’d love to think I could get it in 2018, however the weather and my travel schedule might mean it takes longer, which is fine. The aim is to be a safe pilot, not to finish in the minimum number of hours. I’d love to get all the written exams out of the way though.
To work on some tough but realistic fitness goals as I continue to work to sort out the mess my elbow has caused.
To enjoy the speaking engagements I’ve already lined up this year. I’m already doing my new An Event Apart talk, and I have a few new things to talk about this year at the various events I’ve been invited to.