That was 2018

Another year flies by. Here are some of the things I’ve managed to pack into the last 12 months.

TripIt tells me that I was on the road for 160 days, travelling 284,347 km to 47 cities in 15 countries. Most of that was conference travel, along with CSS Working Group Meetings, and a couple of other events. I usually manage to combine trips to avoid too much long haul back and forth. I wrote up some of my travel tips for public speakers for the Notist blog, if you want to know how to cope with living in airplanes and hotels for half of the year.

I document my travels mostly on Instagram, you can follow me there if you like photos of airplanes and interesting landmarks photographed at 6am while I’m running.


This year I spoke and ran workshops all over the world, you can find slides and assorted ephemera collected below. I also had the chance to be a mentor for Global Diversity CFP Day in February, encouraging more folk to submit proposals to speak at conferences, read my write up of the event. I always tell people I was terrified of public speaking, because it is absolutely true. Drew remembers when we used to run CSS Workshops – I wrote the workshop and he presented it. Now look at my life! If I can do it, anyone can and I am always happy to help and encourage anyone else who wants to do this.

The CSS Working Group

This year CSS Working Group meetings were held in Berlin, Sydney and then at TPAC in Lyon. I wrote about the discussions held at TPAC for Smashing Magazine.

I’ve managed to progress the work on Multicol, and the test suite – reviewing the existing tests and inlining them into the specification. The work Tab Atkins has done to make that possible in Bikeshed is much appreciated, as was the help Greg Whitworth gave me earlier in the year to start the job of reviewing all the tests.

Towards the end of the year an idea came to fruition that will shape much of my 2019. The Fronteers organisation were considering becoming a W3C Member, and asked me if I would be interested in being their representative. At a meeting in Utrecht the vote was passed, and at the end of 2018 the Fronteers membership was approved.

Notist & Perch

We launched Notist this year, and the interest and uptake has been amazing. We have so many plans for the platform so thank you to everyone who has subscribed and is uploading their content. It is such a fun product to work on, given that I spend so much of the year speaking.

Our CMS product Perch is now 9 years old and it, along with Perch Runway continues to be the CMS of choice for many developers. We continue to make improvements and additions based on user feedback. It is amazing to me that in 2019 the product will be ten years old, but then I think about how we launched it one evening after taking my daughter to visit a model village as a birthday treat, and how small she was at the time. Time passes quickly.

Smashing Magazine

I became Editor in Chief of Smashing Magazine in November 2017, so this has been my first full year in the role. In addition to reviewing a vast number of articles over the course of the year, I’ve also published a lot of my writing on CSS there too.

I’m very happy about the range and quality of content we have published this year, and of course the magazine is only one of the things that team achieves. It really is amazing what a small and motivated group of folk can do. Read our review of 2018 to find out about it all.


I work part time for MDN writing CSS content. It’s something I hugely enjoy. I like nothing better than to write detailed technical walkthroughs of CSS, to do that for MDN is a real honour.

I was fortunate enough to get to attend the Mozilla All Hands in Orlando at the end of the year. For someone who has been independent since 2001, and never been part of a huge company as a full time employee it was a great and very different experience. The MDN team and Chris Mills have really made me feel part of the team despite my part time, contractor status, and they really are lovely folk to work with.

CSS Layout News

I have continued to publish a weekly roundup of CSS Layout News each Tuesday of 2018 – including Christmas Day as I can’t break the chain now! I am always looking for sponsors should you be reading this and have a product or service of interest to almost 10,000 web developing folk.

This site

In the last couple of days of 2018 I redesigned this site, in as much as I am able to design anything. The aim was to bring together the content I’m publishing elsewhere to make it easy for people to find what I’ve been publishing, wherever it is. I still have content to add, but this is a start.

Other things

I did some stuff other than sat in airplanes, announced stuff at people and wrote tens of thousands of words. I recorded a short course for Skillshare at their offices in New York. I contributed a chapter to the Smashing Book 6. I helped to rescue my daughter from an interesting work situation of her own, which resulted in us both being in Hong Kong at the same time for unrelated reasons! Big thanks to the folk of who supported me and welcomed my daughter as we sorted things out.

Mac no more

2018 was the year of finally throwing in the towel as a Mac user. The horrible Macbook Pro is no more, I’m writing this on a Surface Book. I imagine had I announced I was converting to a new religion it would have caused less fascination than my moving away from the sacred Macintosh. Guess what? It’s fine. I essentially edit text files. All I need is something that doesn’t crash or overheat while I edit those text files. The only real consideration was moving to PowerPoint from Keynote, which was more fine than you would imagine – in fact existing decks converted with minimal fuss. I actually prefer PowerPoint for creating slides, though I miss the configurable presenter view of Keynote. I also miss OmniFocus and haven’t quite got my GTD setup as I like it since the move, but I’m getting there. Other than that, I edit text files in VS Code and all is well with the world.


I ran a marathon – then immediately got in the car as I was speaking the next day in Leeds – not a recommended recovery strategy. I also did my first big triathlon, I’ve done “Try-a-Tri” beginner events before, but going from that to the Chicago Triathlon was a little bit overwhelming. Chicago was also my first open water triathlon. I couldn’t really swim properly until a few years ago, and have always been somewhat nervous of water. Getting into the cold lake was just another fear I was saying nope to. As we were waiting to start I remember worrying about how deep it was, then laughing to myself that I’ve never sunk to the bottom of a pool so it doesn’t really matter, I was intending to stay on the top! Even when the thing I had dreaded happened and folk swam over me, it was fine, even fun, and I can’t wait to do my next one. This is fortunate because I’m already signed up for four in 2019!

Ive also been doing CrossFit all year with the help of the local CrossFit Box, who have been great at dealing with me and the wonky elbow. A lot of the repetitive running injuries I was getting haven’t been an issue, which I put down to increasing strength overall. I have had great chunks of time off running, but due to bad luck injuries – I tore my calf doing a trail race which then led to achillies issues. Those kind of things are less of a worry than the things that occur due to imbalance. CrossFit turns out to be really great at being adaptive for people with disabilities far worse than mine. My main issue is I’ll never be able to front rack a bar, I simply don’t have the ability to bend my right arm like that any more. However we have worked out adaptions and I am intending to do some CrossFit tourism in cities around the world now I feel confident with what I can and can’t do.

I’m also working with a trainer who is planning me a programme remotely, and coping with my constant timezone switches and ending up in hotels with gyms put together by someone who once had a gym described to them. I’m finding it helpful to have someone else advising me on what I should be doing.


Balloons abq

Progress towards my PPL has been less successful due to the shocking weather than seems to arrive in the UK every time I do. I’ve not had a lesson in almost three months due to weather! It’s really frustrating, but par for the course given my schedule and the fact I live in the UK, and fly out of an airport that seems to exist under a layer of cloud stubbornly sitting at 800 foot.

We did however achieve an aviation related bucket list item and flew in a balloon at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. I have been up in a balloon in Albuquerque before, when speaking at a conference, and had heard all about the Fiesta and the hundreds of balloons that fly at once. I love balloons, and travel worked out that Drew and I could head over there after I spoke at An Event Apart in Orlando. Everything aligned perfectly, the bad weather plaguing me in the UK didn’t follow me there, and we got our flight. It was one of the best things I’ve done, to fly with so many other balloons over the desert, with an lovely crew and fellow passengers was amazing.

Sad goodbyes and new beginnings

Widget and drew

2018 will always be remembered as the year we had to say goodbye to our lovely cat friend Widget. I think we thought he would be around forever. Then suddenly he was not. I wrote about him here, and am still very grateful to the folk of ScotlandCSS who let me dash back home to be with him and Drew.

We had intended to wait a while before giving another cat a home, however Drew missed having a friend at home when I was travelling and so we found Pixel. He is a very different sort of cat, and we’ve never been through the kitten stage before! We love him so much and he is great fun, if a little keen on nibbling toes and snacking on the Christmas tree. We still all catch ourselves being sad about Widget, but Pixel has helped heal our hearts to some extent, and makes us laugh a lot with his kitten antics.


So to 2019

As ever, I have far more things that I want to do than is feasible for one person, unless I kick off the year by inventing teleportation or cloning.

I already have a nice line-up of events that I’ll be attending and speaking at, thanks to An Event Apart booking me for all of the events next year, and Smashing having me along to run my CSS Layout Workshop. I’ll be shaping additional travel around those and my CSS Working Group commitments, which means that if you want me to come speak or run a workshop now is a very good time to get in touch.

At Smashing I hope to continue to improve the quality of content, building on the year we have had. I’m keen to encourage new authors to write for us as we are well placed to support people writing for the first time, with our great team of editors. We have our first print magazine coming out soon. In the very short term I’m finishing work on the CSS that will enable us to print from HTML and CSS.

As the New Year begins I’m working on the Learn CSS section of MDN, turning that into a really up to date place for beginners to CSS.

I’m looking forward to my involvement with Fronteers, and working out with them what being a representative in the W3C of a community organisation looks like.

I’d like to blog on this site more. I’ve been publishing my long form content over at Smashing, but I would like to use this site for shorter thoughts and less well formed ideas.

I hope that we can continue to develop Notist. We have so many plans, though we need the user base to support them, so I will be concentrating on marketing of the site in the first part of the year.

On a personal level, I’d like to get closer to my PPL but so much of that depends on the weather situation when I’m here. I also hope to build on this past year of working on strength and stability and be able to complete the triathlons and running races I’m signed up for without injuries creeping in.

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