Benjamin Lannon

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2019 Year in Review

And with that, 2019 is wrapping up, but for one final post of the year, I wanted to highlight some of my wins for the year covering 4 topics: Public Speaking, websites I launched this year, My part in Open Source, and Twitch Live Coding.

Public Speaking

Little did I know how much I would dive into helping out with my local developer community between pushing forward with local meetups & tech events. I gave 5 talks and workshops across the past year locally from topics including Open Source, Gatsby, Cypress, and others. As well, I went to the Google Developer Group DevFest in Albany NY for the 2nd year in a row, but instead of just being an attendee, I submitted a talk about being part of the open source community and it was accepted and I spoke in late September.

Into the new year, I am hoping to branch out of Syracuse more and reach outside my comfort zone. I currently have a remote talk scheduled for Reactadelphia in March. As well, a Q1 2020 goal is to just submit to more conferences and meetups. Submitting to more CFPs will push myself to think more about how I can create more content through the year.

New Sites

I pushed out a decent amount of sites throughout the year. Started this year with making a redesign of my personal portfolio with Gatsby as well as a reworking of in Gatsby as well. In late 2018, I started up a similar project to my vscode-issue-tracker to do similar with Gatsby's repo. I fully revamped it in May to include many more data points into what became gatsby-github-stats.

Leading up to the end of the year, I did a deep dive into using GitHub Actions and I wanted to make a home for my knowledge base on the topic. I titled the project "GitHub Actions Resource Site" early on, shortened it to GARS, and it stuck. I launched GARS the same day as GitHub Universe in November and I hope to continue adding more content around the platform into 2020.

Open Source

Open Source is at the heart of my development passion and I'd center this year around three platforms. Starting out with VS Code, on top of being a tool I use every day in my work and personal projects, it was a platform that I could contribute to and help out with. The highlight of being mentioned for the 2nd year in a row prominently at the top of the release notes of a tool used by millions of developers pushes if you open yourself and offer your expertise, things can cascade positively quite a bit.

Secondly is Gatsby. From just a tool that I wanted to continually use and learn about, I flipped that on it's head and looked into it from the contributing side as well. My personal push in this was in the Documentation effort and with help from Shannon Soper and Marcy Sutton, I was able to push quality of life ideas and features into the site such as a page listing stubs, page-local table of contents, docs on how to process image from markdown and external sources, as well as plenty of other contributions.

As well, I was able to push some GitHub Actions into the Gatsby repo lifecycle. I created a simple script to validate the site showcase and frequently checked through that sites were still written in Gatsby. Through this we could keep the showcase clean and I was also able to notify devs from the community a few times of downtimes in their sites or if an old version accidentally popped up.

Finally, GitHub Actions really pushed the boundaries of the expanse on how you can use GitHub. I did many deep dives into the technology very early on when it was released back in late 2018 and from the HCL v1 beta to the YAML v2 beta and official launch, it has provided a platform to step forward and question what automations around a Git repository could be. Go beyond just normal CI/CD and jump into a very open and diverse expanse. As I previously mentioned, this all collected up into GARS, my docs site about GitHub Actions and this is just the start of making a hosted service truly personal to a developers workflow.

Twitch Live Coding

The programming community on Twitch has been a place I've year over year getting more into. From just being a casual viewer to becoming moderators to people I look up to like Brian Clark (clarkio) and Suz Hinton (noopkat), I have been cementing myself that I belong and want to be able to move this community forward.

With that, One of the most powerful things to happen is certainly starting up my own livestream on Twitch. As a colleague of mine Chris Biscardi says, the way to start is just "Click the Go Live Button" and I did that. I started with a Mac, built in cam, built in mic, and over time I upgraded my setup to how it is today with a bit more professional A/V. I always had an incremental approach that I'd start out simple and grow as time went on. I did 23 streams over the course of 2019 and hope to continue expanding upon that in 2020.

As well, I was able to join the Live Coders this summer. From just a community started by Jeff Fritz (csharpfritz) of a few individuals, to now over 100 programming streamers which have some of the brightest minds I've gotten to personally know, it has offered all of us a way to be able to push live coding forward as a platform and help each other in this wild ride. Towards the end of the year I started a data analysis project about the Live Coders ourselves and there is a lot of data that is about to be unsurfaced that can give us a lot of insights into our streams at large.

That wraps things up for me for this year, and I know 2020 will continue to push boundaries in my career. I wish you all a safe and welcome start to the new year, and new decade.