2007 Retrospective

2007 was a busy year, both personally and professionally. I won't go into the personal too much, because, well, it's personal, and some of the details are simply inappropriate for blogging material.

Here's the short version:

  • One trip to Belgium and The Netherlands.
  • Two trips to Israel.
  • Two trips to Atlanta, GA (not counting the return trip from Europe, when I was stranded for a day due to storms in the Northeast).
  • Three different user groups attended, with three presentations.
  • One major Zend Framework release
  • One PEAR release.
  • One podcast.
  • One webinar.
  • One book published.
  • One conference attended.

What follows is my month-by-month breakdown:

January

I finished up the last of my three chapters for The PHP Anthology, 2nd Edition, and promptly used my advance to buy the family a Wii.

I was also introduced to Ivo Jansch through work, and had him wow me with one of the ibuildings products.

February

Mid-month, my boss at Zend, Boaz, got the go-ahead to use the ibuildings WDE platform to build our new website CMS; part of the plan would include training at the ibuildings home office in Vlissingen, NL... which meant I had to get my passport pronto.

Towards the end of the month, I was invited to BostonPHP to present building a simple Zend Framework CRUD application, along with Chuck Hagenbuch of the HORDE project. While there, Nate Abele heckled me, and then joined Chuck and myself for an impromptu framework panel; a good time was had by all.

March

I flew to Brussels, Belgium, where I met my supervisor, Boaz, so we could go to Vlissingen. We spent the day in Brussels, walking around and visiting such sites as the Cathedral of St. Michael, La Grand Place, and the Mannekin Pis.

Our visit to ibuildings was very productive, and I was very impressed by the team there; everybody was very knowledgeable and skilled. I presented a Zend Framework overview, as well as an abbreviated version of the Best Practices talk I'd given with Mike Naberezny at the 2006 ZendCon; the latter ignited a ton of questions and enthusiasm.

On returning home, I had a ton of work to do on the zend.com CMS, and this continued in spurts through November. The job was made much easier by the ibuildings WDE product.

I closed out a ton of MVC issues in the Zend Framework, and we released the first beta version late in the month.

April

At the beginning of the month, our landlord threw us for a loop and announced he was going to sell our apartment... meaning that we either had to step up our plans to purchase a home, or start looking for a new rental. Ultimately, we ended up looking for a rental, due to time constraints. The next two months would be highlighted with the look for a new place as well as countless showings of our apartment to potential buyers.

Mid-month, we packed up the family and flew down to Atlanta, GA, to visit my wife's family. While there, we were able to go to the Atlanta Zoo and see Mei Lan, their baby panda -- way cute!

May

Mid-month, we found a new place in Richmond, VT -- a small village about 10 minutes from Burlington, near where we originally lived when we first moved to Vermont.

During the first RC for Zend Framework, released at the end of the month, I introduced the ViewRenderer, a feature for auto-rendering views based on the current controller and action name -- a feature common to many frameworks. However, it ostensibly broke a ton of existing applications by being enabled by default -- not one of my more popular decisions. Since the 1.0.0 release, I've heard little grumbling about it, and it's now often cited as an ease-of-use feature -- go figure.

June

The first week of June, I flew to Tel Aviv, Israel, to start training people on the new CMS, as well as to work with our entire ebiz team to finalize the work plan for completing the CMS. It was, needless to say, my first time to Israel or the Middle East, and I was constantly confronted with culture shock. Europe was an easy transition to make, but Israel was completely foreign to me -- everything from the way people drove, to the architecture, to the food was different. Unfortunately, I arrived a day late due to a flight cancellation, and missed the tour of Jerusalem my supervisor had planned for all of us. However, he took me to the city of Yafa, an Arabic city where the Israeli's originally tried to settle before building Tel Aviv to the north. The architecture was amazing, as were the winding, narrow streets of the old city.

I was also told during this trip that Andi had requested transferring me full-time to the Zend Framework team. I would spend the next week or two weighing my options, and ultimately decided to do so.

A week after I returned, we moved into our new rental in Richmond. The kids love the new place, which has a bedroom for each of them, a yard, and porches on each entrance.

Somehow, I also found time to record my first (and so far only) PHP Abstract podcast.

July

We released Zend Framework 1.0.0 at the beginning of the month, marking our first stable release. While many still view it as incomplete, the overwhelming feedback has been positive, and we've had over 2 million downloads to date.

I accepted the transfer to the Zend Framework team, but the condition was made that I would stay part-time on the ebiz team until the new site was launched. This meant that the next 5 months were spent splitting my time between the two projects, often working late and on weekends to get work done.

Towards the end of the month, we took a long weekend camping in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom. The weather was unseasonably wet, but we persevered and had a great time. 5 days of offline time was definitely needed!

I also finally released the first stable version of File_Fortune on PEAR, over a year since I'd first proposed it. The package interfaces with mod_fortune files, allowing both the ability to read and write such files, with full binary compatability.

August

Not much to report in August, except work, work, and more work.

September

My ebiz supervisor, Boaz, flew me to Tel Aviv for a second time, this time to perform a "brain dump" for the rest of the team before I transitioned fully out of the team, and also to help setup our new data center and release procedures. This time, Boaz took me to Jerusalem himself during my last full day in the country. If you've never been to the city, you should definitely put it on your list of things to do before you die. With my degree in religion, the place was full of meaning for me, but it would be putting it lightly to say that religion is palpable in the air there. We visited the Wailing Wall, the Via Dolorosa, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and listened to the muezzins sing the call to prayer for the muslims. The tour was simply amazing.

A few days after I returned, I flew down to New York City for a special meeting of NYPHP, where Mark de Visser presented on various Zend products and initiatives, and I gave a Zend Framework overview.

A week after the NYPHP presentation, I did a zend.com webinar on the Zend Framework MVC layer.

October

October was the month of ZendCon. I presented a full-day tutorial on best practices and unit testing with Sebastian Bergmann and Mike Naberezny; despite the length and subject matter, we were SRO for most of the day.

I also did a main-stage presentation on Zend Framework's MVC components, directly following Terry Chay -- an intimidating situation at best. From the feedback I've seen, the presentation was well-received, and I had somewhere between 120 and 150 attendees -- phenomenal! (Even more amazing was how many people were familiar with MVC in general!)

One great thing about the conference was the fact that I got to network with a number of framework developers, both Zend Framework and otherwise, including Nate Abele of CakePHP as well as Paul M. Jones of the Solar framework. Many good conversations were had.

Late in the month, The PHP Anthology, 2nd Edition, my first published book as an author, was finally released!

November

I spent much of the month working on Zend_Layout, a much requested component that simplifies and automates Two Step Views in Zend Framework. I also started work implementing Zend_View Enhanced, a set of view helpers for making complex views with Zend_View possible.

I also started playing with Twitter a bit, and came up with a Zend_Service_Twitter proposal for interacting with the Twitter API via PHP.

And finally, the Sunday before Thanksgiving, we finally launched the new Zend.com site, which was well-received in the blogosphere.

December

A goal I've had for some time has been to form a PHP user group in the Burlington area. A friend of mine pointed out to me sometime this fall that there's actually already a Google Group formed; he and the original founder started planning a meeting for early December. I spoke at this inaugural meeting, presenting Zend Framework's MVC layer yet again; a good time was had by all, and a lot of enthusiasm for future meetings was generated.

I finished up Zend_Layout and Zend_View Enhanced with the help of Ralph Schindler, and got a new proposal up for Zend_Form, just in time for my holidays to begin -- 11 days with family and with little to no internet connectivity during a trip to Atlanta, GA for one of only a handful of Christmases I've spent without snow.

Summary

This year was incredibly busy -- three cross-seas trips, one cross-continent trip, a move, and several trips along the Eastern Seaboard; three user group presentations, and eight presentations over the course of the year; one conference; one move; one PEAR release; one podcast; one webinar; one book; and countless hours of programming.

My goals for the coming year? I'm too tired to even think about it ;-).

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