2015 retrospective and 2016 goals

Here we are again, another year has passed and it´s time for retrospective!

This year has been a bit weird for me. A year of reinvention, regeneration and most importantly, making peace with myself. Most of it has happened at a personal level but it has also affected my work.

I have spent all year working at Another Place Productions, a small video game studio in London where I have been able to improve my DevOps knowledge a lot as I was in charge of all the backend and infrastructure.

I decided to use Ansible for provisioning and host everything in AWS and I must say this was a really good decision. Ansible is very easy to get started with and it works really well in cloud environments. I am not 100% sure about its SSH push model targeting thousands of servers and some people say it is very easy to screw up with big infrastructures as Puppet or Chef are better suited but I did not face any of these inconveniences.

I have also been able to learn about modern Java development thanks to the Reactive Platform from Typesafe using Play Framework, SBT and Akka. If you haven´t had time to play with it, give it a go. This is not the Java you remember from high-school, it is super quick and the Akka actors model makes it a brilliant choice for real time applications. Plus, the JVM has been battle tested during the last 20 years and it is surely not going anywhere. Even if you don´t like Java, you can use other JVM languages like Scala or Clojure and still benefit from the stability of the most popular Java libraries.

Finally, I had to create a crappy backoffice where I used Symfony2 and Twitter Bootstrap. I am still terrible at frontend development but Symfony2 has not had many killer new features lately so I was able to produce something decent fairly quickly.

But not everything was fine there.

I have been working on my own for 15 months and this was very hard for me. It is great to be able to work alone for a while, you get to make all the decisions and you feel empowered. But the truth is you always need someone to discuss your ideas with and I truly missed being part of a bigger team.

Apart from that, I joined them with the idea of launching the game in February-March, the backend and infrastructure were more or less ready back then but everything got delayed significantly and I haven´t had much to do for the last 6 months. Again, it is great to be relaxed for a while but it ends up killing your morale and at some point I was feeling totally useless.

And finally, because of these delays, the company had to make some hard calls. I understand their reasons and I would have probably done the same in their situation but I sometimes disagreed and my opinions were never listened.

So, with all this in mind and after realising my stock options were close to useless (check my incoming post about the stock options in early stage startups) I decided to let it go. I did a bunch of interviews (check my incoming post about our adventures interviewing both in Barcelona and London) and I finally decided to join a Fintech company. It was not an easy decision but I have a strong sponsor inside and I think I will be able to keep growing as a Team Lead in a DevOps environment. I am starting in January and I am really excited about the opportunity! Let´s see how it goes!

Aside from work, I have been quiet in the community.

I gave a nice talk back in February in the 10th PHP UK Conference about “Modern Software Architectures” but I haven´t spoken again since then. I don´t have much to say related to PHP these days and I am possibly not proficient enough in other technologies to be elected in tech events. I guess I will have to reinvent myself as a speaker!

In terms of open source, I started the year patching the great DynamoDBToCSV library from Erik Dasque. Yeah, a NodeJS library! I added support for all the complex types and I wonder why there is no such built-in functionality in AWS for DynamoDB tables. Anyway, if you ever need to export them to CSV, give this library a go!

But the highlight this year has been the Ansistrano project. I was looking for a Capistrano like project written in Ansible and it turned out my friends Carlos Buenosvinos and Christian Soronellas had developed it at Atrapalo. They asked me to join the project and I have been adding features and reviewing pull requests for the last 8-9 months.

And it looks like the project is having some traction, we have more than 330 stars in Github, more than 2700 deployments have been done since we added the anonymous stats counter and lots of well known companies are using it! Doing open-source is always good but if you get people to actually use your stuff it is very rewarding. Let´s see if I can continue doing great open source in 2016!

Apart from that, we have started exploring the possibility of moving back to Barcelona this year.

For the first time in 3 years, recruiters and companies from there contacted me and many other emigrants. Barcelona startups have killed it this year as you can regularly read at Novobrief and check for open position at the excellent JobsBCN project.

We were very close to move back but my wife got an interesting QA job and although we are starting to feel homesick we still believe we have things to do in London before leaving. However, this list of things is becoming shorter and shorter so if our new jobs don´t work out as expected, we will strongly consider any interesting possibilities in the months to come. Anyway, we don´t see ourselves in London forever so we´ll see!

Time to review this year´s goals:

– Give a talk in some non-PHP meetup / event -> NO!
– Keep improving my technical skills -> That´s a definite YES
– 3M DAU in our incoming game in Another Place Productions -> Nope, although I believe the infrastructure should work
– Take things easy 🙂 -> Some improvements here, more to come! 🙂

Goals for 2016:

– Keep improving my technical skills
– Improve my management / leadership skills
– Give a talk in some non-PHP meetup / event
– Take things easier!

How did 2015 treat you?

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