It’s the first time I’ve taken the time to write one of these reviews, so we’ll see how it pans out. 2019 has had some highs and lows and a lot of soul searching.
Like most people, the majority of the year was taken up by work. I’m fortunate enough to enjoy what I do, and I get to wear a number of hats at Zengenti which I’m extremely grateful for.
This year was dominated by Site View, a way of creating and managing content through a traditional tree like structure whilst keeping content structured in rich content models.
This feature was complicated technically, from understanding incoming URL requests to and extremely fast lookups, to making it obvious how content is connected to a particular URL. Put this together alongside behaviour that Contensis has had for 15 years, made for a challenging feature set. This made it very difficult to release incrementally and felt like we had scope creep regularly.
That said, the team have learned so many new technologies. They have tightened some of their development practices, have better testing and performance benchmarking in place. There has also been real unity forming with cross collaboration of teams.
Content modelling workshop
With content modelling at the heart of the Contensis CMS, it was essential to share knowledge with our clients. I was fortunate enough to lead a Content modelling workshop alongside my colleague Ryan with the team at the University of Brighton.
We helped them understand their domain model, and how to break that model down into linked content types and how that could be brought in to Contensis to form a reusable content model.
Velocity conference was a new event for us at Zengenti. It combined aspects of our user groups and our yearly Rocket conference.
It felt like one of our best events yet, keynote updates, live coding sessions, case studies, lightning decision jams as well as usability testing with plenty of time for networking at the event and the post conference social. I’m looking forward to seeing what the event holds for 2020.
- Plenty more went on in work, introducing Productboard to our workflow, writing documentation, participating in creative guilds, developing a new design system for Contensis, running design principle workshops in person and remotely, as well as enjoying plenty of new cuisine in our sprint review/planning days oh yeah and a trip to Palma.
2019 started out in a little piece of woodland with a good friend of mine. We’ve been meaning to do some more wild camping since his 40th birthday where we hammock camped below the Brecon Beacons.
This was the start of a year long tooing and froing to the same piece of woodland every six weeks or so. We’ve eaten like kings, burnt calories clearing the wood, sat around the fire, drunk beer, made shelters, fire reflectors, tables and benches and whittled spoons.
Best of all we’ve chatted, prayed together and become closer friends. Grateful for guys in my life like Fitch.
Mother’s Day was memorable this year. Mum suffered from an unfortunate accident, seeing her incapacitated for a number of weeks, having a skin graph on her ankle, and back and forth visits to the specialist in Swansea. It’s been good to see her back on her feet.
As a family we’ve enjoyed a number of short breaks away, we started the year with our first trip to Bluestone. It’s great for us as a family, everything is on site and close to the rest of Pembrokeshire. Bonus points for being on the doorstep to wear I was born too. We were able to enjoy our time their with some close family who’d booked the same week. The girls loved playing with their cousins.
We also stayed at a friends home in Exeter and enjoyed bike rides and walks along the quayside. This trip was great as we didn’t have the hassle of bringing everything with us, as our friends have girls of a similar age. We gathered with Grace Church Exeter whilst we were there, its amazing how you can be away from home and still with Gods family in a different city.
My favourite trip of the year was our week trip to Cornwall. We fortunate to have access to a static caravan of a family friends. It was on the cliffs above Treyarnon beach, about 15 minutes beyond Padstow. The sun shone, we went crabbing, enjoyed Rick Steins fish and chips and spent countless hours on the beach building sandcastles, bodyboarding and a little open water swimming. I’m hopeful for another trip next year.
A third on the way
Next year will look somewhat different with our family growing. We’re expecting number three, I’m extremely grateful to be blessed with children, we’ve decided we wont find out if its a girl or a boy as we’ve really enjoyed the surprise with our girls. Every child is a gift, thankfully we bought a new car before we went to Cornwall this year so at least that headache is sorted.
I don’t suppose I can write about 2019 without mentioning my mental health. Early in the summer something just snapped inside of me. I responded to the girls in garden in not such a gentle manner, which had me at my knees in tears.
Some would say children can be difficult, or its not your fault, we all have our ups and downs. Let’s be clear it wasn’t physical but my speech, tone was not gentle. It was harsh, thankfully Joy was present as I had to simply walk away.
This essentially was an accumulation of a few months not feeling great, and I had already been experiencing what I call the dark grey cloud. Work and some personal circumstance have been hard, but vocalising how I feel, catching these feelings and thoughts early, sharing with those closest to me has meant that those feeling are less now.
I write this simply on reflection of my year. God has been kind, I have the most understanding and patient wife, two beautiful children a job I enjoy and a breadth of good friends.
Individually, and as a family we’re seeing 2020 as a significant year. I’m thankful for all we’ve been able to do and enjoy as well as walk through together.