2019 retrospective

Another year passed by, and I really notice some truth in the saying that the older you get, the more life seems to accelerate. Although there were many (new) things in both my private and professional life, 2019 seems to have come and gone in an absurd pace. But in order to correct this perception of the last twelve months at least a little bit, let's do this yearly end of the year tradition (although I'm writing this on at the very beginning of January).

I find these recap posts easier to write in comparison with all the other topic. It's because of two reasons:

  1. A certain stream-of-consciousness writing is not only allowed, but desirable in these kinds of meta articles
  2. The structure comes more or less automatically. It is a retrospective, so you can order your content via impact on your life, actual time units such as months, or reference earlier posts of the same type. And exactly that is what I am going to do.

Last year's resolution

2019 Resolution #1: Relaunch marcus.io

Failed. Nothing happened in this regard. I took some notes the last months about what content, structure, functionality and visual design I'd like for the new version, but never really managed to start actually building. Shame, but a project for this year, I guess.

2019 Resolution #2: Finish building version 1 of the accessible-app.com demo app (and accessible-app.com itself)

Succeeded. I made some updates on the demo app and on the site itself in April and May of 2019 and launched the content page a few days before Global Accessibility Awareness Day. Unfortunately, directly after that the project went into a sort of hibernation mode. I really want to change this, and got a couple of concrete ideas for new strategy and patterns in my notes. I "only" have to proper timebox implementing and describing them.

2019 Resolution #3: Freelance-wise: Specialize more in web accessibility, put focus on inclusive web apps.

Succeeded. In 2019, I slowly but steadily shifted my freelance focus away from general frontend (what ever this every meant anyway) and content management implementations towards web accessibility. Although it could have been a little bit more I guess I have to acknowledge that last year was only a part of a transition and I shouldn't expect miracles. In concrete terms I did some accounting on accessibility and, of course, really enjoyed working with the ownCloud team on their new web interface built in Vue.js with the emphasis on web app accessibility. On this occasion, it was great to have had the insights of the accessible app demo app, and implement all its strategies (and research more) in a real life project that is much more complex.

2019 Resolution #4: Help make VueJS more accessible

Undecided. I don't really know what judgement to make here. Although accessible-app.com actually launched, and up until now it has (only) Vue-related content, although ownCloud's new web UI is Vue-based and I contributed a bit in the last weeks, although I met Oscar at VueCamp Berlin and joined as a helping hand at his awesome tournant project (which is something like Reach UI, but for Vue.js) I still feel I could have done more. The more I dive into the Vue community the more apparent the lack of accessible tutorials, documentation and overall awareness of inclusivity becomes.

2019 Resolution #5: If the European Union manages to finalize the European Accessibility Act in 2019, build an "in a nutshell" microsite

Failed. The EU did manage to finalize the Accessibility Act, it is now known as Directive 881/2016, and I wrote a welcoming blog post, but I did not manage to set up a corresponding microsite (at least not one in English, and one that is purely for self-marketing purposes).

2019 Resolution #6. Start sending out newsletters again

Failed. Technically, I did send three newsletters in 2019, but that amount (and their irregular frequency) was not what I had in mind when I stated this resolution in last year's post. I guess I'm at a cross-roads situation here – either I really try to sent out a newsletter every time I make a blog post, or I should stop it completely. This in-between state feels wrong either way.

So, these are the results of the old resolutions. Quite a few misses. So for 2020, I don't aim for new ones, but instead try to deal with the ones of the list above that did not went so well. These are only 3 and a half, but I guess I committed to some other projects in 2020 already (read on), so this is okay, I guess.

Yours truly is writing a (e)book on web app accessibility

I'm just realizing this is the first time I write about this topic in this very blog. Anyway, in the middle of last year I decided to start an experiment: Will I be able to have the discipline and the energy to write a, possibly small, ebook about the topic of web app accessibility? With a restriction for the English speaking readers: an ebook in German language, that is. The jury is still out on whether this is a successful project or not. I made some progress, changed the outline a couple of times, but considering that this idea is already six months old, and in this six months I learned a bunch of new things in relation to accessibility, I'm not as far as I thought I would be. On the other hand – maybe that "practice phase" was, in hindsight, good for the book project, because I know can describe and explain things in a different manner. Time will tell. If you want to keep updated, follow me on my german language twitter account, or watch out for a landing page related to the book with the current working title Barrierefreie Webapps (accessible web apps).

I joined amazing workshops in 2019

Somehow accidentally, I participated in the last four months of the year in three amazing workshops:

  • The first one was Sara Soueidan's "Accessible UI patterns". One big strength of Sara is to explain concepts in an approachable way (you will get what I mean by that if you read any blog post of hers). So I decided to join her workshop which was part of Smashing Conference Freiburg. Frankly, the decision to join was in big parts not about the content itself, but to experience her way of explaining accessibility-related concepts and creating supporting exercises (since I'm in general very interested in ways and styles of explaining these things for every interested web developer). And what should I say – it was very full of information and consisted of usable take aways in a high rate (I did not expect anything less), but had clear and valuable learning outcomes. And they we're all rooted in either concrete situations she faced in client projects, or based on solutions of and conversations with industry experts like Scott O'Hara.
  • The second one had no connection with accessibility, but was an opportunity to join a CMS workshop held by the CMS's creator himself. Bastian Allgeier also did a very dense, rich and amazing workshop on the (equally dense, rich and amazing) content management system Kirby. I use the system for both this very site and marcus-herrmann.com and really love it, but realized in this workshop that I only so far scratched the tip of the kirbyberg, so to speak. There are so much more functions available, especially in version 3, I wasn't aware of. I'm really motivated to do a bigger client project with the latest version, and this wish could possibly come true in the first half of the year (please cross your fingers!).
  • Last but not least, in the context of Accessibility Club Summit (a great event, which deserves at least one dedicated blog post, shame on me) I joined Karl Groves' workshop on accessible form design. I reckon it is really getting boring to read praise after praise, but this day-long session was also a highlight of the year, also full of valuable information, great demos and exercises and I really like Karl's kind of rock'n'roll approach of explaining things (to understand what I mean, please watch this video from the fronteers conference of 2016). Not that Sara's and Bastian's workshops weren't funny or entertaining, but this one was in a league of its own.

This blog

In total I wrote 18 blog posts in 2019, in comparison to 2018's 15. The most popular ones last year were Menu, or not, 2018's Accessible Routing with Vue.js and Progressively enhanced menu buttons with details/summary. It's not really a new year's resolution, but I want to at least reach this number of posts again in 2020. Or should I round up to 20? ;-) Either way, have a happy and successful new year, y'all!

Past recap/resolution posts: 2019, 2018.