2020 in Review

The year 2020 needs no introduction. A global pandemic, police brutality, economic recession, and a tension-filled election...what more can be said?

Writing these year in review posts are a good opportunity to reflect on what went well in the year, what went poorly, what to keep, what to discard, and ways to improve.

Laravel Nova

Nova is my full-time focus and 2020 changed nothing about that. Nova continues to sell strong, proving there remains a place in the market for it. In 2020, we released over 40 new versions of the software. All licenses purchased from day one to now have received the updates. I'm not aware of any product that has included this many updates without requiring an upgrade, and that's a good feeling.

James Brooks continued his work on the product, closing many GitHub issues, pushing fixes, and building features. In mid-year, his focus shifted towards full-time work on Laravel Forge. This slowed progress substantially as it required me to handle all support, bug fixes and Pull Requests once again.

Thankfully it was short-lived and towards the end of the year, Taylor and I decided it was time to bring on another hand. We hired a well-respected developer Mior Muhammad Zaki from Malaysia to work full-time on Nova. He's been a tremendous help. He has kept our pending Pull Requests filled and many customers enjoy the frequent fixes he pushes.

We have a long list of updates we want to make to the software and we're working on clearing the backlog of bugs and low-hanging fruit which will allow us to work on the next series of Nova. If all goes according to plan, 2021 will bring the first paid upgrade to the product. We're exploring an update subscription model, which would provide new licenses with a year of updates, and the option to pay to continue receiving updates. We will likely grandfather in the last year of license purchases automatically as a show of good faith.

I'm really excited about the future of Nova.

Chipper CI

Chipper CI chugged along quietly in 2020, but sadly didn't get the love from me that it deserved. Much of the maintenance burden fell upon my partner [Chris Fidao] (http://twitter.com/fideloper), since the work involved things I have no experience or domain knowledge in.

I did get the chance to work on a couple of major UI improvements for Chipper which should see a launch in 2021.

Chipper CI is a difficult business and a few times I've wondered if it still needs to exist. GitHub has made things more difficult with their continued work on Actions.

Chipper CI started as an easy way to get your app code under continuous integration, but may need to evolve into something even greater to see more growth.

Valet Lite

Towards the end of the year I announced a small side project I'd been working on for a few months, Valet Lite. The response to my announcement was well-received, and I thought the app was only two weeks away from launching. I'd been using it for months already and it was working fine.

Alas, a new macOS version came and complicated things and I had difficulty figuring out the best way to package the large supporting libraries it uses. Honestly it remains a problem I'm working on and have yet to solve. I hope an early 2021 release for the app is on the horizon.

Mental Health

In mid-2020, I learned first-hand lessons about mental health. For the first time in my whole life, I experienced what I call "anxiety episodes" and a few major panic attacks. Suddenly, life was set to "hard mode". I had frequent intrusive thoughts, lost 20 pounds, and had to actively manage my anxiety every day. I dreaded the idea of getting in my car to run simple errands and visiting friends or family would sometimes cause my mind to spin out of control.

I took steps to alleviate my symptoms. I started meditating daily, going to bed earlier, cut out all caffeine, lowered my sugar intake, started taking vitamins, and began cycling regularly. It helped to a point, but anxiety was still something I had to actively manage and a constant thought on my mind.

In August, I visited my doctor and was prescribed an SSRI to help manage the anxiety. After a few rough weeks getting used to the side-effects of the drug, I began to feel better. Intrusive thoughts remained, but they no longer upset me as much, and the anxiety was easier to handle.

I'm sure there are a lot of lessons that will be gleaned from this experience in the next few years, but for now, while under control, anxiety is something I'm still actively working on. I think about it many times a day, though I don't feel as anxious these days. It has been life changing.

Updates on 2019's Goals

  • Didn't launch a new podcast
  • No new Building Chipper episodes
  • No new Dads in Development episodes
  • Didn't post 6 articles

Goals for 2021

  • Get vaccinated
  • Release a new paid update for Nova.
  • Launch Valet Lite in Q1
  • Go on at least two trips

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