What a crazy year 2020 was, huh? So much stuff happened, ups and downs and ups again…

I had finally left a job that required me to go to the office in the end of 2019, so I was already only working from home by the time we were requested to that in order to fight the pandemic. To be fair, even before I left that job I was already working from home as a freelancer and I felt very productive when doing so. The downsides were that I was not going to see that many people anymore and I wouldn’t have to commute. Yeah, I actually liked commuting only because I did so in 15 minutes riding my bike 😬.

Anyway, I decided to write this post to reflect on what I achieved last year to give me some perspective. Sometimes I get frustrated because it looks like I’m not achieving my goals but I tend to forget all the great things I did achieve along the way. I plan on doing this post every year from now on with this objective in mind.

So, to get started I’ll write about the projects I started or launched this year:

This Blog / Website

dberri.com

Yeah, so this was a long time coming. I was planning on launching a website or blog for quite sometime in 2019 but did not have the time or patience to set it up. In January, I decided I was going to do it and use the same stack I was using the my job at the time: Nuxt. I set up a local installation of Ghost CMS and used the JSON output to feed Nuxt which then creates a static site during a build in Netlify.

The first post went live on January 31st, 2020. Since then, I wrote 15 posts. That’s a little more than one post per month but it is 15 posts more than I had in 2019, so that’s a big win 😅. I still don’t think this stack is perfect for what I want, but it does the job well and while I don’t have too many posts, it will suffice. I played around with GraphCMS and seems cool but I’m still not sold on the idea of using it for this blog specifically (I might write a post about GraphCMS in the future because it is really cool, so stay tuned).

The purpose of writing and publishing these articles is to share things I’m learning, help other developers who are struggling to grasp concepts that I also had struggled to learn and improve my writing skills and the way I convey information. I also do some research while I write, so that makes me consolidate the knowledge on the topics. For this year, I plan to write at least 12 posts or one post per month. Let’s see in my 2021 review if accomplished this. 🤞

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stocks.dberri.com

I don’t have a name for this one yet, even though I launched it on May 1st, 2020. I basically developed it to “scratch my own itch” since I didn’t find anything similar on the web at that time. It’s a small application that helps me balance the risk in my investment portfolio. The user can type a stock ticker in the text field and add it, then assign a grade and the amount of shares they have. They do that for all the companies in their portfolio and while at it, the application highlights which stocks to buy next to keep the portfolio balanced according to the grades they assigned. If my explanation was not clear enough, here is the “about” page I wrote where I also added some examples: http://stocks.dberri.com/en-US/about .

I also developed this project using Nuxt, but since there is some API usage and it needs a Node.js server, I decided to host it on Heroku. It was also the first time I used the serverless and hosted a function in AWS Lambda to fetch prices and some other stock data.

A few months after I launched it, I discovered a similar application while watching a YouTube channel about personal finances, so I have some plans for this application going forward. For one, everything is stored in LocalStorage which works fine for me, but then I can't really use it in different browsers or devices, so I plan on improving the UX by using some authentication and database so the users can use the application on multiple devices. Maybe even a PWA would be cool 😎

usdbrl

npmjs.com/package/usdbrl-cli

I was quite excited to work on this one and launch it. It was the first npm package that I published. USD-BRL CLI is a tool that allows developers to fetch the exchange rate of USD/BRL  directly on the terminal.

To file taxes in Brazil for foreign earnings, one needs to convert that income to USD using the closed exchange rate of the payment date and then convert to BRL using the exchange rate on the 15th workday of the previous month. After a few months doing this manually, it struck me that I could automatize the process by fetching the data from the official Brazilian Central Bank website.

My plan with this was to also learn how to create CLI tools using Node.js and that goal was achieved 😬. Now, I use it every month and it does it job well, so I don’t have any plans to build upon it. Let’s see 🤷‍♂️.

2WEBP Optimizer

image-optimizer.dberri.com

The idea for this one came from the fact that I had to optimize a few images for a website I was building on my day job and I couldn’t find any online tool  that would convert images to the webp format and resize it to the sizes I wanted to. I also wanted to learn Vue 3 which was building up hype the whole year but I didn’t have the time to spend on it before. I also wanted to build something more elaborate with serverless and this was the perfect opportunity for it. I didn’t want this to be one of the many applications I have in my “dead side-projects folder”, so, to create some public accountability, I told my girlfriend about it so she would keep asking me about the progress of the development and I gave myself a deadline (December 31st, 2020).

Everyday, I built a small part of it, starting with the serverless functions. The backend is hosted on AWS, and I use Lambda, API Gateway, Cloudwatch, S3 and DynamoDB, which is all managed by the serverless framework. The frontend is hosted on Netlify as a simple Vue SPA. It was quite rewarding to finally hit the deploy button on the deadline and sip some wine to celebrate.

Now, this one is not completely done yet. It’s like an MVP, it does the job I want it to do, but I still want to iron out a few details, build a few features and advertise it so people can find it and use it. Hopefully the users will be very happy about it.

What I learned?

I started the year learning React and React Native. Back when I started to fell comfortable writing JavaScript, I decided to pick a framework and at that time Vue 2 had been released and was picking up steam and I started to read about it and comparisons with React which was already popular. My idea was to first learn Vue because it seemed to have a good learning curve, and it was bundled with Laravel which for me served as validation since I was and still am a big fan of that PHP framework (*Vue does not come with the Laravel installation anymore). Even though I decided to start with Vue, I always wanted to learn React too, just to see how they both differ, and what problems they solve and in which ways. Since now I already had a very good grasp of Vue and know how JavaScript frameworks work more or less, I decided to learn React and use it in a few side projects. It was a very good experience in my opinion, and it’s good to have another tool under my belt. I still prefer working with Vue and that pays the bills, so 🤷‍♂️

Because of my job and the requirements for the projects, I learned and used Laravel Nova,  learned how to use Twig in Laravel instead of Blade and also learned and used Alpine.js. All of these things might become blog posts in the future. Alpine.js already features in a few of them from last year, and this year I plan on bringing more related content.

I’m also learning quite a bit about accessibility, animations and performance on the web, and I’m very thankful for my coworkers who are helping me with this through code reviews, tips and so on.

What I want to learn in 2021?

Well, this year I’ll double down on learning and applying accessibility aspects correctly on the applications and websites I build, learn more about animations and motion design and keep improving the performance of the stuff I work on (gotta catch those 100s in Lighthouse 😜).

I’m currently learning Laravel Livewire while I build a side project to help my girlfriend with her business and hopefully I’ll be able to bring you more content and tutorials featuring it here.

And that’s a wrap. I wish you all a great 2021 and go after your goals 🚀