2020 in Review
Hello again my friends. It’s the end of the year, and that means another year-end review. What a crazy year its been. I’m sure we’ll hear that a lot lately. Well. This year has certainly not been a particularly good one overall, but I’ve had some bright spots, and these reviews are all about compiling the accomplishments and other bits. I’m also writing this from a cabin in Virginia, so it’s not all bad.
Past year-in-review posts:
2014-2015, 2015-2016, 2016-2017, 2017-2018, 2018-2019, & 2019-2020
COVID is no-doubt one of the biggest influences and shaping forces of this year. My partner and I have been taking COVID very seriously, and lived in one of the world’s epicenters for most of the pandemic. We haven’t been seeing friends or going out. Quarantine-at-home/lockdown/social-distancing-indefinitely is hard. It sucks. But it’s necessary. COVID is no joke.
I’ve definitely felt depressed throughout this year, and a big contributor to that is the monotony and routine of every day life now. I’m someone who loves to travel, try new experiences, and work on a lot of different things at once (I think thats why I fit so well in my current role). Outside of work, COVID takes a lot of life’s everyday novelty away.
But, back in May, I watched this great video called Spaceship You about lockdown productivity. I highly recommend checking it out.
The video centers around a metaphor that we’ve all been ejected from the earth (society) to live in our own little floating space pods (quarentine-at-home), while earth resolves itself (we have a vaccine/solution for COVID).
The objective is:
“Return better than you left”
And this has definitely stuck with me all year. I’ll be coming out of “quarantine cocoon” a bit more fit (-30 lbs! 🎉) and a bit more creative / practiced in hand lettering. I am more grateful than ever before for friends, family, the opportunities afforded to me, and especially all the little things. I’m looking forward to re-discovering the little things with this newly restored gratitude as we are able to emerge from our bubbles.
Despite all the frustrations and chaos of 2020, overall there were some nice highlights this year.
- 💍 We celebrated our engagement with all our friends just before COVID
- 🏝 I visited Costa Rica for the first time with my fiancé (Feb)
- 📹 I produced lots of content (50 videos and podcasts) at home
- 📺 I spoke at 5 virtual conferences and events
- 🌄 I did more hiking than ever and had several cabin getaways
- 🎉 I joined the Chrome team, became a team lead, and got promoted
- 🪑 I joined the Open UI community group and became a co-chair
- 🏃🏻♀️ I lost 30 lbs by eating cleaner and working out
- ✍🏼 I launched The Markup Artist Studio for calligraphy
Toolsday (my podcast about tech tools, tips, and tricks with Chris Dhanaraj turned 5 this year 😱. (Wowowow, how did we get here Chris?)
This year we definitely experienced a little bit of a slowdown as life got stressful and sponsorships dried up with the global pandemic affecting businesses. Nevertheless, we produced 12 episodes and 55,986 downloads (and we have one more to go for 2020!). The last two years, we had more than 150k downloads/year, but produced more shows. We’re still averaging around 4k - 6k downloads per episode and plan to ramp back up next year.
And some related news... Toolsday is going independent next year! If your company wants to support our work with a sponsor slot, please don't hesitate to reach out!
In addition to Toolsday, this year, I started a brand new podcast called The CSS Podcast with my teammate, Adam Argyle. (Apparently I have a tendency to start podcasts with coworkers 😛) This podcast has been a BLAST to work on. We put it a lot of time and effort this year to write a styling curriculum that breaks down and dives deep into CSS concepts like spacing, borders, grid, sizing units, and more.
Between a first season with 25 episodes, and bonus 4-episode Houdini series, we managed to record 29 episodes our first year, which garnered us 98,000 downloads, with our most popular shows being about the Box Model, Selectors, and Specificity.
We are slowly building our audience for this podcast, and have some big plans to build on this podcast in 2021. Stay tuned!
📺 Video Series
I continued my video series, Designing in the Browser(at home) this year with a new 5 episode season focused on Accessibility in Design. This new season has 77.8k views so far, which means an increase in views per episode than last year! And overall, the show now has over 266k views! That means views of older shows have more than doubled. Pretty neat to see this series grow.
I also wrote 11 blog posts this year (including this one). My favorite posts included:
- Randomized Selective Colors: A Post List Study
content-visibility: the new CSS property that boosts your rendering performance
- Ten Modern Layouts in One Line of CSS
clamp(): three logical CSS functions to use today
Career Stuff & Launches
This year, in addition to being a member of the CSS Working Group, I started getting more involved in how we can improve form control styling and extensibility on the web, and am now a co-chair of the Open-UI community group!
I also got promoted and became a team lead under Chrome DevRel for CSS & DevTools. I’m incredibly excited for all of the projects we have planned for 2021! We’re working really hard to make the web easier to style and debug, and bring the customizability you all are asking for to the web platform.
2021 is going to be a big year for web styling. We have new paradigms for responsive design and new entry points for styling on their way.
I made 576 contributions in the last year, and launched the following projects:
- Material Type Scale Generator: Powered by Google Fonts, the type scale generator is a tool for creating type scales and corresponding code.
- Tooling.report: The first project I was a part of when I joined Surma’s team at Chrome. Tooling.report analyzes popular bundlers on a variety of factors.
- Houdini.how: A community-driven gathering place for CSS Houdini worklets and resources.
- 1 Line Layouts: 10 Modern CSS layout and sizing techniques that highlight just how robust and impactful a single-line of styling code can be.
- Markup Artist Studio: A website for my calligraphy and lettering business.
- Our wedding website: Highlighting our story and event details, using some fun styling effects
Ok, so I certainly did not travel and speak at as many conferences this year as I usually do, but I did do a few virtual events! These included web.dev Live, An Event Apart, Clarity, and Chrome Dev Summit.
I also produced my most popular talk to date (by far) with over 674,000 views on Youtube for web.dev Live! It was called: 10 modern layouts in 1 line of CSS and has an accompanying demo site and blog post.
COVID has definitely impacted some major life decisions for us.
It’s not ideal to be locked down in a small 1 bedroom NYC apartment with a dog and two people working from home. So, we’ve been getting out of the city as much as we can to have a little more room. Eventually, we decided to move out of Brooklyn and in with family for the time being.
But, we’ve been trying to make the best of it, having creative nights in, and loving on our puppy Disco. He’s becoming quiete the big boy and turned one this year(!).
We’re also trying to plan a wedding right now (lol at getting engaged right before a global pandemic) and that’s been an interesting challenge. We still plan on getting married next September, but have back up plans just in case we need to push it to ensure everyone’s safety.
📸 Hobbies and Photos
I love taking photos to document everything and so I’m relatively active on Instagram. During quarantine, I started getting really into print design and calligraphy again too. I did a few courses by my favorite lettering artists and can really see my own work improving. I’ve also started exploring print shops and am super excited to make a bunch of things for the wedding!
I also kicked off The Markup Artist Studio and am working on building up my Etsy.
Here are my “top 9” photos from Instagram this year:
The only “big” trip (and new country) I got to visit this year was to Costa Rica back in February. I constantly feel very lucky and blessed that we were able to get this trip in right before COVID really (knowingly) hit the Americas.
This was a really amazing time! We hiked along a volcano and down to waterfalls, got caught in intense rainstorms, hung out in natural volcanic hot springs, saw a lot of animals, walked along hanging rope bridges, went zip-lining, and ended the trip by staying a few nights at a resort. I would highly recommend Costa Rica if you have not yet been! There is so much to see and do! We already want to go back.
My partner and I also did a lot of other smaller trips — local hikes, vineyards, and beaches, and did a lot of exploring all around the East Coast. We explored the Hudson Valley, Long Island, Montauk, The Hamptons, Berkshires, Poconos, Maryland, and the Shenandoah Valley. I also fit in a work trip to the Bay Area in early February.
2020 Resolutions Review
Last year’s goal/mantra was to enable growth via discipline. I think this ended up being a really good goal, given the circumstances. I wrote: “I hope to establish a routine that allows time to write, experiment, meditate, and exercise.” I will say that a routine was established, but it was on-and-off with all of the changes this year. I could have done a better job with “not getting lost in internet holes for hours” and taking more time to meditate. I had a great exercise kick going until the Fall/Winter, and I hope to establish that again into 2021.
2020 Goal Breakdown (how did I do?):
- Get My Finances in Order: I do think I’ve learned a lot this past year about personal finance. I’ve made a few mistakes along the way, but I feel more confident in making financial decisions than I did before.
- Continue to Travel: Considering the circumstances, I do think we did pretty well! I tried a lot of new things this year and explored locally.
- Establish a Routine: I did have various routines established at different times of the year. When I did follow a routine, I was definitely more productive and generally happier. I hope to iterate on a more solid creation routine next year.
- Run a 10k: While I don’t think I’m ready to run a 10k right now, I did run a full 5k this year (without stopping, so I was pleased). I’m a lot more fit now than I was last year, and would like to move this goal of running a 10k forward into 2021.
- Confidently Create: I do feel that I did more physical creation this year than I have in the past, and so I’m pleased with the progress on this goal. My wedding is an excuse to do more crafting and has opened a few doors for me in terms of creative opportunities.
A big goal I have going into 2021 is to really expand upon creating a consistent creative routine. I feel like this is easier to achieve in the work I do at Google, but I want to extend that to my outside-of-work time too. I want to watch less TV (this was certainly the year I watched the most TV in a long time), and do more creative and rewarding endeavors to fill my time.
In my personal life, things are going to get crazy in 2021. Between my fiancé finishing law school and looking for a job, trying to buy a home (jokes on us though if you’ve looked at the current market), planning and having a wedding and honeymoon 🤞🏼, being in a lot of friend’s weddings that got postponed, moving somewhere TBD, COVID uncertainty, and trying to stay sane and fit, we have a lot going on.
Professionally, I feel like I’ve finally found my calling in the world and want to continue that spirit into next year. There’s a lot going on in CSS land, and I’m SO excited for it! I can’t wait to continue supporting the community, and have bunch of projects and ideas lined up for 2021.
So, the new goals list:
- 🏃🏻♀️ Fitness: I want to continue running and working on my physical fitness (can’t wait to go to a gym again!). I have a goal to run a 10k next year, and another sub-goal of continuing my weight loss journey and hitting a specific (very doable) weight goal by July.
- 👰🏼 Wedding: This might be more of me manifesting a hope into the universe with COVID still lurking, but I would love to be able to get married to Ben with our friends and family there, and see all of the hard work we’ve been putting into the details come to life.
- 📹 Personal Content Production: With conferences and events likely stalled out again for much of 2021, I forsee another year of video, blog, and podcast content production. In 2021, I want to produce more content outside of (in addition to) what I do at my day job, including re-kick-starting and being more consistent with my Youtube Channel (plz like and subscribe 😉) and managing Toolsday independently again.
- ✍🏼 Creative Income Streams: I want to bring my lettering to life, expanding from just a hobby into potentially a new stream of income. Ideas include: running online calligraphy workshops, making code calligraphy merch, and getting some clients for event lettering and design services.
So in summary: fitness, family, and making things. I’m keeping it simple with this year to allow for some much-needed fluidity as we enter a year with so much anticipated uncertainty and change.
Cheers to you all, wishing you all the best in 2021, and I will see you on the internet 🥰!