2023 in Review
Hello fellow reader! No matter how you know me or how you got here, it’s kind of a funny thing that I’ve been doing these year-in-reviews for 9 years now. Honestly, I love to do these end-of-year reflections. It’s easy to do when the year is generally good overall, but 2023 was not a good year for me. It was a year full of stress and anxiety, which significantly impacted my physical and mental health. It started with a huge shift in the tech ecosystem (hello, year of layoffs, budget-cuts, and online community fragmentation) and ended with a very traumatic medical situation that I’m still actively dealing with. I found myself falling into a pretty deep well of depression that I haven’t quite managed to crawl out of yet.
But I do need to keep reminding myself that it wasn’t all bad.
I also got to travel to two new countries (India and Turkey), learn a new skill (sewing), and buy my first home. I’m still employed doing meaningful work, I’m still in a loving relationship, and I’m still waking up every morning. But I’m not going to lie, it’s been really rough. Most of the things that should have been joyful events were overshadowed and experienced through a lens of depression and anxiety. It colors everything. But luckily, I do believe that life tends to swing like a pendulum, so I’m really hoping for, and anticipating, a better year in 2024.
And for consistency, the year-in-review must live on! So here we go.
- 💻 I (finally) launched a new personal site (yay)!
- 🇮🇳 I got to be a part of the I/O Connect keynote in India (big career highlight)!
- I learned to sew and made some clothes!
- 🇹🇷 I got to explore Turkey on a really awesome summer trip!
- 🎨 My team helped land a ton of new features in CSS!
- 🏠 I bought a house (I’m both excited and terrified)!
🎙 The CSS Podcast
The CSS Podcast got a funky little redesign this year and we launched a new season (season 4!). Between this podcast and Toolsday, I have probably thousands of hours of voice recordings by now. I wonder if that will ever be useful for anything trainable in the future 🤔
This year, we recorded 9 new episodes all based around common CSS pitfalls. We also had 1,086,165 podcast downloads and 47K Youtube plays this year! We’re continuing to grow our audience and listenership! And interestingly, our biggest audience is in India, with about 2x the listenership of our audience in the United States!
Unsurprisingly, the top episode this year was about centering things 😆.
- 074: How do I center a div?
- 073: Why is my animation glitching?
- 067: Why isn’t z-index working?
- 068: Why isn’t the margin applying?
- 071: Why do I have layout shift?
💕 Other podcasts
I also appeared on a few podcasts this year. It’s always a treat to get that opportunity!
- JS Party #264: Frontend Feud: CSS Podcast vs @keyframers
- PodRocket: The future of responsive design
- JS Party #285: Frontend Feud: CSS Pod vs Whiskey Web and Whatnot
- DevJourney #271: Una Kravets joining bleeding edge design and coding at Google
- Learn with Jason: What’s new in HTML and CSS in 2023?
- JS Party #302: What’s new in CSS Land
This year, I gave some of my favorite conference talks (8 total) which centered around leveraging the power of modern CSS and UI. And there is so much to talk about! Seriously, I can’t wait to see how these technologies evolve over the next few years. We’ve already seen some pretty awesome hacks and uses for container queries, scroll-driven animations and :has().
One really awesome opportunity was giving a dual talk with my teammate, Adam Argyle, at Config about the future of responsive design. It was awesome to connect with so many designers and wow was this a big event! It was likely one of the biggest conferences I’ve ever spoken at.
Another highlight for me this year was definitely CSS Day. This was really special for me because I spoke on this stage 7 years ago and I was fortunate enough to give the opening keynote at this year’s event. I gave a talk about the state of CSS community. Almost a call to action for the folks in the room (and at least one CSS meetup was started after it!).
I also was able to make this event a team outting, organizing a sponsor booth and bringing Chromium and DevTools engineers to the event too to answer questions/and conduct research to make DevTools better to use.
And finally, a big 2023 highlight was being a part of the main keynote at I/O Connect in Bengaluru, India! It was a bunch of VPs and me 😄 but I think I represented well for team Web platform! This was certainly a career highlight for me and I hope it won’t be the last time.
During my last year in review, I vowed to write more blog posts, and while I didn’t write a ton (definitely not as many as I used to), I did get a few more out. This year, I wrote 9 blog posts and planned/organized/wrote part of CSS Wrapped, making it 11 total including this one 😄.
I wrote about new CSS properties and features like:
I also wrote about how to combine some new and upcoming features like
anchor positioning to build cool interfaces like this radial menu.
I’m the team lead for the UI & Tooling Developer Relations team, which means we work with Chromium engineers across Rendering (Paint, DOM, Layout), Interactions, Canvas, DevTools, and Partner teams, plus working groups like the CSS Working Group and the OpenUI community group to advocate for developers and bring the features you need most to the Web platform. (So don’t hesitate to reach out!).
In August, after ~3 years of people management, I shifted back into an IC role due to some company-level changes, a team-wide reorg, and to fill some gaps on the team. Surprisingly, less some paperwork, not much has changed for me day-to-day. But I do get (slightly) more time to focus on more direct “dev-relling” now. So in addition to the usual higher-level work I’ve primarily been doing, I did some more focused work in 2023 with the DOM team around components like
anchor positioning to finally support stylable, interactive, and accessible dropdowns and tooltips in browsers. This included research on requirements, user journeys, syntax refinement, and building prototype demos to test the syntax, API completeness, and bugs.
Check out What’s New in Web UI from Google I/O 2023, and CSS Wrapped 2023.
It’s not always easy, it’s often stressful, but wow is it awesome to see how much we’ve been able to accomplish this year! I love to see articles like “CSS is fun again” and seeing folks say they’re enjoying writing CSS now more than ever. I love seeing folks exploring new color features and building neat demos with the
:has() selector. I’ve been calling this time in the tech ecosystem a golden era for Web UI and it truly is!
I usually post my annual “top 9” photos from Instagram and other channels in this part of the year-in-review, but well…, I don’t even think I even posted 9 photos this year 😅. There was probably a mix of reasons, but I’d like to post more photos again in 2024!
No doubt one of the bigger life things that happened this year is I bought a house(!). I’m officially a homeowner! The house is super cute, charming, and in a very walkable location with lots of restaurants, bars, cafes, and venues. But in this crazy frustrating market, we didn’t exactly get to buy our dream home. It’s an older house with older sellers who didn’t really update it, so it needs quite a bit of work to modernize.
I’m sure we will make it a very cute and cozy space for us, but so far this month I’ve just been absolutely overwhelmed and exhausted trying to make it work for our wants and needs. Everything is so much work to update and so expensive. Sigh, the entire home buying process has just been a very stressful experience, but I’ve learned a lot along the way. Watch this space for home DIYs :)
Crafting & Making
I learned a new craft this year! And it’s a life skill that I’m really excited to develop more!
Since I was a teenager, I’ve always wanted to learn how to sew and make my own clothes. My Mom and Grandma were never big on sewing so I wasn’t able to learn from them, and a sewing machine was too expensive for my parents buy for me growing up. But now that I’m an adult with adult money, I decided it was finally time to nurture my inner child 😄. And I’m so glad I did!
@unacode Making the Brandy Palazzo Pants by @Tiana as a total beginner 😅 What a journey! I didnt record most of it but im happy with how they came out #diysewing #sewing #fashiontiktok ♬ Cena Engraçada e Inusitada - HarmonicoHCO
So far, I’ve made shirts, pants, skirts, dresses, and baby clothes. I’ve worked with knits and cotton and slippery fabrics like viscose. I discoverd an entirely new world to get technical and nerdy in! From needle types to thread weights to different types of fabrics and tools. I am absolutely loving it, and hope to make more time for sewing next year.
I haven’t historically had a music section in there year-in-reviews, but each year I keep a running playlist as I find new music I like, so I thought I’d share it 😄.
I continued to travel a bit this year and explored 2 new countries for me (India and Turkey)! I also traveled to Chile, Amsterdam, and Mexico, as well as a few trips around the US. I went to the west coast a few times to San Francisco and Los Angeles, and I did a few more local east coast trips including one really soul-rejuvinating trip to the mountains in West Virginia.
Some of my favorite experiences this year were in nature, especially around the fall. We saw some gorgous autumn landscapes in and around the Mid-Atlantic this year.
I read 14 books this year. And considering that two of those books were very long (Game of Thrones), that’s really pretty solid! I think I had a pretty great year overall with reading books, and rated most of them pretty highly.
One theme this year is that a lot of the books I read were dystopian sci-fi in series. I got one recommendation from a coworker to read the MaddAddam series by Margaret Atwood, which starts with Oryx and Crake and *chefs kiss* I loved it. It’s super weird, but in a great way, and has some deep themes with really make you think. Another book series I’m loving is the Silo series by Hugh Howey. I got into it from the Apple series that it inspired, and as in many cases, the books are better than the show. But this series too, seems to get better as it goes. I’ve just finished book 2, so I’ll let you know how the third book goes in next year’s review.
This holiday season, I’ll also be re-reading a book that really spoke to me when I read it a year years ago: Solve for Happy by Mo Gawdat. This is one of the few books in the “self-help” category that actually had an impact on me because it aligned with my analytical brain. I think a lot of tech folks could relate to it too!
Here are my favorites this year (and yay!, I’ll be using a nice reusable component from now on to display it instead of just a list):
Shift (Silo, 2)
One Year Off
The Year of the Flood (MaddAddam, 2)
A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, 3)
👀 2023 Resolutions Review
So I really only had one goal this year, which was to launch a new website, and here we are! (Don’t you love checking off boxes?)
I wrote a little bit about it in the colophon if you’re interested, but I’m really happy with how it all turned out! I’ve been meaning to write a post on the Jekyll to Astro transitions I’m doing some custom routing stuff that helped me convert it more easily. But its been really fun to work more creatively on a redesign and rebuild. I really miss doing full websites and larger projects these days.
🎉 2024 Goals
In 2024, I do plan to have a few more resolutions (as per a usual year), as I think they are a helpful way to frame the year and measure progress.
Launch a travel blog. I’ve wanted to build a travel blog/site for a while now! In the past, I’ve hosted travel writing on Tumblr and offline, but I really want a place to put it all, have an excuse to code more often, and have more consistency in travel writing.I loved building this site so much that I’m excited for another opportunity to design and code a site from scratch. I get to do things like that less and less at work, so side projects are essential. Travel is also something that makes me happy, something I do a lot of research in and have some good advice to share, and its something that lets me reminisce and practice gratitude. So for 2024, I think I’ll focus on this as my web project.
Build community. Building community is another focus for 2024. Community is the heart of the human experience, and a lot of community ties have broken from COVID. This coming year, I want to focus on building more community at work and in my personal life. That includes online community for tech things, and hosting regular events in my new house to strengthen our community here. I want to get involved in local groups and events, and prioritize the humans more in my life.
Sew something I design from scratch. The next phase in my sewing journey (I hope), will be pattern drafting. I’m excited to learn about using body blocks, making tailored adjustments, and all of the math behind pattern making. As a teenager, I loved fashion design. So my goal in 2024 is to learn how to take something I come up with, draw it out, buy the right fabrics and notions, draft the pattern, and bring it to life.
Start a flower garden. One of the things I’m most excited for with this new house is the opportunity to have a garden! I especially love dahlias, and I’d love to have a garden of my own cut flowers to use around my house, gift to friends, and generally make me and the people in my life happier. This is a new venture, since I’ve only ever grown herbs and small vegetables, and I’m excited to give it a go!
Visit somewhere on my bucket list. I put together a new bucket list this year with my husband, with a lot of things we want do before we die, such as see the northern lights, go to New Zealand, visit more of Japan, do a safari in Tanzania, etc. We don’t have anything planned yet for 2024, but I really want to plan something soon to have something to look forward to.
With all of this, I also want to have a focus on living a softer life next year. Nature, sewing, community, all of these are nice, soft things to lean in to. This year has been so hard and disheartening in so many ways and I’ve put too much of myself and too much effort (emotionally, mentally) into trying to make things better. In 2024, I want to focus on letting go of the things I can’t control, and letting others in more.
You’ve made it to the end! Thanks for following along with my journey. I’m really looking looking forward to entering 2024 with a fresh slate and renewed focus. Wishing you a happy new year, full of love, abundance, good health, and joy.