Working on Wednesday #1

Starting June 15th, I'll stop working at my day job for one day a week. Instead, I'll use this time to work on personal projects.

After more than 3 years of freelancing, I've been working full time for a very nice young company (making a great social game) for the past 6 months. Today, with the public release of the game, I find myself missing freelance.

I liked being able to sleep when too tired, working late at night when really productive, reading a log of blog posts on various subjects, learning new cool stuff other did. I kinda miss that on my new job.

Sure our project is damn cool and I really like working on it. I learn a lot, in fields that I was interested in but never had the chance to explore (server administration, CDN configuration, memcache, large number of users, etc).

But on the other hand, I'm almost only doing server-side work. I relatively interesting part of Javascript (nothing fancy) and a really small part of CSS.

And I miss all that front-end part of the job. I also get kind of tired of using cakePHP. I do like it a lot, but the more I write PHP and read posts about Ruby, the more I want to switch.

Working 4 days a week

I finally made a deal with my boss, for not working on Wednesday. I want to use that time to relax and learn all those things.

The last time I was working full time for a company, I finally quit because I thought I was waaaaaaay late behind all the current tech trends. It took me a couple of month to learn the cool stuff I'm armed with today : jQuery and cakePHP.

This time, I want to re-learn a whole new world, a better one. Using all I learnt those past years to make a fresh start.

What I want to learn

There's a lot of things I would love to learn, unordered :

  • vim : I want to be able to write code on any machine, easily, and fast
  • ruby / rails : I want to learn Ruby to be able to fully understand Rails. I have a pretty strong knowledge of cakePHP so I guess Rails won't be too hard for me.
  • git : I like Mercurial, but git seems to be the de-facto VCS for all the social geeks and rails coder, so why not ?
  • sass and haml : Those seems awesome, and were part of the things that make me want to try ruby. Writing CSS and HTML in a non-painful way. I already want to write modules (or are they called gems?) to enhance them, adding webperf optimisations on the fly (creating sprites/dataURI, optimizing selectors, etc).
  • CoffeeScript, Kafeeine or equivalent : Following the logic behind sass, I want to be able to write Javascript easily. I always encounter issues when my jQuery code became too big, everything gets tangled together. Backbone.js seems interesting too. I'll have to test all those solution.
  • nodejs : Because it looks kinda fun. I haven't really understand how it works yet, but it looks fun anyway :)
  • TDD : This is not a technology, but a way of writing code that I want to learn. I tried it in cakePHP, but I spent so much time writing tests (and making them work), to finally change the implementation and broke the tests that I finally gave up. I still have to understand HOW to do it properly. I thought I read somewhere that this principle was directly intergrated into Ruby (or was it Rails ?) development.

To summarize, I want to learn the good tools that will let me focus on the project(s) I want to make, not fighting to use tools to bend them to my needs. Writing "uncompiled" css, html or Javascript and having some automation tool to automatically transform it in the most usable version to use only.

Also, I have already written a pretty decent cakePHP CMS, with a full featured admin panel that I used when making website for clients. I wanted to put it open source for all to enjoy but never really knew how to do it. I don't yet know if I want to create a whole new CMS in Rails, or if I'll do custom dev for each project, or use (and enhancing) existing CMS.

That's all for now

I might have forgotten stuff (I'd want to try couchDB/mongoDB, getting better at using Linux everyday), but here is a dump of all the things I want to achieve in the next 6 month, one day per week. I'll try to post a summary of what I learned each Wednesday, hoping that it would help others (I know I'll surely enjoy looking back at it later).

Tags : #ruby-on-rails #tdd #wednesday #git #vim #sass #haml #coffeescript #kaffeine #backbone

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