2018 – A Year End Review

Another year of native iOS, teaching, and women in tech!

What a year 2018 has been! Wait, you haven’t heard about it cause I haven’t been blogging, other than when I went to WWDC? Well, a lot has happened since then, so let’s get you caught up! And yes, I’m aware that it’s 2019 now but better late than never. 🙂

2018 has been all about continuing my transition to native iOS development (from cross platform), professionally, and through side projects; and continuing to teach and support women/under-represented in tech.

Generate a fun pet name!

Earlier in the year, I published my first personal natively-built iOS app to the App Store, written in Objective-C and Swift. Before that, I’ve mostly built iOS apps using Titanium, a cross-platform programming language.

NameThatPet app icon

NameThatPet is a fun app that generates silly names for your pet, is free to download, and the code base is posted to Github if you’d like to get an idea of how to build a native iOS app that’s interoperable with Objective-C and Swift.

 

 

 

Speaking of working with Objective-C and Swift code bases, I stayed pretty busy continuing to support SimplyE, an ebook reader app published by the New York Public Library, as part of my “day job” (I work with NYPL through the Minitex organization). The SimplyE code base is open source, and in between doing numerous bug fixes, I implemented two major features: a PDF rendering module to display books in PDF format (SimplyE was once only an ePub format platform), and notifications to inform patrons when their books on hold are available to checkout.

SImplyE Logo

Both features are on the roadmap to be integrated into SimplyE this year.

 

Of course, the BIG news for me in native iOS land was going to my first WWDC conference, which I wrote about here. Another major iOS conference that I not only attended, but gave my first conference talk to my largest audience yet, was at 360iDev. For my talk, I shared — yep, you guessed it! — my journey from cross platform to native iOS developer, by comparing the pros and cons of developing for iOS in native versus non-native.

 

Finally, I’m over halfway done with my online Udacity iOS nanodegree. The first half flew by since it was mostly review (going over the basics of Swift syntax, UIKit and Xcode fundamentals, etc.), but I did pick up a few helpful tips here and there. Although I’m not an expert on Auto Layout, at least now I don’t break out into cold sweats if I have to adjust a layout for work, for example. In addition, your projects get code reviewed by mentors, so your skills can improve.

Testing meme generating app before submitting project for code review

What was most beneficial about this course, is it goes into explaining theory and architecture. I’ve taken other online courses that were more, “click here, type this,” but I didn’t really understand why. The right balance between practical exercises and theory makes the class fun while helping you become a better iOS developer in the long-term. The second half of the course is covering more complex topics such has Networking and Data Persistence, and choosing your own Capstone project. Wish me luck while I complete the rest of the nanodegree program! (In the meantime, you can check out my nanodegree projects on Github.)

I also spent a good deal of time supporting women in tech, mostly teaching programming workshops through Denver RailsBridge and volunteering for Girl Develop It!

Attending MojoMaker

I even attended a women in tech conference called Mojo Maker.

Now, before I go much further, I know the Girl Develop It! controversy needs to be addressed. For me, to learn that some women of color did not feel safe in an organization whose entire purpose is to provide a safe space for women to learn tech, was devastating. 😦 Considering the 6 words that I came up with to describe me (“Helping Others Find A Safe Space”), I had to ask myself, does this still apply to me if I continue to support GDI?

Fortunately, the GDI Colorado chapter was not involved in the controversy and has done amazing work through the years. In fact, the chapter leaders have stepped down when it became clear that the values of HQ were no longer in line with the values they had for starting the GDI Colorado chapter. Kudos to them and I support that!

That being said, let’s go back to my year end retrospective, shall we?

Since one of my goals was to provide a safe space for others, I did that through organizing an “introvert area” for the GDI fundraising party in the middle of the year. After all, probably a good portion of tech professional are introverts (myself included), so why torture them by forcing them to make small talk all evening?

Eric helped me run the puzzle and origami table

We set up a quiet area for some to decompress, and a jigsaw puzzle and origami table (which my husband helped me run! Thanks Eric 🙂 ) for the craft-inclined.

Between corporate sponsorships and ticket sales, we raised enough money to provide scholarships for 48 people to take classes through GDI. That money is with GDI HQ now and who knows what will happen to it. It may be distributed to other GDI chapters should the Colorado chapter eventually close down.

GDI Organizers at Fundraising Party

 

 

 

At least for one evening, we provided a safe space for people of all backgrounds to network and encouragement for those trying to break into tech.

 

 

If I wasn’t sure I was really making strides towards “Helping Others Find A Safe Space”, all I had to do to reassure myself was look at these pictures:

Playing board games post JavaScript workshop

This is right after I had helped teach the beginner-level JavaScript workshop for Denver RailsBridge, where the students learned to build a browser-based snake game. There was also an intermediate level JavaScript workshop offered at the same time, which was mostly self-directed. We had a “happy hour” right after we wrapped up both workshops, and most of the students just went home afterwards. But the students in this picture, my students from the beginner’s class (and one from the intermediate 🙂 ), chose to stay afterwards and play board games with me. One of the students had taken the beginner-level iOS workshop that I taught through Denver RailsBridge in 2017.

So, it made me think, if they didn’t have to stay, maybe they chose to because I made a small difference in their lives that day. Maybe?

I am hopeful this year. There are multiple women in tech organizations around the Denver area. If I’m not at GDI, you’ll probably find me at one of those this year. And God willing, I’ll finish my Udacity iOS nanodegree, and hopefully publish another native iOS app to the market. Wish me all the luck, I’ve got some ambitious plans, and thanks for coming along on my journey.

Happy new year! Hope to see you again soon, and that it doesn’t take me another year to write another blog post. 🙂

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