Changes for the better

I think approximately 89% of blogs have one or more posts where the owner says something about it being ages since the last one; I know I've written at least 10 such posts over the years. And now here's another one of them.

I've made a professional change. People who know me in software development terms are probably aware that, although I program in PHP, I don't actually like it much. I suspect that's down to the way I ended up doing PHP work in the first place - I needed a job and managed to learn enough PHP in the course of a couple of weeks to be better than the guy I was replacing. But my heart was never really in it, and the company went under when the owners' fraudulent behaviour came to light - fortunately I'd made an exit strategy some months before the end, when the writing was very clearly on the wall in 120pt text. I moved on to Box UK, still doing PHP, but now surrounded by people who I couldn't code rings around in a fortnight like before.

Time passed. Being a modern, sensible company, Box UK helps its staff develop their skills. My dislike for PHP, despite being kinda OK with it, was known. My Javascript and CSS chops were getting better and better, so I thought it might be worth me transitioning to a more frontend role. This was after showing how I can happily work in many dev environments - a video conferencing widget in Flash (actually Haxe but most people haven't heard of that) was great fun, and a prototype display on Google Glass saw my first proper Java and native Android development.

A project came up, and the idea was I'd create the frontend assets for a language learning website (which made sense, as I've got a decade of bilingual multimedia development in my past) to be passed over to a backend developer to integrate. The backend - Sitecore, a massively powerful .NET system. So off I go, fixing up the Javascript and modifying the CSS and "how hard can it be for me to integrate into Sitecore?"

By the end of that project, I'd got a fairly good grasp of C# - a lovely language, very similar to the Java I'd been using for Android previously - and of Sitecore. And I wanted more, because I enjoyed it. As a result, my next project was to work on the full stack of the new Box UK corporate website, following our rebrand. More Sitecore, and this time I was going to be able to learn from a Sitecore MVP while I was at it - the very clever Kam Juman who is acting as a consultant at Box UK.

One thing led to another and, by the time the site went live, virtually everything that our contractors provided for us had been rewritten and improved by Kam or, increasingly, myself. I won't lie; there was a certain pleasure to be taken from writing code in a new environment that worked better than that provided by alleged experts. And, as of last week, I'm now a Sitecore Certified Developer, which means I've learnt how to do (properly) all the things I started doing six months ago :)

Oh, and as a result of saving the day as many times as I have (and seeing any problems as a chance to learn something new), I got promoted to Senior Developer, which is nice!

So that's my past six months at work. I haven't touched on the hardware hacking at home at all in the past 600-ish words - that will be for next time. Probably December or something.