Zach’s ugly mug (his face)

Zach Leatherman

In Case You Missed It: 2022

January 06, 2023 #9 Popular

Previously: 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013

I haven’t done a yearly review in a few years. Looking back at those old posts, it seems like I wrote some very bland listicles that wrapped up the different web development community work and side projects that happened during the year. This year I’m just gonna write free-form and see what happens 😅.

Open Source

Probably the biggest news this year is that Eleventy graduated from side project to full time sponsorship (thank you Netlify!!) in February and everything changed.

Looking back at the before-times, I’m not sure how I managed this project without full time sponsorship.

The most important thing I’m doing in my life is being a dad. I’m reminded of the Jamstack Conf panel a few months back. The moderator asked panelists “What do you like to do in your free time?” and my first thought, best thought was: I’m a dad—what do you mean free time?

When Eleventy started in 2017, I had a two year old daughter. We grew our family through adoption in 2019. Juggling a family, full time job, and an open source project for 4 (almost 5?) years is a lot. It’s awkward to both be proud of what you’ve accomplished (I worked so hard) and disappointed with knowing that you could do more if you just had more time.

For me this manifested primarily with the number of languishing pull requests on Eleventy core. When you only have a few hours a week to work on a side project—you make some pretty hard choices. Do I fix this bug? Do I work on a feature that I think is super important for the future of the project? Or do I merge in a feature that someone else prioritized (a pull request that may not even have automated tests 😱)?

In retrospect, I wish I had been more honest with contributors—but I don’t think that I understood the diminishing returns on optimism. No matter how productive you are, the upper limit is still the number of hours in the day. And I couldn’t keep the project afloat while doing justice to the larger external contributions that were coming in. In retrospect, I think putting an organizational hard limit on the size of pull requests might have helped manage expectations better (e.g. “I will only review pull requests with fewer than 50 changes”).

On top of that, I also recognize that merging a pull request is maybe even the easiest bit of the arrangement. It’s the emotional drag that comes in from long term maintenance of that code that is the harder sell. Do I want to maintain this feature? Will my heart sink when I see issues come in on this? Those were the tolls of the side project open source maintainer.

With full time sponsorship generously provided by Netlify, everything has changed.

We’ve been able to:

Perhaps most importantly, I no longer feel as though I’m treading water. What a whirlwind of a year. And we’re only just getting started. The big bad beast of first-class ESM in Eleventy is next.

Blog Posts and Videos

I posted 33 entries here last year, which is down from a personal record of 45 the previous year. The main reason here is that things are spread out in multiple places. With 9 entries on the Eleventy Blog and 32 videos on the Eleventy YouTube channel, I’m definitely posting more than ever!

The top two blog posts last year were:

The top two videos last year were:

Twitter

One of the most disheartening turns of 2022 was the demise of Twitter. I spent 16 years on Twitter. I loved Twitter. I got a lot out of relationships that I built on Twitter. I wasn’t a fan of M*sk before and his standing in my eyes has not improved.

It doesn’t feel like a small thing to ice both the @zachleat (24K+ follows) and @eleven_ty (12.5K+ follows) accounts. I don’t know that it was the smartest move but it still feels like the right one.

It has been heartening to see other folks take similar principled stands against the parade of unethical behavior from the company, not limited to the many folks backing up their twitter archives to sites that they control as they begin to divorce themselves from the site.

Personal

The family and kids are doing great. The kids keep me on my toes and continue to amaze with what they’re capable of.

The kids both retired the training wheels on their bikes this last month and it was such a big reminder of how absolutely exhilarating it is to see someone succeed at something after struggling with it! The 7 year old is absolutely obsessed with reading right now and I will vociferously debate anyone that disputes the value of public libraries.

Excitingly, the kids are also now old enough to really play video games. Our favorites in the past year have been Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge, ARMS, Mario Kart 8, Overcooked 2, and Diablo III. There are also a ton of very excellent suggestions in this Mastodon thread (thank you everyone!).

I’d also shout out to Gris, Torchlight, Death’s Door, Bastion, and Hades too—noting that those were single-player games and not cooperative. Those last two recommendations put me firmly in the Supergiant Games fan club I think.

Thank You Notes

It isn’t possible to overstate how none of this would be imaginable, let alone achievable without the support and labor of my partner and wife. Open source is not just a privilege—it is privilege—and there is so much work that goes on behind the scenes (emotional and otherwise).

A huge thank you to Netlify titans Matt Biilmann, Chris Bach, Lauren Sell (alum), and Claire Knight: all of whom fought for and are to thank for the Netlify Eleventy sponsorship.

And everyone in the Eleventy community who have supported us over the years, especially: Peter deHaan, Ben Myers, Cassey Lottman, Dan Leatherman, Evan Sheehan, Thomas M. Semmler, Sia Karamalegos, and Stephanie Eckles.

So many folks have made the last year possible and I’m grateful to you all.

Keep building for the web ❤️.

Zach’s ugly mug (his face)

Zach is a builder for the web. He created IndieWeb Avatar for https://www.11ty.devEleventy (11ty), an award-winning open source site generator now full-time sponsored by IndieWeb Avatar for https://www.netlify.comNetlify. At one point he became entirely too fixated on web fonts. He has given 62 talks in eight different countries at events like Jamstack Conf, Beyond Tellerrand, Smashing Conference, CSSConf, and The White House. Formerly part of Filament Group, NEJS CONF, and NebraskaJS. Read more about Zach »

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5 Comments
  1. Roel Nieskens

    Roel Nieskens

    @zachleat With my head mostly stuck down the webfont rabbit hole, I sometimes forget how big your _other_ contributions to the web are. Also, thanks for the game suggestions (I'm in a very similar spot, but ours like point-and-click games like Samorost most!)

  2. Geoff Rich

    Geoff Rich

    @zachleat great post! Love to see Hades and Bastion get a shout out 😍 great soundtracks on those games

  3. Zach Leatherman :11ty:

    Zach Leatherman :11ty:

    @pixelambacht (thank you Roel ❤️)This is the first I’ve heard of Samorost, I’ll check it out!

  4. Zach Leatherman :11ty:

    Zach Leatherman :11ty:

    @geoffrich thanks Geoff! I just learned yesterday that Hades II is in development, yay!

  5. Jens Tangermann

    Jens Tangermann

    @zachleat Really looking forward to first-class ESM support for eleventy, that's one of the most wanted features for me. And was very happy about the webc surprise, that closed the technology gap between frontend and backend (code reusability) perfectly. Thanks for your great wor… Truncated

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