2016 is a big year for me.

This is the first year after my graduation. I moved away from the university and settled down at downtown to start my new life. Being a web developer in a small startup is very different from being a student in school. In school there are always paths to follow: the spring and fall curriculum, the study plan of the course, the mentorship of the professor. In a startup, things are less organized and more dynamic. I make my work plan, develop at both ends of our application, help GIS Analysts in the company to automate data pipeline, discuss new features with clients, lead internal code safari, and experiment new technologies for our platform. Every day is a new and challenging day. That’s very exciting.

Of course challenges mean a lot of work and the trial to keep up with this fast-peace industry means even more. I become a full-time developer. I mean full-time as day and night.

GitHub Commits

My colleague said I was having two jobs: one at the daytime working in the office, and another at the nighttime working at home. That’s true, though the nighttime job is not billable and sometimes more challenging than the daytime one.

One cruel fact of this industry is that the concepts, trends, and technologies can be changed in just 2 or 3 years. It’s harder when you are not in a CS major (yeah I am the old-class geographer!). At 2016 I took numerous hours to stay with the leading wave of techs:

I also spent much time on data structures and algorithms in order to be a qualified software engineer in the future.

But on the other hand, the software industry is warm as we believe in open source and knowledge sharing. GitHub, StackOverflow, The Spatial Community Slack Channel, and many other tech blogs have been my primary learning sources. I am glad that I was introduced into the rapidly developing world of open source GIS. Their generous sharing has been so beneficial to my work and side-projects.

With the hope of helping the future newbee, I started to publish open source projects with the highest quality I could pursue. This is my nighttime job :-P. So far, I have done

I have got the opportunity to learn and test new knowledge that I don’t use in my daytime job. As a benefit, I can move ahead the company and be able to introduce what I learn into the development practice in NBT Solutions.

Among all of these, I would like to highlight the Open Data Discovery project, the monster consuming one third of my spare time!

ODD Commits

Like all the others who start their side projects, all I wanted to do initially was simply to make an open data map about data.gov. But it opened a world much border than I expect to me and there were so many to explore. This website ends up

  • supporting 3 major open data portal platforms: CKAN, DKAN, and Socrata
  • tracking more than 300 open data portals worldwide
  • using two AWS EC2 servers for website hosting and vector tile generation
  • storing ~1 million rows of data, which is open to download

and more is under development. Scaling up a project feels great and the feedback looks great too.

After doing this amount of work, it make me feels I am no longer a newbee knowing nothing. I am confident to walk out and reach out. In 2016 I attended two conferences, 2016 SIG/GIS Conference and 2016 NYS Geosptial Summit. I co-founded the MaptimeBUF, a local meetup for open source GIS, and gave the openning talk Introduce to OpenStreetMap. In December, I gave another talk, Make an Interactive Map with Leaflet, at the local JavaScript meetup MaptimeBUF.

I spent my vocation at Washington DC and Ottawa, the two beautiful and historical capitals, and finished my city trip at northeast America. I watched my fist NFL game and the first star war movie. I started skiing as the winter came and got myself on more difficult trails :-)

Finally I got the working VISA. Good luck 2016.