I’ve been thinking recently about purpose for Nifty Digits and myself, reviewing the clients I’ve done work for in the past and that work which I’ve felt most fulfilled by.
I’ve straddled a path between web/pipeline developer thus far - so it’s fairly difficult to pin down what I do in a single mission statement. A more enterprising developer may well have done that as part of a business plan when they first started.
I had previously wondered if I could be a voice for change in transforming studios through better using of automation, tools and software. As more software is pushed out of the studio to the cloud, theres a lot of complexity and configuration to setting up and using them, which is often outside the expertise of smaller places. At this point both AWS and Google Cloud have offerings for offsite rendering, having bought up Deadline and Zync. Most of the studios I’ve worked with typically only have a single person handling/firefighting issues. This isn’t a good position for anyone to find themselves within when the pipeline decides to stop working.
What I’ve realised is that this is more likely a full time job for a transformation team who can share responsibilities for all the requirements studios have. It’s not something I can take on by myself. Often, software companies in this space sign up freelancers to recommend to install and help guide studios on how they might better utilise their tools. I’ve yet to see independent companies who aren’t endorsed by one company or another.
I’ve enjoyed working with a number of clients in a variety of domains. Interestingly, I’ve got to experience the media delivery pipeline as well through video-on-demand and analytics applications. Each one of these experiences has been enjoyable in its own right for different reasons. As well as improving my development skills, I’ve enjoyed configuring much of the automation within each project necessary to be backed by unit/integration tests and later deployment. Automating away everything that can possibly be done by a script means myself and my team spending more time solving more interesting problems.
Particularly working with well structured, highly organised agile teams is something that I’ve found incredibly beneficial. When teams are setup to be able to work quickly, reflect and help one another, it will inevitably lead to higher quality work.
I’ve spent a big chunk of my time working on side projects in the hope that they may actually become useful products - many more recently which I’ve held back from launching. These include a full blown production management tool and a ecommerce product which I’m still considering my options on what to do with.
This is mostly because I’m slightly embarrassed by the state they’re in when they are first started. They’re scrappy, not particularly polished versions of what I originally imagined they might be. As developers we’re encouraged to launch quickly, iterate and figure out why people are using our services from early users - but as I become older I wonder if there’s a calibre of app which is expected from a developer who is getting more and more grey hairs.
The writer and philosopher in me enjoys the rapid feedback loop that exists between blog author and the internet. To pause and reflect on where I am is also something I find useful. This is something that isn’t available when working on long running projects (like peer reviewed research or a movie for instance). I really hate that in such environments I’m unable to share anything about my work. A couple of development tutorials I wrote after overcoming a difficult programming issue some time ago are easily the most visited posts on this blog.
There’s also the huge amount of video and podcasts that exist on youtube/itunes that I get a huge amount myself from. I’ve wondered if there’s anything I can contribute here too.
There’s a couple of things that seem common to me when looking through this list - namely solving interesting problems and helping people. The way in which this seems to make sense for me is building things for clients and writing material that helps people like me (developers) do their job.
One of the changes I’ve decided upon is therefore to write more regularly on topics that I’m interested by (python, go, serverless, django and vue are a few that spring to mind right now). I may even divulge some thoughts on how studio pipelines might be architected.
I have also been working on the launch of a new product which will hopefully help development teams understand how well they’re working together. Having learnt after a number of non-launches, this product is much smaller than anything I’ve previously written, but still represents a huge amount of work on my part. It’s likely I’ll push the launch button in the new year after the hubbub of Christmas has passed.