30 Jun 2017

I’ve liked the idea of writing week notes for ages, but I’ve never managed to get started. When you’re busy with work, without taking the time to reflect on what you’ve actually done, you can look up and realise half the year has already passed. Hi July!

In the past, there has always been too much I can’t talk about publicly which has made it hard to write anything meaningful. But now I have a new job, a new purpose and a new found energy to write here more.

Between my Developer Advocacy role and running the Node-RED project there will be plenty I can write about. There will undoubtedly be things I can’t talk about directly, but that shouldn’t get in the way.

The main thing I need to remember is who I’m writing these week notes for. I’m sorry, dear reader, but it isn’t you. Whilst I hope you find them interesting, if you chose to read them, they are primarily here for me to record just what it is I spend my time doing. Sometimes there will be a story to tell, sometimes there will be a collection of bullet points. The main thing is to get that rhythm going.

Given the slightly blurred lines of when I formally moved from ETS to the Digital Business Group, I’m going to call Monday June 12th as the start of Week 1. Which does mean I’m already 3 weeks behind on my notes. So lets catch things up.

Week 1 was spent juggling three things; trying to get Node-RED 0.17 finished and released, preparing and delivering a talk on Node-RED Dashboard and preparing three separate workshops on Node-RED and IBM Watson IoT to be delivered the following week.

We try to do regular releases with Node-RED, but inevitably, things get in the way and more time passes than we’d like between them. 0.17 was overdue but there were a small number of outstanding issues that needed squashing. I wanted to get them done and released before the workshops the following week as I knew they’d benefit from it. But in the end, it had to give way.

The Node-RED Dashboard talk was an internal call with a community of technical sales folk to introduce them to Dashboard and show them it can do. Whilst we have a standard set of slides for the main Node-RED project, we didn’t have an equivalent set for Dashboard. So I spent a day pulling those together. (Note to self: we really should make our standard intro slides available publicly somewhere)

The workshops were part of large education event for the senior technical architect community across the whole of Europe. I was running the IoT stream and had three workshops to prepare to take the participants through the whole process of using Node-RED on a device, getting it connected via Watson IoT into Bluemix and then controlling it using the Watson Conversation service. The material I produced was a set of high-level exercises that addressed each step in the process. I have to admit I wasn’t sure on how high-level or how detailed I had to make the material, but decided I’d be able to improvise once I got a better sense of the participants at the event. Which leads me neatly on to…

Week 2 was spent in Lisbon, Portugal, at the Future Skills event to deliver the workshops. 250 Technical Architects from across Europe converged on this event to participate in one of four streams; Cognitive, Blockchain, Data Science and IoT. In all, we had about 60 colleagues in the IoT stream. Across the first day and a half, we delivered the workshops and they then had to take what they had learnt and produce a demo/project/poc that was relevant to their clients. With all the usual challenges of unusable wifi at big events it was great to see a genuine variety of projects at the end.

My main takeaway was the workshop material I had produced was too ambitious for the time available. It also left too much for the participants to figure out for themselves. A good start for the material, but needs more work to be properly reusable.

Week 3 was back in Hursley focusing on 0.17. The remaining issues had been mostly resolved and the last task was to get the release notes written and some final documentation updates done. For a release that had over 300 commits, that took some time. Some releases have obvious headline features – this one was much more a sum-of-its-parts type release. That made it a challenge to decide what things to pull out into the release blog post. But I got there eventually and 0.17 was released today.

Being back in Hursley also meant catching up on things that I’d had to put to one side whilst in Lisbon. Conversations around our plans for developer advocacy activities, discussions with other teams to ensure we’re working in the same direction and the usual time spent help out colleagues with their random questions about Node-RED that pepper my time.

With the move to the DBG group, I knew I’d still spend a lot of my time on Node-RED, but it was the pieces around the edge that were going to change. Based on the conversations this week, there’s lots of interesting things to get done.

Finally, I got confirmation that I’m speaking at Node Summit in San Francisco at the end of July and also just managed to submit both a talk and workshop proposal for NodeConfEU in November before the deadline today.

Next week is more planning; with Node-RED 0.17 I’m working on the plan for the next release and beyond. I also need to start preparing my talk for FullStack conference two weeks from today. And it looks like we have a couple issues to tidy up and get a 0.17.1 released sooner rather than later.

That’s it. First set of week notes done, spanning three weeks and almost hitting 1000 words. Expect a few scrawled bullet points next time.