2018 has been a fantastic, yet challenging year at ubisend. We’ve worked with some incredible companies building, primarily, chat and voice bots, but also delivering some interesting process automation projects.
While juggling all of the work above, I’ve also been growing my own development team which has been really exciting.
I’ve particularly enjoyed having members of the team who question why we are doing things in a certain way and offering a fresh perspective how problems can be solved.
We’ve also made huge improvements to our development processes. There are still some things to tackle, but I feel good about the direction we are heading.
We also moved into our amazing new office space. It’s a great place to work from and in my opinion has vastly improved our productivity and creativity.
My daughter is now two and a half. She’s a real character and makes my wife and I laugh every day. Toddlers are challenging, but this is by far my favourite age. I love to watch her as she learns what she can and can’t get away with by pushing the boundaries and generally ignoring instructions!! It can be incredibly frustrating, but hilarious at the same time.
Our house extension finished up in the Spring. It was one of the most stressful things I have ever undertaken, but it’s amazing how quickly you forget the pain when everything is complete. I have just about finished decorating, and don’t wish to see another paint brush for some time!
Building a Chatbot with Laravel and BotMan
I collaborated with Eric L. Barnes, owner of Laravel News, to produce my first book, Building a Chatbot with Laravel and BotMan. It’s a short book that takes the reader through building a chatbot in PHP from inception of idea all the way through building the bot.
It was a lot of hard work, but something I’m incredibly proud of. It’s also something I’d like to do again, so watch this space in 2019.
To date, we have sold 426 copies of the book which I’m really happy with. I didn’t set any goals when we first published the book as I didn’t know what to expect. I don’t have a big audience (something I want to work on in 2019), so was pretty reliant on the Laravel News readers for sales. I’d like to say a big thank you to them for supporting us.
One of my side projects, Jukebot is still ticking along nicely. To date, I have over 1,500 teams using it with over 200 weekly active users.
One of my goals of 2018 was to attempt to monetise the app, but frustratingly, I keep coming up against brick walls and so it will probably keep ticking along as it is through 2019 giving me time to focus on something else instead.
I’ve been a developer now for 10 years and, somewhat regrettably, I’ve never really dabbled in anything open source. I’ve contributed pull requests here and there, but only really when it was going to help me.
This year, I decided to contribute something back and released Laravel Translation. It’s a package that helps users of the Laravel framework interact with their language files and offers a comparable functionality by exposing a database driver.
I was nervous about doing this as the Internet can be a cruel place and putting work out there for the whole world to critique felt quite intimidating.
I knew a lot of folks would be in the same boat. Keen to contribute to the open source community, but intimidated about doing so. To try to help these people, I decided to write up my whole experience in a series of blog posts on Laravel News.
This turned out to be more work than I had planned. So far I have written ten articles totalling around 7,500 words. However, it’s been a great experience and if I have helped a handful of people gain the courage needed to take the plunge, then it’s been more than worth it.
So far, there have been around 500 installs of the package and 50 stars on GitHub.
2018 has been a fantastic and challenging year.
I’m sure there are things which I have missed off this list (must start journalling next year), but I’m still proud of everything I have achieved this year.
Looking forward to hitting the ground running in 2019!