2018 in review

category: personal

The year is about to end, so here is another year in review post!

Some might think it is odd to summarise one’s own year, but I think it is fun to share some facts and thoughts. I love reading these kinds of posts from others (hi Zell, Andy, Chee-Aun, Nienke, Heydon). So here we go. Like last year, I’ve divided stuff into highlights and things I learned. To be clear, that doesn’t mean I had a year consisting of 100% highlights and learnings. That would be weird. Of course there was also stuff that went wrong, wasn’t amazing or was personal. I just think they’re for elsewhere (in person over drinks).

Highlights

Projects

In 2018, I spent most of my time in Mozilla’s Open Innovation team, that I’ve been part of for over a year now (as a contractor). I feel very lucky to get to work with so many smart people. I’m specifically working on the IAM project. For those unfamiliar with the acronym: IAM is short for identity and access management, it is about how people prove who they are (for instance, with email or a third party) and get access to stuff with as little friction as possible. That is particularly challenging when people have multiple identities, which most do. As part of the IAM effort, it’s been super exciting to build most of the front-end for a project codenamed “DinoPark”, which is currently in closed beta. I’m excited to continue this work in 2019 and share more when we can.

In Q4, I also spent a day a week working at the City of The Hague, specifically helping with improving accessibility and profesionalising front-end development of their digital services. It’s been great to see improvements shipped both in the application’s code as well as the content management system product. Looking forward to what we’ll do next year.

Other short engagements included:

Volunteering

I did not do a lot of volunteering this year, but I did translate the Inclusive Design Principles into Dutch and worked on improving MDN documentation on accessibility.

Cities

This year, I traveled to Munich, Bristol, Munich (twice), Taipei, San Francisco, Mountain View, Paris, Como, London (twice), Berlin (twice), and Düsseldorf. I’m not so proud of this carbon footprint, and experimented with European train travel, which took a bit more time, but was pretty ok for productivity.

Panorama with on left hills bros letters on top of building and on right a huge bridge My terrible attempt at taking a panorama picture from the rooftop of the Mozilla offices in San Francisco

Conferences and events

This year, I attended these events:

Laptop back with lots of stickers Proof that I attended events: new stickers!

I spoke multiple times, too:

I did my CSS Layout workshop three more times (for Fronteers and at Front-end United) and ran a new accessible components workshop (for Frozen Rockets).

Organisers, thanks so much for having me, a newbie speaker. The first time conference speaking was stressful, time-consuming and very scary, but also satisfying. I got great feedback, both praise (yay!) and things I can improve on (thanks, you know who you are).

I’d love to speak more in 2019, please do get in touch if you want to have me present at your event or give a workshop.

Writing

I published 26 posts on this blog, not including this one. Like I said in last year’s review: I very much recommend writing to fellow people who work on the web, it can be helpful in many ways. It is also great to be able to do this on a domain you own, on pages you designed and built. If anyone needs mentoring around this, get in touch, I would love to help!

Some of the most read posts:

Reading

It felt a bit weird to have the Goodreads app keep me in check reading-wise, but it did the job. I managed to read more than the goal I set: 46 books. Some that readers of this blog might find interesting:

Book covers of brotopia, klont, common sense and killing commendatore

For all the ‘big data’ and AI expertise that Amazon, which owns Goodreads, has, the app is still very bad at recommending new books. For me, it doesn’t go beyond what the most generic airport bookshops stock. The real human beings I follow on the platform brought much more reading inspiration.

Things I learned

Some random things I learned:

What I want to get better at next year:

With that, I wish all readers a fantastic 2019! If anyone has written year in review posts, I’d love to hear about them in the comments/webmentions, and read what you have done.

Comments & mentions (12)

HJ Chen likes this
Manuel Matuzović likes this
Christian Schaefer likes this
Andy Bell likes this
replied: great overview hidde! v interesting to see all the things uve done. 2Thoughtz: "The real human beings I have befriended..." sounds like "My girlfriend who lives in Canada and is definitely not made up..." :p and nit pick: FF nightly isn't a beta channel. That's a separate version
likes this
Johan Ronsse likes this
Rhian van Esch likes this
Marcus Herrmann likes this
Andy Bell replied: Ah yes, I very much enjoyed this one. Personal ones are good!
Marcus Herrmann likes this
Hidde de Vries (@hdv) is a freelance front-end and accessibility specialist in Rotterdam (NL), conference speaker and workshop teacher. Currently, he works for the W3C in the WAI team (views are his own). Previously he was at Mozilla, the Dutch government replied:

Wow, the year only has 8 days left! Time for a review.

Like last year, I’ve divided this into highlights and things I learned.

Highlights

Projects

In the first half year of 2019, I continued my project at Mozilla’s Open Innovation team, building their People directory, and worked in the City of The Hague on accessibility and the internal design system.

In July I started a new project: at the W3C’s Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), I am now working as part of the European Commission-funded WAI-Guide project. My work there is focused on improving the accessibility of/in tools that create web content, like CMSes. In short: we want more accessibility both for content editors (a good editing experience) and for end users (good output).

Apart from my work at the W3C, I’ve been doing the occasional WCAG audit and accessibility/CSS workshop in my own capacity too.

Speaking

Last year I spoke at my first conference. This year I got the opportunity to do new (and some older) talks in various places.

In March, I did a talk called It’s the markup that matters at De Voorhoede. It was part of their Future Proof Components event, and covered building accessible components, accessibility trees and the AOM.

At WordCamp Rotterdam and Inclusive Design Ghent, I shared 6 ways to make your site more accessible, based on my experience looking at common accessibility problems that front-end developers can do something about.

In October, I presented a very short lightning talk at the Web We Want session at View Source Conference, about how some accessibility problems could cease to exist if browsers would automatically fix them. The problems: zoomability, readability, color contrast and focus indication (the first three are each solved in at least one browser, the fourth has not). This talk, shockingly, won both the jury and audience award.

Also in October was a talk called Breaking barriers with your CMS at the Fronteers Jam Session (on behalf of W3C/WAI). This presented some of my recent work at WAI: it explained ATAG and the role of the CMS in accessibility efforts.

At the Design in Government Conference in November, I talked about the case for web accessibility from philosophical ethics, attending on behalf of W3C, and I did an updated version of my graphic design on the web talk in Dutch for Freshheads in Tilburg.

Then in December, I joined dotCSS to talk about the history of CSS: On the origin of cascades put some of that in a Darwin-themed talk. The venue was enormous and intimidating, and there was transport strikes, but the event itself was excellent, with a great atmosphere and very well organised.

I also did a number of in-house talks and workshops, about CSS Layout, ARIA and accessibility guidelines.

Reading

I read much more than last year (72 books so far), and have written more about books on this blog (see reading list about equality and reading list about tech and society). Reading more books helped me read less social media, watch less video and generally relax more.

Some notes:

  • Audiobooks are great as you can read them in situations where holding a book doesn’t work (e.g. walking a dog, housework)
  • To read more, finding the right books is half of the work (I mean, not literally… but it is important). I found more people to follow on Goodreads, keep a close eye on the literary supplements in the papers and love posts like 2018: books in review by Karolina Szczur.
  • Dutch libraries have ebooks and audiobooks that can be ‘borrowed’ via apps.

Writing

This year marked over 100 posts on this blog, I wrote 24 posts (including this one).

Some posts that people found interesting:

I also contributed to the Mozilla Hacks blog, writing Indicating focus to improve accessibility and How accessibility trees inform assistive tech. Thanks to Havi Hoffman for the opportunity!

Cities

This year I traveled to Antwerp, Berlin, Bristol, Essen, Ghent, Nice, Paris, Taipei and Vienna, using trains where possible, but I need to do better at that.

Things I learned

Here’s some random things that I learned about in the past year:

  • Recently I started working on an app with Svelte, the front-end framework that doesn’t ship in its entirety to the user’s runtime, but tries to compile as much as possible to vanilla JavaScript. Small bundles, yay!
  • As I started my project at the W3C, I learned a lot the standards process, the dynamics in Working Groups and the bots that help run teleconferences.
  • A large part of my work centered around authoring tools, or tools that create web content, and how they can help bring more accessibility in the world.
  • I became increasingly aware of the role of surveillance capitalism in the world.
  • I learned to love AirTable as a way to organise and plan the non-coding parts of my work, which are becoming a larger part of the whole

In any case, I’d like to thank the readers of this blog for reading and sharing the posts I’ve published, it means a lot. I wish you all a great 2020!

Leave a comment
Posted a response to this?

This website uses Webmentions. You can manually notify me if you have posted a response, by entering the URL below.