2016: Ten Tiny Projects

At the beginning of 2015, while preparing to start my first full-time JavaScript role, I set some pretty ambitious goals for the year, things like reading ES6 (all of it), learning ReactJS, making a major d3JS web app.

Looking back at the long list of goals, I made progress on several of them, but not as much as I had hoped.  Realistic goal setting?  Not so much.

To be fair, I did start several personal projects, but they were just too ambitious:

  • I built a fan page for my favorite novel Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (which is now a BBC miniseries) in angularJS and SASS, but it sucked content-wise, to put it mildly. (Unless you count the illegally obtained illustrations from the novel itself, which were pretty awesome.)  I had planned some visualizations worthy of the magical subject matter  — inspiration here and here, but ran aground when I was unable to find an electronic copy of the text.
  • I started working with d3JS to build some innovative visualizations. So far, my first viz has a carrot, a cookie, and 5 sheep in it, the latter grazing dully in a perfectly straight line. Still working on this one.

It’s a shame I don’t have anything to show for these and other false starts, because I learned a lot just from setting up the codebase for these projects. I think I just need to take the ambition level down a notch next year.  Essentially, I need to set goals like a true engineer solves problems — by breaking them down into the smallest possible pieces.  In 2016, instead of aiming to complete several big projects, my goal is to do ten tiny projects — about one 4-hour project per month.

First project — making a simple d3JS viz from scratch.  Not an innovative viz.  Just your run-of-the-mill bread-and-butter janky data viz, hopefully not so janky as to be illegible.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

If this sounds like the sort of thing you’d like to see, stay tuned.  2016 is just getting started.


  1. That sounds like a great plan. It took me years to figure out that I was being too ambitious with software projects. You learn how to write by writing; You learn how to finish personal projects… by finishing personal projects! Happy to see what you come up with. Good luck!

  2. Sounds exciting! I haven’t really worked with anything outside of Java yet, but I’ve been looking to learning a bit of web development sometime. I’ll be looking forward to seeing what you make. Best of luck!

  3. Here ! Here! — Stay at it if you have the passion and time. I know enough PHP, JAVASCRIPT, HTML, CSS etc to launch a very basic site… but, quickly learned I need that time and focus to create content, and to try and manage a little SEO, and traffic. Becoming a skilled developer is just too time consuming for me. Glad you and others out there have the desire though.
    Great content here I might add… Thanks

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