Blog Update – January 2019

Hey all. It’s been a while since last posting. I hope you’ve had a fantastic start to 2019 and have a great year planned ahead.

I’ve spent the last few weeks redesigning the website and blog. It’s a start and will be an evolving design over the next few months. Check back often to see what’s different 🙂

It’s been exciting learning about the intricacies of WordPress theme development though. Coming from Front-end development for large enterprise CMSs to developing themes for the humble WordPress has been intimidating, ironically. I’ve learned that there are thousands of people who have run into the same problems I have – like how to fetch the next page of posts in a search or linking to previous and next posts.

Learning WordPress has been neat because these simple problems have solutions already provided by WordPress itself. It’s also telling of just how much work goes into a nice slick theme that can be downloaded and used off the theme marketplace. Now that I’ve lifted the lid on WordPress theme development, I see there’s a heap of unknowns to learn. But it’s exciting because it’s like looking under the hood of a car after five years of not understanding it – and then finally getting how it works. (I don’t know the foggiest about how cars work, just by the way.)

My stance on LibGDX Development

I started this blog as a Gamedev blog, to document my process when developing with the free and open-source Java game framework LibGDX. But my thoughts on LibGDX have changed since then. And certainly my thoughts on software and development on a whole. More on that later.

I went through University as a Java developer. And my previous job used Java extensively. So LibGDX – as a Java-based framework – kind of just made sense to use. There is a heap of flexibility and low-level control with the framework. But that also means a lot of boilerplate code – the stuff that simply gets things running like scene transitions, hooking up inputs, sprite animations, sound and setting up cameras. And this is what hurts the most about LibGDX development.

With LibGDX, you’re spending more time writing boilerplate than game logic. In my games at least, it felt like I was spending 70% of the time setting up engine logic. 20% of the time was spent on typing up a UI. Yes – typing up a UI, because there is no in-built UI editor. The other 10% of the time was actually spent coding a fun game.

So I’m sad to say that LibGDX has been sitting idle on my PC for a while. It is a great framework to learn all the basics of game engines. And the time has been valuable. But for me, it’s a little too much set-up before I get started. It’s not a case of being lazy, it’s a case of being inefficient.

It feels like a breakup to leave LibGDX to the side. There have been good times and bad times. But mostly good. I wish the framework and its patrons well into the future. I’m grateful for what LibGDX has done, though for me, I feel well schooled enough in the basics and now want to focus on other things.

My stance on Development in 2019

Everything in the web world has been moving toward modularity. Instead of building things up from scratch, it’s easier than ever to get started. New tools like google’s Flutter, for example, are crazy popular – because they let you write cross-platform apps with very little overhead. Progressive Web Apps are also on the rise. Why? Because they let web developers also be app developers. And again, this saves time and headaches in trying to set things up.

In fact, setting up projects is the thing I really dislike most about Software Development. Yes. Maybe even hate. Because it’s time spent (read: wasted) not coding business logic. One serious offender of this is damn webpack. Why am I playing around with plugins, extractors, rules and compilers instead of just making my website look pretty?

I may sound jaded. And that’s because I pretty much am. In October last year, my resignation went in. Three months later in December, I had my tearful last day. This year, I’m going independent. But not as a developer for hire. 2019 is looking to be a break from working on software.

So what’s coming up in 2019?

I’ve always liked art.

As a younger person, I liked drawing comics. Heaps of comics. But that came to an end when I graduated from primary school. For whatever reason, I had decided that drawing and art weren’t going to make money for me. Who knew the internet would happen. But that was how it was at the time. So when I went into high school I focused on academics. I did well at school too, which in turn, provided me with positive feedback to continue down the academic route. I graduated from high school with great grades and went to University and studied Software. The rest is well, history.

I started drawing again about two years ago after stumbling across the Drawfee channel on YouTube (do check them out. They’re funny.) I think the video that got me into their channel was one about drawing Pokemon from memory. In any case, after remembering I liked drawing, I tried drawing again myself. And I had fun doing it. So I signed up shortly after to a comic drawing class offered by the local school and enjoyed that too. Then last year I signed up to a bunch of watercolour classes because watercolour has always been an amazing painting medium I’ve wanted to explore. And so here I am in 2019, with a buried and rediscovered passion for creating art.

So that’s my plan for 2019. Art.

I can’t say I’ll never go back to coding. Heck, I started this post by saying I coded this WordPress theme. But I certainly want to put that programming ability to more meaningful projects. Ones that might even involve some more of my artwork. But certainly projects that mean more than a paycheck. But my focus and priority is to nurture my creativity. It doesn’t come back so simply after 15 years of neglect. And that means coding is going to take a backseat this year.

Life is simpler this way too. I don’t need to fight error messages to set up a project, write boilerplate, or test code. I can pick up a pen and paper, or watercolours and a brush, and make great art. And that makes me happy.

If you want to check out my drawings and watercolours, visit my Etsy store and follow me on Instagram. I’ll also be posting more here so bookmark my blog and check back often.