Weeknotes 22:34

November 9, 2022

Week of October 30–November 5

New project

LGND is redesigning a site for Principal Media, whose focus has been to license its vast content catalog to top-tier TV channels and digital platforms worldwide. The company will soon be expanding its capabilities to create original productions. We are building a site to help them communicate this new direction.

I started working on the new site two weeks ago but had to take some unexpected days off right before some scheduled time off. I got back into it this week.

This project is a smaller build than the last two projects that I worked on recently. It is refreshing to have a smaller scope. I am also excited about the opportunity to work with our newest designer. She has a lot of creative ideas and I have been chomping at the bit to be able to bring one of her creative visions to life.

I am building this project with Gutenberg blocks and Advanced Custom Fields in WordPress. This project has been a perfect match for this system as it is comprised of a lot of reusable blocks. I have also been able to build many blocks with different options to choose from in the backend that will change the layout or look of that block on the front end.

The flexibility of this system has really aided me as there have already been changes to the design since I began development. But I was able to address many of those changes by selecting different options that I had anticipated for the blocks or by adding some new options to modify the existing block. I have also been able to reorder layouts easier by changing the block order or removing blocks that we decided not to use.

I feel like I am beginning to hit my stride with developing in Gutenberg and being able to take advantage of the flexibility that this way of developing affords.

Training and documentation

Late in the week, I had to shift gears to give my attention to preparing training for the client of the Energy Efficiency Hub. We recently launched version 2 of the site and needed to train the team on how to add and edit content.

I wanted to create a guide that they could reference in the future as they are working on the site. I have built a couple of guides over the last year and would like to make it a standard practice.

Last summer, I created a WordPress guide for GenesisHR and the Gutenberg site I had built for them. I created that guide in the backend. But it was time-consuming because the pages were static content that I coded from scratch.

I started putting together the guide by addressing each of the custom Gutenberg blocks that I had created. This process helped me to prepare for the training. It had been several weeks since I created most of those blocks so I needed a refresher on how they worked in order to be able to explain them to the Hub team.

Screenshot of one of the page of the WordPress guide I created for the client

I had the brilliant idea of creating the guide as a custom post type in WordPress. Then I created a template for the post type and used Gutenberg block to build the guide pages. I created a special function in my functions.php file so that my guide custom post type would not show up in the search results for the Hub site.

I still have documentation to finish but I got off to a good start and created an easier way for me to do it not only in this project but in future projects. This approach also had the advantage that the pages will be easier to update in the future.

A note about documentation

Documentation is one of the most challenging tasks for a developer. I would much rather be writing code than trying to explain how to use it. But it is very important to be able to document how to build things.

I try to build things that will be easy to use or easy for others to figure out. But those things still need to be explained so it is important to my craft that the client has documentation so they can use the solutions that we have built for them.

I have also found that in the process of writing, I usually think of better solutions to implement as I struggle to explain a solution that might have a simpler solution. Each time that I have written a guide, I end up going back and changing my code to make it easier to use or easier to explain.

Saturday “studio” day

On Saturday, I decided to spend some time working on Principal Media. With a deadline approaching, I made the decision to use the weekend to catch up. It is a rare thing that I work on a weekend and I am very grateful for that.

My company does not encourage it and tries its best to keep us from having to bleed into our personal time. But the reality of client work is that there are times you have to use the time you can in order to get things done.

I called it a “studio day” because it reminds me of the many Saturdays I spent in the architecture studio working on projects during college. It was always a bit more relaxed than working during the week or working late at night. And many times, I found that I was the only one or that there were only a few other people there on a Saturday morning or afternoon. I would listen to music and focus on my work.

Marvin Hall at the University of Kansas, where I spent many Saturdays working in an architecture studio.

I count it a great privilege that I get to do something that I love and enjoy for my job (building websites). And because of that, I know that I can find joy on that rare Saturday when I need to put in a little bit of extra time to catch up or just to give me a bit of margin in the week ahead.

And those times of work always feel a bit more relaxed, much like those Saturdays in Marvin Hall. It is easier to get into “flow” and stay in “flow” because there are no meetings to attend or teammates to respond to on Slack.

I even listened to some music that I would frequently listen to back in those studio days in college.

Articles I read

I read these over the past two weeks and not just this past week. I decided not to include links in my post last week due to the length of the other things I wrote.

Books I read this week

What I watched

  • Extraordinary Attorney Woo (Netflix) – I have really enjoyed this series that my wife got me into.
  • Captains (Netflix) – I have enjoyed this documentary series about five captains representing five countries trying to qualify for the World Cup. I have really enjoyed the background information on countries such as Lebanon.
  • Somebody Feed Phil (Netflix) – I have loved every episode of this series. Everyone needs a Phil in their life.
  • World Series (Fox) – I watched several games of the World Series. Mostly in parts. Not whole games.
  • Andor (Disney+)
  • Blue Bloods (CBS)
  • The second half of the Georgia-Tennessee game (CBS)

What I played

  • FIFA 23 (Manchester City)

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