2013 Goals: No Idle Hands

2012 not as planned

2012 is wrapping up, so I thought I would gather my 2013 resolutions a little early in case the world doesn’t end this week (12-21-2012 oh no). As usual, I look back on what I had set out for myself last year and as usual not much went as planned. I don’t really discuss my personal life here, but it was a rough year for my family in 2012, so when the year started I didn’t think I would really get much done professionally. I was wrong.

As far as languages to learn/improve that I outlined for last year, not much node or Ruby, and I’ll get to why in a minute. Silverlight, sort of, but did work on a WPF project, so got more familiar with XAML. For keeping my skills well-rounded, I have gone over quite a bit of algorithms material. I did not get in to Lisp, but I did start down the path of Erlang and Erlang web apps for some reason and I am fascinated by it.

What the year has been, is very busy. I have picked up extra work that has involved lots of JavaScript, SQL, .NET, some iOS/Andoid and even custom Windows Workflow activities for Geocortex. It’s been pretty exciting to work on new stuff and the feedback has been amazing.

Stacking my Legos

My goals for 2013 are going to be focused on taking on some professional challenges and not just limited to programming. It will involve improving my current skills and becoming a well-rounded GIS professional.

At the moment, I am not too concerned about learning a new programming language (except R, I want to learn R). I am more focused on improving in the languages I am already familiar with or know and improving on the available frameworks and tools. I’m pretty confident in my JavaScript skills, but I always plan on sharpening them and it will continue to be my primary development language in 2013. For example, this year I went from heavily relying on jQuery/Backbone to minimizing my workflow so I only use Dojo with ArcGIS JS API. It’s clean, it’s simple and keeps me focused.

To keep my skills fresh, I have a subscription to a couple of online training sites. The first is Pluralsight, which has proven invaluable as a learning resource, especially for .NET and the Windows Workflow stuff I did this past year. Not cheap, but highly recommended. I also recently signed up for TekPub. I was drawn in by the Postgresql video, but stayed for the great TekPubTV and other online screencasts.

GIS skills or thrills?

I came across a couple of informative GIS career articles this year. One is the Spatial Career Guide for Undergrads by Justin Holman. Despite the title, I think it can apply to current professionals as well. The other is a quick read titled The GIS Career, Revisioned. I would recommend these to any prospective or current GIS professionals.

Like many things, GIS skills can go soft when you don’t use them everyday. I mainly spend my time in developer mode, so I have made it a point to exercise my spatial analysis/stats muscles and will continue to do so. I am looking to get more familiar with R and other open-source spatial tools. This past year I have gotten to work directly with a database architect and I’ve learned quite a bit, so I plan to improve my db skills this coming year and dive into some PostGIS goodies too. As far as cartography goes, it’s not my biggest strength, but I bought The Cartopher’s Toolkit to help me not suck at it. Do I need to cover all these points as a GIS pro? I suppose one could focus on a single career path, but I’m in way too deep at this point. Besides, that seems like it would be boring.

2013, I’m going to need more rope

To sum it up, my 2013 goals are to focus on improving my current dev and GIS skills. Whatever that may entail, I’m going to go with it. I’m not too concerned about learning a new language or about what projects I plan on taking on, I just want to get better. I’ve been doing this GIS thing for over ten years now, last thing I want to do is get complacent.