2016 Goals: More Cowbell

2016 Goals: More Cowbell

Rene Rubalcava | December 27, 2015

Well, 2015 was interesting for sure. Some pretty major changes, all for the better.

These were my 2015 goals and while I was doing well in all of them, some pretty big changes happened during the year to mix things up a bit.

Things that happened

I left my cushy local government job of 13 years with the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts to join the mothership. Yup, I'm working at Esri now. I'll get to that in a second.

Being anywhere for 13 years is a long time and leaving anywhere you've been working for 13 years is a big deal. I'm incredibly grateful for my time at LA County Sanitation and working with a very tight-knit, small group of GIS staff, all five of us. It was also a great experience getting work with lots of the Los Angeles County GIS people, especially the folks out of Regional Planning and the Assessors office. I kind of worked on skunkworks projects at the agency, lots of prototyping and maintaining a large GIS app for sewer maintenance. When I left, I had just sold them on a simple to use mobile app I had started. I was just a kid when I started, I learned GIS there. I didn't even have a degree when I started, I was a drafting technician that was roped into learning GIS. I was finishing up a BA in IT so I could work in the IT group, but decided to follow the GIS path and got my MA in Geography, go Fullerton!.

I remember reading somewhere that once you work somewhere for 15 years, the chances of you retiring there jump in to the 90's. Yeah, I just couldn't see myself retiring as a County employee. An opportunity came up for me to join Esri and to work on some pretty cool stuff. Plus they are literally 15 minutes away from my house.

Side note: Working at the County, I would wake up at 4:30am, leave my house at 5am to meet up with my vanpool at 5:30am, to get to work at 6:30am. Leave work at 4pm and if I was lucky, get home about 5:30pm. I did that for almost seven years. Let's just say that made the decision that much easier.

It's funny. I know lots of people that work Esri, either through Twitter or the User Conference and Developer Summit, which I've been attending both for about 12 years and now I get to work alongside a lot of these same folks. I'm contributing the JavaScript API that I've used for years. They have a solid team. There's lots of other smart people here.

I'm enjoying the work I do at Esri.

One of the benefits of working at Esri is that I don't have to spend hours on the road anymore. This leaves more time and energy to spend with the family. This of course played a lot into my decision.

Last year, I set a goal for myself to blog every week. I've managed to do that here on this site. Every single week I have made a blog post. Not always a Monday because I got sick or something came up, but every week. I've also been posting on GeoNet consistently. I've done a few more screencasts on Youtube, not nearly as much as I would like, but I think I've comfortable enough with the software to get more done.

Things to come

So in 2016, I have a few things I'm going to change up and some more goals.


I'm going to keep blogging here, consistently every week. I am however not going to keep up my GeoNet blog. Honestly, I would like this site to start generating some income, maybe support hosting costs and my Audible addiction, and that means focusing all my efforts here instead of splitting my energy among two different sites. I'm also considering expanding posts and tutorials to geodev.io. I have some ideas here. It depends on how some other projects go.


I'm writing another book. I'm currently writing Intro to ArcGIS API for JavaScript 4.0.


I'm still working out the format of the book. I was going to do an application walkthrough, but I don't think that hits all the points of the API I'll want to cover without forcing them in. So it's going to cover each new aspect of the API in more depth with multiple samples. The first draft of the book should be available for purchase in January, and you'll get the updates as they are completed all the way until the final version of the API is released. Keep an eye out for more information on this one.


I'm starting to get the hang of making videos and screencasts. So I think you can expect more of these in 2016. I have some ideas for video series that I want to get out there for people.

  • Intro to Web App Builder: Series of short videos on using Web App Builder from a developer perspective.
  • ArcGIS Online for Developers: Even before I joined Esri, I was starting to do more and more work with ArcGIS Online. I think there is a bit of a gap for how developers might use ArcGIS Online for their workflows. I started to address this in the GeoJSON in ArcGIS Online video. A video series on this could probably be a big help for developers to really take advantage of the tools at their disposal.


So with all this morning free time I have now, I can get to my gym when they open at 5am. It's been fun to get in there in the morning and try to work on getting my lifts back to where they used to be. Nothing quite like the feeling of carrying some heavy iron on your shoulders.


What most of this all wraps itself into is that my mission is to help you. I'm here to help you, the spatial developer. If there are things you'd like me to cover, let me know. My posts are pretty Esri-centric at the moment, but that's because I've always written about what I've been working with. But, Mapbox is doing some interesting stuff and I've thought about doing some PostGIS to OpenLayers stuff using different technologies.

I'd still want to do a podcast, but it would probably be pretty boring just listening to me for 15-30 minutes. This is still on the table, I just need to see if I could get some stuff to line up.

I will of course keep you updated on any new projects here, so subscribe to my weekly email update and stay tuned!

I hope everyone has a great 2016!