December and January were a whirlwind as I tried to finish Professional Email Design and get it out into the wild. While I was looking forward to some time to decompress, play some video games, and relax with my family immediately after its release, work and travel put the kibosh on those plans.
Fast forward a month, and I’ve finally found some time to sit back and relax. I’ve conquered Far Cry 4, done some fun projects with my family, and had a little time to think about what’s next.
So, what is next? Well, apart from some really exciting initiatives at Litmus, I’ll be focusing on a few things, both email and web-related.
Over the long run, I plan on keeping Professional Email Design updated. I’ve received a number of requests from readers to add a few features and sections (and fix a couple of typos) and I’m planning on incorporating that feedback into the next version of the book. There is no date announced, but expect it in the next few months. I also keep a running list of techniques and concepts I want to add to the book, so I’ll be working on those, too.
What I’m really excited about is finally having some more time to focus on learning again. Learning, in every form, is one of my favorite things. With the book out and me in update mode, I can jump back in and learn some new skills. So, what will I be learning?
I want to learn the web
What the hell does that mean?
Well, I want to learn more about how the web works, with a focus on web development and building random ideas I’ve had floating around.
I’ve wanted to learn how to develop more complicated websites and apps for a long time. I think now is the time to do it.
This part could scare a few friends…
Bear with me, but I’m going to be focusing on learning PHP. Yep, PHP. Sorry Litmus dev team, no Ruby just yet.
Why PHP? Well, for a lot of the usual reasons people cite when talking about PHP. It’s ubiquitous, from what I hear it’s easy to initially wrap your head around, there are tons of resources out there for when I encounter problems, etc.
More importantly, though, there are two things I’m looking forward to with PHP.
- It’s easy to get a dev environment set up.
- Most of the tools I use are written in PHP. I want to extend them.
That first one is a big deal for me. I’ve attempted learning Ruby and Rails before, among other things, and so much time is lost to setting up a development environment that I fizzle out and just stop. I understand the need to have a modern dev environment, I just don’t want to spend a week getting there before focusing on learning to actually program.
With PHP I can start simple with MAMP and FTPing files to a server and move beyond that when I’m ready. At some point, I’ll look at build processes, sandboxing with Vagrant, task runners, whatever. But right now, I just want to figure out how to build same random stuff and get more comfortable with how the web works.
The second one is important, too. This site (as of this writing) runs on Statamic. I’ve also been messing around with Kirby and have random websites running on WordPress. All of them are built with PHP. I want to be able to dig in and extend them when needed. I have a few ideas for plugins and extensions for these tools, but I want to be able to build them competently. Learning PHP will allow me to do that.
Honestly, setting aside opinions on programming languages, I think the important thing is to actually, you know, learn how applications are developed. I want to learn how to interact with databases, the browser, all that fun stuff. So that’s what I’ll be doing.
A few other things
I also want to devote some time to learning more about accessibility for the web. I have a few resources I’m picking through and chances are I’ll rewrite this site at some point to experiment a bit and make it more accessible. More importantly, I’m curious to research how accessibility for the web can be applied to email design.
Finally, I want to write more about all of this here. While email topics will always be discussed, expect to read more about my adventures in learning the web, development, accessibility, and my rants about all of the above.
Alright, a few more video games and then back to work…