2021: Year in Review

January 6, 2022

Topics: Personal, WordPress.

It’s time for my annual look back at what’s been going on in the last year! And by “annual” I mean “I’ve never done this before, so don’t bother looking.” This last year was a busy one, replete with challenges and opportunities of all types. It’s not even feasible for me to really review everything I did this year, but I’ll at least cover WordPress & WordPress plugins.

Working on WordPress

I became a WordPress Committer in September 2019, but I was only nominally active during 2019 and 2020 thanks to a wide variety of other commitments, such as WP Accessibility Day 2020. In 2021 I became more active as a committer. I committed 46 changes to WordPress core in 2021. (And only a small fraction of those reverted previous changes or fixed my own errors…)

I’ve continued to contribute to the WordPress Accessibility Team, primarily focusing on accessibility issues in the Media library and image management.

In late 2021, I began making plans with Amber Hinds to mount WP Accessibility Day 2022, and we’re just getting started on planning that event for the fall. If you want to get involved, drop a comment on this post or contact me by email and I’ll get you hooked up!

2021 Speaking

I don’t speak very often, but I’m happy to do it when invited!

WordPress Accessibility Meetup

The WordPress Accessibility Meetup is the first official WordPress meetup to be organized around a topic rather than a location. I gave a talk on my plug-in WP Accessibility to help kick the new meetup into gear. As I always do when I discuss WP Accessibility, I emphasized that many of its features are fundamentally overlays, and better fixed at the source.

The WordPress Accessibility meetup is a great opportunity to hear some fabulous speakers and learn a lot – if you’re interested in this intersection of topics, don’t hesitate to join! They’re doing great things.

WordCamp Santa Clarita

In early August I gave a keynote conversation for WordCamp Santa Clarita. This was a fabulous event, with a whole weekend dedicated to talks on WordPress Accessibility – they’re all up on WordPress.tv, so give that event some attention! Joe Simpson, Jr put a huge amount of thought and attention into making that a great event.

Cloudways Webinar Series

In July, I did a webinar on accessibility and user experience for Cloudways as part of a series they did focused on accessibility. (And don’t miss their webinar with Rian Rietveld, as well!)

WordPress Plugins

Several years ago I recognized that I’d overdone it developing plug-ins. As a result, I really only actively maintain five of my free plug-ins and my premium plug-ins. That’s really more than enough, believe me. I’ll give my other plug-ins minor updates as necessary, but rarely do any new development.

My Calendar

In 2021, I did 10 releases of My Calendar, constituting a total of 979 commits to Github. That includes one major release, version 3.3.0, in December 2021. The new version of My Calendar was primarily focused on updating the admin to improve usability, clarity, and accessibility. I owe a lot to careful testing of new and changed features by Paal Joachim Romdahl. This was my first experiment with hiring somebody to help work through a major release.

My Tickets

I managed 19 releases in 2021, with a total of 176 commits. The next major release is on the way, and I expect it in early 2022; but most of the work on My Tickets was spent on minor tweaks and bug fixes throughout the year.

WP Accessibility

I shipped 11 releases of WP Accessibility in 2021, but with only 76 commits. WP Accessibility is a considerably smaller and more compact plugin than My Calendar or My Tickets, so those changes are usually much smaller. A few of those changes were actually removals of obsolete features – there were some features in WP Accessibility that compensated for browser deficiencies that are no longer relevant. I also added a few useful settings, such as the including alt text in search of the WordPress media library and an option that prevents WordPress from defaulting to the full screen version of the block editor. (That change, in all honesty, is because I wanted this option.)

WP to Twitter

Since the Twitter API (Application Programming Interface) has been relatively stable, WP to Twitter hasn’t required nearly as much maintenance as it used to. As a result, it had only 4 releases and 50 commits in 2021. The next release will go out in a few days, though. While the API itself hasn’t changed much, I did need to rewrite the instructions on how to set up an application yet again.

Access Monitor

Access Monitor is clearly the neglected child in my plug-ins. It got only one release in 2021, and just a handful of changes. It will need some attention, however, since Tenon.io is updating their API, and the new API uses a workflow that requires a callback to receives the results, rather than getting them immediately. Since tests of large pages can take a while, this is a helpful change; but it will require some significant changes to the plug-in!

Other work…

In addition to the above, I maintained my 6 premium plug-ins, built or maintained sites for a wide variety of clients, consulted on the accessibility of sites for a wide variety of clients (that sometimes overlap with the latter group, but not always), and did my best to hold my life together!

Personally speaking…

Thanks to the wonders of the pandemic combined with the wonder of technology, I recorded a few concerts and performed a few others live (with very small, widely spaced audiences.) If you’re interested in the musical side of my life, here are a few concerts I recorded this year:

Sospiri del Celeste (with Sospiri)

Bartok in the Bronx (with the Minnesota Philharmonic)

Ralph Vaughan Williams – Along the Field (just for ourselves)

What I failed to do

While I can look back at the year and clearly see that I accomplished a great deal, there’s one area where I consistently fell down: connecting with people. I can’t say that it was a bad year; but accomplishing everything came at a cost. My goal for 2022 is to work on improving this.

  • Let go of things I an no longer able to or interested in sustaining.
  • Share my responsibilities with contractors or partners who can provide those services better than I can.
  • Make use of professional services that can make my life easier.

Those are changes that will, I hope, allow me the time and energy to improve the things in my life that need improving.

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