Dramatic title, I know, but I’m actually pretty serious here. This is my 100th blog post, and I wanted to take that momentous occasion to reflect on the past 10 months of blogging and try to explain how much positive change I’ve seen in my life as a result of Flex. My brief Flex history: started playing with Flex when 1.5 was out (so what was that, like ’04 or ’05?), started blogging about Flex in Jan 2007, quit my full-time job to become a Flex consultant end of March 2007, now loving life/work and even writing a book.
Quality of life
This is number one. I love working from home. Absolutely, without a doubt love it. My morning commute now consists of waking up and strolling to the best coffee shop on earth (really), and then heading home so I can switch back into my bathrobe and begin the day’s work (I haven’t yet walked to the coffee shop in the bathrobe…). This is amazing. I used to commute from San Francisco to Palo Alto (via the train), which took a little over an hour each way. And I started work at 8 am, so that meant I left my house around 6:50. And at work I was in the basement of a building that had no windows. So during the winter months I would get up when it was dark, spend nearly all of my day inside with no sunlight (except for a brief period for lunch), and then by the time I got home it was dark again. I hated winter. Now needless to say, I have windows. And if I want to start work at 8 am I can wake up at 7:59 (but let’s be honest, 8’s pretty early…). If the time comes when I’m looking for a normal in-the-office type of job, I don’t know if I can handle the commute (I know never say never, but it’s going to be hard).
My girlfriend lives in Berkeley, which is a 20 minute or hour drive (depending on traffic). But my old commuting schedule meant that I had to sleep every night in San Francisco in order to catch the train in the morning. Now I have the freedom to work from anywhere. My new favorite schedule is working from Berkeley in the morning, driving across the bay bridge at 10am when there’s no traffic, and working the rest of the day from home. This flexibility is probably what I value the most about my current work situation. I can’t even explain what a great effect this has had on my life. So yes, Flex has helped my love life.
I’ve worked on some great projects with some great guys while I’ve been contracting. My first gig got me on a conference call with Jesse Warden (handing off a project) and Darron Schall (who I had the pleasure of working with). How sweet is that? Here’s a brief list of the projects I’ve been able to work on (minus some small non-public stuff):
This was actually my first (and also my current) Flex project as a contractor with Universal Mind. I’ve been involved with multiple iterations of this prototype application and love where I’ve been able to take it most recently. Watch the demo video if you want to learn more about it. I found out I love mapping applications (or more specifically, the unrealized potential of mapping technology on the web).
I got the chance to help create the Ribbit developer API (through the great guys at ESRIA). I got to know Chuck Freedman, and it’s going to be really fun to watch where Ribbit’s going to go in the next few months.
Got the chance to build an application for MapQuest (through Universal Mind) that shows off their AS3 API. The project was fast and fun, and hopefully we’ll see another iteration of this app in the future.
- TileUI and experiments
While this stuff doesn’t fall under the category of paid-work, I’ll just point out that Flex has let me do some really interesting experimental work that keeps my brain super active and gets me really excited about the technology I get to work with. It’s so easy to get excited about this stuff when there are such sweet demos people are constantly churning out, like all the amazing 3D stuff that’s going on right now. (P.S. TileUI is not dead, and I hope to be able to share more info in the future)
Community and worries about working alone
The Flex community rocks. One of the biggest concerns I had about working from home was the lack of co-workers around to bounce ideas off of. After being involved in the community for the past year or so I’ve now got an IM list of great Flex devs, most of whom I’ve had the pleasure of going out drinking with. If I’ve got technical questions or want to get some brainstorming on an idea, I ping one of my friends. That’s not the same as having an office full of friends, but it works well for me. I got to be friends with some of the great people at Adobe, and Deepa and I are even writing a book together. Frickin cool.
And yeah, the money’s good. I won’t go into detail but I’ll just say I make multiples of what I made before (either I’m overpaid now or I was underpaid before, you can take your pick). If you’re looking forward to your standard 4% raise at your full time job and you can do good Flex work, I’d consider checking out your other options. The job market is at a great place right now for Flex developers, you can probably make a pretty big pay jump.
It’s been a crazy 7 months since I left my full-time job (7 months!). It’s weird to think, that timeframe doesn’t sound like that long. But within the last seven months I’ve changed jobs, spoken at conferences, and now I’m writing a book. Back in April I bet my career on Flex (although I didn’t really consider it a career at that point). Looking back on that decision, I have to say it was the perfect decision at the perfect time.
Alright, enough sentimental crap. Next post will be ActionScript code, I promise.