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Happy new year everyone. It's time for my annual year in review post.

Travel and conferences

Last year was of course a strange and challenging year, with its share of difficulties and disappointments. I fortunately made it to a couple of conferences in early January, but soon after my trip to Seattle for the MVP Summit was cancelled, shortly followed by the Pluralsight European Author Summit in-person event, and it soon became clear that most conferences were going to be virtual.

Of course, virtual conferences do have their benefits, enabling me to attend many events I wouldn't have been able to get to in person, and also I was able to speak at a few user groups and give some online webinars all from the comfort of my own home.

Pluralsight courses

This year, in addition to making some updates to a couple of existing Pluralsight courses to keep them up to date, I released three new Pluralsight courses. First was an "Executive Briefing" on Microservices Architecture which was a challenging experience because it involved live video - something I hadn't attempted before.

Next up, I created a course on Versioning and Evolving Microservices in ASP.NET Core as part of a new ASP.NET Microservices learning path on Pluralsight. This gave me a chance to share my thoughts on an often-forgotten issue of avoiding breaking changes to your APIs.

Finally, I created a very short and focused course on Azure Functions called, Microsoft Azure Developer: Implement Azure Functions which is intended to help anyone preparing for the Microsoft AZ-204. As part of my preparation, I took (and passed!) the AZ-204 exam myself which was the first time I'd taken a Microsoft Azure exam.

Microservices and Azure

In my day job, I continue to mostly work as an architect, trying to drive improvements in our technology stack, coding styles and project organization. I've been leading a drive to get as much code moved from .NET 4.7.2 over to .NET Core with the intention of containerizing many of our legacy services.

In terms of Azure, it does feel like the pace of change has thankfully reduced this last year. My focus has been more on keeping track of improvements to existing services than learning loads of new ones. This year I'm looking to continue to drive adoption of Azure Durable Functions as a better way to manage some of our complex long-running workflows.

And lots of my Pluralsight courses and talks in the last year have revolved around the theme of microservices. This is because the product I am working on has been very successful and our team is continuing to grow, meaning that we are running into all the kinds of scaling challenges that microservices attempt to address. This year, I'm particularly interested in exploring how technologies like Project Tye and dapr could simplify our microservices development.

Year of music

Back in December 2019, I decided that I wanted to devote a bit more time in 2020 to improving my musical skills, and I even made a couple of impulse buys - the Yamaha MODX-7 and the Reface CP to inspire some creativity.

One of the huge benefits of 2020, was that not only did I save an hour commuting each day, but my instruments were always close at hand, allowing me to practice much more regularly than I would otherwise. I've definitely improved as a musician this year.

The lockdown also meant I recorded a lot more music, as my church had to pivot to recording each band member playing separately to a click track and mixing everything together afterwards. I even found some time in December to release a short EP of instrumental versions of a few favourite Christmas songs.

Breakthrough music video screenshot

Although I don't really have time to continue maintaining NAudio these days, I did manage to release a new version with .NET Core 3 support. There will also be a version 2 (hopefully to be blogged about soon) which will address a few code organization issues.

Plans for 2021

After a year like 2020, it's hard to confidently predict what I'll be up to this year. I'm hoping to update a few of my Pluralsight courses to reflect new improvements in Azure.

I'm also going to submit some talk ideas to some conferences. Please feel free to invite me to speak at your user group (especially about serverless, microservices or containers on Azure) - I can't accept every request, but while things are being done virtually, it is much easier for me to speak at places further afield than I normally can get to.

And although I don't really have a need to work on NAudio for any projects at the moment, I do have a couple of audio-related side projects I've been slowly building over the last year. Maybe by the end of 2021 I'll be able to share some news on those.

Anyway, hope you all have a great 2021. Keep learning, and hopefully when in-person events can happen again, I will get to meet some of you.