From Here On

by Marty Alchin on January 6, 2009 about myself

So, it’s been quite a while since I’ve written anything of real value here, and I’d like to change that. Sure, it’s not like I’ve been slacking, but I have a blog for a reason, and I’d like very much to make good use of it. I’d like to take a few minutes, though, to explain where I’ve been, where I am and where I plan to go in 2009 and beyond.

The beginning

When I first starting blogging, I wasn’t sure I had much to offer. So when James Bennett mentioned something called National Blog Posting Month back in November 2007, I thought I’d give it a shot and see if I had anything useful to say. If I made it through the whole month and felt like I had produced something worth reading, perhaps I had a future in writing after all.

As it turns out, I did make it through the whole month, and although not all of the articles were something to be proud of, I was pleased at the end of the month overall. I had written about some of the many things I learned while digging into Django, and much of that generated a lot of positive feedback from my readers. I kept blogging and one article even managed to hit reddit and the resulting traffic took down the site temporarily.

Then came the book

In fact, the joy I felt while blogging in those few months was what finally convinced me to contact Apress about writing a book. I had toyed with the idea for quite some time, and I had even contacted many of Django’s core developers asking if they thought my idea had merit. No matter how much they and my wife encouraged me, though, it was the response I got from my readers here that prompted me to finally take the plunge.

Of course, once I dove in, I didn’t surface for months. I wrote just eight articles here in all of 2008, seven of which while I was busy with the book. Unfortunately, if I lay all seven of those articles end to end, the combined text is still shorter than that first article of the year about plugin frameworks. Worse yet, none of those seven articles contain even a single line of code. I focused hard on the book and left this site to rot.

A new year, a new goal

Since finishing the book, I’ve had a chance to put the finishing touches on a new design for this site that I’ve been working on since June. It’s much cleaner, easier for me to deal with and has a greater focus on content. It’s somewhat inspired by some of the “minimalist” designs that have been floating around, but I don’t consider it to be minimalistic at all.

To me, minimalism is about the intent to reduce something to its barest components, but that’s not what I wanted to do. Instead, I just wanted to put forward what I’m good at. As I get better with design and graphics, perhaps this site will grow more artistic to reflect that, but for now, I’m good at code and writing about code, so that’s all I want to portray.

Also in that spirit, I’d like to renew my focus on writing about code. Some articles—such as the one you’re reading now—will continue to have other purposes, but code is once again a top priority for me. I submitted a tutorial proposal for PyCon, in hopes of getting back into teaching about code again, but it was rejected, so I’d like to write here what I would’ve presented at PyCon: Roll Your Own Declarative Framework.

Sometime in the next week or so, I’ll write up an outline for the posts that will follow. I expect the series to run for several weeks, so I have to make sure I plan it out properly before I begin. Look forward to the first article before February arrives, though. I’m putting that in writing here as a way to hold myself to a schedule.

Coding for community

I also want to work on code to give back to the Django community. Not just the code itself, but I’d like to give back some sites and services that I’ve been talking about for many months now but haven’t had the time to follow through. The first of these will be announced later today.

There are others in the community who are also working toward the same goal, some of which overlap with my own. In these cases, I’m perfectly happy letting someone else take charge, and I’m definitely willing to offer up my services to such people. If you fall into this category, you probably already know it and I’ve already talked to you about some plans. Please pester me to get back on it.

What about us?

With all this renewed interest on writing and community, you may have noticed that the new design doesn’t have a place for comments. This again comes back to my focus on what I’m good at. And I’m not good managing comments. I can have conversations in person without a problem, but the past year and a half have proven that I can’t effectively manage comment moderation, adequately respond to comments or even come up with a comment list that doesn’t suck.

Instead, I invite you to get in touch with me in other ways. To find out how, take a look at my Django People profile or just look up “Gulopine” on your favorite social network; chances are I have a profile. These other avenues have proven much more efficient at getting a response from me, which is what I feel comments should do anyway.

It may be a little more difficult if you just want to thank me for writing an article, but that’s not really the kind of feedback I’m after anyway. If you like an article I wrote, use the code or techniques in a project you’re working on; that’s all the thanks I’ll ever need.


If you’ve made it through all this, I appreciate it. I wrote this up as a rededication of my efforts, mainly for my own sake. I’m grateful to all my readers, though, and I hope you’re looking forward to a new year of much more generous content.