My Sabbatical

November 30, 2008

As I’ve previously mentioned in my newsletter, I’ve just wrapped the third edition of my “PHP for the World Wide Web: Visual QuickStart Guide” book and, at this moment, don’t even have another book lined up for the first time in literally several years. I expect I’ll do another book or two in 2009 but no contract has been signed yet, so I’ve got some well-earned downtime ahead of me. Of course, down time is a relative thing.

I do have two or three Web sites to do in 2009, but even a fairly complex site requires much less of me than a full-on book, so I don’t consider those to be major hurdles. Plus, I need to keep my skills up and use new sites as an opportunity to try and learn new things. So how will I be spending most of my so-called sabbatical?

Besides exercising and reading more, doing some stuff about the house, and playing some Nintendo Wii (a present to myself), there are lots of work-related tasks ahead of me. I buy quite a lot of computer books (I’m a book person, in many ways) but I don’t always read them as thoroughly as I would like. This is a great irony, as I write books that I hope/expect others to read in order and completely. Anyway, so I’ve got about three dozen books that I’ve purchased over the past few years, mostly on advanced programming concepts, Ruby, Ajax, and PHP, that I’ll be going through, using this blog as a place to keep notes on the most interesting things I learn. Or, more likely, things I once learned but since forgot and was happily reminded of.

Second, there are some new technologies that I want to either learn from scratch or improve my knowledge of. In the latter category, I plan on more fully mastering the Zend and Ruby on Rails frameworks (in PHP and Ruby, respectively). Both are talked about a lot and I think the only way I’ll come up with an opinion of them with which I’m comfortable is if I give them both a fair shake. I’ll be posting my continued results in this blog. Of the new topics I want to investigate, Flex is probably foremost. (As I’m writing this, I’m on my way to the Adobe MAX 2008 conference in San Francisco, where I’ll start the Flex learning process.)

Finally, I have been promising and do intend to create an online guide to JavaScript. I get frequent requests for writings on this subject and as my primary publisher (Peachpit Press) already has a JavaScript book out, it’s unlikely I’ll ever write a formal one. Anyway, I’ve created a Wiki on my site for this purpose and started roughing in the pages. Once I have a decent amount of content there, I’ll make it live.

If you have any questions about any of this, or if there’s something you’d like me to do or look into during my sabbatical, let me know and I’ll see if I can oblige your request.