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A recap of 2022 – Freek Van der Herten’s weblog on PHP, Laravel and JavaScript

Like earlier years, I might prefer to take a while to look again on the issues I did the previous 12 months.

On a private stage

I do not discuss my private life usually, as I contemplate that personal 🙂. I can share that I am nonetheless dwelling with my girlfriend and two stunning sons (who’re 8 and 10 now) within the stunning metropolis of Ghent.

Creating music

This is an image of my workplace area that was taken final yr.

And this is that very same area this yr.

As you may see, there are fairly a couple of extra synthesizers now. Along with a couple of buddies, I’ve loved studying the fantastic world of analog synthesizers. For me, it is a improbable new passion, and I’ve loved / misplaced numerous hours taking part in round with these synths.

Final month, I fulfilled one in all my childhood goals: going up with a few mates to a cabin within the woods, doing nothing apart from recording music and making a file. This is an image of our setup within the cabin.

Now, that file is not prepared simply but, however I did handle to launch a file referred to as “Swim” alone beneath my moniker Kobus. You possibly can take heed to that file on Apple Music or Spotify.

One other childhood dream that obtained fulfilled this yr is releasing music on a bodily provider. Apart from the synth stuff, I additionally play in an everyday band referred to as Topologies, and we launched our first file referred to as “Silve” this yr. The album will is on the market on Apple Music and Spotify. We’re hipsters, so we additionally launched it on cassette. Let me know if you wish to order one. This is what they appear like.

I am additionally prepping one other solo album beneath the Kobus title that can be launched subsequent yr! This is already a bit preview.

You possibly can listed to all releases on the music web page.

I am thrilled that my love for creating music within the final two years was rekindled in an enormous means.

Favorite information

Listed below are some information that had been in excessive rotation this previous yr.

  • Spoon – Lucifer On The Couch
  • Angel Olsen – Massive Time
  • Einstürzende Neubauten – Alles Wieder Offen (I listend loads to their total discography this yr)
  • Rosalia – Motomami
  • Mkwaju Ensemble – Ki-Movement
  • Jeff Parker – Mondays at The Enfield Tennis Academy
  • Animal Collective – Time Skiffs
  • Magdalena Bay – Mercurial World
  • Sam Prekop & John McEntire – Sons Of
  • Kevin Morby – This Is A {Photograph}
  • Panda Bear & Sonic Growth – Reset
  • Phoenix – Alpha Zulu
  • Skee Masks – Shred
  • Roxy Music – Avalon


For the second yr in a row, I hit my objective of studying 12 books in a yr. These are the books I learn:

  • The Third Gate (by Lincoln Little one)
  • Salvation Day (by Kali Wallace)
  • Sphere (by Michael Chrichton)
  • The Purpose (by Eliyahu M. Goldratt)
  • Lifeless Silence (by S.A. Barnes)
  • Temporary Solutions To Massive Questions (by Stephen Hawking)
  • Timeline (by Michael Chrichton)
  • World Politics since 1989 (by Jonathan Holslag) (I extremely advocate this one)
  • Misplaced (by Blake Crouch)
  • Recursion (by Blake Crouch)
  • Wayward (by Blake Crouch)
  • The Luminous Lifeless (by Caitlin Starling)

Subsequent yr, I might prefer to focus extra on studying non-fiction.

Going to conferences once more

With the worst of the pandemic behind us, many issues turned attainable once more. A kind of issues is attending and talking at conferences.

In early 2022 at Laracon EU in Amsterdam, it was nice to see many acquainted faces in actual life once more.

In Might, I attended my first post-pandemic convention overseas: PHPDay in Italy. Along with Nuno Maduro and Can Vural, I had an exquisite time in Verona.

In September, I traveled to Kroatia for the Digital Labin convention. It is at all times enjoyable visiting a rustic for the primary time.

In October, the second version of Full Stack Europe was held. That is the convention my buddies Dries Vints, Rias Van der Veken, and I arrange. We once more held it on the stunning ballroom of the Hilton Resort within the historic metropolis middle of Antwerp.

We had a superb lineup of audio system, and I am certain everybody there had fun. Listed below are a few photos.

As organizers, we hoped that the second version of our convention would entice extra folks than the primary, but it surely was about the identical. It is evident that, due to the pandemic and the time between editions, we needed to begin from scratch. We’re already beginning to arrange the third version!

One other spotlight for me was the Laravel Meetup in Groningen along with my buddy Christop Rumpel.

Previously yr, I’ve spoken remotely at many consumer teams and occasions. The most important was, surely, Laracon On-line, the place I spoke about our laravel-data bundle (which was created by my colleague Ruben).

Residing within the post-pandemic world

After studying the above paragraph, you would possibly assume that the pandemic is over. I do not assume that is true. The virus is likely to be on the again seat, however many individuals I do know, some even shut mates, are nonetheless struggling (re)-finding their stability.

After I go searching me, many are battling psychological points. These points may not at all times have originated in the course of the pandemic, however months of isolation (and possibly monetary troubles) definitely did not assist. A conflict beginning on our continent with all uncertainties and results makes issues worse.

In case you are experiencing psychological well being points, do discuss with somebody about your ideas. I do not need to give concrete recommendation as each state of affairs is completely different and I am not a psychological well being skilled, however reaching out and speaking about it virtually at all times helps.

Stefan Bauer gave a superb discuss on psychological well being and his personal struggles at Laracon EU. There is not a public video but, but when one pops up, I am going to add it right here.

At Spatie

Enterprise-wise Spatie had one other nice yr. About half of our time was dedicated to shopper work, and within the different half, we launched a few new merchandise and launched fairly a couple of new packages.

However earlier than heading into the work itself, I might like to speak about one thing that occurred at Spatie for the primary time. In our trade, it is common to see folks soar from one job to the subsequent. At Spatie, no person has ever stop. However that modified initially of this yr. Two of my colleagues left, every with their very own good causes.

I at all times thought (and in hindsight, that is very naive) that no person would ever depart when you take excellent care of individuals (good circumstances to work, thrilling work, good rewards). I’ve discovered that even when folks have it very effectively, they will nonetheless depart due to different alternatives elsewhere.

The truth that two colleagues left resulted in a sense of
vulnerability: there’s nothing you are able to do if someone needs to depart. It is wholesome to concentrate on this reality, and I am grateful that it took this a few years earlier than a primary colleague determined to depart. I am additionally completely satisfied that we separated methods with these two colleagues on the most effective phrases. There have been no onerous emotions from both aspect in any respect.

Redesigning Ignition

Three years in the past, our crew launched Flare, the most effective error tracker service for Laravel apps.

Along with Flare, we wished to improve the complete “error expertise in Laravel”. On the time, Laravel was nonetheless utilizing the Whoops. Should you’ve been utilizing Laravel for a while, you may nonetheless acknowledge it.

Whoops was good, but additionally that it had some room for enchancment. It is a framework-agnostic bundle, so it would not report on any Laravel-specific bits. When creating Flare, we went the additional mile and made a ravishing Laravel-specific error web page referred to as Ignition.

This is what the primary model of Ignition regarded like, which was the default ranging from Laravel 6.

The primary model of Ignition may do a whole lot of Laravel-specific issues:
It exhibits you the present route and middleware.
It exhibits you the unique Blade views (when there is a view error).
It may run Laravel-specific options (corresponding to producing an app key when it’s lacking)
far more…

A common reality is that all the pieces will ultimately change (besides the velocity of sunshine). Three years is a really very long time on the web. Regardless that Ignition regarded good beforehand, it was time to refresh Ignition’s UI.

In January, along with Laravel 9, we launched a significant new model of Ignition that sports activities a brand new refreshed design.

A variety of new options had been launched. On this stream, you may see me introduce them.

This new model of Ignition was designed by my colleague Willem, who, as at all times, did an incredible job. Alex did a lot of the work turning the design into code.

The funniest comment I examine Ignition was “This error web page seems to be higher than my precise app”. It is humorous as a result of it is in all probability true 🙂.

Writing Readable PHP

In April, we launched our latest course, Writing Readable PHP.

This course incorporates a group of bite-size ideas (each in written kind and movies) that make your code a pleasure to learn to your co-workers and future self. The following tips are geared toward builders who know the fundamentals of PHP and need to enhance their craft.

Writing Readable PHP has been created by our crew along with Christoph Rumpel. Working with Christoph did go easy. We already knew one another effectively and shared many opinions on what readable code seems to be like. I primarily focused on writing ideas. Christoph additionally contributed a couple of ideas, gave me suggestions, and created all movies.

That is the primary course we have made that did not include simply textual content or movies. This course is extra of a hybrid one. You possibly can see all of the content material on our web site. You will get a small tip or chapter per web page. The extra meaty topics get an additional video.

I am pleased with our work along with Christoph, and will the celebrities align, I would not thoughts creating one other course or factor with him.

Whereas creating Writing Readable PHP, we determined to let individuals who purchased the course work together with one another. Since code readability is a subjective matter to a sure extent, it might make for good discussions. We determined so as to add a remark element to the underside of each course web page.

As a result of we did not discover a appropriate element that was mild, non-invasive, and delightful, we determined to create a bundle for this ourselves. As a result of we invested a while in getting the UI proper, we polished it to its personal full stand-alone product.

Laravel Feedback is a strong and delightful premium Livewire element to create and render feedback. It options: nested elements, emoji reactions, code highlighting, and extra. You possibly can study the entire options in our public docs.

After putting in it, that is the one factor you have to add to render feedback on a web page. That is the code I take advantage of to render feedback on the backside of this very weblog submit.

<livewire:feedback :mannequin="$blogPostModel" />

To advertise Laravel Feedback, Alex created a superb introduction film:

It was enjoyable creating a pleasant little product in a short while span with none actual planning. I now apply it to this weblog as effectively. Simply scroll to the underside of this submit (be happy to create a remark with a hyperlink to your year-in-review submit).

Mailcoach Cloud (and hosted Mailcoach v6)

Mailcoach is a product with a protracted historical past. Just a few years in the past, the viewers of my very own e-newsletter grew significantly. On the time, I used to be utilizing MailChimp, which was too costly. Then, I switched to Sendy, but it surely could not deal with the size effectively (and Sendy began to indicate its age). I initially created an open-source bundle that would ship newsletters for me.

My colleagues and I noticed the worth of a dependable self-hosted answer for sending newsletters. After all, you need to begin sending emails from your personal server. Mailcoach sends mail reliably and affordably by your account at SES, Postmark, Mailgun, …

We created and launched Mailcoach as a paid bundle in January 2020. Our gamble paid off, and Mailcoach is one in all our most profitable merchandise. A few of our customers report utilizing Mailcoach to ship campaigns to lists of over 1,000,000 subscribers.

After launch, we frequently improved Mailcoach and added many options: e-mail automation, drip campaigns, assist for transactional emails, and efficiency enhancements throughout the board.

One characteristic request that saved popping up was on the self-hosted nature of Mailcoach. Folks beloved the UI, and had been completely satisfied when it was arrange. However for some folks, with out PHP and Laravel abilities, putting in it themselves proved difficult. Folks requested if we could not set it up for them.

That is why early final yr, we determined to create the SaaS model of Mailcoach, which we name Mailcoach Cloud. The setup of MailCoach Cloud is exclusive. At its core, it makes use of the self-hosted bundle, and we constructed an app round it to make that bundle multi-tenant. That is nice as a result of each characteristic we add to the bundle can be obtainable within the hosted model. My colleague Rias did a whole lot of glorious work getting all of this proper. Willem, who designs all the pieces you see at Spatie, additionally gave Mailcoach a ravishing new coat of paint.

On the twenty sixth of October, we formally launched Mailcoach Cloud. You possibly can learn the announcement on this weblog submit. Just a few weeks after that we launched v6 the self-hosted model of Mailcoach. It has the identical up to date UI and new options.

The self-hosted model of Mailcoach continues to do very effectively, it would take a while till Mailcoach Cloud surpasses it. It is nice to have already got some very lively customers on Mailcoach Cloud. We plan on repeatedly bettering the service, and you may learn our progress on the Mailcoach weblog.

Thanks to Rias and Willem for making Mailcoach Cloud top-of-the-line platforms for all issues mail.

Updates to current programs

At Spatie, we created a whole lot of programs over the previous few years. Everyone is aware of that our trade would not stand nonetheless, however is continually evolving. New variations of PHP, Laravel , … get launched yearly, and greatest practices change.

As an alternative of letting our previous programs rot, we replace them periodically to stay related.

Final yr, we up to date our Laravel Bundle Coaching to our newest requirements. This yr, my colleague Ruben and I took the time to replace Laravel Past CRUD and Entrance Line PHP. Each programs had been up to date to the newest model of PHP, Laravel and now point out our newest greatest practices.

Laravel Past CRUD is our best-selling course, which continues to carry out effectively, even two years after its preliminary launch. Our replace ensures the content material stays related and has good code examples for anybody choosing up the course.

Black Friday movies

Previously few years, the weeks surrounding Black Friday / Cyber Monday are more and more essential to us. We see that on days gross sales are no less than ten occasions what they’re on common days. It’s loopy how many individuals wait till these dates to purchase one thing in our retailer (or need to purchase one thing with a reduction).

We went above and past this yr to advertise our Black Friday gross sales. We used WWSD to call our week of Black Friday reductions. It stands for World Broad Spatie Reductions, a enjoyable wink at WWDC (Apple’s World Broad Developer Convention). We made a video for many days of the week.

You probably have but to see the movies themselves, right here you go!

We put a whole lot of effort into creating these movies. Earlier than each was shot, my colleague Alex and I wrote scripts detailing what must be stated within the movies. These scripts additionally contained which particular results had been wanted. I nonetheless bear in mind saying to Alex a number of occasions: “Are you certain you are able to do that?”. Alex: “No biggie”.

The video footage seen within the movies was filmed on a inexperienced display on the Spatie workplace. Collectively together with his buddy Geffrey, we spent one night filming all the pieces for all movies.

Nearly all of those movies use 3D scenes as a stage. Alex regarded up the precise constructing plans of the Apple Headquarters to rebuild the rooms in 3D. He composed the movies utilizing 3D scenes, filmed footage, and added particular results. Alex certainly did a improbable job on this. Internally, we held a couple of knowledge-sharing classes during which Alex defined how particular results had been made, blowing the minds of everybody on our crew a number of occasions.

Cinema 4D was used to render all 3D scenes, and After Results was used to composite all the pieces. Listed below are a couple of screenshots of those items of software program in motion.

All films had been rendered on two M1 MacBooks. Regardless that these Macs are very speedy, it took them 35 hours to render all these films.

At Spatie, we’re very pleased with these movies. Subsequent yr, we can have an issue making an attempt to high these.

New Spatie packages created in 2022

At Spatie, we now have an enormous coronary heart for open supply. Every time we see performance that is likely to be helpful for others (or for a subsequent undertaking of ours) we extract it to a well-documented and well-tested bundle.

At this second, the Spatie packages have been downloaded 430 million occasions and are downloaded 24 million occasions a month. We’re very proud and honored that many discover our packages helpful.

These packages had been created prior to now yr:

On our web site, you may discover an in depth record of all packages we have made through the years.

At Oh Expensive

Oh Expensive is the monitoring service I created almost 5 years in the past along with Mattias Geniar. It’s an all-in-one monitoring device to your total web site.

It does what a standard monitor service does: monitoring uptime and SSL certifications and sending notifications when there are issues. However Oh Expensive would not cease there. It can crawl your total web site and notify you of any damaged hyperlinks. Oh Expensive also can carry out utility well being checks, monitor your scheduled jobs, show standing pages, and far more!

2022 was a terrific yr for Oh Expensive. Like previous years, MRR grew considerably, and it may simply be a main supply of revenue for each myself and Mattias. As an alternative, we nonetheless contemplate Oh Expensive as our aspect undertaking (or aspect enterprise) as we very very like working at our “common” jobs (Mattias at Acheron, I at Spatie)

I very very like engaged on bettering Oh Expensive. We haven’t any strict deadlines, so I can work on it on evenings after I really feel prefer it. It is a nice freedom.

In March we grew our crew with two superior human beings: Sean and Nick.

Should you ship a mail to, there is a huge likelihood that Sean will decide it up and assist you. I can not overstate how good it’s to have Sean on the crew, and understanding that every assist ticket can be dealt with on time in a great way.

On the finish of final yr, Mattias and I had been eager about how we may enhance Oh Expensive. We selected utterly redesigning the service because the design on the time (which was 4 years) outdated was beginning to present its age.

The improbable crew at Digital With You got here up with a fully attractive design. That is the place Nick is available in as a result of the entrance finish will not be my robust go well with. He applied the front-end modifications of the design, and I focused on all that was wanted on the again finish.

After months of labor, our redesign was completed. On third October, Nick, Mattias, and I convened in Antwerp to deploy it and have a good time. It felt good to place virtually of yr of labor within the fingers of our customers.

This is how our desinged homepage seems to be like.

You possibly can learn the entire story and why and the way we created the redesign on this prolonged weblog submit.

I am very proud of the present state of Oh Expensive. The backend makes use of the newest variations of all the pieces, and there may be little technical debt. When Laravel provides options, I at all times take the time all year long to refactor Oh Expensive to make use of them. That steady work makes the Oh Expensive code base a pleasure to work in.

We have already got some plans for 2023. At present, I am engaged on a brand new Lighthouse search engine optimization examine, which can be added early subsequent yr.

The weblog

I printed the primary submit on this weblog on the twenty fourth of November 2014. That implies that this weblog is now eight years outdated. In web years, that is an eternity.

The weblog was began in 2014 to share attention-grabbing hyperlinks I discovered on PHP / Laravel / all issues digital. My huge inspiration was the weblog, which nonetheless may be very a lot price your time. Alongside the best way, I additionally began writing authentic weblog posts on the issues I discovered.

In the course of the yr, I switched to Fathom Analytics to detect readership numbers. On common, Fathom experiences about 72K guests and 250K views monthly.

Throughout the yr, I believed that I ought to write a bit extra on the weblog. In hindsight, I really wrote loads in 2022. This is a listing of my submit that had been printed this yr.

You probably have written content material that’s attention-grabbing for those that get pleasure from working with PHP, Laravel, and surrounding ecosystems, ship me a hyperlink utilizing this type, and it is going to be printed in the group part.

In closing

The previous 12 months, I typically thought it was a quieter yr. However by writing all of this, I observed loads was achieved this yr. Do not forget that all the pieces listed above aren’t solely my accomplishments but additionally these of my crew at Spatie / Oh Expensive. All this work could not have been executed with out them, and I am grateful for having superb colleagues.

If you cannot get sufficient of recaps, listed here are the hyperlinks to those from earlier years.

Regardless that some mates are battling psychological well being, and the state of the world is a bit messy, to say the least, I nonetheless contemplate 2022 a very good yr, and I am grateful for all the great issues occurring in my life. A buddy of mine just lately stated out of the blue that I am a wealthy man in additional methods than one. I assume that is true, and I hope I can go a few of that happiness ahead.

I hope your 2022 was additionally good and you’ve got a superb 2023.

Did you write a recap?

Submit your recap right here, and I am going to additionally add it to this submit.


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