A 2021 Retrospective

5 minute read

2021 has been an interesting year to say the least. In this last article for the year, I’d like to share the progress, experiments, mishaps and successes at Rock the JVM over the year, as well as hopes for what Rock the JVM can become.

1. The Blog

Last year, I promised the blog would add a new article every week, give or take. Out of 52 weeks of the year, the blog added 36 articles, which means roughly an article every week and a half. Although not terrible, this rate could be improved. However, the scale, length and depth of the articles improved dramatically, and I’m very happy with the rate + depth combination of the blog this year, compared to last year.

By far the most significant improvement of the blog was in welcoming guest posts. Riccardo Cardin quickly became a regular contributor, with an in-depth article every month or so. Giannis Polyzos also contributed with an introduction to Pulsar, which is growing like crazy and quickly becoming a sought-after piece of technology. I suspect we’ll see more in-depth coverage from these folks, I’m super proud of them and of what we’ve managed to publish.

What I’m hoping for: if I were to choose between a faster pace and more in-depth stuff, I would choose more in-depth stuff. I intend to cover most of the Scala ecosystem over the Rock the JVM website (i.e. courses) and the blog (i.e. articles, tutorials), and there’s plenty more to write about.

If you’re interested in contributing for the Rock the JVM blog, contact me.

2. YouTube

Wherever possible, I also recorded video versions of the blog posts over at Rock the JVM’s YouTube channel. The channel grew more than 3x in the past year to 9535 subscribers as of this writing, which for a Scala-focused code-with-me programming channel, I believe it’s quite remarkable.

The videos got overwhelmingly positive feedback, with more than 9 out of 10 videos getting 100% likes and thousands of views. Thank you for spending your most precious resource (time) listening to me. I’ll keep shooting more videos and keeping the parity with the written form (the blog). I’m also talking to a few bigger partners who are interested in my content, so you’ll probably see some more breadth of coverage as well, possibly extending beyond Scala.

Unlike the blog, I kept the sole responsibility for publishing videos. People come to Rock the JVM for my style of teaching, and I intend to continue being the voice of Rock the JVM for the YouTube channel (and of course, the courses).

What I’m hoping for:

  • that the partnerships I’m forming will help a lot of people (outside my email/subscriber list) in a meaningful way
  • that more people will find Rock the JVM through my content (is 2x subscriber growth still possible?)

3. Socials

By far my most active socials are Twitter and LinkedIn. This is where I see the most activity, the most engagement and the most feedback.

The Rock the JVM Twitter follower list has grown more than 4x to more than 2800 subscribers. I try to tweet every day, either with punchline lessons, Scala jokes, news or just fooling around. Some tweets fell flat, others were received quite well. This tweetstorm was by far my best Twitter creation.

I should post more on LinkedIn, though. The engagement is crazy, even on simple posts.

4. Courses!

This year, I published courses at roughly the same pace as last year. The highlights are

All in all, the site now contains more than 200 hours of content and 20000+ lines of code written from scratch on camera. I haven’t counted the recorded time I scrapped or the code that will not see the light of day.

I was quite bummed with the pace this year, as I hoped I would double last year’s performance. People have been asking for Akka Typed for more than a year, for example, and I always had to postpone it. Same with a lot of other requests.

Hopes for next year: fill the gaps (e.g. Akka Typed), expand breadth (e.g. courses on data engineering) and cover more of the Scala library ecosystem (ZIO anyone?).

5. Corporate Training

This was rock solid. I was booked for training sessions from every single one of my major clients that you can see on the main page. I’m very happy and proud to have taught hard topics to some of the best companies in the world. New clients include Intuit and Orange, and my big ones, including Apple and Adobe, came back for new (and challenging) sessions this year. Everything remote, of course, because of the pandemic.

I also pushed myself. For instance, I taught an Advanced Spark session in Python, which was way outside my comfort zone; the feedback forms scored a “perfect” 5.0/5, although I could personally see a lot of ways to improve.

The downside of company training sessions is that they require a lot of prep. Sadly, I had to spend more than 1/3 of the year just for training sessions, which kept me from releasing new content for everyone else. I’ll tweak the balance more in favor of courses and new content in the new year.

That said, if you’d like to have me hold a course for your team/your company, let me know at daniel@rockthejvm.com.

6. Thank You

With all the uncertainty in the air, Rock the JVM has grown a lot. And this is due to you, dear readers, listeners, and students of Rock the JVM. Thank you for supporting me and all my work on this tiny site — I’m determined to make 2022 the best year yet for Rock the JVM!

For now, enjoy some respite with your loved ones and let’s get back with some fresh energy in the new year. Enjoy! Daniel