Dec 26, 2021

Looking Back on 2021

As we’re getting closer to the last days of the year, I looked in the rearview mirror and collected what happened in 2021 and, well, it’s a lot!

Before I dive into the work and projects that defined 2021 for me, I want to make it clear that 2021 was a difficult year for many people, including myself. A lot of the projects below wouldn’t have been possible without the continuous effort of staying healthy (mentally and physically) and the support of my family, friends, and my team at Hygraph. I do not want this post to become any source for comparisons, rather a recollection of all the good things that did happen in spite of the macro environment.

In the first days of the year, my friend Tim and I started to work on sonata, a platform built around sharing music with your friends and finding people who share a similar taste in music. We shipped features like crazy, week after week, and gradually built a social experience that supports Spotify and Apple Music. Around this time, I worked a lot with monitoring tools to make sure our services would stay responsive, asset uploads for user media like profile pictures, and caching strategies for data fetched from our external music providers.

Building sonata was a series of technical challenges, and it was a lot of fun to see the product shape up to what it is today. There’s a lot more we’d love to explore in the future!

In the time leading up to WWDC, I worked on my submission for the Swift Student Challenge. Having worked with SwiftUI in 2020 including building my own stack navigation library, I submitted an app to match people based on their preferences.

Shortly after, the Notion API was released, and as an active user, I made sure to try it out.

Since I had a couple of projects in the B2B SaaS space that had quite similar requirements, I worked on release management and processes, SSO with SAML, and thought a lot about how I’d love to see APIs built for the future.

I also made sure to improve the blog a little and added topics, to make it easier to discover content around a specific theme.

In Spring and Fall, I worked on SyncRelay, a project to simplify real-time infrastructure to add capabilities like presence/awareness, live chat, dynamic user interfaces, and more.

At Hygraph, I worked on scheduled publishing for a big portion of 2021, a feature that shaped up nicely and launched in Q4. In our cooldown cycles, I helped to improve our release and CI processes and cut down the time it took to roll out a new change by 80%. To make this happen, we use a lot of matrix strategies to generate dynamic workflows and parallelize our work.

In late summer, I started to prepare a talk with my colleague Julian and spoke at this year’s GraphQL conf, releasing GraphQL Sonar.

After some further experiments and improvements for projects like SyncRelay and sonata, I wrote up a guide on building preview environments for all parts of the stack, from frontend to backend.

Throughout the year, I learned whatever I needed for work and my projects, and of course my studies, including data exploration and visualization with R, graph theory, untrusted workloads with Firecracker, HealthKit, gRPC, Cloudflare Durable Objects, and a lot more!

I think one aspect that carried throughout the entire year was that learning really never stops: Through my study program, I get new insights on topics that were previously inaccessible, and through my work at Hygraph I get to work with amazing people to build a content delivery platform at scale, using the latest technologies in combination with proven ones to build the best version of our product.

I’m incredibly grateful for my team and friends who made all of these projects possible. With all this said, this is really just the beginning of many amazing things to come, all of which I’ll share on the blog!