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I'm sitting here with a smile on my face as I sit back in these last few days of 2017, reflecting on the previous year and looking forward to next year. It's been quite a ride, finally getting Voitanos off the ground and working up production. While the stakes are not comparable, I cannot help but see similarities with my experience this past year and what Tesla has been doing with their Model 3 sedan. From delays in the ramp up, to launch and now working through issues to increase production and output, I'm working through similar things at Voitanos on a much smaller scale.

Every week or two I get an email from someone asking about my plans going forward with Voitanos. In this post, I'll reflect on 2017 and share what's top of mind for me and Voitanos as we charge into 2018.

But first, I want to say thank you... thank you to everyone who trusted me enough to purchase the course and to those who have subscribed / enrolled in one of my free offers!

Learn the SharePoint Framework with me!

Are you new to the SharePoint Framework? I have a few learning resources available for those getting into the SharePoint Framework that are 100% free. I'm also running a special deal for the rest of 2017 with deep discounts on group purchases... learn more here: Voitanos' End of Year Blowout
  • Latest News in the SharePoint Development Space bi-weekly newsletter: Do you find it hard to stay on top of the latest news, blog posts and samples from Microsoft & the community? Wouldn't it be easier to get an email once every two weeks of curated content? Sign up for my newsletter and get that delivered straight to your inbox for FREE!
  • Understanding the SharePoint Framework Development Toolchain email course: New to the SharePoint Framework? Confused about this different development toolchain the SharePoint team adopted for the SharePoint Framework? Sign up to my FREE 10-day email course and each day you will receive a different email that explains a new piece of this toolchain.
  • Mastering the SharePoint Framework (on-demand video): This is my premiere video course on everything you will want to know about the SharePoint Framework. It's still in pre-release mode, but buy now and you get access to all future content added to the course. There is a free version of it that you can enroll in to "try before you buy".

Reflecting on 2017

This past year has been quite a busy one! I planned, and expected, to launch my course, Mastering the SharePoint Framework, in the first half of the year. Ends up various personal & professional curve balls thrown my way. Finally, not even Hurricane Irma would hold up a successful launch in September. The results of that launch were enough for me to close out my other revenue work to focus 100% on the course.

Mastering the SPFx: Course Update

At this point, I've released 13 chapters in the course with more than 20 additional chapters planned. I've recorded two more that will ship in the first part of January 2018.

In the last few weeks, while balancing family time during the holidays, I've recorded a few chapters and fixed numerous issues in the course. Since December 22, over 20 issues were addressed across 15 different lessons. You can get a summary of the updates on the course update page or jump straight to the changelog

The vast majority of these were audio issues where it sounded like things were sped up. What happened is that in Adobe Premiere Pro CC (what I use to assemble the videos), you can create transitions between clips in a video such as a blending fade effect. To make this easy, you can set your default transition so doing a select all, apply default transition does this throughout the whole timeline. Well, there are audio transitions you can apply as well and it seems an update to Premiere reset my audio one to cause that weird effect.

There were enough of these that I've added a QA person to my production workflow. This person does not have subject matter experience nor has seen the videos before the final product so this gives me fresh eyes listening for audio issues & video mistakes like black frames. All the issues she found have been addressed and republished.

Biggest Challenge

I'm in a Mastermind group and one of the things we do in each meeting is to share the biggest challenge we're facing. After the launch, it was optimizing my course production/assembly workflow... I think I've got that ironed out so I'm good there.

Today, the challenge I need to resolve is finding the balance between working on content vs. site feature enhancements & updates vs. marketing. Content is straightforward... the latter two are things related to working ON the business rather IN the business. Things like better progress tracking & reporting for students, implementing student-configurable lesson auto-play settings and updating all course samples to the latest version of the SharePoint Framework.

The "WHAT" needs to be done and "HOW" to do it... those are easy. It's finding the "how much time should be spent on these activities" is what I need to optimize. One thing is certain: content takes priority.

So, that's a quick summary of the state of things and 2017 comes to a close. Let's look forward!

Looking Forward to 2018

Let me share a few things that are top of mind for me looking forward to 2018.

Ramp-up Chapter Shipping Cadence

Those who have bought the course, either on launch day or since then, paid for two things:

  • content that had already been published in the course
  • promise more content was coming

It's the second of these two that keeps me plugging away!

After launching the course in September, I refactored and optimized my chapter production workflow. Today I'm publishing roughly 2 chapters per month but the goal is to get to 4 chapters/month sometime in early 2018.

Update Existing Chapters with New Features

Microsoft has been busy the last few months of 2017, shipping a few highly anticipated features to the SharePoint Framework. Many of these features warrant mentions and inclusion in existing chapters that have already been published... this is an evergreen class isn't it?!

There a four features I will add to the course:

All of these items are important and will get added, but I'm waiting on a few issues to get resolved by Microsoft before addressing these. I've noticed a bit of a trend where new features ship, but within a few days we see a few bugs get reported (for instance #1146 & #1172). I'd rather see these get fixed before recording content that would immediately need to be re-recorded.

First Live Online Delivery of the Course

In January 2018 I'm delivering the first online live delivery of the course. This offering was created based on customer demand, however, I haven't seen people sign up as much as I had on the demand side. Curious to see how this changes in January after the holiday season and new year.

Starting Regular Short & Free Webinars in January

Another debut in January will be the start of a webinar series I'll hold on various SharePoint Framework related topics. These will be shorter than the typical hour-long webinars most people do and they will all be recorded. Learn about the first webinar in January by signing up to any of the Voitanos newsletters linked above.

Happy New Year!

So there you go, my first public "letter" to my customers at Voitanos. I figured I'd post it on the blogs for all to see.

Happy New Year everyone... here's to health, prosperity and as always, better days ahead than behind us!

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