Michael Großklaus freelance frontend developer

My 2019

2019 has been a quite different year for me. Since I started freelancing in 2011, I only worked on client projects the whole time (except for a few weeks of vacation every year). But as my son was born last year, I wanted to work a lot less. Besides going on parental leave (I took three months, another one will follow this year), I decided to not actively look for work. If no requests from potential clients came in, that would be fine. Instead, I would just enjoy slowing down, spending time with my family and from time to time working on private projects.

Private projects

That way it also happened that I published my first node modules. After having used PatternLab often, I wanted to create something similar, but more lightweight and better fitting to my needs. I finally started looking into NodeJS and eventually released headman. It is a component development tool based on Express and Consolidate.js that allows you to develop your components in isolation and render them using dummy data. For me the latter is very practical as I often work on projects where backend and frontend development happens time-delayed.

Two other node modules I published were typing-effect and text-truncation.

The download numbers for all my node modules are low, but for me they all fulfill certain use cases that – as far as I can tell – haven’t been solved by any other node modules. And by far the most positive aspect in developing them was that it helped me a lot digging into NodeJS and to better understand npm.

Client work

Besides that I worked on a few clients projects:

  • I helped Factorial develop the new (but unfortunately not yet released) checkout process for Stellenwerk, a job portal for students. It uses Drupal and PatternLab in the background.
  • Also together with Factorial as well as the developers of G+J, I worked on the technical base for their new paid content websites. We wanted to make development as fast and convenient as possible and were able to implement a solution that required nothing else then starting a Koa server, no build tools and so on required.
  • For Hannes Hawaii Tours, I worked on a booking system together with Patrick Schnetger. The challenge was that the booking system was supposed to be sold as a white label solution as well, allowing the clients to configure the booking process in a quite open way. That demanded a lot of thinking about the technical architecture. Using Ruby on Rails and being just one backend and one frontend developer allowed me and Patrick to make really fast progress while at the same time being able to easily make bigger changes to the architecture when requirements changed. I still really enjoy working with Ruby on Rails as I like the tight coupling between frontend and backend (even though the current development rather goes in the other direction).
  • I worked on an interesting small project for Fork Unstable Media. Unfortunately, I had to sign an NDA for it.
  • After having worked for the german LinkedIn competitor XING already around 2015, they asked me to support them again at the end of the year. Having never really worked with React before, I was happy they trusted me to be able to dig into it quickly. I helped them improve their design system which is based on Hops and uses React for templating. As the design system is for now only for internal use, it was refreshing to be able to use all sorts of new CSS features, not having to think about older browsers.

Having worked with different technologies in 2019, I hope I can continue to do so in 2020. As we all know it is difficult to catch up with all the new frontend developments, especially when you can usually only do that in your spare time. Having a client trusting me to do so while working for them, was one of the most rewarding experiences in my freelance career so far.

What is next

  • I will try to blog more and try to use my blog as a collection of useful technologies, patterns, tips, …
  • Life with a family in a popular city is expensive, so I will increase my working time again while trying to miss as little as possible from the huge (metaphorical and real) steps my son makes every day.