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Pandemic Lockdown Fun

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Posted: May 7, 2020 | Categories: Miscellaneous, Flutter

I've been having a lot of fun during the Pandemic lockdown. No, I'm not being morbid about the situation, my pleasure is just a side-effect of having to stay home every day. My family's bored and irritable, but I'm having a blast. Let me explain.

My two favorite things to do are play Football (Soccer) and write code. I'm too old to play Soccer anymore (too many expensive and painful injuries) and I don't get many chances to write code anymore.

I recently accepted a transfer to GitHub, and I'm now the PM for their documentation platform. We have some big plans, so I'm really having a lot of fun. GitHub is very different from Microsoft, which is expected and a good thing, but I'm really enjoying myself.

Since I can't go out much anymore, and I'm especially not making it to the gym most mornings, I've started getting up at the same time and writing code every morning. Like I said, I'm having a blast. Let me show you the ways.

In the last few weeks, I've written code in: C, Dart, JavaScript, TypeScript, and Python - even some shell and batch scripts as well.

I'm working on a book on Flutter, so I've been doing a lot of Flutter development and absolutely loving it. Flutter is everything I need for cross-platform mobile development. I'm planning on submitting my second app to the Google Play Store next week and it's a Flutter app. I'll write more about it here once it's published.

A while back, I created a Node module that automates creating lib and asset folders in a Flutter project. The project is called Flutter Folders (https://www.npmjs.com/package/flutter-folders) and I made some changes this morning to enhance the module so it also updates the pubspec.yaml file to configure the assets folders the module creates.

I created a few static sites in Jekyll, my last book's site is a Jekyll site plus my randomerrors.dev site is Jekyll too. I recently migrated my last two Apache Cordova book web sites to Jekyll sites as well, so that's a lot of Jekylling. One of the things that frustrated me about working with Jekyll is that recent updates to the framework/platform/generator configures the target system so template files are stored in Gem rather than with the site and that's caused me some problems. Whenever I need to copy one of the template files into my project (so I can modify it), I have to dig up the instructions for how to locate the template folder, navigate there, then copy the file to my project.

To solve this problem for me and other developers, I created a Node module called Jekyll Copy (https://www.npmjs.com/package/jekyll-copy). It allows you to list the template folders and easily copy them to your project folder with a couple of quick commands. No need to know where the template files are, the module reads the local config.yml file, locates the template folder and  gets to work. I know it saves me time, I hope others find it useful as well.

I've also started a couple of hardware projects that I hope will eventually become Kickstarter projects. One's a pure hardware play while the other one has a mobile app component (along with some hardware). The mobile app's written in Flutter - that's the one I'm submitting to Google next week and hopefully Apple the following week.

I was doing a fair bit of Arduino development - using my favorite platform: the Particle Photon. For that project, I liked the simplicity of the cloud platform, but since this application is local only, I don't need the cloud service as much. I've pivoted and I'm trying to do the same project using the ESP32. I may release the Particle version as a hobbyist project through Kickstarter but the ESP32 one will be the Pro (pre-assembled and turnkey) version. Stay tuned on that one.

I think that covers all of my recent development efforts. I'll update you again when I have more information to share.

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Header image: Photo by Marcos Paulo Prado on Unsplash