ShedCode review for 2021

Introduction

ShedCode is the company founded in 2011 by me, James Jefferies. I’m a Creative Technologist & Software Engineer based in Sheffield, South Yorkshire.

Here are some of my work highlights for 2021 — the 10th year of ShedCode!

Sheffield Digital Interview

I was interviewed by Sarah Lister of Sheffield Digital about my Freelance work. It does go on a bit as I like talking about myself (!), but if you have a spare 50 minutes — I’m sure it would be worth your time (or if you only have half an hour, you could watch it a double speed!)

Interview with me, James Jefferies

FreeAgent

My contract with FreeAgent was extended until the end of March, so I was kept busy for the first part of the year with full time work. This time also included helping the kids out with home schooling when they were home during the lockdown. FreeAgent were very accommodating during this tricky time, allowing me to work some unusual hours and understood when a meeting was interrupted by someone needing a hand with their school work!

FreeAgent

I was fortunate to be part of a great team and I really enjoyed my 7 months working with them. Some of us have even been able to meet up in the meantime, which was wonderful, a couple in Sheffield and a couple up in Edinburgh when I was visiting for a Steve Hackett conference.

Sadly one of our FreeAgent colleagues, Dave, died suddenly in November, which was a shock to us all. He really helped in my first few weeks there, getting to grips with how things worked, he’ll be missed by many.

Peerages

Following on from the Members of Parliament after 1832 project, I was able to work on a follow on project funded by History of Parliament. This database contained data around Peerages compiled by David Beamish from 1801 onwards and by John Sainty for the period up to and including 1800.

It is closely linked to the API version created by the Parliamentary team

Once again I relied on using Bootstrap for the basic design to save time for building the functionality required. It would be nice work again with a User Experience designer again on some of my projects so that the design can be a bit more interesting, but in this case, it generally all works ok!

Nelson’s Peerages page

Although everything is just about complete, there are still some data updates to be done before the site is launched to the public.

Members After 1832 — Rush Database

The Members of Parliament app has also had some work this year, doing a lot of data tidying and a few new bits of functionality. You can now quickly see how many members were Admirals, for example!

Member titles

I’ve also just updated the app to run on Rails 7 (the latest version of the application framework I use) and have switched to using esbuild instead of webpacker for the JavaScript processing part of the app, for those who care about such things. Bit of a faff, but to be honest, I’m glad to see the back of webpacker.

Mapping the Quartet

Following a difficult launch for Mapping the Quartet thanks to the pandemic, the team had a bit of a re-think and the site is to be re-purposed to be more closely aligned to building an network of interested parties and showing the historic events from the forthcoming book Metaphysical Animals (How four women brought philosophy back to life).

Historical Event map

Currently the site has a holding page whilst we work on the re-purposing, but we are expecting the site to be relaunched when the book is available at the beginning of February — watch this space!

Accel

In September, I took on a new client (or did they take on me?) — an unusual choice for me, a Venture Capital company who work with startups, providing investment and guidance on how to grow. They have a huge track record of early investment in companies, including household technology companies like Dropbox and FaceBook.

They have a small team working on an internal tool for providing information and insight for their investment team. There is plenty of work for me, fixing things, building a few new bits, but generally, keeping things going with a friendly bunch of people!

I was offered an extension up until the end of March, which I’ve accepted, and in the New Year, I’ll be working 3 days a week with Accel, giving me two days a week to work on ShedCode things and hopefully some time out in the hills getting fitter!

What else for 2022?

A few things I’m thinking of:

  • What to do post March
  • I’d like to propose a paper for this years Iris Murdoch conference — ideally using some of the skills I picked up last year doing the Textual Analysis of Iris Murdoch’s works. My python skills have gone somewhat rusty since last year though.
  • Find some new clients, I really enjoy working for the parliament team and the Mapping the Quartet philosophers, but I could really do with some fresh projects for 2022. Do get in touch if you think we might be a good fit!
  • Training up in mapping and GIS systems — I keep toying with this and not getting very far. Maybe I should commit some time and get learning.
  • JavaScript and TypeScript — I generally have enough to get me by, but I do need to get a grip on these languages and ecosystems in 2022.
  • Explore whether I can actually get some railway related work — which was one of the original aims of ShedCode when I started back in 2011.

In the meantime — Happy New Year to you all!

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