Tim's Weblog
Tim Strehle’s links and thoughts on Web apps, software development and Digital Asset Management, since 2002.

My side projects in 2015

Like many other programmers, I always have a couple of side projects going on. My main motivation is learning. While I do learn a lot during work hours, I have ideas and questions I want to follow up on regardless of business priorities. And sometimes I want to take off my programmer hat and do stuff that’s not in my job description.

My main side project in 2015 was Planet DAM, the aggregator of Web articles on Digital Asset Management – an idea I had discussed with Ralph Windsor (of DAM News) a year earlier. (A great thing about personal projects is that most of them don’t have deadlines.) I set up a topic map using my experimental TopicCards Topic Maps engine (no progress on that one in 2015, sadly), built a tiny Web site and RSS feed on top of it, and made me a custom Safari browser extension for feeding article links with screenshots into the database. Ralph sponsored the domain name and started syndicating Planet DAM on DAM News. Since April, I’ve been adding articles almost every day. As of today, there’s 1,469 articles in the Planet DAM database, its Twitter account has 347 followers, and the Web site has 100 visitors per month. More importantly, I’ve received lots of positive feedback – thanks everyone! As is the case with every side project, there’s a ton of features waiting to be implemented: search, article categorization, and product and author pages (see the sneak preview of David Diamond’s page).

An ongoing personal project of mine is my blog. It was just a link blog for a decade, with the real writing starting in 2012 (see the full list of blog posts). 2015’s most-read posts were:

  1. Counting word frequency using NLTK FreqDist()
  2. RDF and schema.org for DAM interoperability
  3. Topic Maps (as a standard) are dead, I’m afraid
  4. Using CloudFront Signed Cookies with the AWS SDK for PHP
  5. Vom Archiv- zum Redaktionssystem: Die Drehscheibe für kreative Inhalte

It’s the first year I have this information as I just started to use Web site analytics on my site. Not because I want to somehow optimize for an “audience” – my main motivation for writing is to get the thoughts out of my head so I can start thinking about something else – but because I’m curious, and because analytics are important to our customers and I want to understand them better. (Staring at statistics is one more form of procrastination I have to fight now.)

I had wanted to learn more about Linked Data in Digital Asset Management. Together, Ralph Windsor and I drafted something called Simple Linked DAM. Later I evaluated plain schema.org markup for DAM records. A highlight of 2015 was the joint DAM Guru webinar on How the Semantic Web Will Affect Digital Asset Management with Margaret Warren and Demian Hess, made possible by DAM Guru’s Ben Smidt and David Diamond. We had 30 live attendants, but the most fun was had preparing the webinar together.

Another highlight was Laurel Norris doing an interview with me for the “DAM Champ” series on Digital Asset Management.com.

Thanks to Ben Smidt, David Diamond, Demian Hess, Laurel Norris, Margaret Warren, and Ralph Windsor for making my year 2015!

And thanks to many others for fun and educational interactions on Twitter, to the DAM and software development communities for a steady feed of interesting ideas and tools, and last but not least to my colleagues and bosses at Digital Collections for being okay with all this, and sponsoring a work day for the webinar preparation!