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My coding year 2016


Before the year 2016 is finally over, I want to take some time to look back. What were my goals for 2016 and did they work out? What did I learn and what are my goals for 2017? Let me take you through my coding year 2016.

My coding resolutions for 2016

I wrote about 2015 too, but I forgot to write about my resolutions for 2016. My main goal for 2016 was to master my PHP skills. I wanted to really understand the benefits of OOP and to be able to use the SOLID principles to bring my code to the next level. I also wanted to enhance my testing skills to make my code more reliable. So let's see what really happened in 2016.

Liechtenecker is dead, long live Liechtenecker

A big part of my year was a change our company Liechtenecker did at the beginning of 2016.

Today is a big day! At work we launched our new Liechtenecker website. But it is much more than just a redesign. It is showing our transformation from a classic digital agency to our new Liechtenecker Lab.

This made our year very exciting and exhausting. We changed a lot of our customers and how we wanted to work. But I also got the chance to work on a lot of in-house projects and experiments. (more about that later) This was also a step away from a safety business, we were very successful at, towards a new, unknown and risky chapter of our company. Read more about that change in my article Liechtenecker is dead, long live Liechtenecker.


I still have this hate-love relationship with speaking on meetups and conferences. I see a lot of benefits in being able to talk about coding and projects in front of other people. It is a win-win situation for you and your audience. Your audience can learn from your experiences and you get to meet lots of different people. Additionally you will learn a lot while preparing a talk too.

But yeah it is still standing and speaking in front of a group of people while everybody is starring at you. It is definitely still not something I can enjoy. In 2016 I did two talks. One of them was again an intro to the Laravel PHP framework (Hello World, I'm Laravel), and in the other talk I shared my experiences from building our chatbot NELA. (NELA - a chatbot to improve your language skills). Two talks in a year is not much, but still more than none :-)

My projects

I am really blessed with a great variety of projects I could work on in 2016. I want to tell you a little bit about my favourite ones.

The Hype Compass

What The Feeling project map

Since this year we were also experimenting with IoT at our company. (Internet Of Things) I built a 80cm wooden compass which was connected to a poll on our website. Every week we were asking people about their opinion on new tech-hypes / trends, and every vote activated the compass which was installed in our company. It was great to learn more about connecting the digital with the analog and to work with a Raspberry Pi. Read more about The Hype Compass.

What The Feeling

What The Feeling project map

For a big soccer fan like me, 2016 was also great because of the European Football Championship which took place in France. I wanted to make use of the unbelievable amount of data which was shared over social media channels regarding this event. We ended up building a Europe map showing live tweets about the Euro games. Additionally we analysed the tweets for their emotions and showed them through different colours.

I never had to work with this huge amount of data. Over a period of 30 days the application analysed more than a million tweets. And the best part was, we had no idea about what to expect at the beginning of the project. Will there be like 1000 or 100.000 tweets a day? What will people write? Will we be able to analyze that? Redis and the Laravel queue system helped us a lot and I am really glad we accomplished this project.

Unfortunately this project did not get as popular as we wished. Still we got a great showcase and of course we learned a lot while building this real-time application. Read more about What The Feeling and the recap(German).

May I introduce you to NELA

What The Feeling project map

I guess you have heard it already: 2016 was the rise of the chatbots! This is really big because these applications will change a lot in the next years.

At work we wanted to take a closer look and therefor built NELA, a chatbot to improve your language skills. We felt building a chatbot ourselves is the only way to really understand what a chatbot is and how it works. Additionally we tried to show that chatbots could be very useful for education purposes too. Building a chatbot is really different from everything I did before. Especially when your start learning about AI and AI platforms.

Until now more than 27.000 people talked to NELA! This is really impressive and shows the importance of chatbots and this won't stop in 2017. Read more about NELA here or just say hello to NELA.

Laravel Twitter notification channel

This year Marcel, Mohamed and Freek built the Laravel Notification Channels platform. This is a collection of custom notification drivers for Laravel 5.3. For me this was the perfect chance to build my first Laravel package: The Twitter notification channel.

For me it was really surprising how much work such an open source project is. How do people handle more than one project?=) Sometimes working on such a project is like live coding. People will tell you about every mistake and questioning everything :-) It is not always fun but you will learn a lot.


So, this was a "short" overview of my year. As you have seen I worked on a lot of different projects. This was really cool and I learned a ton of new stuff. On the other side, this means I had not that much time to improve my PHP skills. At least not in the way I intended to do at the beginning of the year. I guess this is one little downside of working on lots of different projects, but sure one I can live with ;-)

I am quite happy with what I have accomplished and learned this year. I managed to do more and more testing over the year and I am on a good way to master my PHP skills. Of course there is still plenty of room to improve, but this is how life is. It's a road and you just have to keep moving, step by step.

Congratulations to everyone who made it this far. I wish you all the best for your next year and I will leave you with my new year's resolutions.

New year's resolutions 2017

  • Do at least three talks
  • Become a chatbot expert
  • Release a Laravel Spark SaaS application
  • Improve my TDD skills
  • I think it is time for a redesign of my blog (last update 2014 😱)

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