It’s this time of the year again, which is traditionally an occasion to look back at what went down during the year, and set the sights for the year to come. 2009 has been a good year to me professionally. In spite of a gloomy economic context, Clear Lines is still alive and kicking, and revenue has remained stable, without requiring any particular marketing effort. I completed a few consulting projects without any noticeable glitch, managed to find time to release the first official version of Akin – and I am extremely motivated to begin 2010 on the right foot. So many things to do!

The blog

Readership has been going up through the year, slowly but regularly. I don’t think I’ll make the top blog list anytime soon, but I am still having fun doing it, so I’ll keep at it!


The top visited posts this year were:

This is interesting to me. Three of these are about using .Net and Excel together, two are “pure” Excel, and the first exclusively .Net post comes in 6th position only. Which tells me that, while .Net is well covered, there is a gap in VSTO-related information out there.

2010: like probably every other blogger, I could post more regularly. One per week it will be in 2010. I will work on publishing more resources on using Excel and .Net together. If there are specific topics you want to hear about, I am all ears!


I released Akin, my free application to compare Excel workbooks, with a few goals: learn WPF, get my feet wet with the process of releasing a piece of software, and simply produce something hopefully useful for the Excel power-users.

Lessons learnt: 1) WPF is great and I am not using WinForms again unless I have to, 2) getting actual input from users is not as easy as it seems. I got some useful feedback (thanks to Debrah>, Jon and Richard in particular), but while there were quite a few downloads, I haven’t heard back, which makes it difficult to improve the application!


2010: I have a few features in mind for Akin, most notably, comparing the VBA code between workbooks, and producing a workbook summarizing the differences for reconciliations. If you have specific requests or criticisms, please let me know!

Keeping up with technology

On the software end of things, I finally caught up with WPF, and I am glad I did. After a few projects using VSTO and Excel, I am now fairly comfortable with that technology. I also began learning F#, and intend to keep at it in 2010 – because I love math, and because it seems relevant to harness multi-cores. That being said, with the barrage of technology coming from Microsoft, it’s hard to stay on top of things, and select the right thing to spend your time on, and when you run a one-man show, you have to be solid in multiple areas. I have my work cut out for 2010.

2010: it’s time to improve my overall system architecture skills. I will likely experiment with Azure, very likely work on data-persistence related questions (an area I am still rather shallow in), and re-focus my attention on quantitative modeling methods, an area where I have not learnt much lately. I will also deepen my understanding of VSTO, specifically for Office 2007 and 2010.

Balancing priorities

One of my goals when I started Clear Lines was to have more control over my time, and more freedom over what I spent my time on. I am definitely happy about the trade-off so far – I have had enough consulting projects to dedicate my time to various side-projects which keep me mentally fresh, and not worry too much about finances. That being said, you can’t have it all, and I still miss the fun of working with my previous team, and having no one to tell you what you are supposed to do requires discipline. I also noticed that old habits die hard: I used to complain that work didn’t leave me enough time for fun, but now that the opportunity is here, I don’t always use it.

One very positive note this year has been my increased involvement with the .Net community, through the Bay Area .Net user group. I have now the honor of being co-chair of the San Francisco chapter, which gave me a chance to meet lots of great people!

2010: in parallel to a sustained consulting activity, I will work towards the goal of releasing product(s) to begin establishing a stable flow of revenue. I will also make time for fun and meeting people. Finally, I will work to make the San Francisco .Net user group an even better chapter than what it is now – a fun place for the .Net community to gather together!

That’s it. I had a wonderful year 2009, I hope you did, too – and I wish you all an amazing year 2010!

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