End of Year Review 2018-19

I work as a front-end web and JavaScript developer on a contract basis. My services are provided through a limited company, Studio Zeffa. Since the company’s financial year has just concluded, I’m continuing the tradition from last year and writing a post to review the past year’s work.


In the period 1st April 2018 - 31st March 2019 I worked on the following projects:

  • Development of the Postsaver and Polesaver smartphone apps to guide the installation of these products in the field.
  • Consultancy for the development of the forthcoming YourTradebase mobile app.
  • Development of a web-based marketplace for the food industry.
  • Development of a bespoke e-learning platform.
  • Teaching TypeScript & React Native training courses.
  • Various internal web and mobile tools for a large multi-national organisation (due to NDA the company cannot be named).
  • A (yet to be released) web-based process management platform for advertising and marketing firms.


This past year has been the year of React. Most of the projects I worked on were developed using React DOM (for the web) or React Native.

In addition to React I’ve also worked with:

  • Ruby on Rails
  • Node.js
  • Stimulus.js
  • SASS
  • React Storybook
  • Jest
  • TypeScript
  • Redux + Redux Saga
  • Apollo + GraphQL

The majority of my development has been with JavaScript/TypeScript, but I’ve also enjoyed learning Ruby on Rails. Despite some of the negative publicity, Rails seems to be a good choice for building a server-side rendered web application in 2019, particularly when paired with the lightweight Stimulus front-end library.

Process & Tools

As last year, I’ve largely continued with the same set of tools, allowing me to work efficiently and in an agile manner:

  • Slack
  • Trello
  • Clubhouse
  • Phabricator
  • BitBucket
  • Google Hangouts

I’ve also had the (mis)fortune of using Jira for the first time in my professional career. It feels quite heavyweight and I prefer using a lighter alternative such as Clubhouse. The latter feels like a nice balance between the simplicity of something like Trello combined with more powerful agile project management features such as estimations and burndown charts.

Working environment

Similar to last year, my time has been split between home-working and on-site at my clients’ locations. Compared to last year, I’ve spent more time at home, which suits me well as I feel more productive when there are less office-related distractions.

I’ve continued to work 4 days a week, with the odd exception here and there. This has afforded me more time to spend with my young family, a decision I’m sure I will come to appreciate in future years (kids are only little once!).


This past year I’ve continued my involvement in DevelopMe’s 12-week fellowship, teaching a week on React Native development. I have continued to hone the course and as a result the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive from the students.

In addition to the React Native week I also covered a fellow instructor’s courses when he was on paternity leave. These courses covered the basics of JavaScript, the DOM, React and Redux. It was interesting to teach with another instructor’s material and the experience helped me to improve my own courses, whilst teaching me a thing or two about the DOM!

Business Expansion

This past year my wife has joined the business as employee #2. She is a graphic, print and craft designer and her designs have been commissioned for a number of industry leading publications. Previously working as a sole trader, her joining the business has allowed us to consolidate our work into a single entity and provide her the security and separation that a limited company affords.

Bottom Line

For the financial year 2018/19, Studio Zeffa turned over £72,030. This is an increase of 79% on the previous year, a significant improvement.

The turnover increase has been skewed by the fact that I took a quarter of the previous year away from work as paternity leave, and so it was always expected that this year would be an improvement on last year. However I do appreciate that this is a healthy revenue; I feel very fortunate to do a job that I love and be well paid for it.

Breaking revenue down by technology:

  • React DOM (web): 43%
  • React Native: 25%
  • Rails/Stimulus: 19%
  • Design work: 7%
  • JavaScript/TypeScript training: 6%

Once again React has dominated - projects using React accounted for over two-thirds of the total revenue for the business.

Next Year

I’ve decided to take a break from instructing on the DevelopMe training course and so its likely that I will be focussing most of my attention on consultancy than training for this forthcoming year.

I’m already booked in to continue working on the food marketplace app, which is built with Rails and Stimulus. I’m excited to see how this project proceeds - working with ‘traditional’ server-rendered HTML views and progressively enhancing them with Stimulus is a nice approach.

I’d be surprised if I didn’t continue to work with React in some capacity, as I’m finding tht more and more prospective clients are looking for developers with this skillset.

Once again this past year has seen me working with exceptionally talented, driven and fundamentally nice people. I hope this continues into the coming year and beyond.

Interested in hiring me for your next project or training course? Please get in touch and I’d be happy to discuss.