A brief search of my site indicates that I haven't actually blogged about PHP Advent since 2007, when I was lucky enough to write the first article. That first year, Chris put the advent articles up on his blog (and we do intend to copy them over to phpadvent.org, eventually). Sensing that Chris had entirely too much work to do, curating, and since we were working together by the time the season came around in 2008, I offered to help with editing and curation—I did, after all know the pain/joy of putting together a magazine.
By the time 2009 came around, Chris was already deep into preparing to launch Analog, and I'd already announced (internally) that I was moving on to other things. As a result, 2009's Advent was hard. Really hard. We commissioned authors too late, didn't set solid deadlines (as much as we hate deadlines, this sort of date-sensitive project requires them), neglected to dedicate enough time to author herding and editing, and to top it all off, I was headed to Costa Rica for a much-needed vacation, leaving Chris holding the bag for the last five days of 2009's season. Things were so bad at one point, last year, that I took it upon myself to write an article just so that we didn't miss a day. Luckily, we made it through (and by we, I mean Chris, because by the time my flight to San Jose on Dec. 19th came around, I'd had quite enough of Advent for the year).
If we learned anything from PHP Advent 2009, it was sadly not from the great articles, but instead from our own failures. If we were going to do this again in 2010, we needed to get on it early, and we needed to attack with full-force. I set my calendar to start bugging me in August, but even though I was hassled by its weekly reminders, we found ourselves at the start of November, wrecked from just having organized a conference, and in the middle of two product launches. Despite feeling like we didn't want to have the trouble of Advent again in 2010, neither of us dared say it to the other…at least not in so many words.
Due only to the abilities and professionalism of our most excellent authors, PHP Advent 2010 was—at least in my opinion—the best year, yet. They wrote wonderful, substantial, punchy articles that informed our readers, and generated significantly more traffic than we've seen in previous years: over 70,000 views, from more than 25,000 unique visitors, so far, and data from past years tells us that these numbers drop slightly starting on the 25th as we cease to post new content, but remain strong into January, with constant, lower traffic and occasional blips throughout the year. The most popular article this year had more than 10,000 views!
As we post the last article of 2010, I'm encouraged but all of this, and—contrary to how I felt in 2009—am actually looking forward to making PHP Advent even better in 2011.
Thank you Chris, and thank you authors. Have a wonderful new year.