It’s December 21st as I write this, which means it’s time for my yearly recap and a recounting of this year’s most popular posts. The way 2010 began, it threatened to be a tough fourth year of Encosia, but has eventually turned out to be a great year in the end.

Encosia-related metrics are up across the board, from page views, to RSS subscribers, to Twitter followers. In fact, the site has served right at one and a quarter million page views to JavaScript-enabled, human visitors in the past year. That’s chump change for a lot of larger sites, but it’s a number that’s truly hard for me to fathom in the context of my paltry trickle of niche content.

The year wasn’t all smooth sailing though…


Microsoft zigged; we did not zag

During the latter half of 2009 and the beginning of 2010, Alessandro, David, and myself were working furiously on finishing the second edition of ASP.NET AJAX in Action. The wide range of new features in the ASP.NET Ajax Library made that a non-trivial task, and we wanted to do a good job. There were several chapters of entirely brand new material and others that needed far-reaching updates to bring current.

However, the entire endeavor was derailed when we learned that the ASP.NET Ajax Library was to be suddenly abandoned before it ever officially saw daylight. That was a surprising turn of events for a project that had been under ongoing development for nearly two years.

Rather than release a mediocre revision that only covered the minor updates that ASP.NET AJAX itself has seen, we decided the right thing to do was to cancel the second edition and refund pre-orders. As painful as it was to abandon months of work, I do believe that Microsoft’s choice to fully embrace jQuery is a positive long-term development for the ASP.NET platform. I’m genuinely more optimistic than ever about the future of the symbiotic relationship between Microsoft and jQuery.

Ultimately, all’s well that ends well, and we’re working to make this end well. We’ve been regrouping, refocusing, and I expect to have a related announcement soon.

Doing more and ending up with less

I’ve had a lot of off-site content creation to juggle during the last year, ranging from the doomed book, to recording a dozen TekPub episodes, to writing for sites like ASP.NET, MIX Online, and Script Junkie. That left me with frustratingly scarce time to write articles here for my own site. I’ve managed a respectable two-post-per-month average, but I hoped for more. With such a low volume of posts, I feel fortunate to have seen several reach the front page of Hacker News this year.

Next year, I intend to retreat from the off-site writing a bit, and find more time to focus on writing here. I’ve had post ideas bouncing around my head, for years in some cases, that I very much want to get fleshed out and published.

The Best of 2010

“Best” is a subjective term, but the following are the five most trafficked posts published here this year, beginning with the highest traffic and descending.

Don’t let jQuery’s $(document).ready() slow you down – I wrote this post quickly one morning, based on Elijah Manor asking me to expand on a point I made on Twitter. I wasn’t sure if this post was worth writing at all, but it seems to have been useful to more people than I expected.

It even ended up being republished in issue #5 of Hacker Monthly, which I certainly didn’t expect.

6,953 reasons why I still let Google host jQuery for me – I put a lot of work into this one. The post itself took long enough to write, but the two rounds of underlying research took even longer. I think it was worth the work though; it seems to have helped raise awareness about just how prevalent the Google CDN is used on the most trafficked sites and the importance of using a common URL to optimize for the cross-site caching benefit. In fact, the jQuery.com site’s CDN reference finally got updated to a version-specific one as a direct result of the post.

How 30 seconds dropped my bounce rate by 78% – This post was way off topic, but I thought it might be interesting enough to be worthwhile. So many sites only have one form of analytics, most of which calculate bounce rates based on multiple page views, I’m sure I wasn’t alone in being unhappy with my seemingly high bounce rate. Knowing that most people are actually sticking around and spending several minutes on average is a relief. All the traffic in the world is meaningless to me if I’m not actually getting useful information to people who need it.

ASMX and JSON – Common mistakes and misconceptions – I began this series after someone mentioned that they were struggling with WCF instead of using ASMX, because they wanted to use JSON instead of XML and SOAP. WCF is good for some things, but ASMX is so much simpler when all you need is a JSON endpoint, plus JavaScriptSerializer is more flexible than DataContractJsonSerializer. I can’t imagine why anyone would waste their time with WCF for some of these tasks just because they feel that they’re supposed to.

I have several more posts in mind for this series. Should I publish them?

5 Steps Toward jQuery Mastery – This was a fun one. My friend Moses (of Egypt) asked me to write a piece for .Network magazine’s inaugural print issue. Since it turned out pretty well and there was no corresponding online version of that issue, we decided it made sense for me to publish it here also. It went on to be the fifth most viewed post published this year; thanks, Moses!

An unknown quantity

One popular article this year that I’m unsure of is the article I wrote for MIX Online: JavaScript Libraries and ASP.NET: A Guide to jQuery, AJAX and Microsoft. That article was a work in progress for most of 2010, maturing from a simple follow-on to my previous jQuery article there until it became what was ultimately published. I was happy with how it finally turned out, and grateful to Karsten for being infinitely patient with me as the article grew and evolved.

Since I don’t have access to statistics about its popularity, I can’t be sure, but other signs point to it deserving a mention in this post.

Thanks

As always, I want to express my gratitude for your attention, support, and for sharing my work with others. As much as I’d like to say that I’d be just as motivated to keep doing this in a vacuum, that simply isn’t true. You make this worthwhile to me.

Thanks.

I hope you all have a safe and happy holiday season, and a great new year.