The ups and downs. A look back at 2023.

The end of 2023 is near, meaning it is time to reflect on what happened this year. A lot has happened this year, personally and professionally. It was a year with ups and downs, a year where I lost a job I loved, and a year where I found a new job that brought me back into the Microsoft 365 world.

Last year, I told myself I wanted to make it easier and keep a list of highlights throughout the year. I did that and used the list to write this post.

Highlights of 2023

First, some highlights:

The year in review


The year had a great start. I was working at Rapid, and our team was working on some pretty cool stuff. In January, we went to Marrakech with Rapid. Almost the whole team was present. It was a great experience and a lot of fun.

Show image Having a party in the desert
Having a party in the desert


February started great with an email that I got my second GitHub star. I was super happy, and at the same time, Front Matter CMS reached 1000 stars on GitHub. It was an incredible milestone for the project.

Show image Oslo in February 2023
Oslo in February 2023

I also went to Oslo for the Arctic Cloud Developer Challenge, where I had the opportunity to be a judge. It was a great experience and a lot of fun to see what the attendees came up with quickly.

Besides the fun stuff, I created a new Visual Studio Code extension called Screendown. Screendown allows you to create screenshots of your Markdown or code directly in Visual Studio Code.


March was a month of new things. First of all, I had the opportunity to speak at the Belgian JavaScript Community (BE JS). I talked about how to start developing your own Visual Studio Code extension, but more importantly, the people were lovely and welcoming. It was a great experience.

Show image Speaking at BE JS
Speaking at BE JS

Youtube was another new thing for me. James Q Quick asked me to chat about Front Matter CMS and how to use it with Astro. As it was fun, I started my channel and published my first video about how to get started with Front Matter CMS.


In April, I went to Berlin for a team meeting at Rapid and had the opportunity to speak at my first GDG meetup.

Show image Having lunch with some nice colleagues
Having lunch with some nice colleagues


I felt something terrible would happen in May, as Rapid laid off many people at the end of April. I was one of the lucky ones who could stay, but only briefly. I was right. At the beginning of May, I got the notice that my contract also ended.

It was a sad moment, as I loved working at Rapid and with the team. I had a great time there, and I am still thankful for the opportunity I got, but also sad because of all the cool stuff we were working on that never saw the light of day.

It is fun to see that the RapidAPI Client extension has almost reached 300k installations. Unfortunately, it is not maintained anymore, and Postman released their own Visual Studio Code extension, which covers most of the features of the RapidAPI Client extension.

Show image RapidAPI Client almost at 300k installs
RapidAPI Client almost at 300k installs


I gave myself some time for the rest of May to think about what I wanted to do next. June is the month when I start looking for a new job. I thought it would be easy, but it was not. I had a lot of interviews, but most of them needed to be a better fit. The good part was that I started working two days a week at Involv Intranet.

Something else happened in June: I started the first interviews for the Google Developer Expert program. Those meetings are a great way to get introduced to the program and also show the quality of the program.


After those GDE interviews, it took a couple of weeks before I got the news that I got accepted into the program.

Show image Got accepted to the GDE program
Got accepted to the GDE program

That was not the only good news. Around the same time, I got the information that I got my 9th Microsoft MVP award for both the Developer Technologies and M365 Development categories.

On my birthday in July, we went on a three-week family vacation to Canada, where we did a road trip starting in Montreal.


August was a slow month, as it was vacation time. I did a couple of interviews, but nothing major happened. It was good to have some time off to recover from the jetlag.

Show image My son in Toronto
My son in Toronto


I continued the interviews in September to fill up the rest of my week. At the end of the month, I agreed with IceFire to work on a new PointFire product.


I started working at IceFire in the last days of September and continued in October. It was great to return to Microsoft 365 and have a whole week of work again.

October is typically the month when the BIWUG team organizes its annual event called Collabdays Belgium. Besides helping with the organization, I also did a session about E2E testing with Playwright for your Microsoft 365 solutions.

What made me so proud was how my daughter was able to help out during the event. Usually, I make general announcements, like telling people to go to the next session, but this time, my daughter saw the microphone and asked me if she could do it. I was so proud of her, and she did a great job.

Show image The LEGO challenge
The LEGO challenge


My first GitHub Universe was in November. The event was great because I could finally meet fellow GitHub stars and GitHub employees in person. Visit the GitHub office, which is such a cool place, and see what the future of GitHub will be.

Show image GitHub Universe 2023
GitHub Universe 2023

Big thanks to Kevin Hill, a former colleague at Rapid, who now works at Salesforce and invited me to go to the top of the Salesforce Tower. What a view!

Show image The view from the Salesforce Tower
The view from the Salesforce Tower


To end the year, I had the opportunity to speak at the ESPC Conference in Amsterdam. It’s convenient as I live in Belgium, so I could take the car to go there. It was great to be back at a conference and meet many friends and new people.

At ESPC, I spoke again about E2E testing with Playwright for your Microsoft 365 solutions. The feedback was great after the session, and I am happy that people are interested in this topic. A week after ESPC, I received the actual rating. A 9.4/10, which is fantastic.

Show image Session feedback from ESPC
Session feedback from ESPC

That was not it. To end the year, I had to create a new Visual Studio Code extension called Demo Time. Demo Time allows you to make live coding demos smoother by allowing you to script and run them while presenting.

Special thanks to Stephan van Rooij for giving me a tip to try out CodeTour to see if it could help me during presentations. That tip triggered the creation of Demo Time.

Oh, and not to forget, Front Matter CMS reached 1600 stars on GitHub and over 35k installs.

Show image Front Matter CMS over 35k installs
Front Matter CMS over 35k installs


2023 was a year with ups and downs, but I am happy that I could end it on a positive note. I am looking forward to 2024 and see what it will bring.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


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