I've been a Developer for 17 years as both a freelancer and employee. There is quite a bit more I could put here. However, I have specifically chosen the samples below to get across the key aspect of my work and myself that sets me apart from your average programmer or designer: I can do both equally well and each one better than some who claim to "specialize". Furthermore, unlike many developers, I like working with people as much as I like writing code. Some of the projects below required lots of discussion, in-person and electronic, to get right. No amount of code skills can fix misunderstanding a client's needs and it certainly doesn't help carry the relationship to happy terms beyond the project's completion which is always my goal.1. DigitalRMT.com
5. DentistryOnBritannia.com & DentistryAt2000.com
6. Bomb Ardier
7. Rogers, Letter of Recommendation
I use Hostgator
This is not just a site. It's a fully-fledged web application that comprises roughly 35,000 lines of "real" code (as in not HTML or CSS) that I've written. It rests on a MySQL/PHP server. I have put 2,000 hours into it over the last 2 years, working on and off as my client needs. She has over a hundred paying users now, all registered massage therapists. To see this application in action you can register for a trial account or check the videos section. Click the image above to visit the site.
My client is herself an RMT (Registered Massage Therapist). She was frustrated with the lack of digital options on the market for her profession so she asked me to make one. We had to release the application in phases because she didn't have the funding quite yet to hire me to create all the features below. With each release came more interest, more capital and more work for me.
The challenge with this application was the stringent rules around patient health records. More than any other project I've done in the past, the data had to be secure. I won't go into details here but suffice to say I now know more about protecting data from attacks or hardware failure than most developers.
Overview of features:
- Tracks changes to patient data from prior sessions - a requirement by Ontario's governing body of RMT.
- Multiple data backups available to user - by date, by patient, etc.
- Trial, monthly or yearly membership payment and notification system
- Frequently-used patient data autofill across all forms
- Legislated form validation - checks if the user has supplied the minimum info required for a given form
- Full server-side patient data encryption - if the data was somehow highjacked from the server, the thieves would have quite a time trying to get anything usable out of it.
- Solo user, Clinic or Enterprise versions available
- Legacy patient record upload
- Interactive anatomical ailment mapping
I am still employed as technical support by my client as well as developing further features on occasion. How many other freelance developers do you know that are still in their client's good books after 35,000 lines of code?
Toronto wine writer Timothy Appelt long ago learned just enough HTML to start his own site. A thousand reviews and hundreds of articles later his old site had become an unmanageable monster. Timothy brought me in and we got all his content into a shiny new Wordpress site (above).
This Wordpress site is more than just a pretty face. Timothy had been storing all his reviews in an Excel file as a master database. His other big ask besides making a new gorgeous site was that I find a way to link his Excel database to Wordpress so as to automate embedding reviews into his blogging. He understandably did not want to copy and paste a thousand reviews from an Excel file into the Wordpress interface. So I made him a custom widget in Wordpress. Now Timothy goes to wine tastings, updates his Excel on his laptop and uploads it to his site with a click. Within the text of any Wordpress post or article he can simply write "[review id=319]" (the number is his own numbering in the 'id' column of his Excel) and the review will auto-embed itself nicely for all visitors to that page. See it here. You will notice several images of bottles with wine stats and review to the right of each. That's my custom code and his enhanced productivity in action.
Also checkout the "Find it at your nearest LCBO" link at the bottom of each review. I was able to integrate this useful widget that I created for PurpleLips.ca into Tim's site (with PurpleLips.ca's permission).
Also check out Search Reviews. I custom built this as well. You can use drag-and-drop Wordpress tools to make basic forms but there's a limit to what can be achieved. I can't rest until my forms lack for nothing.
To try this plugin click the banner above.
I dislike the LCBO (Ontario's liquor control board). They don't share their sales or data with other businesses or the taxpayers they serve. I found a like-minded developer on the internet who took action and created a web service called LCBO API. It basically crawls the LCBO site and re-constructs their database. He offers this service by donation.
Enter Lesley Provost, one of Toronto's best sommeliers. She approached me with the idea of offering a nice way for her readers to easily find the delicious wines she reviews.
Given my dislike for the LCBO and my like for Lesley Provost, I accepted the job.
Now when Lesley wants to review a wine she simply has to look for the LCBO product ID and insert it anywhere in the text of her post. My plugin finds it, grabs the product data from the LCBO API service and preps the Google map to display the 5 nearest stores after the user submits their location.
Yes, I got to build The Nylons' official website. Jealous?
The Nylons wanted a small "arts and crafty" official micro-site with links to their social networking pages across the web. I was given creative control (yes!). I decided that it would be centered around what they do best: accapella. So I attended a rehearsal session, brought my Audio Technica AT20 mic and my M-AUDIO box. The result is a fun Flash piece featuring a wholly original performance by The Nylons!
The site uses Tumblr, Facebook, and YouTube to manage touring, presskit, news info. The idea here was to use their budget to produce as much animation (fun stuff) as possible, and to hand-off the content administration to big social networking sites. The Nylons now use Facebook to update their touring schedule. This model clearly has advantages. However, what if those sites change their policies, their interface, or their link structure? I look forward to getting feedback from them on how this experimental model will serve.
if you want any web designer to give a hundred and ten percent on your site, describe your needs to them at the beginning, give them a general idea of look and feel, then hand over creative control to them and don't ever take it away, as The Nylons did with me.
But before you do any of this, checkout their portfolio ;)
The primary business goal of my client in the development of these sites - one for each of his dental practices - was to help his junior dentists gain exposure and build their clientele. Other goals that became apparent during our meeting was low-maintenance and calmness. When a person is shopping for a dentist for themselves or a loved one, ease of use and a soothing tone make sense.
This site has a backend area whereby the client can upload new pictures and bios of staff. There is no need to hire someone like me to update the site everytime the staff changes. As for look, my own timeless style suited this project to begin with. The client did not want to be stuck with a website with a dated design in 3 years.
I managed to convince the client to use the same interface for both but use different colour sets. He felt that it was a strange idea but in the end I convinced him that it was a good thing to make the partnership between locations obvious and also it would cut costs by thousands. He agreed.
For the sake of providing you with a more complete picture of my skills and passions..
I am in a rock band called Dirty Penny. We've produced 3 albums. I created this animated video for our song "Bomb Ardier". It was created in Flash using my lovely Wacom drawing tablet. This is one of my favorite production tools. It allows the designer to draw directly into Photoshop or Flash with the same pressure sensitivity and feel as a real paintbrush. This took me approx. 300 hours to complete. It sounds like a lot but if you've animated before you know that it's not.
This piece tells the story of a pretend turn-of-the-century Montreal, my hometown. I've made a few other animated music videos for my band but this one has gotten the best reviews. Put your headphones on and follow the story. This is a spoken-word story song. Your average computer speakers don't do it justice.
It is a pity that I cannot show off some of the great work I did for Rogers here. Confidentiality agreements prohibit me from doing so.
While at Rogers I got to use my Computer Science degree in some amazing ways. Most notably, I designed, developed, and launched Rogers' first internal Wiki. Rogers' Training department had suffered from a string of unpopular intrasites. The content would quickly become stale in the absence of a dedicated webmaster and users would gradually stop visiting soon after the buzz and excitement of the initial launch. Why didn't they just assign a dedicated webmaster? If you've worked in a big corporation you know the answer to this. Creating an entirely new position within a department - in this case, one that is not directly tied to the business goals of the department - is not easy. Nonetheless, a vibrant internal training portal was needed and desired. They wanted their cake and to eat it, too. Luckily they had a guy on their team that had a great passion for the web's innovations and a gifted problem-solver. "Make the intrasite community driven!" I said. This demonstrated my natural ability to think outside-the-box and my excellent business communication skills. Selling the idea of a Web2.0/social networking model inside the walls of a big, conservative organisation was no easy feat. It took 3 months of design, development, and a lot of fast talking. It's still in use today.
Some more of what I accomplished at Rogers:
- Migrated legacy data from old LMS (Learning Management System) to new, 1.5 million records
- Designed, developed, and launched 12+ applications
- Lead Advanced Flash training sessions to the junior developers on-staff
- Consulted throughout the company as a Multimedia/Application expert
- Created 2 Flash Training games for in-class group sessions
- Produced 50+ eForms
- Administrator for Rogers' departmental web server
But you don't have to take my word for it. Click on the doc/image above and you will find my former team leader, Victor Sherman's contact info. Phone him up and he'll tell you about all the great applications I developed and launched for Rogers and how they are still in use today.
NOTE: My former team-leader and author of this reference letter, Victor Sherman, is undergoing some contact info changes. Please do not try the number mentioned in the letter. Please contact me directly if you wish to reach him as a reference.
I use Hostgator for this and many of my client's sites. They are a few bucks more expensive than the bargain basement webspace providers but I've used them for 11 years and I've never been let down by their support. If you're shopping for webspace, I highly recommend Hostgator. Contact me if you have any questions. And yes, I get a few bucks if you buy hosting with them after clicking the box above.
Most developers will tell you they can make The Matrix for you. They're not lying. They're just challenging themselves without telling you. If you hire them you will at best get The Matrix feeling for a few minutes before you notice "bugs", freezes in movement, etc.. At worst you will get a developer that just disappears with your money - a tortured, twisted wreck of a soul that did in fact spend a thousand hours trying to deliver but it was just too much for their production skill set. These poor wretches justify stealing your money because they've done nothing else for the past 6 weeks but kill themselves failing to deliver your dream and now really have to feed the cat.
If your looking for the developer that will make your site or application buzz and pop like The Matrix, you've got the wrong geek. I specialize in the classic principles of design, not trends. My sites do not "wow", they please. They are like jeans and a white t-shirt: they don't go out of style. Only one client has ever ditched my site and had it redesigned by another group. They have recently come back to me after years of disappointment in trying to maintain the monster site they created.