I have already summarised my skills on the home page, so take a peek there if you are short on time. In this section I want to go into a bit more detail about where I am now and how I arrived at this position. This isn't a CV, though I will be happy to provide you with one on request.
I am married to Alex (short for Alexandra), and together we have a daughter called Francesca who is 11. Alex also has a 21-year-old son called Ben, who is studying to be a teacher. We have recently moved to Cyprus, having spent the last decade holidaying there each year. We have always been struck by the beauty of Cyprus and the friendliness of its people, and decided that we wanted to be part of it. Given Alex's roots in the bridal industry, it also made sound business sense to expand here.
I have always been interested in computing, and it has formed the basis of my entire career. It is also a hobby of mine, and creeps into other aspects of my life. Aside from IT, I love exploring the countryside with my family, and am a keen geocacher. When not outside I like to play the piano to a reasonable standard, and enjoy writing when time allows.
I currently describe myself, if asked, as a full stack web developer. By that I mean I am happy doing the whole site, both client and server. If I had to choose an allegience I would opt for the back end; however, I prefer to be involved in the entire project. My development environment consists of an MSI laptop running Windows 10. On this I run Adobe CC, Office, and VMWare Workstation, which hosts an Ubuntu 14 Virtual Machine.
When developing, my editor of choice is PHPStorm. These days I work with the popular PHP Framework Laravel. This has built in support for Gulp, which means that it is a cinch to use CSS preprocessors and the like. It also has very good built-in testing support. I am by no means an evangelist for TDD, however I do think it is important to establish a certain level of reliable testing.
My favourite type of site to work on, is one that actually does something. By that I mean a site that manipulates data and performs a function. So a shop, as opposed to a blog site, or a searchable, mappable directory as opposed to a static information site. I won't turn my nose up at blog or information sites though, provided I get to create something.
For the last ten years or so, I have been developing websites, of various shapes or forms. My most recent site is Cyprus Gowns. This is a fully-responsive eCommerce site. Technically, it is written using PHP7 and Laravel 5.1. It works with both Braintree and Stripe payment gateways. In addition to a standard store front and shopping cart, it also offers a range of services to customers.
Cyprus Gowns was built using a CMS I developed for the main site I have created; Glamourous Gowns. This is our family bridal business, of which Cyprus Gowns is an offshoot. This site has been around for over ten years, and has undergone several transformations into its current form. It was originally written in a mix of PHP3 and PHP4, and later upgraded to PHP5.
Up until two years ago Glamourous Gowns had had separate desktop and mobile versions. However, the sheer volume of mobile users we were getting told me that we now needed a fully responsive site. The mobile users needed the same functionality and usability as the desktop users. At some times 75% of customers were using a mobile, compared to 10% a year previously. Smart phone usage had exploded and we had to act.
I had written some responsive sites before, both in-house and for clients, however this was the first time I had taken an existing site and converted it. Not only that, the existing site was extremely popular with the customers, and highly regarded in the industry. In addition to making it responsive I also decided to use an external framework. Up to this point I had coded the site using a mix of procedural and object-orientated code. I had used Laravel for other projects, and now decided to take the plunge and use it for Glamourous Gowns.
The update went very well. Given that, in the background, it was a complete rewrite from the ground up, I was very pleased to see that its SEO position was unaffected. All the old links still worked, the content was still the same. It just had a fully responsive UI with a back end built to the latest programming standards.
There were two key reasons the update went so smoothly:
As well as programming for Glamourous Gowns, I also do graphic and video work, some of which is shown in the portfolio. I enjoy that aspect as well, though I consider myself a coder at heart.
Before we set up the family bridal business, I worked as a hand-on I.T Manager for a company called Hydralectric. They are that rarest of beasts, a UK based manufacturing company. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there, as I was able to drag their I.T usage into the 21st century while at the same time get their staff more enthusiastic about the use of I.T. I did this in a number of ways:
Prior to Hydralectric my career went through three phases.
In my career I have had a number of I.T roles, though programming has always been a feature. I have also worked in a number of industries, and in just about every department you could imagine outside of Human Resources. This has given me a well-rounded programming ability. I can write code for a specific function while appreciating that it has to fit into a greater whole. Above all though, I enjoy it.