The Support Group Blog

Custom Web App Development

My Path To Custom Web App Development

You might not know it, but you probably use a web application every day. Take your email, for example, if you use Gmail, Yahoo or any other type of web-based email client you've already experienced a web app. You don't need a specific device in a specific location to use the app; all you need is a web browser, any one will do. Pretty convenient, huh? But, have you ever wished that your web app could do something uniquely, only for you? You've looked and there's no feature or setting that provides that function. That's where customization comes in, but I digress...

I was introduced to different types of technologies, like database administration, computer networking, operating systems and such during my undergraduate and graduate Computer Science course studies. The more I studied, the more I realized that web technology excited me the most.

I began my career as a software developer working with a team creating FileMaker plugins and custom web applications with SQL and FileMaker Pro as the backend databases. I joined The Support Group in 2008. I am well versed in the FileMaker platform, but I also apply my skills with HTML, PHP, XML, etc. to the custom web development projects I work on. But I don't sit alone in a room staring at code all day since my responsibilities also include managing projects and client expectations. 

The Framework

Building a custom web application is relatively easy. The challenge comes when I have to enhance an existing platform, debug a program and/or optimize a system. These three aspects of my job are what get me out of bed each morning.

For as long as I can remember, I've enjoyed troubleshooting. I genuinely enjoy reading someone's code and figuring out how it works. In order for me to enhance an existing application and add new features, I have to understand its basic foundation so as not to jeopardize the integrity of the system.

When systems unexpectedly stop working for whatever reason, I like to put my investigator hat on and search for clues for the cause. More often than not, the culprit is an update of some sort and it is my distinct pleasure to find and implement a patch that brings the system back online.

I think I spend a lot of time on website optimization these days. Blazing fast Internet connections inspire me to deliver an application that responds accordingly. So I have to strategically configure and organize the system in such a way that data retrieval and rendering on any type of screen is as fast and efficient as possible. I remember working on a project where I had to configure a system that balanced high-volume Internet traffic with role-based access to certain resources while accommodating responsiveness to different device types. Talk about high expectations! Of course, we delivered.

Client-side

Web App Wireframe

I enjoy building web applications across different industries/domains. The fun part is learning about my client's business and then applying my experience and expertise to build something they can use to improve their operations. Analyzing the business needs is an iterative process; it might start in a conference room with bagels and coffee and continue over the course of the project during status updates or during system reviews. Gathering the information from my clients and translating it into visual flowcharts and wireframes allow me to demonstrate my artistic capabilities.

I get to work with some pretty interesting and innovative people. For example, a pair of entrepreneurs envisioned a technology that would run their mobile car cleaning company. They pretty much knew what they wanted and needed The Support Group to help build and implement it. We were able to design and build a cool mobile-friendly scheduling portal where users can conveniently arrange services for their cars. We added a user-friendly interface for viewing appointments in a calendar format and extended the system with the necessary e-commerce components to process online payments and tips as well as submit service reviews. It's a pretty robust system wrapped up in this custom tool.

I think that one of the best benefits of a custom web application is control. When an organization has complete ownership of its web applications, they are able to enhance existing functions and introduce new features on their own timetable. How many times have you wished your off-the-shelf software could tell you something about our customers or inventory? You know the data is there, but there's literally no way to render it into the information you need. Or, how about that major upgrade that's been in beta for months? You've marked your calendar on the day when you can finally use it. When you have your own application, it is built exactly for how you work and you never have to compromise or wait.

Decompression

IMG_6197

Although I love exploring new web technologies and reviewing different frontend frameworks, I am more than a custom web app developer. I am a son, brother, husband and father. After work, you will usually find me painting, coloring, practicing the alphabet and counting with my two daughters.

I enjoy sports and I use it to clear my head and relieve tension. I am very passionate about soccer so I try to play at least once a week. It's probably not surprising that I enjoy running and my goal is to complete a full marathon at some point. My wife and Born to Run by Christopher McDougall motivated me to do a half marathon and so I'm counting on them to get me to and through a full one.

If you want to learn more about custom web applications, use that good ol' web app to email me.

 

Feature photo by Radovan on Unsplash

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