I developed my first web pages in a Bellevue College course called Computer Essentials for Digital Media as a prerequisite for an Imaging Foundations course and an Animation Foundations course. The web pages consisted of basic HTML and CSS. Afterwards, my older brother had some space on a server and he offered to let me host some web pages on the server. I produced very basic HTML pages, displaying some 3D artwork and creative writings, with inline CSS that was so minimal that I was actually using HTML tables to format my pages. Of course this was way back in 2003, long before stuff like Bootstrap and CSS preprocessors, which make page formatting with CSS far easier. Nowadays, I consider web pages formatted with HTML tables to be web development blasphemy.
At that time, I was only studying web development as a prerequisite for animation related courses so I initially lost interest in web development and went on studying digital imaging and animation. I was a naive young person thinking I would write screenplays and turn them into animated feature films.
Eventually reality set in and I realized I needed to figure out a practical career. I had a very analytical and process oriented mind and I wanted to work from home, so I started studying C++ hoping to become a programmer.
The bar to entry into the industry was much higher back then, especially for telecommuting jobs, which were very few and far between, so my first telecommuting work was actually as a freelance proofreader of online magazine articles.
My English skills later got me work with Instructional Software, Inc, where I started by proofreading documents and doing online research of business law in the various states and provinces throughout North America. This also led to QA testing for the BizDoc desktop software package.
It was around this time that I began applying my foundational knowledge of C++ onto C#, hoping to transfer the BizDoc software package from the Visual FoxPro programming language, which had been discontinued by Microsoft, over to C#, using MS SQL Server Compact as the database. I read Murach’s books on C# and MS SQL Server and was eventually able to create a prototype application and obtain my Microsoft Technology Associate Certifications in Database Fundamentals (MTA 98-364), Software Development Fundamentals for C# (MTA 98-361), and HTML5 Fundamentals (MTA 98-375).
The last of the certifications was part of a shift, which largely occurred due to a website that I had begun working on alongside the BizDoc Compact Startup C# application. This was a business website called StateDocs. For more information about the StateDocs project click here.
I was developing the StateDocs website using a LAMP stack and soon I was given additional work doing QA testing for the corporationdocs.com website, which Instructional Software was constructing in conjunction with Nevada Corporate Headquarters and a development team in India.
A fuller account of how I ended up taking over what would later become the BizDoc Online website is given here. In short, testing the corporationdocs.com website was one of the most frustrating experiences of my career due to circumstances beyond my control, but I was able to take advantage of the situation and prove my skills as a full stack LAMP developer by taking over the project and doing what the development team in India and a programmer for Nevada Corporate Headquarters were incapable of doing.
I normalized the database and separated the web application into two different websites. One website, bizdoconline.net, was a WordPress site entirely of my own creation, utilizing my own custom theme. The other website, bizdoconline.com, utilized most of the HTML and CSS from corporationdocs.com, which I modernized by transforming it from HTML 4.01 and CSS2 to HTML5 and CSS3, making it responsive, cross browser compatible, and mobile friendly as illustrated here.
I’m very proud of all the work I did on BizDoc Online and I want to do my best to make sure it’s successful, but I can’t feel satisfied merely administering and improving this web application. I wanted to go back to a C# version of the BizDoc desktop application using UWP, but I’ve been told that the company wants to concentrate only on this one web application from now on. I also feel that desktop applications might be a waste of my time, since the future seems to be going increasingly in the direction of online applications.
The best thing for me at this point is to find work with another company where I can utilize and improve my skills as a full stack LAMP developer. Any future employer will need to accept that I continue working for Instructional Software, Inc as well, but I’m perfectly willing to work up to 42 hours a week as long as I can work flexible hours, including Saturdays and Sundays.