My Web Developer Life

I got my feet wet in web site design back in 1995 while doing a short stint at North Carolina State University, with the birth of my personal website, An Eclectic World. It pretty basic, just a few HTML pages tossed together and some graphics. I won’t say it was “pretty” by today’s standards either, but hey I liked it. After a few years, I’d learned how to use third-party CGI scripts and began dabbling with PHP. I found it clunky and less than intuitive, but it got me going. At the same time, I was becoming quite adept at working with databases, mostly Access for desktop stuff and MySQL for my website. Even before I heard the term “normalization”, I was building fairly relational DBs. It was just intuitively logical for me.

I also learned about this language called ColdFusion. It seemed interesting and exciting, so I grabbed a book on it and gave it a whirl. It was love at first sight! It was a language that perfectly fit the way my mind works, much like good relational databases, so I was able to pick it up rapidly. I did some freelance work for a friend, then expected into some other decent contracts, which kept the rent paid. In 2000, I got my first real ColdFusion job, telecommuting for a company in Maryland. Woo hoo! It financed my semi-spur of the moment decision to leave my home state of North Carolina to get a fresh start in life in Texas, before the infamous bubble burst resulted in a layoff. A year later I got my current job working as a ColdFusion developer with what was then known as Texas Cooperative Extension (formerly Texas Agricultural Extension Service and now Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service…yeah).

I developed primarily in ColdFusion for 16 years.  During that time, I earned the Adobe Certified Expert in Advanced ColdFusion 8 certificate and led two series of ColdFusion courses (Basic and Advanced) based on Adobe’s materials, , gave speeches/presentations at our now defunct local Macromedia/Adobe user group and at some of our annual Ag Program conferences, and of course published articles on things here.

Then, in 2013 we began the shift to drop ColdFusion and move to PHP.  As part of that shift, we also began using Bootstrap as our HTML, CSS, and JavaScript framework, in conjunction with jQuery, and began doing our designs in HTML 5 with an eye towards being mobile friendly and more accessible and responsive.  As of spring 2016, we’re down to recoding the last of the ColdFusion sites still up and running before we’ll fully be a PHP shop and I’ll mostly close the book on my time with ColdFusion.

I’ll still be doing it a little while longer as I still need to redo my An Eclectic World site to PHP (since it needs redoing anyway), though my goal is to finish that project before the end of 2016, so that I start 2017 fully into the role of a PHP developer.  I resisted the change for a long time, and part of me will likely always miss ColdFusion, but I know that for my development career and improvement, I sometimes have to accept that its time to move on, and while it was someone else who forced the change, it is one I now accept as the best for us overall.