Colin O’Dell is a Lead Web Developer with Unleashed Technologies and has been with us since 2008. Colin has been developing websites since high school and he is a Magento Certified Developer. He recently sat down with us to discuss topics ranging from the Apple II-e to Symfony2.

Apple’s II-e

The Apple II-e was my introduction to computers during elementary school. There was one available in my fourth grade classroom and after I exhausted its included gameplay I began to create new programs using Applesoft BASIC. I remember wanting to do more with the machine and ended up writing my first programs and storing them on 5¼” floppy disks.

BASIC Variants

Once I entered middle school my early love for coding was expanded as I began writing programs in QBASIC. Middle school also marked the first time one of my applications was put into use by someone other than my circle of friends. My school struggled to efficiently manage their bus schedule so I wrote BusTrak in QBASIC which allowed Administrators to alert the classrooms when certain busses had arrived on campus. BusTrak allowed a single staff member to monitor the bus-loop and send out alerts to every classroom through their televisions when a particular bus was ready for end-of-day boarding.

Freelance Web Development

In high school I further refined my programming interest to web development and began creating dynamic websites using server-side languages like PHP. In the 10th grade a classmate and I decided to monetize our programming prowess and set out to secure several web development contracts. We ended up working for several businesses around our town including a favorite restaurant and a local architecture and construction firm. As treasurer of both my class and DECA, I created small applications to help manage dues collection, finances, and budgeting.   These experiences allowed me to explore PHP further, as well as other languages and technologies.

Open Sourced Solutions

As my web development career continued to grow through college and beyond I began to embrace the power of open source software in my web development projects. For projects that needed a strong content management system (CMS) I ended up deciding to work with Drupal, largely because of the rock-solid yet flexible foundation it provides for content-driven sites.  The community support and vast library of modules was also a major factor in focusing on this platform - they allow developers to spend less time laying the groundwork and more time building solutions, which is its strongest asset.

From there I expanded into the Magento eCommerce platform and the Symfony2 framework.  Both offered a highly object-oriented environment in which to grow and refine my skills. Symfony2 also provided the opportunity to learn more-advanced concepts (like design patterns) and get more involved with the open source community.

Giving back to the community (via open-source projects) has always been a passion of mine.  Some of my latest contributions include a new validator for Symfony2 and the de-facto CommonMark parser for PHP (which was recently accepted into the League of Extraordinary Packages).  I’m excited to continue doing what I can to continue improving the open-source web developer community.

The Unleashed Technologies Advantage

Unleashed Technologies has a well-integrated development team that allows us to create products that exceed even the loftiest aspirations. We strive to stay on top of the latest technologies and trends to ensure we’re providing the best possible solutions for our clients and their users.  With a team of dedicated developers with their own areas of expertise we have the resources available to solve any problem, from responsive design to eCommerce payments and beyond – if you can dream it, we can build it.

Want to get in touch with Colin or anyone else from our team? Contact us today.


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