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Web Development: Flash/Actionscript
05/20/2004 Flash/Actionscript: Promotional banners for Washington Mutual

Lately I've been doing a number of Flash banners for Washington Mutual, Inc. as part of the Tajima Creative Group team. I've been taking the approved storyboards and animating them, generating the transitions, fades, moving things around the stage, and creating Actionscript code that gets dynamic information from the server that hosts the .swfs. Pretty interesting, and it's really sharpened up my animation chops. More info when they're online, but I'm in the middle of the second batch of these, and it's fun.

05/17/2004 PHP, Javascript, CSS: Consulting for Mikesell Design

I've just finished up some quick consulting for Mikesell Design, on a particularly interesting set of problems for a site that's in development. The end client required that mySQL not be used, so to give them a relatively painless way of updating one of the navigation areas on their site, I eliminated the hard-coded navigation done by another developer, and stocked a multidimensional PHP array.

Having the navigation in an array was essential, so that our actual display code could be as few lines as possible--in this case, one instance of the code for all of the nav links. This helped significantly with the next issue, which was that this particular navigation area needed to expand and collapse using a combination of Javascript and CSS. Given our compressed time frame (which was "as soon as possible"), I adapted some open source code for this, Matt Kruse's DHTML Tree. It's a nice script, degrades gracefully, offers auto-open, and preserved our styles, but...it didn't let us auto-open on IE. (Dan Vine's ieCapture helped us figure this out.) As debugging DHTML Tree wasn't getting us any closer to solving the PC IE problems, I decided to do browser detection in PHP, and serving IE users BleedingEgo's listmenu instead, which lets us do auto-open to a point. (IE's inconsistent application of the DOM means that we can't determine the menu open/close states as nicely as we can in other browsers.)

The last requirement was that the expanding and collapsing menu not change the page length, so an iFrame was a natural solution, and I've ended up with a couple of happy clients.

03/15/2004 PHP/mySQL: Harry N. Abrams, Inc.

I'm finishing up a new dynamic web infrastructure for Harry N. Abrams, Inc., which should be online later this week. [Actually, given the sheer volume of text and image content on their site, the full preparation took somewhat longer.] Their staff has done a wonderful redesign, and I've done all the database development as well as the dynamic processing in PHP. Most of the truly interesting stuff is in the searches: there's a simple text search, an advanced search, and a text-based search in which users can enter complex conditional search terms. More info once we roll it out.

01/16/2004 Development and Design: onezero music

onezero musicI've officially launched my latest project, onezero music, a site selling downloadable music files. I did all the design--both the site design and graphics, and the logo and identity. One night I was coming up with names for the site, and when I found that onezeromusic.com was available, I registered it. The logo and overall design came to me in a flash, and I stayed up late fleshing out the design. Various server issues with my old hosting service led me to find a new host which offered enough disk space and bandwidth that I could make this site happen.
onezero musicThe code is all PHP/mySQL, and the commerce is optimized for micropayments through BitPass. BitPass is an "instant payment" system--you see an item, and buy it--which doesn't use shopping carts. Since I have a great shopping cart coded, however, I'll be bringing a parallel system online soon for those people who like shopping carts. (It is a really good cart.) I began development in early December 2003, finishing in January 2004. While many sites are selling downloadable music these days, the onezero music pricing model is more affordable and (to me, anyway) makes a lot more sense. The site features electronica, ambient music, improv, rock, and will ultimately feature a lot more. Head on over and check it out. Maybe you'll find something you like.

08/15/2003 Flash/Actionscript: Flash application for Washington Mutual promotional CD

Tajima Creative Group asked me to join the Flash team for this project, primarily to contribute financial calculators and advanced functionality to an interactive survey. To do this, I had to get up to speed rather quickly on Flash MX; fortunately, Actionscript is nearly isomorphic with Javascript...except for the complete absence of the Document Object Model, and I/O being handled by Flash objects. Despite some proprietary Flash quirkiness, and my having to complete a fair amount of work while I was on tour, we were able to finish the project successfully within the deadline. (Props to Aaron and Mark, who handled many of the other Flash duties on this, particularly the animated transitions.)

02/28/2003 PHP/mySQL: Online Project Tracker for Washington Mutual Home Loans Marketing

I've just finished this project, and it involved a couple very interesting extensions. The client asked for online spelling checking, which was a new area of development for me. There happened to be some issues with custom PHP builds on the host, so I ended up compiling and installing Aspell, and connecting PHP to it through a pipe, with a fair amount of Javascript for the interface. It works quite well, actually, with some significant advantages over PHP's pspell commands, particularly that we can check whole blocks of text at once, instead of being limited to checking one word at a time.

We also made some changes to the hierarchy, and addressed a number of browser-specific issues to make life easier for the client. And the project was due on Monday the 3rd, but we've turned it over to the client early. A very nice project. (Again, Tajima Creative Group deserves significant credit for design, UI, and project management on this one.) I'm not linking to the project, by the way, as it's for the client's internal use.

01/03/2003 PHP/mySQL: Online Project Tracker for Washington Mutual Home Loans Marketing

It was actually quite a busy fall and winter here, as I'd been working on a project tracking system for this particular office of Washington Mutual, Inc. since October. We're wrapping up this phase of it fairly soon, and it's been quite an interesting project.

The deepest part of the project to me has been how to handle the searching and display of the hierarchy--projects can own subprojects, and subprojects can own activities, but all of these can own notes/tasks...and often the system needs to search all of these branches--and needs to make sense of the results. (Yes, it does search and make sense of them.) There's also quite a nice display system for expanding and collapsing the hierarchy (item by item and also globally), and which remembers what you've chosen to expand or collapse. And there are several convenient reporting options to see what stages the various projects are in.

Once again, kudos are due to the rest of the team at Tajima Creative Group for the elegant design and the overall management of this large project. (Note that there are no links to this project, as it's an internal site.)

09/20/2002 Development and Design: Trek-Nepal.com

Trek-Nepal is up, an information site for a family-owned trekking company in--you guessed it--Nepal. I designed this one as well as doing the PHP/mySQL development. I took the opportunity to make more of my codebase object-oriented, and I introduced a few interesting tricks. In particular, I'm pleased with a REGEXP search that determines which images should be on the page, and puts thumbnails in the sidebar with links to the appropriate larger images. So take a look, and if you're interested in a custom Nepalese tour with a great deal of personal attention, drop them a line. Friends of mine have traveled with them, and recommend them highly.

04/24/2002 WebCatalog: Sozoliving

I've just added several updates to the Sozoliving site, mostly in the navigation, although there are aesthetic changes, too. (Thanks again to Tajima Creative Group for the design changes.)

03/15/2002 Development and Design: Emerge Communication and Emerge Health

Emerge Communication websiteThis one's a case of both development and design. Both Emerge Communication and Emerge Health run from the same PHP templates, and have differing but related designs based on the company identity work from Tajima Creative Group. Both sites are designed with a clean, minimal aesthetic, so that the form doesn't get in the way of the content. As always, we tested extensively to get consistent behavior across different browsers and platforms.
Emerge Health websiteOn the backend, both sites use my browser-based PHP/mySQL content management system so that any member of the Emerge team can add, edit, and delete pages, as well as organize the structure of the entire site, right from a convenient Web interface. Additional features are in development.

UPDATE (11/1/04): Emerge has dissolved, and its principals moved on to other projects. As a result, the sites have been taken down. Still, I expect to work with them in the future on other things.

12/12/2001 PHP/mySQL

This Website! Now entirely PHP-flavored! Nothing static about it! It won't stick to your browser, adding unsightly wrinkles to your Web browsing experience. There are plenty of interesting features going on in the code, but I'll be adding more over time. Stay tuned.

12/05/2001 WebCatalog: Sozoliving

Last month we launched the Sozoliving site, another high-end retail store similar in some respects to Turner Martin (and which, in fact, supersedes TM). Kudos to the crew at the Tajima Creative Group for the bold, clean design. This project was on an extremely compressed production schedule, but we met the launch date.

Some highlights: a pretty smart keyword search, a dynamic content rotation system integrated with content and product management, and...the resolution of a bizarre browser noncompliance with IE5 Win. (Hidden form variables between table cells results in a weird table display and improper form submission. Who knew? IE6 Win was fine, as was IE5 Mac, and other browsers, too. After a painstaking testing session, we nailed it.)

06/15/2001 WebCatalog: Dickie Walker

Yet another WebCatalog project, Dickie Walker has shoved off from the dock, as it were. This is another retail project, an online store selling nautical apparel and accessories. I was lead developer on this project, doing the WebCatalog and HTML implementation of the design specified by DW. There were some interesting challenges during development, including some particularly tricky cross-platform issues with the HTML. I'm particularly proud of the promotional code system and the system for specifying their custom embroidery. (As far as I know, they're the only ones doing custom embroidery online. Pretty slick.) Check 'em out.

Update 5/2004: Dickie Walker's now doing their own hosting in-house, so they've moved away from a WebCatalog site to something else.

06/15/2001 PHP/mySQL: CIMH

The CIMH site is up, and it's technically pretty interesting. It's in PHP, which has come to be my preferred development environment. While you can order publications and conference registrations on it, the site is mainly for distribution of information. This one's all about content management--in addition to building the front end, I built a Web-based content management system for CIMH staff to be able to maintain their own content. As has been the case with several recent projects, while I did the PHP/mySQL and HTML, I can't take credit for the design itself.

Update 9/2004: CIMH has moved to a free hosting service, so they're now using that service's ColdFusion CMS.

12/05/2000 WebCatalog: Turner | Martin

After spending the Fall working on Turner | Martin, I'm enjoying a bit of a break. While I might like to say I've been hanging out on a beach, I'm actually learning PHP, which is proving to be pretty cool. (As of 11/15/2001, this has been superseded by Sozoliving.)

08/31/2000 Career shifts: Freelance

The only constant is change: I've made a move from GreenMarketplace.com to concentrate on some other compelling projects. It's been fun and challenging, and it's great to have built some amazing resources and systems. It is, however, time to continue the growth process.

05/23/2000 WebCatalog: Network For Change

Network For Change is probably the most complicated programming project I've done to date. The design isn't mine, but most of the programming is. I built the site to let people customize what information they want to see, and how they want to see it. Visitors can choose layout, color schemes, custom graphics, etc., and define what topics they want on their page, and they can publish their page for others to see. Development started in early April, with the demo finished for May 12. It's a pretty interesting example of what I can do with WebDNA/WebCatalog.

03/27/2000 WebCatalog: Network For Change

The drift toward the techical continues at GreenMarketplace.com, with the implementation of the Wish List system. Which reminds me that I really have to delete my own test lists. I don't really want any of that stuff, folks.

01/16/2000 WebCatalog: GreenMarketplace

Lately, my work has been moving more and more toward the technical. Since August, I've been doing much more backend work in WebCatalog than in graphic design. It's an interesting change.

At this point, if you have questions relating to Web-accessible databases in WebCatalog, feel free to drop me a line.

08/25/1999 WebCatalog: Defenders of Wildlife

It's really true--it does take as long to make a "database" as it does to make a baby. (Password required for entry; sorry.) I can now code WebCatalog in my sleep.

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