Be more efficient in website design and development: Acquire the skill of frameworks

Be more efficient in website design and development: Acquire the skill of frameworks

Expectation Level: Beginner-Moderate

Why use frameworks?

As web developers part of our job is to use the tools available at our disposal to create amazing work.

Clean and tidy code

Standardizing the way we do web design

The main goal is to make the process more efficient. Efficiency is different from the word fast, because efficiency is about doing things faster but also providing a better overall result.

Exp: I entered a phase back in college when I didn’t believe in frameworks. I made excuses not to use one. I would rather create my own from scratch! I thought those who use frameworks are  not at all that great. It felt like cheating to me. I wanted to learn the basics from scratch. In the end I learned but not as efficiently as it would have been if I used frameworks.

Using frameworks is a step to being a better developer. It’s not cheating, it’s humility. You humble yourself enough to use other people’s work, to study it and get what you can from it. Website development can’t be done by one person. Just as scientists rely on each other’s research as basis for their own research, web developers and designers must learn from each other to advance together.

“Don’t just aim for becoming better, aim for versatility”

Being well versed in frameworks will give you more options for your projects. More options mean you get to shift gears when needed, you provide your clients with the best set of tools for their particular needs.  So in short:

“Don’t Re-invent the Wheel”

Things to consider in selecting a web framework

  • What you need
  • Speed of Execution
  • Versatility of Functions

List of web frameworks

  • Bootstrap
  • WordPress
  • MVC – Codeigniter

Questions to ask when using frameworks

  • How to acquire?
  • How to install?
  • What are the features?
  • How can I use this with my development style/process?

Case Study: Bootstrap

  • CSS solutions
  • Javascript Functionalities

 

  1. Sample websites made from bootstrap

Creating frameworks from frameworks

You can create your own tools from existing frameworks. Based on your way of doing things you can either select a base framework add part of your design process to it. In this regard the possibilities are limitless.

Resources

Conclusion:

Skill Acquired: Frameworks (Active)

Skill Description: -50% on time spent on projects. +50 project efficiency. +2000 experience acquisition. +20% resources for allied units.

There is no best framework out there. There are great frameworks to be used for various situations. Don’t stick to one, try as many as you can, as early as you can. This will allow you to arm yourself with an array of tools that will make you a versatile web designer. So keep working on yourself, stay humble empty your cup and walk forward with others, before you know it you’ll be creating your own framework.

What kind of frameworks would you like to learn? Tell me in the comments section below!

Where this 20-something entrepreneur finds himself after one year of starting his own business.

Where this 20-something entrepreneur finds himself after one year of starting his own business.

I would like to share with you my experience so far, 1 year into starting my own business.

What business you say? Changing the World (I know it’s cliché but we’re dead serious about this). After I graduated last year, my friends and I decided to put up our own tech company called Potatocodes. This is our story:

We started off with very little. We had twenty five thousand pesos in savings from odd jobs and freelance work from college. I could’ve played it safe, found a job at a big corporation and earned a fixed income. But we decided to take a risk and use our savings to get the necessary papers to start our own company.

A lot of people were asking us why we decided to register when we could avoid the tax and just become freelancers. During that time I had recently encountered my Lord and Savior, Jesus. I knew back then that if I was going to push through with this I needed to establish a strong solid core and I knew that placing God at the center of our startup company was the only way to go.

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Placing Him in the center of it all, I got to know Jesus more

Our effort and resources were not wasted. Later on it proved to be necessary for large organizations and businesses to avail our services because they needed the official receipt for their expense records.

After 2 weeks of going back and forth the Manila City Hall, BIR and SSS the business was official. We had our very own “Potatocodes Web Development and Designs”. I did all the legwork under the heat of the Philippine Sun and this made me appreciate what we are doing more. Even if I had to wait for hours in the long lines, I knew what I was fighting for.

The four of us decided to give it our best shot and work full time.

We were an odd bunch of kids. I’m Juan Miguel Alvarez, a passionate web designer by heart. There’s Mhariell Mosqueriola, also a lively and talented designer. John Dominic Dasig is my mentor and our Head Website Developer. One of the designers, Mr. Aaron Marzan, was even still in college.

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Four Potatocoders with two clients from Croque Makati in the middle. From left to right, Mhariell Mosqueriola, Juan Miguel G. Alvarez (me), John Dominic Dasig, Aaron Marzan

Together, we decided to put me in charge of all administrative dealings and name the sole proprietorship of the business to me. I consulted a lot of credible people in the business (most of them advised me to stay away from partnerships if possible, especially with my friends and family) and I did all my research. I heeded everyone’s warnings and I shelled out my own money to put it up and took the responsibility of heading our startup. Once everything was settled with our team infrastructure, we took the leap.

Things were slow at first.

We mostly worked on branding our image and readying the tools we would need for the work ahead. We wrote letters to all the colleges of the University of Santo Tomas (our Alma Mater and our first clients as website developers during college). We waited patiently.

It was a tiring wait – a dry spell. It reminded me of one of my favorite movies – “Facing the Giants.” There’s a part where the character tells a story. “2 farmers were praying for rain. One of them went out and readied his fields. Who do you think trusted God more?” To have faith is to also prepare. And so we did the same. We readied our fields because we had faith. Then the rain came…

Some colleges contacted us and set up a meeting, they were delighted to see such young people going into business right after graduation. After presenting to them what we could do, they agreed to let us work on their websites. It was a start! And business started to get better. Little by little, our income increased. We shared equally what we earned and gave a percentage to tax and the company. All was good until the “ber” months came.

We got hit with problems left and right. Some of us had personal issues. Others were being pressured to look for a more permanent job by family and friends (A typical startup can’t really compete with other companies in terms of salary). Our team started to break apart. After consulting with the team, Aaron had to focus on his schoolwork and Nikko went to look for another job. Suddenly, there were only two of us left.

During these tough times, we decided to push on despite the external pressure of the world. Why? Because we trusted in God and that we loved what we are doing. We wanted be witnesses to how God can turn things around for people, especially for people who are down in the dirt and seem like they can’t fight anymore. So we pushed through.

It wasn’t easy for us financially, mentally and emotionally. There came a time that demand was so low that we had to bring down our prices just to be able to sustain our personal needs. It was really hard. There were some times that we had to walk to client meetings, as we had no more funding. I had to hitchhike in the back of trucks to get to places. A lot of times I almost gave up.

Around mid-December last year, we decided to make some changes.

We prayed and we fasted. If God is not giving us any projects, maybe He wants us to do something different. Thus Ideastalk Philippines was born. This would be the social platform for our company. We worked on blogging and writing, and we worked on photography and the arts. We were able to share positive ideas to people. We said yes to more opportunities. We attended seminars as speakers; we went to album launchings. We partnered with people, and talked to random strangers. It became an adventure for us. We met a lot of great people and their wonderful ideas. This gave us a bigger perspective to things.

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We attended seminars as speakers, wanting to share our experience and what we’ve learned so far

 

Ideastalk ended up giving us a wider reach and more network. Unexpectedly it helped revive the demand for our company. Slowly but surely, our phone started ringing again.

I wrote about my own personal experience on how God changed me from being a lost-depressed young boy to an entrepreneur. People started talking and we were even featured in some blogs. People called in wanting to document our story and we went ahead and shared with them our experience in the hopes of inspiring people and sharing how God has been so great to us.

We got calls from people who need websites. Suddenly, our business was back up again. Students started emailing me if it was possible to apply for internships. We accepted them in the hopes of inspiring them and sharing with them what we had learned. We had our first batch of eight interns from PUP. I named them “Kairos” which means “God’s most opportune time.“ I learned a lot from them. I learned that through God, it’s not too late for our country. I saw in their eyes the same fire that took my heart when we first went on our journey to change the world.

More calls came in after they finished and we started to worry about being able to meet the demand with only two of us. Outsourcing would take time and money, resources we have just started regaining. Taking another in house personnel was out of the question. Again, we did what we could do in these circumstances. We prayed.

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A Hackathon at HQ in the middle of Potatocodes Internship Ripple Program

Students again started to email me asking for an internship. They were third year college students from our own Alma Mater, UST. I believe God brought them to us for a reason. Thus I called them “Ripple” simply because I had faith that they will make waves later on. In the end our problem with personnel was solved. I had to give a lot of time in training them and they proved they were worth it. Not only were they able to help us with the projects during that time, but they also inspired us by their determination and their faith.

Just before the second batch of Potatocoder Interns were finished,

Potatocodes reached sustainability. We are now planning to scale our business because of the surprising demand that came in. We went from sole propriety to incorporation. Potatocodes Web Development and Designs became Potatocodes Inc.

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Potatocodes Incorporators

Soon we will be able to handle more projects, go into mobile development and systems development later on. This was all made possible with the help of everyone who believed. Sponsors, Partners, Interns, Social Media Supporters, Ideastalkers, Ideastalk Readers, Piso Project Heroes, Friends, Family and of course God, without whom we couldn’t have done anything.

This article is for you.

You who believed with us. You got us this far, and we will soldier on no matter what. Yes it has been really though putting up a business when you’re unexperienced in the industry compared to the big corporations who have already established a foothold, but if David can become King, and if Mary can be chosen to be the mother of our Savior, then anyone can be used. So don’t let anyone ever tell you,

“you can’t do anything, just give up!”

If we had given up, we wouldn’t be here. There are still the big giants standing before us, but we are not afraid. David had his sling, and we have our little mouse and keyboard.

What can you say about our experience? Share it to us in the comments section below!

Potato Diaries: A modern UST Office for Admissions Website

Potato Diaries: A modern UST Office for Admissions Website

 

It’s been almost three years since we were tasked to do the University of Santo Tomas Office for Admissions Website back when I was in third year college. It was when I started my journey into the world of computer technology and websites. It had been a long way since then and yet we still have ways to go.

I will never forget our office in the Office for Admissions back then, every time our classes were finished I would go directly to the office and start working on the website. We would work tirelessly day in and day out just to deliver an excellent product. We were new to the technology but with the great opportunity of being able to prove our talents and skills with the project, we persevered.

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Together with two other students from Engineering IICS and 3 other UST students from CFAD and AB we were able to arrive at the concept of a parallax website. The website was launched in January 2013 and had received good feedback since its launching. That was the moment I knew I had to go into website development. Together with 4 of my colleagues we started Potatocodes Inc., a tech company that aims to honor God and help change our world with smart ways of doing things.

Today we are excited to share with you the experience of being able to go past what we have created back then. We were tasked again to create a modern website that will exceed the last one. This was a real challenge due to the fact that we need to outperform and outdo ourselves. We present to you, the new University of Santo Tomas Office for Admissions Website! (yep! Just click the link)

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For the new UST OFAD website we decided to go with the modern HTML5 video capabilities and loop an outstanding video production created by Suncraft Studio. Balaram Ochangco from the original OFAD website team is part of the company together with Russell Pua who’s also a thomasian talent in the field of Video Production. We just knew we had to put the video as the centerpiece for this website.

The vision is to create an admissions website for our Alma matter that will surpass expectations and bring forth a new standard to website design. With the talent and wit of our Head Designer Mhariell Mosqueriolla, we were able to create a new take to university websites as we were able to introduce the Thomasian life with a clean and modern website interface.

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The website was launched early last week in the middle of the final preparations for the last USTET. It was a challenge launching the website but the heart of everyone who believed in the project pushed our team forward to persever and deliver the website.

What can you say about our journey with the UST OFAD website? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

The Potato Diaries: How we created a website for the Thomasian Alumni

The Potato Diaries: How we created a website for the Thomasian Alumni

It’s been one year since we graduated from our beloved Alma Mater. The prestigious University of Santo Tomas. We could never have imagined back then that we will be able to put up our own tech company Potatocodes Inc. and serve our alma mater by providing our services to them.

After a year of going into business and providing websites we had the privilege to work with the UST Office for Alumni Relations. We would like to share with you this story.

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After months of hard work and late night coding, we were able to launch it last September 29, 2015. We were delighted to be able to help the great vision of uniting the Thomasian Alumni in the modern space of the web, we present to you the new University of Santo Tomas Office for Alumni Relations Website! (click the link to go the website.)

It has been a heartwarming experience to work with the Office for Alumni Relations Staff.

Ma’am Fides Carlos and Ma’am Cherry Tanodra the Assistant Director of office has been coordinating with us right from the start. As Ma’am Cherry had put it, the thomasian journey doesn’t end upon graduation. Being a thomasian is a lifetime experience. Everything started with their vision of providing a portal for alumni to be informed and updated with the events UST has to offer.

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The website is all Thomasian inside and out! From the clean yellow interface to the inner codings created by Thomasian programmers it’s truly a website for the tiger university. The website was designed by Mhariell Mosqueriola the Head Designer of Potatocodes Inc. Some students from the new UST IICS who interned in our startup were able to help out in the creation of the website.

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I couldn’t be more proud of my team, as I know everyone gave all their hearts to deliver the project and to deliver it with excellence.

Undertaking the project was a challenging task for us since we know that fellow Thomasian Alumni will be viewing the site.

In the website you can find latest news and updates, inspiring thomasian stories and some articles to help you grow more in your careers. You can also explore the perks of having a thomasian alumni card, details of different alumni chapters and how you can be part of different projects of the UST Alumni. You can also update your records and share your own story for a chance to be featured on the site.

The website has been prepared for more enhancements in the future, like the thomasian spirit it will keep evolving to address the needs of the Thomasian Alumni.

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We learned from this experience how the UST Staff can be all-heart when serving their fellow Thomasians. Everyone just literally gives more than enough to be able to finish the job with excellence. This pushed us to do our part as well and go the extra distance. In the end, UST is not just a community, more than just a second family and home, it’s part of who we are.

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Working with technology is hard, it will take a lot of your time and it can be frustrating. But if you really love what you do, you will be able to help more people and give more. The Alumni Website is just the start, we will continuously pray to be able to serve our Alma Mater and our country with what has been given to us.

Share your passion with us. Comment Below!

Why I’m still up at 3:00am in the morning creating websites

Why I’m still up at 3:00am in the morning creating websites

We humans love to do stuff, but we do them for a specific reason. What we do and how we do it depends on the “why”, Why?

They say that you have to know your why, your “why” is going to push you through the hard times. When you feel like quitting and giving up you have to remember why you’re doing what you’re doing.

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So why am I still up awake while half the world on my side is sleeping? Let me share with you my “Why”.

BECAUSE I WANT TO HONOR GOD WITH MY LIFE

I’ve accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. He’d shown me that someone can love me so much even when I don’t see myself as a loveable person. He believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself anymore. He showed me that I was worth it. That in Him I can be the best that I can be.

He lovingly guided me in putting up a company called Potatocodes Inc. a 100% Filipino owned tech company and he is our CEO.

The first reason is that God gave me this work to do. I will not waste the precious time He’s given me on earth, I will use my talents and cultivate it to help others and spread His good news. The good news is that no matter what you’ve done, where you are right now in life Jesus loves you!

Through Him I can be the best programmer I can be. That’s a fact! I don’t care if you were a drug addict, you can excel in anything you want! Be a master carrot-cake-chef! Through God you can be the best you can be!

PARA SA AKING BAYAN

I grew up in the Philippines; most of my countrymen see themselves as the hero of their own story. From the Taho vendors, cheerful jeepney drivers to the kids jumping of the bridge towards the flowing river, you would see the sparkle in their eyes. You can see everyone living their own legend. Everyone is the main character.

 

I’ve seen ordinary people work hard day and night like living heroes to provide for their families or reach their dreams. I’ve seen my countrymen and their potential for greatness.

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I love my country but with all the hate going on around us, everyone seems stuck at some point. We don’t seem to know where to direct all that passion and potential that God had given us. I’ve seen my people come up with brilliant ideas and achieve wonderful and amazing things. Why then? Why can’t we somehow rise as a nation?

I guess that’s because we all look to someone else for the answer. We wait for them first to fix their stuff first before we fix ours… I remember how my parents reacted when the condominium committee ordered everyone to utilize one parking spot only. My tatay and nanay would say “Sila muna!” (I imagine everyone else saying the same ) In the end nothing was improved.

I’m sure someone else is slaving away studying medicine trying to find the cure for cancer, or that young scientist trying to find alternative sources of energy. I believe we can do this! If I can push on and be amazing at what I do, if I don’t give up, then I give everyone the freedom to do the same, everyone would realize that it’s just a matter of pushing forward.

Like everyone else, I want to see this country changed but I want to start with myself. I’m just going to give my all in creating websites, then mobile apps and later on drone programs and virtual reality research! I want to show my countrymen that we can be amazing in something. We can be the best if we put our hearts into it.

PEACE AND LOVE

Over the years my family grew.

From my original family,

to brothers and sisters I’ve met along the way,

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friends, random strangers, interns, classmates and clients all the people I’ve loved.

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They believed in me and shared precious moments that made me who I am today. I just want to give my best for those wonderful times. The happy moments with them, I believe, is worth fighting for. I want to be able to provide for them the best version of me.

This is why I’m slaving away in front of my trusty Intel-core-four-year-old but still code-worthy i3 powered desktop. I’d like to stop watching others and what they would do. I’ll just do the job that God gave me and for now I guess that’s giving all my heart and strength to creating wonderful websites (and writing cheesy articles like this one).

I know I have a long way to go, I still have truckloads to learn, and it’s not going to be easy, It’s going to be waaay friggin haaard! But because I know why I’m coding websites at 3:00am in the morning then I will face that sunrise sipping coffee and eating code.

And that is why! How about you, why are you doing what you’re doing? I’d love to hear your why in the comments section below!

Things a 21 year old can learn from joining a medical mission

Things a 21 year old can learn from joining a medical mission

I was invited to join the medical mission of APO (Alpha Phi Omega) UST chapter in partnership with Theta Lambda Phi of the UST Faculty of Medicine and Surgery and the local government of Brgy. Acacia Malabon last June of this year, I’m glad I did. Here are some of the important things I learned from this experience:

Things I took for granted

As the day started the line quickly grew, the residents were quick to take advantage of the opportunity provided by the organization and their partners. The group offered free dental, medical checkups and circumcision procedures.

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At the end of the day we were able to help the citizens of Malabon. Healthcare can often be forgotten and taken for granted when we fail to see those who can’t afford decent health services. Being part of medical missions like this one showed me how fortunate we are.

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I was not alone

I realized that I was an Idealistic guy, in the past I have spouted a lot of talk in regards to changing the world. But you see joining these events made me see that I was not alone. One of my closest friends was also part of this mission, He was one of those guys who would roll his eyes whenever I spoke about my ideals about giving yourself up for others, yet he’s here doing all he can in service to his fellow human being.

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I learned that no matter how many times we roll our eyes to the cheesy idealism of others, there will always be a part of us who believe in the greater good. In this sense, we will never be alone.

“For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.” – Audrey Hepburn

Being part of the mission gave me a sense of purpose from the wild buzz and fast-paced life I was living. Being able to help a fellow human being in a way that says “I just want to help you, I’m not expecting anything in return” can really lighten a heart.

As I was in the middle of it all, I can really feel the sincerity of everyone who volunteered.

I saw this one dentist performing a tooth extraction, he was able to punch out jokes to his patients who were scared. He was doing his job with a smile and a kind heart. These really touched me, since I have witnessed people frown at work and grumble about it while being payed to do it.

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The scene got my curiousity so I spoke with the wonderful gentleman and when I asked him as to why He volunteered for the mission, He said that it was to advance the Kingdom of God and to give back to the people what was given to him. I was inspired by this message and truly I believe that there is no greater gift waiting in heaven than for those who offers their work to God.

When you start helping others, you forget yourself

Come lunch time, the Doctors and most of the staff picked up the pace almost forgetting to eat lunch entirely

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It’s a strange world we live in today, everything is about ourselves. We look to selfies as a form of expression, social media has created a great divide between us and communication has ironically degraded because of technology.

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Being part of the mission helped create a sense of freedom from all of these. The communication between individuals is something you can never describe in a blog but can only be felt by being there in that moment. As the volunteers helped the citizens of Malabon, you can feel the messages being sent without any words being spoken. When you’re in that situation, you forget about yourself, you only focus on helping someone.

“No one has ever become poor by giving.”― Anne Frank, diary of Anne Frank: the play

It’s never too late to change this world for the better

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I saw volunteers giving their time and energy to help those around them and that was enough proof that if we put our minds and hearts together, we can achieve wonderful things. This is a testimony that it’s never too late to turn things around and change our world for the better.

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Thanks to the modern day heroes who volunteered that day including the local government, Brgy. Acacia Malabon can sleep with a smile on their faces knowing that someone actually cared for them enough to lend a helping hand even for one day.

Have you ever joined a medical mission? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!