Solutions

Whether it’s building a new web project, improving an existing one, or other more specific needs, WizOne Solutions’ broad experience allows us to offer a rich catalog of solutions.

Click on the links to read more about each solution:

Getting Ready: Consulting and advice  |  Project discovery  |  Quality control (Code review, Infrastructure review)  |  Business-centric specifications with BDD (Behavior-Driven Development)

Digital Presence: Expert website and web application support  |  Maintenance and updates  |  Website and web application creation  |  Content management systems (WordPress, Drupal)  |  Automated testing  |  DevOps and server management

Support and Maintenance: Continuing development  |  Site rescue  |  Performance troubleshooting  | Security update monitoring

Open-Source: Consulting and strategy  |  Open-source enhancements  |  Open-source contribution  |  Being a liaison

Specific Use Cases: FillPDF (Drupal module)  |  Authoritative FillPDF implementation, troubleshooting, and enhancements  |  Private FillPDF server hosting

Getting Ready

Consulting and advice

Are you planning a new website or application but are unsure where to start or just need advice on how to move forward with it? I can draw on my years of web and application development experience to give you professional advice. I can help with technology choice, and, if you need more, with…

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Project discovery

Developing a plan for your project before formal work begins is a great way to save money. The development process is filled with questions, many of which can be greatly simplified and clarified with some upfront research. I will work with you to develop a set of specifications. You can then use these to better explain your needs an expectations to service providers, usually resulting in more accurate price or time and materials estimates.

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Business-centric specifications (BDD, Behavior-Driven Development)

BDD stands for Behavior-Driven Development, and it is primarily a methodology for better communication that the various stakeholders of a project can use to ensure that what gets built is what everyone actually wants.

It involves specifying examples of how the website or web application should behave in response to specific scenarios. These scenarios are written in a structured language using human language rather than computer languages (code). These instructions can optionally be used for automated testing as well in order to check that the project is doing what it should be.

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Quality control

If you already have a website or web application, but you aren’t sure of how maintainable or “good” it is, you will benefit from quality control.

Code review

Code review consists of examining the source code of the website or web application. Is it readable? Are there are any patterns that are brittle or likely to break? Are new software versions going to make the code hard to upgrade?

I inspect your code both with automated tools and manually and deliver you an assessment. You can use this to decide what further work you might want to do on the site through me or other service providers.

It’s also a good way to assess if you got what you paid for.

Infrastructure review

Source code is not the only component of a web project. The servers and infrastructure they run on are also important.

During an infrastructure review, I look at your “stack”—load balancing, web server choice, proxying, SSL configuration, and so on to determine if it looks healthy and if it looks correct for what’s running on it.

You receive an assessment with the details.

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Digital Presence

Expert website and web application support

There is support, and then there is premium support. I provide the latter, employing a reliable set of tools I have learned over many years to accurately diagnose and troubleshoot issues with your website or web application.

I can assist with the following programming languages, frameworks, and software:

  • JavaScript (Browser and Node.js)
  • Meteor
  • PHP
  • Drupal
  • WordPress
  • Ansible
  • Docker

If something is broken, get in touch.

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Maintenance and updates

Programmers and designers often move on, switch jobs and/or become unreachable; it’s a fact of life. The websites they leave behind still need to be updated and enhanced to stay relevant and so that security issues are addressed. I can help you with that. I specialize in quickly understanding and being able to improve upon existing work, and I’ve rescued numerous sites from maintenance peril. I’ve gotten them into shape and enhanced them with additional features.

I don’t stop there. Even when the workload calms down and I move onto other things, I always strive to be reachable and won’t disappear off the face of the earth. If I can’t service your request, I will try to find someone who can or give you tips to get you started. Strong communication is my minimum standard.

Talk to me, and I’ll let you know my current availability; we can take it from there.

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Website and web application creation

You have your business or app idea. It is fantastic. It’s going to change the world. (By the way, world-changer, can I interest you in some project discovery? 🙂)

…now what?

I can help you put together your actual idea or direct you to a trusted partner to help take you further.

There are a variety of ways you can bring your ideas to life technically, and, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, I strongly recommend project discovery and BDD for the most important parts of your project.

I’ve read The Lean Startup, and I am familiar with building MVPs (minimum viable products), the 80/20 Principle (Pareto Principle), and the “build-measure-learn” feedback loop.

I use tools like Meteor, Symfony, Drupal, and WordPress to jump-start the development process and quickly produce a prototype to validate.

In addition, much of what I do goes beyond the ordinary boundaries of web development and into the programming sphere. I have worked on or updated integrations with Amazon FPS, Convio, Authorize.NET, PayPal, CakeMail, Unfuddle, SurveyMonkey, SmartRecruiters, and more. I’ve done a lot of third-party integration and Drupal development work.

I can also work on the front end or template/theme layer (often called theming in Drupal and WordPress and front-end development elsewhere). I’m familiar with tools such as NPM, Bower, Babel, Gulp, and Grunt (and I’m aware that Webpack is the current trend).

For very heavy theming needs, I admit that you should look for a specialized front-end developer. While I have the technical know-how to do the job, a specialist themer will know better how the job should be done, what’s popular on the web, and the most common approaches to solve specific problems. That means they’ll likely do it faster. (Keep reading; my two friends who I mention below also do front-end development.)

One thing to note: I don’t create new designs at all. Check out my Partners sidebar; Andrew at Think Up! Design and Peter at April Afternoon are great at what they do. Let me know if you’d like me to make an introduction.

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Content management systems (WordPress, Drupal)

If your website is centered around content, whether your own or user-generated, you should consider using an open-source content management system such as WordPress or Drupal.

WordPress

Sites like the one you’re reading, where there’s a mix of static and blog content, are a good fit for WordPress.

Don’t get me wrong; there are plenty of ways to put together small informational (“brochure”) and portfolio sites these days: static site generators Wix, Squarespace, and Gutensite, to name a few. And thosae are often good approaches if disseminating information is all you will ever need.

However, there are compromises. The main one is that you will likely not be able to get your site to look exactly the way you want. You are also limited to the editing experience they give you. Sometimes, plugins are available, but may come at extra cost or require hiring development help. If you want your site to offer any advanced features like an API or members-only features/subscriptions, it is likely extra cash out of your pocket—and sometimes on a recurring basis.

Therefore, the control that WordPress gives you can be desirable. Its administration UI is nice and easy to use, there are several quality themes you can customize, and lots of lots of addons (both free and paid) to add more functionality to your site.

WordPress also has an extrremely active community surrounding it. You can search the web and find an answer for most problems. And there are plenty of developers (hi!) who can help you with the harder problems. You can get pretty far with WordPress, although it may be harder to implement more ambitious web projects that are heavier on custom functionality. For that, there is…

Drupal

Drupal is the CMS for ambitious digital experiences. If your web project is closer to a website plus web application, Drupal is one of the best choices. If combines a flexible, constantly-improving CMS with an advanced programming framework that simplifies developing custom functionality—and that is if you even have to.

Drupal’s greatest strength is the vibrant community behind it; few other products, proprietary or open source, have so many people building, fixing, and supporting them. This means that Drupal has been extended to do a lot of things, and the hard work is already done for solving problems such as e-commerce (see Drupal Commerce), dynamic, flexible displays of information, flexible positioning of content on the page, and much, much more. Drupal has thousands of addons and, compared to other CMS addon marketplaces, the quality is a lot higher. I have personally found it much easier to find the right module to use in Drupal than in other CMS I’ve used.

Drupal is also search engine-friendly! This means that search engines like DuckDuckGo, Google, and Bing will have less trouble finding and indexing your content, and you will in turn be discovered by more people.

Overall

Which approach is best depends a lot on your project, and consulting or project discovery can help figure out which.

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Automated testing

When first developing a website or web application, we often test it by hand and ensure that individual features work as they are added. This is OK for a while, but what happens as more and more features are added?

Most likely, we just start to hope that we aren’t breaking anything. What if we could actually know about bugs ahead of time? That is where automated testing comes in.

In contrast to manual testing, automated testing is done by writing additional programming code that tests other programming code. In fact, in test-driven development (TDD), developers write the testing code before they create new features.

This helps them more clearly define how the end result should look, and it often saves time, as they can write the minimum amount of code to “pass” the tests. When writing the code for the feature directly, developers can often think that it needs to do more than it does and spend unnecessary time on accounting for more uses and exceptional cases than is actually needed.

“But wait!” you may say, “Won’t it take more time to write these tests?” The answer, which may surprise you, is that in many cases, it will actually save you money. That is because you can simply run automated tests to make sure things continue working instead of going through the application and manually testing everything. It becomes a big job after a while! You also avoid bugs because they get released (it is cheaper to fix a bug upfront than one that is public on your website).

Basically, automated tests reduce your project maintenance costs, and as you test more and more things, new features actually get easier to develop as well. The tests serve as developer documentation and helps them spend less time checking that they aren’t breaking something.

(Also see BDD above; BDD can also be automated to ensure that all of the business requirements are met by the code.)

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DevOps and server management

I have extensive experience in managing servers. This includes what is commonly called DevOps, a subset of server administration which aims at making it easier and faster to get new features public on the web (or in an application, service, API, etc.).

I’ve worked with:

I’ve administered and run my own local web development environments since 2003 and my own virtual servers since 2011. I even hosted this website on my own server for a couple years (using dynamic DNS).

If you’re having server, deployment, or infrastructure problems, let’s talk. I may be able to help.

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Support and Maintenance

Continuing development

See Maintenance and updates.

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Site rescue

Are you unable to get in touch with your developer and have a problem with your site? Then contact me, and let’s see if we can get you back on track.

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Performance troubleshooting

Site slow? I have a number of tools I can use the assess where the bottleneck might be. I do suggest ordering a code review and/or infrastructure review prior to this. That will likely be more efficient.

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Security update monitoring

If you run your own web servers or use software like Drupal and WordPress, it’s important to stay up-to-date with any security releases they put out. I can help get you set up with proper monitoring of these or do it for you.

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Open-Source

Consulting and strategy

Many people used to proprietary software have questions and concerns about open source, like:

  • Is open source secure?
  • How do I get support?
  • Will I run into legal issues?*
  • Can my organization contribute back? How do I make it worth it?

I can draw upon my experience as an open-source maintainer, implementer, and user to give you advice on questions such as these.

* I obviously can’t give you professional legal advice or assume liability. I can only speak in general terms.

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Open-source enhancements

Using or want to use an open-source project, but it’s missing something you need? I can help you add new features and fix bugs.

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Open-source contribution

If you’re using an open-source project and have already implemented improvements but are not sure how to get them contributed back to the project and don’t want to spend time navigating all the different governance structures, I can do it for you. I’ve contributed to enough projects that I’m used to dealing with varying models of contribution (and various maintainer personalities).

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Being a liaison

I’ve been in open source for a while. Particularly in the Drupal community, I’ve met many of the module maintainers. Or I may know someone who knows someone. If you’re having trouble getting your issues paid attention to, I may be able to work with you to get them responded to. (I’ll tell you in advance what I think the chances are.)

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Digitization and Going Paperless

FillPDF

FillPDF is a Drupal module for filling in PDF forms from data on your Drupal website. I’m the project lead. WordPress and Backdrop CMS versions are planned for the future.

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Authoritative FillPDF implementation, troubleshooting, and enhancements

As the maintainer of the FillPDF module for Drupal, I can bring domain expertise to the table when you need to implement paperless workflows or re-use your form data to populate PDFs. You can reference the module page to see more about what it does. I also run FillPDF Service. All of this means that if there is an issue with the module or service in your implementation, I can fix it directly, and the changes (if appropriate) will often make it into the module quickly.

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Private FillPDF server hosting

I offer private FillPDF server implementations if you have data privacy requirements that don’t allow you to use FillPDF Service, and if you don’t want to set up and maintain one of the self-hosted methods on your own server. Read more at FillPDF Service.

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