About John Fontana

A Brief Introduction

I am a full-stack web developer with over 10 years of experience developing data-driven web applications. I have worked in a number of languages and environments, including PHP/MySQL/LAMP, Perl, ASP.NET, Cold Fusion, and most recently Node.js/Mongo/MEAN. I have a proven track record of working reliably in remote teams. I am also the author of the VTC courses JQuery and Real-World Programming With PHP5.

When I am not busy coding, I enjoy composing and performing music with my progressive rock band, Shadow Circus. Over the past few years, I have taken up the sport of powerlifting, as a healthy addiction to compensate for this rather sedentary profession. ūüôā

What is “Full-Stack”?

Many larger companies can allow developers to focus on a single area of expertise, allowing for workflows that separate specialized back-end and front-end developers. As a developer who has always worked with both, I enjoy, and effectively work with both aspects. Also, it is a bit simplistic to say “both”, as if there are only two aspects of web development. There is also project management, client communication, architecture, mentoring, and server administration, among other areas which all comprise a well-rounded “full stack” developer.

From Start to Present

Having started my career during the early internet boom, when the common job title was “Webmaster”, many of my first web projects were static HTML, slicing/optimizing images, and putting together table layouts in Dreamweaver or Adobe GoLive. As a habitual problem-solver, I was often challenged¬†with the more daunting¬†tasks of handling PERL applications such as contact forms, emailed greeting cards, and games. Soon, I was diving into serious server-side development with Cold Fusion/SQL Server. This quickly led to earning my Sun Java2 Programmer Certification, and¬†several advanced programming assignments with .NET, as the C# language had so much in common with Java.

In the early 2000’s, I adopted early MVC frameworks such as Cold Fusion’s Fusebox, PHP Fusebox, and JSP’s Struts, eventually leading to projects with¬†MVC.NET, Codeigniter, Symfony, Ruby on Rails, and Laravel. Codeigniter had proven to be the most ubiquitous for some time, as many of my clients and employers were hosting sites on inexpensive shared hosts with limited resources, and Codeigniter was the most easily supported. However, I have found Laravel and Rails to be my favorites. During this time, my front-end skills were also sharpened while developing dozens of custom WordPress themes and plugins. Authoring the courses for VTC on jQuery and PHP also helped to solidify my expertise on these opposite end of “the stack”.

This is also the time when front-end development became more interesting to server-side specialists, with AJAX, jQuery, CSS3, and Bootstrap paving the way for responsive, single-page applications. Over the past few years, front-end development has become even more important with the demand for functionality across all devices, introducing concepts such as MVC into the browser realm with Angular.js, and the previously front-end-only language of Javascript onto the server and database, with Node.js and MongoDB bringing it all together with the MEAN stack.

MEAN development could become a favorite, though I would be inclined to recommend Laravel or Rails for most projects, and, in some cases, Golang, with Gorilla Web Toolkit, especially for API projects that could benefit from Go’s excellent concurrency performance.

Here and Now

I am currently drawing upon all of my skills as an independent contractor. I would be interested in joining a company permanently as a full-stack, back or front-end specialist, either on-site in the NYC/NJ area, or remotely.

Interested in working together? Please feel free to contact me, view my resume, or visit my portfolio for more details.