Meet Jonathan Tower and Josh Eastburn, Developer Experts for Kendo UI_870x220

This post is part of a series featuring our Developer Experts—community members who represent the best of our products. Feel free to read about our other featured experts and meet more DEs.

Josh Eastburn and Jonathan "J" Tower, Developer Experts who work together at Trailhead Technology Partners, talk about cool hologram projects, staying up to date, and "reading the future" for clients.

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Josh Eastburn and Jonathan "J" Tower from Trailhead Technology Partners

What are your backgrounds, professionally?

Jonathan: I've worked at several different companies over the years, mostly as a software consultant. For the last year-and-a-half, I've been running my own custom software shop called Trailhead Technology Partners.

Josh: I started working in my dad’s greenhouse business at the age of 8, but after I got my first computer (a Micron 386 with Windows 3.1 in 1992), I knew I wanted to work in technology. I’ve been doing custom software development for almost 20 years, starting with my first internship at a greenhouse ERP software company based in Grand Rapids, Michigan (that used Progress Database!) Since then I’ve worked for both software consulting companies and as a part of internal corporate development teams. I joined Trailhead Technology Partners as a partner in 2016 and have loved every moment of it.

Where are you based and why?

Jonathan: I live in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I love it here because of the culture, creativity, and fantastic technology community. It's also the biggest little city I've ever seen, offering all the amenities—fantastic food, beer, and entertainment options—that you'd expect in a larger metropolitan area, but without all the traffic.

Josh: I started my career working in Chicago, but when our daughter was born, she cried enough to convince us to move closer to family. We now live near Charlotte, North Carolina where we exchanged blustery winters for boiling summers, but we really enjoy it here.

With whom are you working?

Jonathan and Josh: We both work for Trailhead Technologies. We have partnerships with Progress and Xamarin. Our current clients and projects are in several industries including insurance, finance, auto repair, and real estate.

What projects are you working on now?

Jonathan: We're doing a lot of cool enterprise projects using a combination of ASP.NET Core, Angular2, Xamarin, and of course, Kendo UI.

Josh: I have two projects I’m working on right now: one is a Windows 10 UWP app and the other is a Xamarin mobile app and ASP.NET MVC / Web API for estimating and invoicing auto body repairs.

What’s the most interesting project you’ve done recently?

Jonathan: I'm working with a client on a consumer credit score application that allows users to sign up and track their credit history and improve their score. It's an interesting set of problems to solve, and fun to do it using all the coolest and newest technologies!

Josh: One of my current projects is one of the most interesting I’ve worked on in a while. It is a Windows 10 UWP app with a holographic display and an integrated Unity player for displaying and rotating 3D models. The app uses heavily customized and styled Telerik UI for UWP controls and calls an ASP.NET Core Web API that is hosted in Azure along with database, blob storage, and CDN. It will have an Angular 4 with Kendo UI for Angular admin interface. It is a rare thing to be working on a project that brings about amazement when I demo it, even to non-tech people!

Which of our products do you use and why?

Jonathan: Though we use several members of the DevCraft family, our most commonly-used Progress product is Kendo UI. We love having a set of rich UI components that work well with modern JavaScript frameworks like Angular 2 and 4. Many Angular projects piece together many UI components that all work differently. When we use Kendo, we have one consistent set of tools that we love.

Josh: We use Progress products on a lot of our projects and it varies depending on the project technology and requirements. Right now we have a project using UI for UWP and several using Kendo UI. We are starting on some projects that will use Kendo UI for Angular. Using DevCraft tools definitely speeds up our development time since we don’t have to build everything from scratch.

What are some challenges you are encountering now in your work?

Jonathan: Time management! Owning a company is hard work. Besides doing some of the hand-on work for the projects, I'm always trying to think about strategy, what's next, and trying to sure everyone has what they need to keep moving forward.

Josh: An ongoing challenge is managing tasks for multiple projects and keeping up the level of communication with clients that we strive for. Having the right tools certainly helps and we typically use Visual Studio Team Services for work item management and Slack for team communication.

From your experience, what’s the biggest software pain point in the mind of your partners/clients?

Jonathan: Our clients often look to us to help them decide if and when to move to new technologies. No one wants to launch an application built on an already-dead technology, and so attempting to read the future is a way we often try to help our clients.

Josh: As we know, technology is always changing and that is part of life for developers. However, I often see clients struggle with the decision when presented with the option of building a large-scale application using last year’s stable, mature technology or this year’s new technology. We help them walk through it and make the best choice for their project, but building a large application on the latest technology is not without challenges and risk. The choices we see this year are full .NET Framework vs. .NET Core and Kendo UI vs. Kendo UI for Angular. It would be great to always choose the latest technology, but there are trade-offs, like the more limited set of functionality for Kendo Angular. But we know that patience here will pay off.


Jen Looper is a Developer Advocate at Telerik.
About the Author

Jen Looper

Jen Looper is a Developer Advocate for Telerik products at Progress. She is a web and mobile developer and founder of Ladeez First Media which is a small indie mobile development studio. In her spare time, she is a dancer, teacher and multiculturalist who is always learning.

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