This post is the fourth in a series featuring our Telerik Developer Experts, community members who represent the best of our products. Read our first three here and meet more Experts here.
I've been part of the Sitefinity team for more than three years both in the Core Development and the Support and Documentation teams. Then I made a transition from product into services, thus participating in the creation of complex applications with the help of the Sitefinity CMS. Using my past experience as team-lead and senior Sitefinity developer, I constantly engage and advise both the community and client projects with practical insights and solutions.
I am currently located in Sofia, Bulgaria (birthplace of Sitefinity and myself).
Bulgaria is already amongst the top outsourcing destinations in the world. My vision and wish is to help establish a good working environment for highly motivated young people who can learn and gain experience. This is not going to be the next digital agency with Sitefinity, but a top-notch incubator for quality applications and professionals.
There is a tendency lately in Bulgaria to teach tech to people from all ages and professions that have a little or no IT background. The courses are free and everyone can participate. Students pass exams to continue the course and only the most motivated, skillful and hard-working succeed. This is the principle of many software academies, one of which is Telerik Academy. It successfully produces highly-educated graduates that are ready to start their career path.
Currently I am an independent consultant, developer and trainer, specialized in the Sitefinity CMS solution with strong ethics for best coding practices and application architecture. My main business partners are from the United Kingdom. I regularly provide training to clients on-site and online, consulting in Europe and the USA and actively participate in building solutions and/or projects with Sitefinity.
I am currently working on three different tasks in parallel for different end clients. I am preparing a specific-needs training for a partner who requires some new features in their website and wants to be able to do it on their own in future. On the other hand, I am a lead developer for a big website including enterprise features of Sitefinity. Last but not least, I am consulting with another client on laying down the foundation of their Master pages, Page Templates and Layout controls.
The most interesting and most challenging project that I’ve done recently was for a large trading client in the UK. There were multiple challenges both in architecture, development and deployment aspects. The website supports more than 20 languages plus third-party integrations to custom APIs and Salesforce. The client has their own IT department with senior experience in .NET and ASP.NET.
During the effective development stage, we had to work together to tackle issues and questions one by one in a way to enable the client to independently continue the support, upgrades and further implementations of the project. It was both development and training at the same time.
One of the strong advantages of the Sitefinity CMS is the ability to achieve one and the same thing in many ways. What is sometimes challenging however is finding the best way as this requires high proficiency in knowing the bigger picture in your mind.
There are many resources where you can find information for the problem that you are searching for over the internet, such as Sitefinity forums, blogs, support tickets, knowledge base articles, etc. I have been developing my own blog to help consolidate this knowledge, and a checklist that I initially developed for myself was soon transformed into a PDF eBook with “60 tips and tricks for Quality Sitefinity Applications” that I published on my personal blog to help people improve the quality of their Sitefinity based applications.
Time is the most precious resource. Nowadays a programmer has so many responsibilities that losing time on something that is already there is highly inefficient. As a big fan of automation, I love Scott Hanselman’s quote: “Buy, Not Build.” We should all take full advantage of the platform, even if it only solves the 80% of the case. Many of the Telerik tools are created to simplify your work and save you time. Great examples of these time-saving tools include JustCode, JustDecompile, JustTrace and Sitefinity Thunder.
Sitefinity is dogfooding some of the Telerik products as Kendo UI and RadControls for ASP.NET AJAX, so I am using them naturally as part of my applications. In addition, as part of the Sitefinity team, I’ve used TeamPulse, Fiddler, and Test Studio.
Sitefinity remains my favorite Telerik product not only because I’ve been part of the implementation of the CMS (I will always feel sentimental about it), but because my experience showed me that this CMS has enormous capabilities in the right hands.
I would summarize it with the wonderful quote by Hall of Fame basketball player John Wooden: “If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?”
I’ve seen some lack of understanding of the process of building up Sitefinity applications. Some clients think that putting HTML snippets into Sitefinity and then deploying is all that is needed. And that’s not all. I’ve been called to review already implemented projects by agencies as they are suffering either from bad performance, bad SEO or simply bad coding practices. In the end the impact is normally that the time, effort and financial cost to fix a badly developed website might cost twice as much as its initial value.
I think that for a large and complex CMS as Sitefinity, mentoring is an essential part and must become a service that agencies should include when thinking of building Sitefinity websites.
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.