Month: September 2016

Episode 2: Meet, Eat, and Learn!


On this episode of the podcast Script discusses conferences in general and his recent trip to NCDevCon in particular.  He also has a great interview with Ben Nadel (@BenNadel)  who has a very popular blog on Coldfusion and Angular programming.


  • NCDevCon– An awesome development conference in North Carolina.
  • – Ben Nadel’s blog with lots of great coding help as well as a jobs board and pictures of a virtual Who’s Who of the community.




Welcome to the second episode of the Wake Up with Script Van Winkle podcast!  My name is Script  Van Winkle, but my friends call me… only when they need something.

Now when you are trying to play catch up with the programming world, like I am, one really great way to do that is to attend one of the dozens if not hundreds of programming conferences put on each and every year. But how do you pick one? How do you afford to go? And just what the heck happens at one of these puppies?

By sheer coincidence, would you happen to believe, I just got back from an awesome conference last weekend in North Carolina.  So I might be persuaded to talk about some of what went on there.  And as a treat, I also caught up with Ben Nadel, who runs a pretty popular blog for those who program in ColdFusion or Node.js., so stick around for a sweet interview with him.

Ok.  So Webster’s defines a conference as “a formal meeting in which many people gather in order to talk about ideas or problems related to a particular topic (such as medicine or business) usually for several days.

Now I have no flipping clue why people insist on starting education discourses with a definition from Webster, nor why Emmanuel Lewis is considered such an expert in etymology. Yeah, that’s a real term there Junior Developer, look it up.

So last weekend I attended NCDevCon, an amazing developer conference in Raleigh, NC.  Now in its ninth year, this conference is held on the campus of NC State.  It was started and run by the Triangle Area ColdFusion User Group, but while there is certainly some ColdFusion specific content among its sessions, it covers a lot of other topics including Javascript, Nativescript, Mobile Development, CSS, database, testing, continuous integration….you get the picture. A wide swath of topics.

While conferences vary of course, most start off with a general session. This is where all the attendees gather in one big room, hear some housekeeping announcements and usually a keynote speech.  In the case of NCDevCon this is almost always a talk from their longtime sponsor Adobe.  Usually Adobe is giving a roadmap to the future of one of their products, usually ColdFusion.  This year though, Elisha Dvorak, Adobe’s ColdFusion evangelist, actually started off the talk by discussing microservices.  While not brand new, microservices is kind of the hot buzzword right now.  

Essentially, the microservice architecture is one in which you break up tasks in your application into smaller, logical, completely independent applications or services, which take input via an API (usually through REST protocols), and return data usually through JSON.  These services should be entirely stateless so that given the same input, they should return the same output.  And since they use network protocols in access, they should be completely platform independent, meaning each and every service could be written in an entirely different language and they should still all be able to work together.,Now, if that didn’t make any sense to you, don’t worry. I plan to cover microservices on an upcoming episode, because I do like the concept and am working on learning more about them.

Now Elishia’s talk did of course eventually divert to talking about current and future versions of ColdFusion. Personally, I am cool with that.  Even if you aren’t using CF or work at a company that is still stuck four versions behind, its still cool to see what they have elected to focus on in the future.

Now I did hear a couple of grumpy gusses complaining about the talk being too salesy.  But those same dudes didn’t seem to be complaining much when they were picking up their sweet FREE Adobe water bottles. And they certainly weren’t complaining when they were eating and imbibing at the Adobe sponsored after party. I’m just saying.  Sponsors help make conferences go. If it means you have to listen to a pitch every now and then who cares.  Get over it!  

After the general sessions, the breakout sessions usually begin,. Now a lot of conferences organize them into tracks, meaning that they have the schedule set up so that you can stick with one topic area should you want. For example, they may have a back-end track, a front-end track, and a mobile track.  At NCDevCon this year they didn’t have any definable tracks, but I figure that is because they had such a variety of topics to choose from.

For someone trying to play catch up, a conference like this offers a great opportunity to get schooled across the realm of programming.  Of course we are talking, in this case anyway, about an  hour a topic. It’s hardly enough to time to truly LEARN everything, but it definitely gives you a chance to wrap your arms around it and gives you a starting point for further exploration.

Case in point, there were a handful of sessions on CSS.  I hate CSS! Ok, I don’t hate it. And I do work with it in my projects obviously.  But sometimes when you are trying to nail down a look or a font, or size something to wrap it the right way, it gets flippin’ maddening!

On day 1, the first and last sessions I chose involved CSS. The first was actually a talk on how to convert desktop apps to mobile by Jessica Kennedy.  Jessica, unlike me, is a HUGE fan of CSS!  I sat in amazement as she showed some tricks that she recommends for being able to manage both a desktop and mobile application.  She won me over.   I actually started to get excited about the possibilities. I really need to revisit CSS. It looks like a blast!.

The last CSS talk I saw that day really showed how to press the boundaries of CSS. It was given by Brandon Kennedy, who as it turns out is very happily related to Jessica. Brandon and his chill preso showed what just a few lines of code can do to make sites come alive. Most of it was way over my head, but definitely something I will explore a lot more!  I am looking at CSS in a whole new light. And  I owe the transition of my opinion to the bold style of the animated couple……see what I did there?

Beyond the learning of course is the networking. Whether or not you are looking for future opportunities like I was, you  should always take the time to talk to other attendees. Or, if you are shy like me and don’t know how to start a conversation, just rudely insert yourself in an ongoing one and smile and nod a lot.  They may think you are weird, but keep those ears open and you may just learn something.

Now conferences generally are not cheap.  Most assume you are going to have your employer pony up the dough for it. But more and more companies are running on leaner and leaner budgets these days, so that is not always an option. One of the things I love about NCDevCon is its affordability. Its tickets this year were only $200 bucks, and I believe it was half that for the Early Bird registration.  Now I had to go on my own dime this year and wondered if I would feel I got my money’s worth. I did ten times over!  Well worth the price!

So to bring an end to this seemingly endless diatribe, let me simply say this. If you are trying to keep up with technology, keep pace with the industry, and feel out potential opportunities for future growth….conference it baby!  Find a local one or one in a place you would love to travel to  (like Vegas or something). But take the time and money to go. You will learn a lot, feel more connected to the profession, make new contacts who could be useful resources, and, if it’s anything like NCDevCon, enjoy some really amazing food!.

Now don’t go away….we’ve got a great interview with one cool dude…come up after this.

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(Interview with Ben Nadel)


I’m walking around NCDevCon here and you are not going to believe who I ran into. We’re talking the man, the myth, the legend, Ben Nadel himself. I’m telling you, if you guys don’t know who Ben Nadel is, welcome to ColdFusion programming because you’ve obviously been doing it for only two days. I’m telling you, if you ever, ever have a problem and you Google it, you are going to end up on Ben’s site. If you haven’t done that, good luck to you there. I guess the first question Ben, welcome by the way.

Ben Nadel:

Thank you, great to meet you, sir.


The first question I got to say is do you go looking for trouble or does it just find you?

Ben Nadel:

I’ve been very happy to come across a lot of trouble in my daily work. I just try to write about it as best I can and share solutions to the hurdles that I have fallen over and hurt myself on. I’m just a lucky man in that sense.


How long ago did you start all this?

Ben Nadel:

I’ve been blogging since 2006. It just started out as something … I don’t even remember how I started. I was just excited to learn. I love learning. It’s like I get up in the morning and I’m excited to learn. I’m excited when I get to try new things at work. I’m excited when things are difficult because it means something new to learn, something new to write about. It sort of just took a life of its own at some point and it became … Sometimes it’s a passion and sometimes it feels like a job. I get up in the morning and I do it. I just try to keep the momentum going. It’s been 10 years now, 2016.


I’ve always said for all the work you saved every programmer out there owes you two, three drinks, me included.

Ben Nadel:

I appreciate that. I’m still shocked when people say that. When people come up to me and they’re like, “I want to thank you. I read your website.” I’m blown away. I’m still surprised anytime anyone even noticed who I am.


That’s absolutely awesome. We know that for many years you were working on ColdFusion, but tell everyone what you’re working with now.

Ben Nadel:

We have teams that are more specialized doing what I do, but because I’ve been with my company for so long, I have a lot of tribal and historical knowledge. I can jump around and help fix bugs, help work on database bottlenecks, help work on code. I work in ColdFusion. I work in Angular 1.x primarily. I try to jump over and do a little React with the teams that do React. I work with MySQL. I do a little bit of Redis, a little bit of MongoDB. Just a little bit all over the place.


Showing off again, aren’t you?

Ben Nadel:

No, trust me. If you saw me doing any of these things, it would not be showing off. I can show off maybe in ColdFusion and some Javascript. Everything else is like just trying to not make it break.


One of the other things about your blog, I just hit you up for this, is you have been taking photos of people at conferences over the years. How did that all get started?

Ben Nadel:

You know what it is too is I am by nature a very shy person. The photos also help push me out of my own comfort zone. I feel like I got to psyche myself up to talk to people. I got to psyche myself up to ask for a photo at this point even all these years later. Part of it is how I try to grow as a person and part of it is, the fun part of it is community building. It’s just great. I love doing it.


You’re not even going to admit that it’s really about hit counts? I ain’t going to tell you how many times I’ve refreshed that screen just trying to get an idea of who’s who in the community.

Ben Nadel:

I will not fight any collateral benefit that comes from it, sir, absolutely not.


Just so you know, for all the listeners out there, if you want to see what I look like, I just got a great picture with him, which he’s already agreed he’s going to leave up as the primary picture for the next three weeks. Maybe, maybe not, we’ll see how that one works out. The other thing that you have on your blog, which is awesome, totally awesome, is the jobs board. I may or may not have gotten a few interviews that way. I refuse to talk about that, but I’m just going to ask how did that come about?

Ben Nadel:

I was charging I think like $199 at some point. I think I started charging $99. I got to a point in my life where I wanted to start giving back more, consciously, so I started to donate a portion of each job post to Kiva, which is a crowd-source loan site. That almost became more interesting to me than the job posts themselves. I finally just lowered the price to whatever covers the Kiva loan. I think now a job posting’s like $29. That just covers the $25, plus the processing fee to Kiva. It’s just exciting for me to be able to help the community in whatever tiny way I can, and then funnel that back into kind of a greater sense of the common good.


Has anybody ever thanked you for getting them a job that way?

Ben Nadel:

Yeah, a couple times. I almost sort of think it’s never helping, but I have a couple of times in person, people have said thank you. A couple of people have emailed me and said they’ve gotten it. It’s a low traffic. It doesn’t have a lot of posts typically, but occasionally it gets lucky. I feel really good about that actually.


I for one, absolutely thank you. I appreciate that. Ben, it was a pleasure to meet you. If you guys haven’t checked out his blog, it’s Believe me, you’ve probably found it by Googling it, but just check it out. Hang in there. Follow him on Twitter too and see the great adventures of his dog. What’s the dog’s name?

Ben Nadel:



Dog’s Lucy, vacation out in nice exotic places I see.

Ben Nadel:

Any opportunity to take the dog to the beach makes me happy. Chris, it’s wonderful to meet you. I really appreciate the opportunity to sit down and talk.


Thanks a lot, Ben. Take care.

So that wraps episode 2 of Wake Up! With Script Van Winkle. I want to personally thank Ben Nadel for taking the time to sit down and talk with the weird unknown dude shoving an iPhone in his face.  Seriously though I had wanted to meet Ben for a long time and he did not disappoint.  As you could hear a truly down to earth guy with positive attitude and pretty good programming chops to boot.

And thanks to the organizers of NCDevCon for graciously taking my money…….and giving me an experience back worth so much more.  The organizers and volunteers here are the best!  And, in case I didn’t mention it, all of the talks will be online shortly. So if you were there and missed a few sessions or couldn’t make the event at all, it’s all there for you to check out! Just visit

Now, this was kind of a special episode. I’m going to get more into technical things in the next few episodes. So if you’ve got questions or topics you would like me to cover, drop me a line at or find me on Twitter @ScriptVanWinkle.  You can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes, Google Play,  or on Stitcher. You can comment on this episode, see blog posts and find more info at

Thanks for listening and I’ll talk to you next time.

In a Fog – #NCDevCon Day 2 Live Blog 1


NCDevCon North Carolina’s Premier Web & Mobile Conference

Day 2 of the the awesome tech conference #NCDevcon is well underway.  Participants were treated to a beautiful if not eerie fog which had settled over the area this morning.  Quite a few participants seemed to be in a fog too including yours truly.  Thinks are so much quieter this morning. After receiving all that amazing information yesterday it seems many are still processing. But who has time for that?!?  Still another day’s worth of learning ahead!

I kicked off my day with Building APIs in LoopBack by Raymond Camden.  Again, I am learning Node.js and have a few personal projects I want to build as APIs, so this was a natural.  It was a two session period with the first being discussion about LoopBack api framework and the second being a hands on session build an API.  To be able to do the handson stuff I needed to get my laptop set up with Node, LoopBack, and MongoDB.  I spent a good chunk of the first half trying to pay attention to the cool information and whip this old laptop in shape. The laptop refused to cooperate in the end…so I went “hands off” and bailed at the halfway point. Sorry @RaymondCamden!  Was looking forward to the hand on stuff. I am sure it was a blast!

So I hopped over to Git Source Control: for the Rest of Us by Nolan Erck (@southofshasta).  It was a great talk on using graphical tools like SourceTree to work with source control (Git in this case). I knew most of it of course, but still nice to see how other people set up their source control.  Big crowd. Lot’s of questions.  Good session!

Planning to wrap up the day with You Don’t Know Node.js by Azat Mardan (@azat_co).  I have some personal business to handle this afternoon so sadly I will be missing  the cool stuff planned for the afternoon.  I’ll split right after I grab lunch. So grab me there (and early into it) if you want to chat me up.  Otherwise, enjoy the rest of the day!  It has been a pleasure hanging out and meeting all of you.


ORM / CSS – #NCDevCon Live Blog #3


NCDevCon North Carolina’s Premier Web & Mobile Conference

Apparently my afternoon sessions were all about three letter abbreviations.  Kicked it off with the ORM talk by Masha Edeler.  I’ve played with ORM, thought I knew ORM, but learned things I didn’t know! I especially learned about creating properties which were subsets of  a table and other properties that can be defined by a simple SQL statement, I also learned more about HQL I didn’t know. Nice job. Check it out online when available.

Wrapped up the learning day with  Thinking Outside the Box With CSS  by Brandon Kennedy. CSS is definitely cool!  But some of this stuff can make my head hurt!  Brandon demoed a ton of cool animations and showed how simple they can be!  I did feel better about myself when he talked about using and studying the Animate.css library.  I discuss my experiment with it in Episode 1: The Wind Up and the Pitch! Playing with HTML 5 Animation of my podcast.  HINT HINT!  Check it out!

Hey!  It’s After Party time!  Find me! I need people to help me record the new podcast intro!  Look for the dork in the red Mickey shirt!  Be nice to him!  I’m sensitive!

Cookies and Treats! – #NCDEVCON – Live Blog 2


NCDevCon North Carolina’s Premier Web & Mobile Conference

The term “Cookies” in development of course has multiple meanings.  But at #NCDECVON during the break sponsored by Strongloop, cookies were plenty and sweet!  Delicious cookie sandwiches filled with coma inducing filling.  Sorry for those speaking afterward….I forsee a lot of snoring!  Don’t take it personally!

Another “treat” was Raymond Camden’s talk on APIs….well…except he called an audible. Instead he tested out another talk he is working on about changes in programming.  Nostalgic man!  Nostalgic!  He even showed a program printed in “Family Computing” magazine in the early 80’s I believe.  Man I felt old!  I remember putting the program into my Apple II compat. computer (Franklin Ace 1000) and watching it works. Thanks for making me feel old Raymond!  Seriously!  Funny and inspiring talk though.

I also caught Matthew Eash’s talk on Node.js, in particular the Express framework.  Still can’t say I fully understand it, but it definitely started to make sense to me.  Pretty flipping cool for sure!

Ok, back to business. Hope the caffeine kicked in.  Getting ready for Less Hate, More Love With Coldfusion ORM  by Masha Edelen.  Met her earlier and am looking forward to hearing talk on the topic. Let you know how it goes!

Live(ish) Blogging – #NCDEVCON – Report 1


NCDevCon North Carolina’s Premier Web & Mobile Conference

Ok. So it’s not exactly LIVE blogging (as I am sitting here after an AMAZING BBQ meal)  stealing power and getting ready for the next session. But already, #NCDEVCON has proved to be a great conference!

I have always loved the clear as a bell tape lines helping streamline the checkin process (you guys should patent it).  Then things kicked off with a session on API’s by Elisha Dvorak from Adobe. Elisha talked about the future trends of apis and microservices and how ColdFusion is positioning itself to make those easier to handle.  It was 50,000 ft look at apis for sure but I left knowing more about an area I do find engaging.

Session breakouts after that. I can, of course, only cover those I actually attended.  For me, I kicked up Small Screens, Big Rewards! The Experience of Converting Desktop Websites to Mobile by Jessica Kennedy.  She was fun, informative and a great evangelist for mobile and CSS. I am one of those many developers that are driven mad by CSS…..hate it!  But Jessica really turned my thinking on it.  Looking how seamlessly and quickly it seemed she could make things rearrange, resize, and realign with a few simple code changes was awesome!  I left really jazzed about CSS!

My next session was one put on by Raymond Camden  called Everything They Didn’t Tell You About Hybrid Development.  Always informative and always entertaining, talks by Raymond are usually no-miss.  I learned a lot as he described some dos and don’t with regard to using Cordova to do mobile app development. He spent a great deal of time on the your persistance options (Indexed DB, WebSQL, SQLLite, etc,)  He also mentioned some great tools to use as well.  Kind of wished I had experienced using Cordova before attending but hey, I’ll keep the info tucked away until I need it.

And then lunch!  Did I mention the Carolina pulled pork BBQ and mouth-watering BBQ sauce?  And the baked beans?  Take it from a guy who thinks baked beans is the only side a meal should ever have….they were killer!!!

Well, ready to get my Node on…..Build Your Backend in Node.js  by Matthew Eash. That is assuming I can get my backend up and moving after that lunch!

#NCDevCon – What I am going to see!


NCDevCon North Carolina’s Premier Web & Mobile Conference

I’m getting ready to leave today for NCDevCon, the fun, cool, and informative development conference taking place in Raleigh, NC this weekend.  As of this writing they still have about a dozen tickets left. So if you are going to be in Raleigh, buy your tickets RIGHT NOW (go ahead, I’ll wait).

Did you get them? Awesome!  Now lets talk agenda. There are some great sessions going on. It was really hard to narrow down what I am going to. But here goes. By the way, just because I don’t mention or did not select a particular session doesn’t mean it’s bad…it just means either it’s not applicable to my current or future work or that, more than likely, there is just a more applicable topic competing head to head with it.  The truth is there are some awesome speakers and sessions I will be missing because they compete with something more applicable.  The good news is these are all video recorded and made available online afterward…so I won’t be missing them!

Speakers, feel free to lobby for your talks because I could be convinced.  And fellow attendees, if you are in any of those sessions, come say hi!  If you list nearly matches mine, definitely say hi because it’s always cool to have a group to travel around with between rooms.


Sat. 9am –  This is the opening presentation by Adobe Systems. A good chance to hear future updates and also see who else is at the conference!

Sat. 10am – UNDECIDED! HELP! – Torn between Small Screens, Big Rewards! The Experience of Converting Desktop Websites to Mobile by Jessica Kennedy, because I work with a site that could use a mobile conversion,  and Writing Highly Organized CSS by Tyler Benton because my CSS can be a mess!  Thoughts?

Sat. 11am – UNDECIDED! HELP! – Ok, this one I had nailed down a topic for weeks ago. But the schedule was changed and now I am unsure.  Probably end up at Everything They Didn’t Tell You About Hybrid Development with Ray Camden because….well…its Ray Camden

Sat. 1:30pm – Build Your Backend in Node.js with Matthew Eash. After picking on Node.js developers the last few years, I dove in and really like Node so far. So it’s a “node-brainer” that I would choose this.  Yes, my puns really are that bad.

Sat 2:30pmBuilding APIs – StrongLoop Session – Looks like another general session

Sat. 3:40pm – Why Your Next App Should Be Serverless by Todd Wacker.  Serverless….sounds intriguing.

Sat. 4:40pm – Thinking Outside the Box With CSS with Brandon Kennedy. I’m more of a backend guy, but keeping abreast with the frontend is not a bad idea.

Sun. 9:00 am – Building APIs in LoopBack with Ray Camden – I generally skip multi-period sessions, but it’s Node and Ray Camden. Hello!

Sun. 11am – You Don’t Know Node.js – Azat Mardan. Node…what more can I say.

I have some personal business to attend to while in Raleigh so I need to miss the afternoon sessions. But I would have gone to see Delivering the Dude: Continuous X – Brent Pabst because I really need to learn and embrace the CI concept.  Oh well, add that to my video sessions.

So that is my list.  See you there!



Different Strokes for Different Folks

In my search for new opportunities I have had a couple of interviews so far. The interesting thing has been the varying philosophies I have encountered with regard to development.  Things one firm swears by the other despises.  It has been an interesting exercise in trying to determine what these are and how to navigate the minefield without abandoning your own preferences. Here are just some of the differences I have encountered.

Source Control

First off, believe it or not, there are still quite a few shops that don’t use it.  Over 50% of companies I have talked with so far don’t use it!  To be fair, when I started my current position back in 2012, I had not used source control either.  So I had to quickly learn how to use Subversion (SVN).  Much to my boss’s chagrin, that learning curve was steep and deeply conflicted! But with time and discoveries like “bunny hopping” (for example merging Staging branch into your project branch first, then merging project branch into Staging) things got better.  Then when we decided to finally “Git” with the program things have really hummed along nicely.  I swear by Git for all my home projects. I have even tried to use Git to version my music compositions.

At least in most cases these businesses are saying they plan to move to source control soon.  But which one? Git or Subversion?  In my observation there is a feeling that Subversion is more in align with “corporate” and Git more in line with “startups”. I definitely don’t agree!  But again I am partial to Git so I may be biased.

Object Relational Mapping (ORM)

Watch where you step on this one!  Wow!  I have played with ORM and like it, but also recognize that it is not always appropriate, especially if your business model involves complicated queries.  Yet I assumed going in that you would not be considered a “modern” developer if you weren’t using it. In fact, many job postings include phrases like “MUST HAVE EXPERIENCE WITH OBJECT RELATIONAL MAPPING”.

So imagine my surprise when in one interview I was asked “What experience have you had with ORM and are you comfortable with it?”  and when I finished explaining that I had played around with it and found it to be easy and useful, the interviewer snapped passionately about how much they HATE it. Lesson learned. Need to feel out my audience on this one.

Those opposed to ORM I have generally found to be people who love SQL. I know that when you are sitting elbow deep in a query with 70 joins on 50 different tables it is hard to believe there are people who love it, but trust me there are!  I can see why  people who eat stored procedures for breakfast would hate to use ORM.  It would be like telling classic car nuts who love to cruise around, that they can only legally use Google self-driving cars from now on.

Stored Procedures and Inline SQL

One of my personal pet peeves is seeing a SQL statement written right into a ColdFusion page.  Call me crazy, but I think SQL belongs on the SQL server.  So I do my best to move all inline SQL I find into a stored procedure on the SQL box and just call the stored procedure from CF.  Some places I have met with say “Right Answer!” when I lay that out. Yet others have suggested that they don’t like stored procedures at all and only use them when a query is extremely complicated.  Many said they prefer to put their SQL directly into a  DAO (data access object).  I guess at least this puts it outside of a CFM page and into a CFC.  That is more tolerable to me, but still not my preferred way of working.  But at least on this topic there does not seem to be as much passion.


The biggest differences here are not what you would expect.  I haven’t encountered any heated battles over ColdBox vs. FW/1 vs. Mach II.  The opinions are over whether or not a framework is needed.   To me, if you are doing anything remotely complicated that answer is yes.  But to a certain extent I can see the other side of the argument.  In most cases, those companies I have talked to who don’t use frameworks, admit that they have kind of put one together on their own.  I suspect that is usually the case in instances where no formal one is used as it is just a natural extension of good programming.


Since I am a ColdFusion developer most of the opportunities I have explored have been in that realm.  But even in those cases, some companies are looking to migrate away from it.  Here there is a definite split!  Some are leaning toward the wonderful world of PHP. Makes sense. It’s open source, borderline free depending on what you are using it for, and has good solid applications like Magento.

Other companies are leaning toward .Net and C#.  I imagine a lot of it comes down to the same argument had about source control.  .Net for “corporate” feel and PHP for “startups”.  Time will tell I guess.  But I also see me needing to learn both in the near future!

What else?

So what other arguments have you encountered out there in the wild?  What are your thoughts on each of these above.  Leave your comments below and let’s get the discussion rolling!



Episode 1: The Wind Up and the Pitch! Playing with HTML 5 Animation


On the inaugural episode of the podcast Script discusses his attempt at making a pitch reel for a job opportunity using HTML, CSS, and Javascript.  He also divulges a little information about himself and generally tries to have fun!





Welcome to the inaugural episode of the Script Van Winkle podcast!  My name is Script  Van Winkle, but my friends call me… annoying.

Now the first half of this inaugural episode will be just like the rest of the upcoming episodes. I’ll cover some technology, trick, technique, library, program,  problem or other information I have discovered as I take this long journey to try to “catch up” to modern programming and development. Or is it catsup? I always get confused.

The second half of this episode will be a long comprehensive deep dive into the complexities, history and mystery of…well, me,  from conception to the bitter end! Or, I might just give a quick 5 minute overview of my programming background. We’ll see. Could go either way.

I may even stuff an awesome surprise right between the two. So hang onto your hat this here is the wildest podcast in the Disney genre.  What’s that? Oh right this is the programming podcast. Let me try that again.  I may even stuff an awesome surprise right between the two. Cause dude this is the sickest podcast in the programming verse.  I wonder why our writer emphasized sickest?  Oh well, who knows what goes through the mind of a third grader.

So recently in my pursuit of other opportunities, I came across an ad for a really cool position with a digital advertising agency in a nearby city. I’ve always wanted to work in advertising. I love creativity. I love the challenge of coming up with new and fresh ideas. And I totally binge watched “Mad Men”.  

They were looking for a web developer to help them flesh out the websites of their various clients. So I checked it out,. HTML experience? Check. CSS experience? Check.  JavaScript experience? Absolutely check.  ColdFusion experience. Check. Check. Check..  Man, this job was made for me!  Creativity? Check. Passion? Please! I make Pepe Le Pew look downright frigid! Mandatory five years experience in PHP? Uh oh!  Really? All my experience in web development, ColdFusion, Javascript  and building websites from the ground up and I’m derailed because I haven’t worked in one particular language? Wow!, So disappointed.

Then it hit me. This is an advertising firm. They are used to dealing with pitch reels and other types of presentations. If I could create a pitch reel that could generate enough interest from them to at least land an interview I would have a good shot of nailing it. But how would I go about it?

The answer of course was to create a pitch reel  exclusively using HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and PHP. I was totally down with that.  Within an hour I not only had written the script for the pitch reel I had recorded it, set it to music and had the entire soundtrack produced. It’s lucky for me that I like to dabble in  voiceover and audio editing.

I spent the next hour figuring out the simple graphics and text I wanted to use to help illustrate my pitch. Then I spent an additional hour researching JavaScript libraries to to make it happen.

For the text animation, I settled on this cool library called “Textillate.js” (  Basically it wraps a whole bunch of JS functions around HTML5 animation specifications. In short, it makes it easier to make the text do all kinds of really cool stuff.

Now,“Textillate.js” actually uses another library called “Animate.css” ( Animate.css basically abstracts out a bunch of HTML5 and CSS animations. For instance, it’s got one called “lightSpeedIn”. This causes your text or image to fly  in from the right-hand side really fast, and actually bend as if the bottom can’t keep up with the top.. Programmatically it was a breeze! Using JavaScript, all I had to do was add the words “lightSpeedIn”  and “animated” to the class tag for the element I wanted to animate. Bada bing bada boom. Worked like a charm.

Don’t get me wrong, I still had to do a lot of CSS work to do to make sure I had the right fonts, color, size, and positioning. I had to place it where I wanted the element to be when the animation ended.

Another cool feature about animate CSS is you also have exit animations. So I had to pick out and program those as well. It was starting to look really cool! The best part wass the whole thing was just text and images.

Now  I needed JavaScript to control all these animations. Initially, I was going to create a function for every single element that was going to appear. I was also going to embed those elements directly on the HTML page so JavaScript would have access to them when needed.

But as I started doing that, I realized that  there was some refactoring I could do to make this work with less code. A lot of my text was using the same font. So I created one function to which I passed the text, size, color, and  top and left coordinates.  That function would render the text out as a new element. Did you catch that? As a new element!  

So that led me to  write a function whose only purpose was to create a new HTML element on the page, well technically on the DOM. Now since all of the elements needed unique IDs,  I needed to be able to dynamically generate them. That led me to writing another function whose only purpose was to generate the id.

So if you just joined us…I have a function that creates an ID, one the creates an HTML element, and one that handles all the common text displayed in that pitch reel. Then I created one that handles images. I also made one or two others that dealt with special text.  So now I could generate all the visual elements I needed, but I still had to control the timing.

Initially I tried using a series of setTimeOut() functions, one for each element I was generating. It worked OK, but what do you think would happen is the  audio was paused or just simply stutters? You guessed it… things would go off the rails really fast!

So I looked more into the HTML5 audio object. And it turns out there are a couple of really useful properties including “currentTime” which returns the current time position within the audio.  I also made use of the event “onTimeUpdate”  to set up a trigger to run a function each time the time value changed.

This code grabbed the current second the audio was on and used that as a key to dataStructure I had set up to map out the presentation. Each element of that main data structure contained an array of the text or graphic elements that needed to be displayed at that particular time of the presentation.

Things started working much better at that point. Not 100% perfect, but still pretty cool.

Ultimately I decided against going through with applying at that company as I just didn’t see myself working in that city.  So I will never know if the gamble would have paid off.  But I did learn about HTML5 Animation and audio and found a couple of great libraries in the process.

More after this.


FAUXMERCIAL: “Fusion Kingdom”

Coming soon to the Adobe Studios Resort in Orlando, a brand new theme park experience for the entire coding family, Adobe’s Fusion Kingdom.

Your journey begins on a scenic ferry boat ride across the majestic CFCs lagoon. Next you’ll take a magica stroll through the enchanted Allaire forest.

Once Inside the Fusion Kingdom your true adventure begins. Enjoy Popular  roller coasters like the Oop de loop, Cache mountain and the futuristic suppress white space mountain.

And be sure not to miss the dazzling splendor of Thunder mountain, where you will bolt like Zeus down the mystic Merrimack river through a stormy blizzard, dodging scorpions while being chased by a centaur. Who knows what else may develop before your ride is over?

For more family-friendly  fun experience the many different settings in the Adventures of Neo and friends  or enjoy classic attractions like the Carousel of Progress Bars.

If you are hungry, you can dine in an award-winning restaurant like the spaghetti code Café, or trythe retro chic Macaroni Meatia restaurant.

As night falls the Fusion Kingdom comes alive with the  glowing pagentry of the Spectra Magic parade followed by the Adobe’s world famous Fireworks.  As you exit the park, don’t forget to preserve those memories by picking up a hat, tshirt or put your name on your very own Fusion Kingdom custom tag.

Great times and precious memories at Adobes Fusion Kingdom. Where the action is always unscripted.  Unless you want it to be.

Construction of Fusion Kingdom is slated to begin soon, upon completion  of Adobes Photoshop pier, Acrobat Adventure, llustrator Island, Flash Fantasy Island, Preimer Park, Dreamweaver Farms, After Effects Experience, Audition Alley, Muse Magic, In Design Dominion, and Creative Cloud Land.

(Fauxmercial ends)

Background Music:

“Call to Adventure” Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0


Welcome back to the Script Van Winkle podcast.  Now, if you are still listening, congratulations!  I mean, they say there is one in every crowd, and you apparently are it!  Truthfully, if you are still listening I appreciate it and hope that means you found some merit in the first part of this episode.

Now I promised to talk about my favorite subject….me.  But it’s your lucky day…I’ll just do the brief overview.

So I have been doing this web development thing for well over 20 years.  I started in 1996 when the only browsers most people had to choose from were Netscape and NCSA Mosaic.  Go ahead, Junior Developers, Google those puppies!  And while you are at it, you might want to look up what what search engine we used to crawl the web back then.  Leave your guesses in the comments.

I mean those were wild days! Days when we coded in Notepad, used bold, strong, and blink tags,put our color and stylings right into the tag, and worked our ASP off without a net.  I’m talking so far back, that us web developers were pushing our family and friends to switch to the latest and greatest brand new browser called Internet Explorer! Why? Because it was far superior to the other two!  (Sigh)….you don’t get those days back.

In 1997 I was introduced to ColdFusion version 3 and never looked back.  Well, I mean, I’m not still using version 3. But I am still programming in CF.

The next several years I spent staying on top of the new technologies and bringing them to the projects I worked on.  But, for a variety of reasons, that faded and I pretty much “fell asleep” for several years as the leading edge programming community passed me by.

When I finally woke up again in 2011 I found programming to be a whole new (sing “A whole new world”)..  What? Oh right. Programming podcast!  I keep forgetting.

Since 2011 I have learned a ton. In ColdFusion I started using components, Object Oriented Programming (OOP), CF Script, MVC frameworks, and even experimented with Object-Relational Mapping (ORM).  I started doing more with JavaScript including AJAX, jQuery, and implementing other libraries. I upped my SQL skills and moved inline queries to Stored Procedures and views.  I began to appreciate and grow to LOVE the separation between front-end and back-end.  I have played around with Angular, Node, MongoDB, MySql and even some PHP.  I have worked with eCommerce solutions and CMS systems.  But no matter how much I learn it is impossible to keep total pace with this industry!

So now you know why I am Script Van Winkle.  And maybe, just maybe, you understand why I am doing all this. I mean what is the point of learning new things if you can’t blab on incessantly…..uh…I mean…share it with other professionals.

See, that wasn’t so painful was it?

Again, thanks for hanging in. I am so stoked to get this podcast launched and hopefully build a community of friends with which to discuss the industry.  This is a two street though. Feel free to contact me or share experiences with me via the comments, email, or social media. You can email me at or find me on Twitter @ScriptVanWinkle.  You can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes or on Stitcher. You can comment on this episode, see blog posts and find more info at

Thanks for listening and I’ll talk to you next time.


@NCDevCon Here I Come


NCDevCon North Carolina’s Premier Web & Mobile Conference

Woo hoo!  Due to a change in plans I am now going to NCDevCon on September 17th and 18th in Raleigh, NC.  This is a conference that is small and intimate but draws some really top talent among its speaker pool!  It is also just pretty flippin’ cool!

In 2012 I attended my first NCDevCon (@NCDevCon) conference. In 2013 and 2014 I was one of the speakers! Not bad for a developer who just woke up.  NCDevCon is so cool they video every presentation and make them available online.  Just go to They have all the videos from the last several years in one easy to find place.  For my talks look for “Taming the Legacy Beast Turning Wild Old Code Into A Sleek New Thoroughbred” (video 8 of 2014), and “From Where do I Begin to What can we do next Turning Legacy Spaghetti Code Into a Delicious Lasagna” (video 4 of 2013)

I couldn’t make it in 2015 because it fell on the last couple days of my honeymoon.  Oddly enough, I could not convince my wife to finish the honeymoon there. Go figure.

I hadn’t planned on going in 2016 either.  But said, “Heck with it all! I’m not going to miss this!” So my conference ticket is bought. I booked a great AirBnB location in nearby Cary, NC (at least I hope it is great…stay tuned on that one). And, of course, I have already printed out the conference agenda and highlighted the ones I want to see.

Are you going to NCDevCon?  If so, leave a comment and I’ll surf name tags all day for you. Kind of like an awkward version of “Where’s Waldo?”



An alarm clockIt seems I fell asleep again!  Well, not so much in my professional life….just with this blog.  Look at the previous post. It was on January 14, 2014!

Why did I dust off the old blog?  Well, because I just might be looking for “new opportunities”. Seriously, this talented (well, experienced anyway) programming dude is looking to charge ahead.

What does that mean for you?  Well, if you are looking for a new teammate…it could mean a ton!  Just let me know (see  About Script Van Winkle for contact info). But if not, it means you will be at the very least seeing more (and current) blog posts from me. I am learning a great many things…all at once. And I will be detailing them in the coming weeks.

And there just might…MIGHT…be a new podcast in the offing.  Short, informative, and hopefully quite entertaining episodes are rolling around this creative mind of mine. I might just need to dust off the old microphone. Stay tuned for that one!

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