Daniel Vinnicombe

Ipswich, United Kingdom
Developer @ Suffolk County Council. Built Orsolo, previously Makepad.

Who are you? Where are you from and what is your backstory?

Hello! I’m Daniel and I’m 29 years old from sunny Ipswich and currently work full time as a fullstack developer for the local council that works with Laravel / Azure and most recently mobile apps in Xamarin. My evenings are often spent Developing or playing video games ‘if my children allow it’or I watch far too much Netflix with my partner.

What made you get into programming?

My first real experience was when I was 16, I came from a graphic design background and studied G.D in University. After I moved to Glasgow to live with my partner I started designing flyers and huge posters for the clubbing scene all over Europe and I decided I wanted to create a website for music and built a community site which became pretty big and was even sponsored by Drunknmunky Clothing.

I’m 100% self taught and never studied development. I learned my skills as I built the ideas that were in my head and I then moved away from design and began focusing my attention on being a front-end developer/designer creating small sites. I then moved back home to Ipswich and started as a full-time developer for the council and slowly moved into back-end development.

What made you create Makepad?

Frustration if I’m honest as it solved a problem I was continuously having with too many tools that are now are all about teams and communication; What have you worked on, notifications and other noise. But they all ignore the individual users that work alone and don’t need all of that or need to pay for all the features they never use. So we created Makepad and scrapped everything and built it for the individuals and this in turn has kept the price low.

What does your process for learning to code look like?

I learn a lot by doing and asking hundreds of questions. I’ve used things like laracasts, codecademy and several other learning tools but the majority of my learning process is learning as I go along. I’ve never really been much of an educational fan even during high school as I could never keep focus on what they were teaching, choosing instead to throw my focus on things that meant something to me.

What does your process for building apps look like?

With Makepad it’s been a project I’ve wanted to do for years and have started on/off. When we first built it I began designing it in Sketch from the ground up with an idea of how each page and feature would look. Then we started building in Laravel & Bootstrap 4 creating all the blades first so the front end was all there; then as we started building in functionality we changed things and improved as we went along. Soon after we launched we took on all the feedback and improved the UI even more making it much cleaner and modern looking.It’s quite hard to design as its more user content driven, and more text based rather than focused around imagery so creating the UI to look clean and uncluttered was a big challenge. I also use Makepad to plan and manage Makepad!

Mobile design in Figma for Android / IOS in development

Do you face any particular challenges when building over a period of time?

Most often it’s looking at the same thing over and over and it starts to look outdated or not good enough in my head. After launching project its keeping up with demand , updates , fixes and keeping users wanting to use it.

Are you currently learning anything new?

Currently I'm learning Xamarin in more detail as Ii want to build Makepad as a standalone app for IOS / Android as we have had several people ask about the mobile side. It is in the early stages though!

Advice for those learning to code?

Take your time and learn at your own pace, it’s not a race and certainly don’t burn yourself out! If you feel deflated or annoyed something won’t work or doesn’t look right; get off your computer, go for a walk, go hang out with friends and when you feel fresh and recharged go back to it and you will probably find the answer to your problem. Find community’s that talk on Slack and ask questions; don’t feel like your answer or question is stupid, because no answer is stupid and we have all had to learn. 99% of the tech community loves to help and that is what makes us one of the best community’s out there.

What’s your tech stack?

- Laravel

- Azure

- Bootstrap 3+


- VueJS

What have been influential books, resources and links that have helped you?

I live on: https://dribbble.com/

I also love checking out https://www.steveschoger.com/ and https://laracasts.com for development.

I also enjoy reading a lot of design articles on https://medium.com

Where can people learn more about you and your work?

I share everything I do onTwitterand I’m always happy to help if you are looking for advice or assistance.

If you’re looking for a new productivity tool though, you can check out Makepadhere.

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