Ben Downey

Ben Downey

Web & Mobile Developer

I write code. I try to make the world a better place through technology.

Code

I started programming when I had a career in financial services. I had a job where I kept watching people manually perform repetitive tasks. I taught myself a few basic programming tricks so I could automate the work I saw others doing.

I fell in love with programming and never looked back.

In 2012, Chicago's tech boom allowed me to transition from back office automator to full-fledged Ruby dev.

Since then I've dealt with both early stage and mature startups.

Originally, I spent the bulk of time in the Ruby ecosystem but these days I also do iOS programming, javascript, C# and whatever else the project requires.

Personal

I spent the early part of my career in Chicago. In 2015, my wife and I decided to move our family to Spokane, WA.

We love it in Spokane.

The relaxed pace of life here has allowed us a lot of freedom, both personally and professionally.

Since moving, we've both been able to launch our own businesses, Financial Trex and BuildingBlockLabs.

And more importantly, since we're no longer fighting long commutes, we're able to spend more time with our kids.

Developer Advocacy

Getting that first job as a programmer can be hard, even in a favorable market.

In 2016, I connected my dev shop, with Dev Bootcamp in order to start a program to help grads get the real-world experience the need to land their first fulltime job.

A lot of software development skills take time to master and the frenetic pace of a coding bootcamp isn't always conducive to putting out high-quality work.

I bring developers on board to work on small freelance projects. They're exposed to software best practices like design patterns, test-driven development, code reviews, etc.

I'm continually amazed by what these grads are capable of and how much they are able to soak up.

Projects

Fincial Trex webapp

FinancialTrex

In 2016, my wife opened her own financial planning firm. I helped out.
The main considering for the site was speed. Knowing that most people would be viewing the site on a mobile device, we couldn't risk long load times.
So, I wrote a plain old static HTML website using Jekyll. Jekyll is a terrific tool for static site generation. More importantly, my wife's website consistently scores high on Google's Page Speed Insights.

MoreCutePics App

MoreCutePics

This was the first SAAS I wrote. Originally, my grandmother kept asking for more pics of her grandson and I couldn't keep up with her. I wrote some code to log into Google Photos (then Picasa Web Albums) and email her a photo every morning. I then expanded it to handle photos from Facebook and Flickr.
It's a Rails app that uses Resque as a background worker. I ended up writing some custom gems to handle downloading photos from each picture provider and returning uniform looking payloads.

Chime Web App

Chime

This is an "Uber for babysitting" application. I worked on moving the MVP web application into a code base where we could easily add features and perform releases without worrying about what would break. Oh, and tests. Lots and lots of tests.

Chime iOS App

Chime iOS App

I worked on the iOS app for the Chime project. It was a great opportunity to dig into Swift. I love Swift's emphasis on protocols and enums. It makes for very readable, testable code.

Sittercity iOS App

Sittercity Native iOS App

In early 2014, Sittercity decided they wanted a mobile app. I worked on a small to team to deliver an iOS app that focuses on searching and messaging. We integrated with a series of homespun APIs.

Sittercity Web App

Sittercity

I came abord as part of a big replatforming initiative. Sittercity was moving to Rails from an old PHP-based code base. This is where I cut my teeth on TDD and BDD.

Early Shares App

EarlyShares

Earlyshares is the company that first hired me as we Ruby developer. I'll always be grateful to them. We built a marketplace app that allows people to invest in small to medium sized companies.