Anthony Colangelo on building an event website for MTV

One of the 10 nominees for Young Developer of the Year in the 2014 net Awards, Anthony Colangelo is a developer at Happy Cog and an open source-lover on Github. Based in Philadelphia, he's written posts for A List Apart and Cognition, and built the back-end of MTV's O Music Awards, which drove more than 97million votes in a month. We chatted to him to find out more...

What are your main areas of expertise?

I'm lucky to have the freedom to work on every side of development, from front-end, to back-end, and even iOS development. My main expertise has drifted between those realms over the last few years, but I'd say that back-end development is still my strongest point - be it building a custom application or API, or working with any CMS.

Give us a summary of your career so far.

My development journey started when I attended Full Sail University in Orlando, Florida. I began the Web Design & Development bachelor's degree program in August, 2009, and graduated in June, 2011.

During those two years, I went from knowing nothing about development to being confident in my abilities to go out in the industry and build anything that was thrown at me. After graduation, I moved back north to Philadelphia, where I started my first job.

Colangelo's first article for respected web design blog A List Apart appeared in May last year

Colangelo's first article for respected web design blog A List Apart appeared in May last year

After a few months there, I was in the right place at the right time and had the amazing opportunity to join Happy Cog. I started at Happy Cog just over two years ago, a week before my 21st birthday.

Since joining the team, I've been busy building things for great clients, writing for A List Apart and Cognition, and this year I'll be doing a conference talk or two.

What have you been working on over the last year?

I've been doing a ton of iOS development over the last year, and have been writing for A List Apart and Cognition, which has been really exciting. I also did some screencasting about Sass as part of the Happy Cog Way series.

But the biggest project I worked on over the last year was the MTV O Music Awards. I led the back-end development of that project, and was lucky to work with an amazing team of people from both Happy Cog and MTV.

We built the entire online experience of the event: the voting site where fans voted for their favorite nominees, the event site where the 24-hour awards festival was streamed live, and the post-event site where you can go to watch highlights from the show and see award winners.

The system we built handled over 97,000,000 votes in less than 30 days, and we had tons of people tuning in over the course of the 24-hour show to see their favourite artists perform and win awards.

What have been the particular high points of your career?

Colangelo led back-end development on the O Music Awards site

Colangelo led back-end development on the O Music Awards site

Seeing everything come together for this year's O Music Awards was really exciting. It made it even better that things went off (mostly) without a hitch. The other was writing my first A List Apart article this past year. It was something I had always wanted to do, so to see that get published was really satisfying.

What are you excited about at the moment?

I'll be doing a lot more writing this year. I'm going to be writing two posts a month for the A List Apart blog, a post or two a month on my own site, as well as some other ventures that I'll be able to talk about soon! On the development side of things, iOS development has been my main area of interest as of late, especially with the refresh that iOS 7 brought.

Tell us about an important lesson you've learned in your career.

There are always going to be situations that come up that you never thought to prepare for, so you have to be ready to respond. You have to be ready to think on your feet and patch things up quickly, no matter how hacky you think the patches are, before you can implement a real, long-term solution that will last. I actually wrote about that lesson I learned on Cognition a few months back.

Name an 'unsung hero', someone you admire who deserves more recognition for their work.

Mark Huot is like my Yoda. He's a brilliant guy and an incredible developer, and I've learned a ton from him over the last two years - not just about the code itself, but about being the best developer you can be for your team and clients.

Vote in the net Awards!

Celebrating the best in web design and development, the 15th net Awards is open for public voting until 24 March. With a record breaking number of nominations this year, it's set to be the biggest and best yet. Have your say by casting your votes here.

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