When the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in March of 2020 I was furloughed from my job as section double bass with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and stuck in my small apartment in downtown Indianapolis with little to do. I had to figure out something to do with all of the free time I suddenly found myself with, so I picked up where I left off a few years ago with a computer coding course through Treehouse.
In August 2021 I attended the ICSOM conference in Pittsburgh as the ICSOM delegate for Indianapolis. At the conference Paul Austin approached me asking if I might be interested in working on the ICSOM website. Martha Warrington, who built and maintained the site for many years, wanted to step down from her role (for which we want to thank her for her years of service and hard work!). The website needed an update to be compatible with mobile and tablet devices, as well as for updated security and various other, more mundane reasons. I was intrigued by the offer and decided to take on the project.
Like practicing music, computer development is all about solving problems. The first problem was that the ICSOM site is written in PHP, another technology that is used across the front end and back end. I had no experience with PHP but I was willing to jump in and learn it. I completed a PHP basics course on Udemy, another site teaching coding, and got familiar enough with the language to start working on the site.
Thankfully Martha was very gracious with her time and offered to do several zoom calls with me to help me get familiar with her choices in building the site. It is a massive website with thousands of files, and they all needed updating! The first task was to change the appearance of the site by updating the color scheme and making the site viewable on mobile and tablet devices. I started with the Bootstrap framework, created by developers at Twitter to simplify site layout, and updated as necessary for our site.
At some point during the front end refresh, it became apparent that there needed to be many security updates to the website, and I spent a good amount of time updating the code to make the site more secure. The biggest challenge was updating the password functionality and how a user resets their password and logs in. I had to basically rewrite all of the code for this functionality.
In the final stages of updating and launching the website my colleague Bennett Crantford, fellow double bassist in the ISO who is also knowledgeable about computer technologies, stepped in to assist. I am grateful for his assistance, suggestions, and for making my life a little easier as I tried to get everything working properly.
I hope that everyone enjoys the new website!