Author Topic: Building a website and getting help from elance  (Read 5921 times)

Stagleton

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 79
Building a website and getting help from elance
« on: November 27, 2013, 07:56:29 AM »
Hi,

First off, please let me know if this post is better suited for another section.

I am building an Android app/website. It has become too much for me to do by myself so I would like to contract out some of the work. I am trying to find developers using elance and I have hired one firm to build a feature for me for what I thought was a really cheap price, but so far it's been pretty bad work. Another development company is encouraging me to first hire them to change the internet site over to Symfony2 PHP web frame work. I am tempted to go with this option, but the cost is $1200. Does anyone have any experience with either Symfony2, using elance and if a Symfony framework is necessary for scalability?

aglassman

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 165
  • Age: 33
  • Location: Milwaukee, WI
    • Milwaukee Maven
Re: Building a website and getting help from elance
« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2013, 10:05:14 AM »
You'd probably get much better advice from a mobile development forum.

fragglebock

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 24
Re: Building a website and getting help from elance
« Reply #2 on: November 29, 2013, 08:55:56 AM »
Shop around some more, and not just on elance.  Stay away from committing to anything you do not understand.  Consider paying a consultant to help you finalize your project requirements before you pay for development.  It's an additional cost up front, but it sounds like you are letting the programmers manage the project (by suggesting a framework they know how to use) instead of hiring developers who have the skills you require.  Although I work on elance, I am skeptical that a non-technical person could get good results from it because programmers cut corners, and if you cannot understand what they are doing you have no way to know where those holes are and what problems they can create.  You get what you pay for, after all.

bradleylsmith

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 104
Re: Building a website and getting help from elance
« Reply #3 on: December 11, 2013, 10:56:16 PM »
^ this.

elance is great for programmers that are just starting out or for those that can't keep a long standing relationship going with their clients. Either because they are hard to work with, they don't produce a quality product or some other reason that's causing them to reach out to job boards for more work. Every once in awhile you can find good quality workers there but they are an anomaly. If you don't have the ability to tell the difference between good code and bad you need to stay away from elance, odesk and the like.

Not things you want in a complex job that requires a php framework. I think it's very important you understand the differences between the frameworks. Sign up for lynda.com and watch a few videos on the various frameworks to start with. I would also throw in node.js as a potential candidate....the thing is they all have their pros and cons and you need to align the pros with your job. Once you find your framework of choice then you want to find a firm or freelancer that specializes in that framework.

- freelance programmer by trade.

oldtoyota

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3151
Re: Building a website and getting help from elance
« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2013, 05:34:36 PM »
Shop around some more, and not just on elance.  Stay away from committing to anything you do not understand.  Consider paying a consultant to help you finalize your project requirements before you pay for development.  It's an additional cost up front, but it sounds like you are letting the programmers manage the project (by suggesting a framework they know how to use) instead of hiring developers who have the skills you require.  Although I work on elance, I am skeptical that a non-technical person could get good results from it because programmers cut corners, and if you cannot understand what they are doing you have no way to know where those holes are and what problems they can create.  You get what you pay for, after all.

This raises a good point. I think you need an impartial party to tell you what platform you need and not a development company that works on platform X and so will tell you X is best.

Insanity

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1026
Re: Building a website and getting help from elance
« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2013, 12:52:53 PM »
Elance is notorious for underbidding projects.  I have an account on it and submitted zero bids because of that.  You just can't compete with it if you know what you are doing.

I have been doing software engineering for 15-20 years (depending on whether you count my co-ops or not ;) ) and have been in the application security space for the last 9 (wow). 

Here's some tips:
If the contractor is suggesting you change to a different framework and their reason is: because we know it.  Then you are probably getting screwed over.  It is just a hunch.  If they can offer some solid performance reasons (either site performance or lower development costs than continuing down the current path), they will provide that in detail. 

Depending on the site, please make sure that you develop it (or your contractor/consultant) build security in (as I said, I'm in application security).  I would be more than happy to discuss anything with you over PM if you have specific questions.  I'm familiar with PHP, Python, Java, Perl, Ruby (very lightly).  Feel free to reach out.

Stagleton

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 79
Re: Building a website and getting help from elance
« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2014, 03:09:36 PM »
Yup! Pretty sure the framework was a bad idea. Well that was a painful pill to swallow.

warfreak2

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1140
  • Location: UK
    • Music by me
Re: Building a website and getting help from elance
« Reply #7 on: February 22, 2014, 03:12:57 PM »
Mind if I ask what the app/website is?

strider3700

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 516
  • Location: northern BC
Re: Building a website and getting help from elance
« Reply #8 on: February 22, 2014, 03:55:32 PM »
My company tried some elance bids.  They were amazingly inexpensive fixed price jobs. The resulting code worked but was amazingly bad.   When a bug was later found and handed to an inhouse programmer to fix we scrapped the entire program and recreated it.  We won't be going back to elance for programmers any time soon.  We do use them for artists though.   An image is obviously correct or not...

warfreak2

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1140
  • Location: UK
    • Music by me
Re: Building a website and getting help from elance
« Reply #9 on: February 22, 2014, 04:05:20 PM »
We occasionally find (computer science, etc.) students asking on similar sites, trying to pay somebody to do their coursework/projects for them. I'm under the impression that even if we don't actually catch them in the act, the code they submit generally isn't good enough to pass anyway.

the fixer

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1037
  • Location: Seattle, WA
Re: Building a website and getting help from elance
« Reply #10 on: February 22, 2014, 07:29:37 PM »
As someone who works on oDesk, I can say that yes, a lot of these people aren't that good. But I believe you can get good help on these sites if you look for help the right way. For one thing, don't accept the lowest bid and avoid dev shops. Look closer for the individual people who bid $30+/hour, and find someone who can act as a technical manager. This person should be able to translate your requirement of "make the button bigger" to figuring out the ramifications of that change (is there enough space in all the places buttons appear to make them bigger?) and task people accordingly with getting the work done. You don't want to give a vague requirement like that directly to someone who's only worth $15/hour, but if your manager is comfortable working with such a person you can still save some money with them.

This is the direction I'm trying to move myself in with my freelancing BTW, but I'm not sure I'm there yet.

I think I'm a pretty good developer, so here's some tips on what jobs I will not consider. If you do these things, you won't hire me and perhaps that means you also won't hire anyone else who's good:
  • Ask for a fixed price. If you do this, you're effectively asking me to either shoulder all the risk of your project (and I have no idea how often you like to change your mind about requirements) or overbid. People who ask for fixed price contracts are being stingy and will probably accept the lowest bid, so I don't bother. See the failure in the ACA exchanges and the numerous "change orders" added to the fixed-price contract to build the federal health exchange to see what can go wrong.
  • Ask for trial work for free. I don't need to work for free for you, someone else will pay me. If you're not sure how good I am, just hire me hourly and give me a simple project for which I'll get paid. Look over my work after I'm done and if you don't think I'm worth my bill rate, just end the contract. You should be out no more than $200-300.
  • Give lots of really vague requirements. "We have this great idea for a website that will do XYZ!" That's great, but it makes me wonder how much you've really thought this through and if you have realistically budgeted to take it from the back of the napkin to the web. If you realize you haven't figured it all out yet and want to hire me to help, great, but be up front about it. My favorite contracts have been for sites which are already partially built and need someone to put it all together and make it work. This tells me that you've probably been through some iterations and you've learned to value good work over cheap work.
  • Use the generic template when you invite me to apply for your job. "I'd like to personally invite you to apply for my job" on oDesk means the exact opposite; it means you didn't even bother to send me a personal message about why you think I'm qualified. I get so many people asking me to do work on technologies I don't even have experience with! Also, I can look at a job listing and get a rough idea of how many other people you "personally invited" by how many applications/interviews there are. If you're reaching out to me, give me at least some sense that you actually think I might be what you're looking for, rather than just email-blasting a bunch of freelancers.

Stagleton

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 79
Re: Building a website and getting help from elance
« Reply #11 on: February 26, 2014, 09:30:55 AM »
I think this is a good example. I am trying a couple of people out; the fixed price job I ordered through an Indian company was a disaster. I have tried going through a firm that seems to be based in Russia but has a satellite office in Kyrgyzstan; they seem good but they wanted me to use Symfony (and they were 30$/hour, which is fine but I can't seem to get help from anyone else who is unfamiliar with Symfony). I am trying out another guy, but again he wants me to move the app to a different framework. He doesn't understand Symfony so I can't reuse the code that was written for that.

I have the code written, I need it cleaned up, to run faster and to improve security. I am paying the guy hourly and this worked well for the accompanying Android app; the guy cleaned up most of the bugs and it runs much smoother now. Are frameworks really that great? How secure can proper configuration of the .htaccess file be?

Insanity

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1026
Re: Building a website and getting help from elance
« Reply #12 on: February 26, 2014, 11:51:42 AM »
I think this is a good example. I am trying a couple of people out; the fixed price job I ordered through an Indian company was a disaster. I have tried going through a firm that seems to be based in Russia but has a satellite office in Kyrgyzstan; they seem good but they wanted me to use Symfony (and they were 30$/hour, which is fine but I can't seem to get help from anyone else who is unfamiliar with Symfony). I am trying out another guy, but again he wants me to move the app to a different framework. He doesn't understand Symfony so I can't reuse the code that was written for that.

I have the code written, I need it cleaned up, to run faster and to improve security. I am paying the guy hourly and this worked well for the accompanying Android app; the guy cleaned up most of the bugs and it runs much smoother now. Are frameworks really that great? How secure can proper configuration of the .htaccess file be?

.htaccess is just a boundary security point, it doesn't provide any in app security (yes, it does have user/password capabilities but it is pretty worthless for that).  Real security comes from the app itself and deploying the web server under a user id that has no other rights but to execute the web server.  If you need user access, something like OAuth or using Facebook/Google logins is better than implementing your own -- but if you are going to implement your own, please talk to me or a security person that can help you do it right -- so you aren't one of the ones who gets used a bot for a larger attack :)

As far as the frameworks - if someone isn't talking to you about why you chose Symfony (I have not used it) or why you continue to use and and mentioned the pros and cons then they are doing you a disservice already.  Frameworks can be very useful in deploying things quickly - but some of them have their own underlying security deficiencies. 

If you are solely using Symfony because the site was originally built that way, then you may still be using the wrong framework for what you are trying to accomplish.

the fixer

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1037
  • Location: Seattle, WA
Re: Building a website and getting help from elance
« Reply #13 on: February 26, 2014, 12:04:19 PM »
Are frameworks really that great?
Frameworks can be amazing if they are appropriately chosen for the task at hand. Some of the biggest advantages they provide are solving common developer problems (for instance, do you really want to pay someone to write an account and login/logout system from scratch every time there's a new project?) and convention over configuration.

There are downsides to the lesser-known frameworks, and from what I understand PHP has become heavily fragmented regarding them. If you pick a framework no one else uses, it's not providing any advantages and just locking you in. Just taking a look at http://www.phpframeworks.com/ boggles my mind.

Stagleton

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 79
Re: Building a website and getting help from elance
« Reply #14 on: February 28, 2014, 01:10:15 PM »

If you are solely using Symfony because the site was originally built that way, then you may still be using the wrong framework for what you are trying to accomplish.

Well, I am not using Symfony. I wanted to make my website better, so I hired a firm to improve performance and make the code safer. The company convinced me switching to Symfony was a good idea (maybe it was?), but I feel like the app is pretty much done, but needs to be combed over. I learned to program at the same time I was making the site/android app (cheap/free education :-) and going back to school to get a second bs or ms seemed stupid and a high opportunity cost/got to stash now, so I can spend retirement learning and making things). Anyway, I am trying out a different developer and hopefully he will have some good suggestions and improve the structure of my code.

After watching this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=anr7DQnMMs0, especially the questions at the end, I feel like I want to stay away from a framework; it's not clear to me which one to get and I don't want to get stuck with one yet.

When I get a little further, I will definitely send you guys a message if you're interested to check it out (and show me the security flaws)!