Michael Cole, Developer in Dallas, United States
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Michael Cole

Verified Expert  in Engineering

Full-stack Developer

Dallas, United States
Toptal Member Since
September 10, 2014

Michael is an expert full-stack web engineer, architect, and consultant with over two decades of experience and a degree in computer science. He has led, consulted, and supported teams in startups, manufacturing, defense, film, and healthcare. Building MVPs and startups, he has experience working on the front end, back end, and DevOps. Michael freelances to broaden his knowledge and participation in the future we are creating through technology.


Toptal Clients
DevOps, Meteor, JavaScript, Linux, HTML5, Node.js, NoSQL, MongoDB, Express.js...
Node.js, JavaScript, CSS, HTML, Hapi.js, REST APIs, Software Architecture...
Drama With Friends and Others
JavaScript, TypeScript, Node.js, GraphQL, Kubernetes, Docker, C++...




Preferred Environment

Windows, Linux, Git

The most amazing...

...project I've built recently is a WebVR/Canvas visualization of the n-body problem with WebAssembly and Web Workers for performance.

Work Experience

Lead Developer, Team Augmentation, and Indie Contributor

2014 - PRESENT
Toptal Clients
  • Led the development of a prototype of a law office management app.
  • Consulted for an enterprise company digesting 1,200 legacy applications.
  • Oversaw the creation of an MVP of a team personality assessment app.
  • Augmented a team that built a data scraping microservice for an auto sales app.
  • Created the MVP of a medical information visualization app.
  • Handled DevOps and application architecture for an enterprise data warehouse web API and application.
  • Led the technical side of a mortgage lending company as both a developer and its interim CTO.
Technologies: DevOps, Meteor, JavaScript, Linux, HTML5, Node.js, NoSQL, MongoDB, Express.js, Docker, Neo4j, REST APIs, CSS, Git, Windows, WebAssembly, Progressive Web Applications (PWA), Shell Scripting, Full-stack, Web Development, APIs, Architecture, Microservices, HTML5 Canvas, Vue, Vuex, SQL, HTML, Scrum, Git Flow, REST, JSON Web Tokens (JWT), OAuth 2, Software Architecture, Docker Compose, Leadership, TypeScript, DigitalOcean, Back-end, SCSS, Cloud, Technical Architecture, Full-stack Development, Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

Tech Lead | Architect

2022 - 2022
  • Worked with PBS IT management and vendors to debug two software purchases that had stalled for almost a year.
  • Wrote a "smoothing proxy" to slot requests into time slots so the API was never over-utilized. PBS has separate processes calling a 3rd party API. That API was returning 429 over the usage limit, causing cascading failures.
  • Worked with PBS IT management and vendors in selecting a "Data Quality Tool" for PBS to analyze and fix data quality issues with their programming meta-data used by viewers to find quality television programming.
Technologies: Node.js, JavaScript, CSS, HTML, Hapi.js, REST APIs, Software Architecture, Docker Compose, Amazon Web Services (AWS), TypeScript, Leadership, Architecture, CI/CD Pipelines, Nuxt.js, Back-end, Cloud, Technical Architecture

Entrepreneur, Architect, Developer

2020 - 2021
Drama With Friends and Others
  • Worked on Drama With Friends, a casual multiplayer game designed to cultivate positive relationships.
  • Evaluated Hasura, Apollo, Parse, and PostGraphile as GraphQL servers. Configured Hasura and an auth microservice using Docker and Kubernetes.
  • Created development, stage, and production environments using Docker, Docker Compose, Docker Desktop for Windows, WSL, Kubernetes, and DigitalOcean.
  • Used a TypeScript code generator to create TypeScript types from the Hasura GraphQL schema, having it as a central "type library" for microservices. Converted Node.js microservices to TypeScript.
  • Built an external Node.js REST API server for an Unreal Engine game client to detect configuration. Evaluated UE4 plugins for mobile "deep links," allowing the client's game to start from the web page.
  • Created an internal Node.js REST API to start game servers as Kubernetes Jobs in the cluster. Packaged a UE4 Linux dedicated server into Docker.
  • Brought about a web server in UE4 with C++ to handle health and other Kubernetes cluster events (player presence and more).
  • Implemented a TypeScript tool to parse plays (e.g., Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream") into a machine-readable JSON. Implemented a UE4 C++ module to import that data into the game server to start blocking scenes for players.
  • Built two Unreal Engine plugins to provide C++ and Blueprint Scripting interface to REST APIs using UE4's "subsystems."
  • Built an Electron application for a video editor project.
Technologies: JavaScript, TypeScript, Node.js, GraphQL, Kubernetes, Docker, C++, Unreal Engine, Linux, HTML5, NoSQL, MongoDB, Express.js, Quasar, REST APIs, DevOps, CSS, Git, Windows, Progressive Web Applications (PWA), Shell Scripting, Full-stack, Web Development, APIs, Architecture, Microservices, HTML, REST, PostgreSQL, JSON Web Tokens (JWT), OAuth 2, Software Architecture, Docker Compose, Vue, WebSockets, DigitalOcean, Back-end, SCSS, Cloud, Technical Architecture, Electron, Full-stack Development, Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

Founder and Lead Engineer

2016 - 2018
  • Created a web-based video conferencing solution for experts to monetize their content. It allows experts to add a button to their content and clients to fill out a request, access payment info, and schedule a joint video conference.
  • Developed the product as a widget for web and GitHub pages to enable direct connection between experts and developers.
  • Deployed the product with a greater emphasis on the technical aspects and learned the importance of adding sales and marketing perspectives for a project's success.
Technologies: Meteor, JavaScript, WebRTC, MVP Design, UX Design, DevOps, User Interface (UI), User Experience (UX), Architecture, Distributed Systems, Tailwind CSS, REST APIs, DigitalOcean, Back-end, SCSS, Cloud, Firefox Extensions, Chrome Extensions, Technical Architecture, Full-stack Development, Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

Freelance Web Application Developer

2011 - 2014
Michael Cole
  • Developed custom web applications for a variety of agencies and clients.
  • Designed custom PHP web applications using Symfony2, Doctrine, MongoDB, CodeIgniter, LinkedIn, and OAuth.
  • Created custom MEAN (MongoDB, Express, Angular, and Node.js) web applications with MEAN.IO.
  • Built custom Drupal web applications with Drupal 7, HighCharts, a custom REST API, and Drupal Commerce.
  • Contributed to open-source software such as Drupal Quickstart (open source development environment for Drupal), Passport-Freshbooks (a Node.js OAuth Passport strategy), and New Heights (a custom jQuery plugin).
Technologies: HTML5, MySQL, Node.js, Express.js, MongoDB, JavaScript, Linux, NoSQL, Stripe API, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Quasar, REST APIs, DevOps, CSS, Git, Progressive Web Applications (PWA), Shell Scripting, Full-stack, Web Development, APIs, Architecture, Microservices, QuickBooks API, SQL, CI/CD Pipelines, HTML, REST, Software Architecture, Back-end, Cloud, Technical Architecture, Full-stack Development

Lead Developer and Director of Engineering

2006 - 2010
Secorix, Inc.
  • Worked on the Critical Infrastructure Protection Self-Assessment Tool (CIP SAT), a self-assessment platform using CIP for assessing the physical security of US military bases worldwide.
  • Acted as a developer to deliver the first phase of the project. Before my involvement, the project was in danger of being incomplete.
  • Collaborated on the proposal, estimate, and SOW for the second phase.
  • Managed the development team and led and developed the second phase on time and within budget. Added multiple assessments, import/export, themes, database refactoring, and performance refactoring.
  • Built a corporate website using a tool and template that is easy for marketing to customize.
Technologies: MySQL, JavaScript, Linux, HTML5, NoSQL, REST APIs, CSS, Git, Windows, Shell Scripting, Full-stack, Web Development, APIs, Architecture, SQL, HTML, Scrum, Technical Architecture, Full-stack Development

Transportation Captain and Picture Car Coordinator

2003 - 2009
Independent Movie Production
  • Worked on a variety of independent films, including The Darwin Awards, Valley of the Hearts Delight, Unflinching Triumph, and All About Evil.
  • Organized a team of eight and planned logistics for production locations and company moves.
  • Located antique car enthusiasts to bring their cars to set.
Technologies: Leadership

Data Integration Manager

2002 - 2003
  • Transformed Edusoft's data integration process. Previously, the company was selling more than production could fulfill.
  • Upgraded the manual database integration process for K-12 test data.
  • Cut CPU time from over five days to twelve hours and then scaled up the process for larger-sized customers.
  • Hired and trained a team of four to triage and improve the process.
Technologies: Java, REST APIs, MySQL, Git, Windows, Shell Scripting, APIs, Scrum


2001 - 2002
Kenamea, Inc.
  • Developed automated testing environments for quality assurance.
  • Conducted automated testing for continuous integration testing using Java and VB.
  • Wrote a JavaScript unit-testing framework using JUnit.
Technologies: Java, JavaScript, Linux, HTML5, REST APIs, CSS, MySQL, Git, Windows, Shell Scripting, Web Development, APIs, SQL, HTML, Scrum


1997 - 1999
Cap Gemini (now Earnst and Young)
  • Worked for a variety of clients in the United States and Europe.
  • Wrote manufacturing test software used in workstation factories worldwide.
  • Recreated a survey tracking system for a medical company.
  • Redesigned a distributed database for an insurance company.
Technologies: Java, Git, Windows, Shell Scripting, APIs, HTML

WebVR / Web Assembly Prototype

As an engineer, I needed to understand where VR fits into the web. WebVR and the browser are capable platforms for experiencing VR. Phones and desktop browsers are supported today, but the tools are not as complete as specialty engines like Unreal Engine. This is a prototype using WebAssembly to visualize the n-body problem using WebVR on your modern mobile phone.

Quasar and FeathersJS Integration (Vue, Node, Express, Socket.IO)

Quasar is a front-end framework that uses Vue.js and Vuex. FeathersJS is a back-end Node.js and Express framework with multiple types of transport such as REST, Socket.IO, and Primus.

I created integration code and authentication forms for this experiment to learn both frameworks and foster open source. The Quasar team picked up the idea for their Quasar app extension.

MapReduce Talk

I enjoyed giving this talk on MapReduce. MapReduce is a parallel processing algorithm, and this slide deck makes it interactive where the audience creates a dataset of animals and then maps or reduces it to answer questions. We looked at some JavaScript code examples and finished with a MongoDB map-reduction of the Wikipedia title database. I've done this talk in Calgary, Vancouver, and Portland, and it's always a hit!

Web Workers, Services Workers, and PWAs Talk

This is an introduction to web and service workers that sets the stage for understanding how to create offline-first Progressive Web Applications (PWA), where "progressive" means work on browsers that don't support offline or PWA.

Medical Visualization App

A fantastic project I built from mockups to beta in six weeks. It involved visualizing medical data for doctors so they could search by symptom or disease for related information and indications. It's a MEAN stack app (Mongo, Express, Angular, Node.js) built with a Neo4j graph database to facilitate a stronger graph search.

Simple Numbers Tools

My client designed SNTools.me for an accounting consultancy. The consultancy wanted to automate and market their expertise in analyzing a company's financial numbers. They were managing the process with lots and lots of spreadsheets.

As the lead implementer on the team, we built the web app reports and upload API, and managed the integration with a third-party .NET connector. The app allowed users to analyze their Quickbooks data, upload a summary, and see custom reports and aggregation. We built a customizable report calculation and display engine using an RPN calculator with tokens.

We used Symfony2, Doctrine, MongoDB, Backbone, REST API, Quickbooks, and .NET integration.

Drupal Quickstart

Drupal is a LAMP stack CMS similar to Wordpress.

I created a downloadable PHP development environment using VIrtualBox VM. At the time, setting up a debugging environment in Linux was a big challenge for devs coming from Windows.

Drupal Quickstart packaged a working dev environment into a downloadable VM that just worked. This decreased the learning curve for new open source contributers.

I also created YouTube tutorials for the project which got 50,000+ views.


HTML5, JavaScript, TypeScript, CSS, SQL, HTML, SCSS, GraphQL, C++, WASM, Java


Express.js, Quasar, JSON Web Tokens (JWT), OAuth 2, Unreal Engine, Nuxt.js, Tailwind CSS, Hapi.js, Electron


Node.js, Stripe API, REST APIs, Vue, Vuex, WebRTC, WebVR, QuickBooks API, HTML5 Canvas


DevOps, REST, Microservices, Scrum, UX Design


Docker, DigitalOcean, Linux, Kubernetes, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Windows, Meteor


NoSQL, MongoDB, Neo4j, MySQL, PostgreSQL, Graph Databases


Full-stack, Web Development, APIs, Architecture, MVP Design, Back-end, Technical Architecture, Full-stack Development, Minimum Viable Product (MVP), Git Flow, Software Architecture, Dashboards, Leadership, WebSockets, Cloud, Shell Scripting, AssemblyScript, WebAssembly, Progressive Web Applications (PWA), Service Workers, CI/CD Pipelines, User Interface (UI), User Experience (UX), Distributed Systems, Firefox Extensions, Chrome Extensions


Git, Docker Compose

1993 - 1997

Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Science

University of Nebraska Omaha - Omaha, NE, USA

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