Sam Watkinson, Developer in Vancouver, BC, Canada
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Sam Watkinson

Verified Expert  in Engineering

Software Developer

Vancouver, BC, Canada
Toptal Member Since
August 13, 2019

Sam has played a critical role in both early-stage startup projects and multi-million-user applications with has a passion for projects that far exceed the conventional powers of the web. While primarily an expert web engineer, Sam's experience covers design, management, and technical communication. He thrives on long sessions of focused engineering along with rapid ideation and collaborative decision-making.

Karma, Mocha, Docker, PHP, MobX, Backbone.js, TypeScript, React
Jenkins, Web Audio API, Chromecast, Backbone.js, FlowType.JS, Redux, React
Socket.IO, PostgreSQL, Express.js, WebGL, Web Audio API, TypeScript, Redux...




Preferred Environment

Visual Studio Code (VS Code), GitHub, MacOS

The most amazing... I've built used a WebGL audio waveform display system, letting users explore and visualize gigabytes of audio, via websockets, at 60fps.

Work Experience

Senior Software Engineer/Project Lead/Scrum Master

2018 - 2019
  • Assigned project lead/scrum master responsibilities by the CEO after three months. Contributed extensively to planning, team management, and engineering for the startup’s first profitable year.
  • Refactored numerous Handlebars/Backbone views to React to improve performance, testability, and extensibility.
  • Developed numerous features in a complex canvas/webGL visual editor to improve performance and UI for millions of users.
  • Made extensive updates to the legacy state management system to improve testability and site reliability.
  • Manged a remote agile team of five senior- and lead-level engineers.
Technologies: Karma, Mocha, Docker, PHP, MobX, Backbone.js, TypeScript, React

Senior Software Engineer

2016 - 2018
  • Led technical projects for the web app’s Canada launch, ensuring a smooth transition into multi-language support, and adding numerous accessibility upgrades.
  • Developed the UI and back end for diverse audio/video features, increasing revenue via advertisements and playback analytics and improving the user experience of our core product.
  • Optimized and re-architected the full-stack performance of a large legacy codebase, improving speed, usability, testability, and type coverage.
  • Refactored mountains of legacy CSS to a modern solution using Emotion, dramatically improving extensibility and code organization.
Technologies: Jenkins, Web Audio API, Chromecast, Backbone.js, FlowType.JS, Redux, React

Co-founder/Lead Developer

2014 - 2016
  • Developed numerous cutting-edge in-browser audio features, making full use of the Web Audio API to enable concurrent multi-user editing, signal processing, and high-performance streaming waveform display.
  • Designed an API for complex musical content database navigation, allowing clients to query for musically compatible loops and recordings while working on a piece of music.
  • Developed numerous musical analysis processes, extracting musical qualities like key, tempo, and groove from recorded audio.
  • Developed numerous musical content generation tools, allowing for mass-production of usable audio recordings with minimal creative input.
  • Provided extensive visual and UI design, creating numerous first-of-their-kind browsing and editing features in the browser.
Technologies: Socket.IO, PostgreSQL, Express.js, WebGL, Web Audio API, TypeScript, Redux, React

Freelance Web Developer

2013 - 2015
International Air Transport Association
  • Built dozens of HTML marketing and communication email templates, sent by IATA to their network of aviation businesses.
  • Built several small single-page websites with IE6 compatibility.
  • Built a full-stack IE6-compatible document management system for pilots, enabling offline storage of flight-critical documents.
Technologies: Python, CSS, HTML, JavaScript

Senior Developer

2012 - 2014
Wildcard Montreal
  • Developed and maintained WordPress themes and company websites.
  • Mentored junior engineers and interns in a small company.
  • Developed and maintained custom Shopify store themes for startup businesses.
  • Developed and maintained database tracking and sharing on social media about real-world engagement with Montreal nightclubs.
Technologies: iOS, PhoneGap, CSS, HTML, JavaScript, Node.js, MySQL, Java, PHP, WordPress, Shopify, AngularJS

Web app for the biggest owner of radio stations in the USA. I worked on the front end as a senior engineer from 2016 to 2018.

The core challenge of this project was refactoring a troubled legacy codebase into an ultra-high-quality React/Redux front end. We approached the challenge incrementally, improving the representation of individual pieces of state one at a time.

We saw substantially improved performance, developer happiness, and test coverage as a result, all while adding numerous user-facing features and deepening the site's analytics infrastructure.

Later, I was tech lead for the site's launch in Canada, which involved site-wide internationalization (allowing us to present the site in any of a number of languages) and broad improvements to accessibility to meet Canadian media standards. Builder
From 2018 to 2019, I worked on's Builder UI, as well as much of the state management and infrastructure upon which the site is built.

The heart of my technical input was applied to the integration of TypeScript and React to the site's tech-debt-laden codebase. We saw marked improvements in performance, developer velocity, and test coverage as a result.

In addition to substantial contributions to the modernization of the site's aging codebase, I was responsible for improving the all-remote Builder team's efficiency and productivity.

We examined and improved work processes, modifying our implementation of Scrum, changing the structure of meetings, and simplifying and automating repetitive communication tasks to free up developer time.
2012 - 2013

Diploma in Audio Engineering

Ontario Institute of Audio Recording Technology - London, Ontario, Canada


React, Node.js, Web Audio API, Three.js, Socket.IO, Emotion Library, Backbone.js, MobX, FlowType.JS, WebGL, WebVR


Sketch, Autodesk Fusion 360, 3ds Max, Mocha, GitHub, Karma, Jenkins


Redux, Express.js, AngularJS, PhoneGap, Unreal Engine 4


TypeScript, TypeScript 3, TypeScript 2, HTML, HTML5, CSS, PHP, Java, JavaScript, Python, SQL


MacOS, Docker, Shopify, WordPress, iOS, Linux, Visual Studio Code (VS Code)


PostgreSQL, MySQL


Music Composition, Music Production, Autodesk Maya, Chromecast

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