A One Man Army.


My name is Joel Grannas and I run Big Railroad. I am a "full stack++" rails developer with a deep rooted background in graphic and web design.




Now, you might be like... well what does "full stack++" mean? A full stack developer is a "know it all". They know the server environment, the database modeling, the backend code, the user interface and U/X, and also understand what the user wants and needs. So the ++ reflects my long-time experience in graphic and web design.

Having both development and design skills really seperates me from every other developer out there, and allows me to tackle an entire project from start to finish. From concepting & branding design, to the initial design concepts, then backend code and database engineering, and finished up with a fully responsive frontend! I even setup my own Linux cloud servers for all my projects. I bet you just said, "Oh yea, I have seen what happens when developers design!"... and you think I fit that mold, then take a look at my work.


I got my start in high school, where I took an interest in both art and programming languages. After a year in Duquesne University's computer science program I realized that "only writing code" was not my passion. This is when I talked to a high school classmate, Jack Zerby, about RIT's "New Media Design" program. The degree was a mix of design and programming, I never knew a degree like that existed! I immediately transferred and never looked back! At RIT I learned 3D, video production, flash programming, director lingo, web design, and web development. 


After college I took a job at a startup, Schoolwires, Inc. located in State College, PA. This was a good fit, they were close to my hometown and they seemed to have the perfect job for my skillset. I started out as their first "Interactive Designer". At Schoolwires I did both design and front-end development for school districts all over the country. I ended up staying with Schoolwires until 2011 where I had worked my way up to the Director of Creative Services, where I was leading a team of 4 designers and 4 front-end developers.

While at Schoolwires in my free time I grew more interested in backend development, as working on top of the Schoolwires platform really limited what I could do as far as customization. This led me to learn PHP and MVC frameworks on my own time. This only exaggerated my boredom with front-end only, and I started to want to pursue "bigger and better technology."

This led me to take a position as Lead Developer at a Jewelry business, Kranich's Jewelers, where I furthered my skills in backend development. I started learning MVC by building my own MVC framework in PHP, then moved into CakePHP. I worked to maintain the Kranich's legacy CakePHP website, as well as built some improved jewelry builder functionality using an API I built on Ruby on Rails, which i ported into the existing site with javascript/jsonp. 

After Kranich's I decided I took the plunge and started Big Railroad. Here I can continue my quest to do design work, as well as front-end and back-end development. I primarily work in Ruby on Rails, MongoDB, as well as PostgreSQL.