About The Author

Welcome to the online compendium to my popular O’Reilly book, Dojo: The Definitive Guide.

As you probably know, Dojo is a fast-paced open source project with tremendous breadth and depth, and while I tried to cram as many fundamentals into the book as possible, there was only so much good stuff that I could squeeze into the first edition and keep the book on track to publish on time. And besides, with each release of Dojo, new features are going to be added, enhancements will be made, and since it’s going to be at least a year before a second edition would be printed, you need the same kind of definitive coverage in the interim.

But that’s where this blog comes in; the plan is to use it as a compendium to the book in a variety of ways to include authoring technical articles on advanced topics that either didn’t appear in the first edition of the book or could use supplementation, hosting screencasts, answering your FAQs, linking to other vetted, high quality Dojo content that surfaces out on the web, etc.

While the content on this blog will hopefully provide a wealth of knowledge to you, you might also like to know that I also provide personalized consulting services on Dojo and other open source technologies to work for your particular situation. Please contact me at any time, for any reason if you think I may be of service.

And finally, if you’ve read this far and haven’t done so already, take a quick moment to add this blog’s feed to your RSS reader. I’ll do my best to always deliver value and never waste your time with clutter.

I’m eager to help in any way that I can, and I’ve posted my resume below to further introduce myself.

Sincerest Regards – Matthew A. Russell


Design elegant, cost effective solutions to the most tenacious technological challenges in web application development while never compromising the highest quality customer service and exceeding all expectations.


You can expect:

  • Unrelenting Optimism – drinking from the half full glass (and liking it) even when the scene seems grim
  • Energetic Versatility – continuously adapting and empowering success even when given very spartan resources
  • Demonstrable Expertise – designing elegant solutions to complex problems with open source technologies
  • Bona Fide Nice Guy – fully realizing that the last thing you need in your life is one more problem to solve


Principal; Zaffra, LLC; Franklin, TN

Sept 2008 – Present

After many years of freelance consulting, I’ve officially rolled up my various ventures and partnered with colleagues I trust to bring you Zaffra, a firm that delivers agile web solutions. We pride ourselves on attention to detail, create highly customized (yet lightweight) project plans using best of breed open source software, and pride ourselves on having the best customer service you’ll find anywhere. If we can’t help you get the job done on a schedule and budget that meets you constraints, you have our word that we’ll do our best to help you find someone that can. Empowering you to succeed is our mission.

Vice President of Engineering, Digital Reasoning Systems, Franklin, TN

Apr 2009 – Present

In the spring of 2009, I assumed responsibilities that entail running the entire engineering division at Digital Reasoning Systems. In addition to owning the firm’s technical architecture and delivery schedule, I also spend a significant amount of time engaging our customers and assuming other executive-level duties.

Director of Advanced Technology, Digital Reasoning Systems, Brentwood, TN

Oct 2007 -Apr 2009

At Digital Reasoning Systems, I productize research by architecting and implementing solutions to difficult engineering problems that usually have ill-defined constraints and push the limits of technology. Designing solutions for processing enormous volumes of data using cloud computing technology, engineering advanced user interfaces for the company’s Synthesys platform using open web technologies, and designing application programming interfaces are a few of the tasks that have consumed much of my time in this role.

Computer Scientist (Team Lead), White Oak Technologies, Silver Spring, MD

Mar 2006 – July 2007

At WOTI, I was the team lead for a ground breaking government project and routinely briefed the site manager and vice-president of engineering on all project matters. A brief synopsis of my daily work included architecting system design and data flows, providing support to executive level customers, prioritizing requirements, managing the schedule, completing purchases, auditing quality control, and mentoring other engineers.

Technology Scout (Air Force Reservist), Defense Intelligence Agency

Washington D.C. Mar 2006 – Present

As a Captain in the Air Force Reserves, I have the privilege of serving our nation as a consultant by authoring technical white papers on cutting edge technologies that have the potential to significantly advance our government’s ability to communicate and share information. My existing efforts primarily involve Web 2.0 and machine learning technologies.

Airborne Communications Program Manager, Andrews AFB, Maryland

Jun 2005 – Mar 2005

At Andrews Air Force Base, I co-managed a 10 person office through the analysis and requirements of more than 20 projects involving presidential and executive level communication networks. I received the Air Force Commendation Medal for my work and was ranked #1 of 7 junior officers for unmatched technical expertise.

Author and Freelance Writer

Sept 2004 – Present

Effective communication within technical contexts is one of my most sincere passions and, as such, I have completed more than 40 publications including work that has appeared or is upcoming in scientific conferences, Linux Journal, Apple Developer Connection, and Make Magazine. My premier book, Dojo: The Definitive Guide (O’Reilly, Jun 08), is devoted to a popular JavaScript toolkit that has become much in vogue for building cutting edge user interfaces.

Prior Consulting Experience

Oct 2005 – Present

Aside from my research for the Defense Intelligence Agency, consulting has primarily been a moonlighting activity. Still, I’ve managed to exceed expectations for several diverse clients including Digital Peaks (Denver, CO), O’Reilly Media (Cambridge, MA and Sebestapol, CA), and Straight Edge Marketing (Smyrna, TN). My contributions to the Dojo Toolkit and that particular open source community while authoring my book might also be viewed as valuable consulting experience since it involved many of the same skills required for consulting work.

Full-time Graduate Student, Air Force Institute of Technology

Ohio Aug 2003 – Mar 2005

During my advanced studies, I specialized in artificial intelligence, high performance computing, and software engineering. My work saved the Air Force Research Laboratory $150k in research and development costs. I was also inducted into the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society and graduated in the top 10% of my class.

Freefall Jumpmaster and Parachutist, 98th FTS, U.S. Air Force Academy

Colorado Aug 2001- May 2003

Instructing basic freefall parachuting courses was the most rewarding leadership experience I’ve ever enjoyed. My experience involved being handpicked out of more than 400 cadets to train as a freefall jumpmaster, instructor, and demonstration skydiver in one of the world’s most well-respected freefall parachute programs.

Intern, Defense Information Systems Agency

Washington D.C. Jun 2001

After two years of study at the Air Force Academy, I interned for the Defense Information Systems Agency. My work manifested in a framework that explained and made predictions about the telecom industry — a threat to national security at the time because of the erratic collapses of infrastructure giants such as MCI WoldCom.

Cadet, U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado

Jun 1999 – May 2003

The highlights of my cadet career included leading 100 cadets as the Squadron Superintendent during my junior year and managing the logistics of 4,000+ cadets as the Wing Director of Support my senior year. I graduated in the top 10% of my class and earned the “Dean W. Gonzalez Award” as the top cadet in the CS major.


M.S. Computer Science, Distinguished Graduate – Air Force Institute of Technology (Dayton, Ohio), Mar 2005
B.S. Computer Science, Distinguished Graduate – Air Force Academy (Colorado Springs, Colorado), May 2003