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I am a Web Developer and I just launched a website that I feel shows off my skills/expertise; a perfect site to display on my online web portfolio (available in my profile info).

My issue is the website is a corporate website for the company that I work for. If I were to put this website on my portfolio, I would like to host it on my portfolio's server, and not just link to the live URL. The reason for this is to take this version of the site and encapsulate it in time. That way, when the company wants to redesign the site again in the future, they can and I can still showcase the site on my portfolio.

I plan on asking for permission to host a copy of the current site in my portfolio server, but are there any other legal/moral/etc pitfalls I might come across in doing so?

One other thing I would like to add. This portfolio is mainly a Development portfolio, so allowing users to interact with my sites/check the source code is ideal.

  • Self-propaganda can be viewed badly. You can link it in your profile, but I would recommend removing the link from your question. You could even add something like: "... my online Web Portfolio(avaliable in my profile info)", but not like the current question is. – Hugo Rocha Feb 20 '14 at 21:45
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    @HugoRocha - Good call. My reason for putting the link was to show what type of a website the portfolio was for context, but definitely a good point made. I'll change that up. – Fillip Peyton Feb 20 '14 at 21:51
  • No problemo. It does looks good either way :) – Hugo Rocha Feb 20 '14 at 22:07
  • You don't state whether or not you are front-end or back-end. – nobrandheroes Feb 20 '15 at 18:13
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You don't have host the website.

For you portfolio, I think you have one of two options:

  1. If you are a front-end developer you only need pictures to show designs and widgets.

  2. If you are a back-end developer you should put the code in your private repository and send private links to the interested party for the duration of the request.

Hosting the website doesn't tell anyone anything other than the fact that you had access to the sourcecode, and isn't likely to impress future clients and employers.

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    That last sentence really hit home for me. I thought that I would want to be able to show the source code (I'm a front end dev) for all of my sites. Now, I think that having my portfolio site and maybe some projects on GitHub would suffice. With those, the employer can get a sense of my style of coding still. For other projects, I can host screenshots. Thanks for your input! – Fillip Peyton Feb 20 '15 at 18:42
  • -1 If you're a regular employee, your employer probably owns the copyright to the code you wrote on the job. In that case, you can't legally make a copy of it take with you or to share around. – Dan Neely Feb 20 '15 at 23:29
  • @DanNeely, this is a given, at least in the US. However, I don't know where Fillip is from, so it would be unfair to make assumptions about the laws of his local government. The answers on workplace are generally subjective, and the best anyone can do is caution someone to do their due diligence, like I did in my answer. – nobrandheroes Feb 21 '15 at 0:41
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I'd say you almost certainly don't want to host a live, functioning copy of their site. You're going to be competing with them in SEO at the very least.

Something to consider - when I'm reviewing a candidate's portfolio, I'd rather see something akin to a blog post describing the work, what made it unique, and calling out elements with screenshots and annotations rather than a live copy.

  • From a competing SEO standpoint, I tell the search engine spiders not to crawl my portfolio sites. But interesting viewpoint as far as the blog post summary. Thanks! – Fillip Peyton Feb 20 '14 at 21:43
  • This and a good reference from the company you built the site for should go a long way. – user8365 Feb 20 '14 at 23:26
  • One other thing I would like to add. This portfolio is mainly a Development portfolio, so allowing users to interact with my sites/check the source code is ideal. – Fillip Peyton Feb 21 '14 at 0:20
  • @FillipPeyton understood, but as someone who reviews a lot of development portfolios, I have basically zero interest in actually interacting with the application. I want you to explain how it works under the hood and show me the most interesting bits of code. – Rex M Feb 21 '14 at 14:37
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    @FillipPeyton I absolutely require code samples, before I'll even talk to someone on the phone. My point is I don't care to see the application actually running. I just want the code. If a candidate links me to a website and says "I made this" that's useless to me, and I certainly am not going to crack open the dev toolbar and spend my time trying to pick apart the front-end source from there. Package up the code that makes you a badass and send it over to me. The only time running code would be interesting to me is to show off complex UX interactions. Fancy animations or something. – Rex M Feb 21 '14 at 16:27
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Your idea of hosting a copy of my site would be a non-starter. That would mean that everything that I was trying to protect behind the scenes was open to your whims. You could take everything and give it my competition.

The code doesn't belong to you, it belongs to your employer. You might even need permission to show screen captures. You definitely would even need permission to show snipets of the code outside the company.

  • Your point is valid, but I will point out that not only are copyright laws not uniform, internationally, we do not know the copyright status of his projects(could be open source). Ultimately, distributing source from corporate may be a necessary evil. I've had employers ask for samples of work I don't own. Similarly, I have yet to have an employer ask me to sign a contract establishing ownership of source code. Copyright ultimately, only serves to prevent competition and espionage, a portfolio website serves neither purpose. – nobrandheroes Feb 21 '15 at 0:50
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You say you're asking for permission. That should eliminate the legal issues regarding your code. But what about the images? Chances are, the company you work for did acquire the rights to use the images exclusively on their own site but not on yours. The same may account for external libraries you've included. Or for the text content. It seems to me there is a plethora of legal issues just a lawyer can sort out.

Then what about changes the company has to make to its site? Perhaps there is something wrong with the content and they are forced to correct this. This means you have to correct it immediately on your copied site.

You want to encapsulate the website in time. This means you have to make sure that the site will work in new web browsers or with new versions of the libraries you used. This may be a lot of work for just a simple showcase.

So, my advice would be: Don't do it. Instead, ask the company if you may use them as a case study. There you can describe the process that led to the solutions you found and why you did the things you did. This is way more important for your customers than to play around with the site somewhen in the future.

  • Hi Fillip, if an answer helped you, you can always vote it up. Hope this helps. – jmort253 Feb 21 '15 at 7:49
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In my personal opinion I always separate my portfolio as much as possible from my workplace. I think of it from the point of view of the employer, if they know you are updating your portfolio and asking permission to save a copy of "their" site on your hosting environment might put them in a place where they think you might be looking for another job. With that said the code is "yours" so if you want to demonstrate it on your portfolio I would maybe take it apart into chucks of functionality and as someone said below do a blog post about it with maybe a small demo. For design take screenshots, for development you can do codesnipets hope that makes sense.

  • Totally makes sense. Thanks for your input Marco =] – Fillip Peyton Feb 21 '14 at 18:05
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    This is quite dangerous advice, the code is not 'yours' it relies heavily on what is specified in your contract, 99% of the time this means the code belongs to the company! – Rhys Feb 21 '14 at 19:24
  • This is why I put it on quotes, it all depends, there is a thin border between what the company owns and what is assumed they own. i.e. If I write slideshow code for a company I work for..they own the code yes...but the logics behind it what I think is called 'intellectual property' should be mine...so teeeechnically I can re-write the code using the same logic...change function names...or attributes and then it would be 'my' code. When it comes to artwork is a different world the company pretty much owns your psds, and outcoming artwork as far as I remember. Again, very thin line though. – Marco Segura Feb 21 '14 at 20:51

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