The story so far


My Name is Alex Henderson and as I write this I’m a 38 year old software developer, who has been working professionally since 1999. As I begin blogging again I thought this was a good opportunity to report on my personal story as a engineer so far.

So here it is!

Early days

I’ve had a passion for software development from a very young age – I knew I wanted to write programs for computers since I was 6 years old.

My first programs were written on a borrowed Commodore Vic 20, but I really started programming heavily first in GW-Basic and Quick Basic on 286 12mhz clone PC when I was 7 years old.

I learnt C++ when I was 10, but didn’t start getting serious about writing software in C++ until age 11 when my family upgrade their computer to a 486 dx 33mhz. During that time I was fascinated with writing 64K Demo’s and games in Turbo C++ and in-line assembler, also making use of $5 toll call weekends in New Zealand to dialup to BBS’s, shortly before switching to dial-up internet.

I did a “Bachelor of Computing Systems” degree at Unitec from age 17 to 19, and while there I was working part time for Schneider Electric (mostly IT stuff, but some java work as well). After graduating I got my first full-time development job at Terabyte Interactive, which was based in New Market at the time. While there I worked on ASP classic code, developing COM components in Visual Basic and working on some C++ projects including a 3D Visualization for a rowing machine. I also spearheaded the introduction of ASP.Net, writing code on the beta releases of C# and ASP.Net.

I eventually took redundancy from that position and next went to work next at Real Developments (also known as Real Sports) which was owned by Lion Breweries at the time – where I stayed for a while working on email marketing solutions.

After leaving Real Developments I began working for the North Shore City Council as the lead developer there - committing a lot of my time there on storm water and road Management solutions (including a product called AMIS), GIS and data warehousing projects.

After the North Shore City Council I took 6 months off and traveled around Asia, before returning and taking up a position at a startup called “Syzmk” – working on a product which never quite got off the ground, but in concept was similar to technologies such as IFTTT.

The start-up eventually fizzled out - but the friendship with the founder was not harmed in the process, which I think in retrospect was more important than the success of the idea, and the project was a great opportunity to learn new things.

DevDefined Limited

Finally after spending 6 years working full time for companies around New Zealand I felt I had gained the experience and contacts necessary to strike out on my own and start my own company – which I did, launching DevDefined Limited in 2007, which has been very successful ever since.

DevDefined Limited is a boutique consultancy focusing on Product Development and Developer Mentoring, which has now been operating for over 10 years. The first product we developed was Screen Architect, a UI prototyping plugin for Enterprise Architect, which was launched in 2007 and won a Jolt Productivity award in 2009.

As well as running my own business (with my wife) I worked on a number of open source projects over the mid to late 2000s.

DevDefined.OAuth, a popular OAuth 1.0 library (historically at least), which has been incorporated into a number of products since it’s introduction including the Xero Client library (though hopefully it’s been expunged by now!) LOB, a library for managing the persistence of blobs in NHibernate in a way which allows you to switch the backing store used (i.e. Filesystem, S3, in-database etc.) and Splicer a library for video compositing.

During that time I also organized a local developer event called the Architecture Chat – which had around 200 meetings to date since it was started – it is one of the most successful and long-running community events for .Net developers (though all dev’s are welcome) in the Auckland region, though it was retired in 2015.

For 4 years I worked on developing Enterprise Tester for Catch Software, an extensible test management product written in .Net (based on Monorail and Web API).

Enterprise Tester at the time was the most complex software project I had undertaken from scratch. Enterprise Tester won a Consensus Software award in 2010 and makes heavy use of many technologies including the DevDefined.OAuth and LOB projects.

In February 2008 I married my wife, who is my business partner in DevDefined Limited and also is heavily involved in the Bird Rehabilitation scene in New Zealand.

In August 2013 My wife and I gave birth to our first child Ivy.

In 2013 I built a stand-alone plugin for Enterprise Tester called the Thoughtmix Powerpack, which was made available for sale in 2014 and continues to be sold today.

And now…

In Early 2014 I stopped working on Enterprise Tester for catch software and transitioned to working with Pushpay - working on their Payment platform for Generosity in the Church, NFP and Education sectors. I Joined as engineer #5 at the time.

Pushpay is an incredibly fast growing-company which has presented lots of fun and challenges as the platform, customer base and engineering team grew rapidly.

I currently live in Titirangi, Auckland, New Zealand.

Written on November 1, 2017