Hi, my name is David Vanderheyden. Father of 3, husband, .NET craftsman, Solution thinker and without a doubt a #MicrosoftFanBoy #whoopThereItIs.
I’m a highly motivated man with a passion for clean coded and well architected software development. But let me give you a short insights in to my being.
Ever since I can remember I had a huge curiosity when it came to computers (both hardware and software). How do they work, how can I work with them, how can I manipulate them, … In this curiosity I self-taught myself the basics of web development in the mid-‘90s.
Yes sorry, I too created a Comic Sans font frontend masterpiece, packed with gifs from gifcities. Omg, you should have seen my MySpace: Pure genius. Haha, the nostalgia …
Then this curiosity shifted between hardware and everything DTP and graphics. Making animated GIFs, playing around with WordArt, tuning cars with photoshop, … But somehow, I never took the step to work towards a profession in this. Not once envisioned me in an IT profession, to be honest. Worse, as a profession, I chose everything but IT. After a couple of welding certificates, a forklift license, and a very diverse resume later, I was still programming as a hobby. Till one day in 2009, I got an opportunity to program on an internal project in the plant I worked at that time. That opportunity was programming with KUKA Robots. Namely, automating welding processes for automated making of swing gates.
That chance opened my eyes, programming is what I want to do.
So I started divers courses for web development and my hobby burst. And the years following were the double W years: Websites and welding. And I hear you thinking, still no steps towards an IT profession? You are completely right to think that, but no. To date, I honestly wouldn’t change a thing to the past. It gave me tons of insights into production processes, business domains, production domains, working with people, etc. But most of all, learning myself, learn to have respect for the diverse types of labor, and learning a good work ethic.
In those years, I learned some valuable lessons. One of those lessons was knowledge decay. During those years I worked with Flash and ActionScript. Today all that knowledge is useless. But furthermore, facts from back then are changed today. With that comes that programming is just constantly learning. Each language, framework, … everything has its learning curve. That curve is different for each person. Shocking for me was the forgetting curve. To date, I have never heard someone talk about their forgetting curve. A few years in, writing only plugins for WordPress and Drupal, theming for Drupal en WordPress, I was asked for an animation using Flash. I then noticed that I forgot all the Flash and ActionScript, eventually, it all comes back. But it’s a new learning curve that you must undertake. But sidetracking, back to my story.
In 2012, a reform at my work at that time was the trigger to take steps. I decided it was finally time to reform myself, go back to school and switch my career around. For 3 years I combined, going back to the production floor, working in 3 shifts, going to evening school 2 to 4 days a week, starting a family, and still finding time to program as a hobby. To date, still unclear how I managed to do all that, but the one and only thing I can say with great certainty is that I couldn’t have done that without the help and support of my wife.
In the last year of that reforming spree, I must have sent out at least 100 job applications. And when I only received 10 replies, all of them negative, I remember how the doubts about my decisions grew exponentially, and my hope started to decay.
But failure has never been an option, just an annoyance that I needed to surpass.
So not willing to take no for an answer. I resend all job applications, with a request to know why they declined my application. If they didn’t reply, I called them. Only to listen, why they declined my application, so I could improve myself. I send new job applications to every possible opportunity I could find all across the country. And it paid off, because shortly after I got invitations and ended up in the position of choosing between different propositions.
6 months later I was a Developer in a consultancy firm, 150 km away from my house, daily 5 hours in the car, not even half the paycheck I left behind. But what a thrill and joy I had. Every day going off to work, to do the thing I love to do. Everything I had done for years before but finally as a profession. Trust and support from the consultancy firm. Except for my wife, everyone in my environment ridiculed the steps that I took, called me a fool, idiot for going for less paycheck, more time away from home … and despite it bounced me off my pedestal at times. I would redo it all over again. It has opened my world so much, people I have met, places I have been, …
After a few years, the family expanded, and I started looking for something closer to home. And looking back to those negative people, I laugh at them, every year I grew further, learned more, expanded my knowledge a bit further, and achieved everything they said I couldn’t. And I still don’t feel I have hit the ceiling, there’s so much more I can achieve. It’s my way of showing that the only one that can hold you back is yourself. It’s with that mindset that I keep holding my foot down in learning and investing in myself at a high pace. Because I only want to grow and learn more about everything I do, Architecture, structures, technologies, only to be great at what I do.
I challenge everything I do just to get even more insights into divers topics.
But not everything in my life is crafting software, I’m a father of 3 kids, 2 boys, and 1 daughter. At the time of writing, they are 9, 6, and 2. I also try to be the best husband I can be to the love of my life. And who knows me, will tell you that I’m a communicative person that helps out wherever he can. So you’ll find me at all kinds of events too. You can tell, I have a hard time just doing something laid back. I honestly can’t recall such an occasion in the last 10 years.
My family is my new primary hobby and if I ever say that I get too little time with my family. I deserve a smack to the head.
All the time besides my family time is: you guessed it right. Exploring technologies, being busy with code, learning, … And as I mentioned before about the forgetting curve. I want to start creating a knowledge base for myself in the form of blog posts. Documenting what I know, document new things I learn. Making this publicly is my way of sharing that knowledge and hopefully helping others.
I really learned the concept of an open-source community from a colleague. A Microsoft MVP that has a GitHub activity screen that is just simply one green dot. He taught me that open-source is not only creating plugins or share code. But that there is an entirely open-source community beyond that code, sharing insights, sharing stories, sharing your learnings and problems. Share so that others may learn from it, sharing thoughts so that you may learn from it. In fact, even this website itself is made open source because I believe there are grounds for learning.
So I invite you to follow up on my stories