This timing could not be more perfect. As Matt Gemmell exits the professional software business, my old friend Duncan Davidson returns to it. For the first time in many years, he’s taken a full-time job as a software engineer, working for Wunderlist.
Duncan has a rich history in software development. From his time at Sun, he is the man behind Apache Tomcat and Ant, two Java tools that even I, a person who is mostly oblivious to Java, am familiar with. (As it turns out, I even use Ant in the build process for MarsEdit. That’s a story for another day.) Duncan also made a name for himself within the Cocoa community by writing one of the earliest Cocoa development guidebooks.
But Duncan is also a photographer, and a damned good one at that. I was impressed when, years ago, he put his considerable software abilities aside to focus on that lifelong passion. My first memories of this shift are seeing him roam the halls of Apple’s WWDC conference, not as an attendee but as a paid professional photographer. He went on to photograph for various O’Reilly Media conferences, and to this day he is the the main stage photographer for the illustrious TED Conference.
That’s an important detail to note in Duncan’s story: by returning his focus to the craft of software engineering, he will not be giving up his passion for photography. Professionally, he will continue to work with TED, and privately, I’ll be damned if you ever find him without a camera at close hand.
Duncan had the guts, many years ago, to give up software engineering to pursue photography. That has worked out very well for him. Now, he’s showing he has also has the guts to return to what he left behind. As a “new developer” in 2014, I’m sure there are things for him to learn from his teammates at Wunderlist. But I’m also sure there are many things for him to teach. I look forward to seeing where Duncan’s passions for software and photography take him next.