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Team Insights: Dean North Atlas Co-Founder

Posted on: October 24th, 2017 by Simon Swords

Dean North

This week I caught up with Atlas Co-Founder and resident Technical Consultant – Dean North, to ask him some questions about his entrepreneurial past and the future of software development.

Over to you Dean…

Why did you decide to start a software development company?

I used to work with Simon in the IT department of a law firm when I was 16. It was my first job and I was hired to basically fix printers and answer basic tech questions. While I was there I noticed that they were just using a file system structure to store all of their case documents. As my primary role was more of a reactive role, I asked if I could write some case management software for them during the quiet parts of my day. They ended up rolling the software out across their whole company and even started licensing it out to other law firms. It was at that point that Simon and I decided we should write software for ourselves to sell. Atlas was born and the rest is history.

What do you enjoy the most about creating software?

I really enjoy doing things that other people haven’t done before. The struggle with new technology and little to no documentation is a challenge and when you get something working, the feeling of achievement is well worth the effort.

What is the most complex software problem you’ve had to take on?

I once wrote my own implementation of TLS in ActionScript on top of the native socket which didn’t support SSL/TLS at the time. I learnt a lot about how networking and security worked from a very low level. This wasn’t for a client project, I just did this as a personal project for fun.

What is your favourite language to code with any why?

This is a tough question because I’m a firm believer of using the right tools for the job. I know many languages and each has their pros and cons. I guess my favourite is C# because it is the most ubiquitous. Especially now with .NET Core being able to run on Linux and Mac.

What new technology are you most looking forward to trying out?

There are some large refactorings going on over in the Kestrel repo what I’m looking forward to doing some experiments with. (https://github.com/aspnet/KestrelHttpServer/issues/1980).

What does your typical day look like?

I don’t get many typical days. My job is incredibly varied which is one of the reasons I love what I do. Usually, my days consist of working on prototypes/experiments, writing blog posts, working on various customer projects, meeting new customers, doing business analysis, reading/writing specs.

What is the one website/plugin/tool/software that you couldn’t live without?

Visual Studio 2017!

Where do you see software development going in the future?

Software development is one of the few industries that I don’t see technology replacing in my lifetime. One day humanity will reach the tipping point with AI that will allow computers to program themselves and we will see an exponential explosion of productivity and efficiency. At that point, there will be no need to software developers and we will simply tell the computer what we want Star Trek style. Until then, we will continue as we are, constantly developing and learning new tech. This industry is constantly changing.

Many thanks to Dean for taking time out of his busy day to answer these questions.

Have a question for Dean about software development or anything he mentioned in his interview? Ask your questions in the comments below.

Simon Swords

Simon Swords

Director

Managing Director

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