Here is My Interview With BartVB, one of the phpBB.com Development Team Members.
Can you give our members a brief biograpy?
I'm the 27 year old Bart van Bragt, I'm Dutch (but would have liked it better if I had been a Norwegian) and I'm currently studying at Technical University in Eindhoven (www.tue.nl) to become an MSc in Human Technology Interaction. Have been doing Mechanical Engineering before that but I'm probably going to end up in the IT world. I'm one of the developers of phpBB altough I haven't been able to contribute that much in the last few months, but that situation should change in the very near future.
When did you become interested in programming/coding?
I started with copying (by hand) a Basic program that was printed on 14 pages in the end of our matrix printer manual. Have been playing with GWBasic and Qbasic after that, then some Pascal, C and nowadays mostly PHP and Java.
What were your goals in helping with the phpBB Project?
I needed a forum for a site of mine in 2000. Almost everyone was building his own forum at that time but I thought that that was a complete waste of time. 90% of those people never finished their forums and the other 10% never maintained their software after the initial install. I though it would be smarter to join an existing effort and that existing effort was phpBB 1.0 (which was quite a mess in retrospect). But this all worked out really well, 1.4 was a little bit better than 1.0 and at that time sufficient for my goals. But things really started to change when we redid everything in version 2.0, that was a huge improvement over the old 1.x versions. Things really became interesting when Paul Owens (psoTFX) joined the development team.
Were you successful in realizing those goals?
I certainly was. phpBB turned out to be a real winner project. Doing some quick comparisons on marketshare with Google give pretty amazing results. Searching for 'powered by phpbb' returns more than 4 million sites. 4 million! So I'm pretty happy where phpBB has been going and I'm even more content with where phpBB is going in the future with the 2.2 version. But yes, I realized all my goals. I helped a project that changed a significant part of the PHP world and at the same time I had a forum that I could use for my own sites. What more could I ask for?
What plans do you have phpBB in the future?
At the moment the development team is working hard on finishing 2.2 which is again a major improvement over the 2.0 version. When 2.2 is finished I'm going to concentrate on creating a portal/CMS for phpBB which is also something that I need for my personal sites. That's going to be quite a project.
What other products are you working on or considering?
I'm a very big fan of Jabber (www.jabber.org), I'm currently working on Jabber site that is going to be setup with the enduser in mind. Jabber.org is a nice site but it doesn't really appeal to the general public (it doesn't even appeal to me as a techie) and it's too much focussed on development and protocols. Jabber needs much better marketing and I hope that the community site that we are currently building is going to help broaden the adoption of Jabber technology. Jabber is already used quite a lot in enterprises but I think that it could be the next big thing on the internet for consumers. The possibilities are much, much larger than 'just' Instant Messaging.
What do you do in your spare time offline?
Offline? Is there a life offline? Camping is one of my favorite activities, I hope to go on a trip to Norway sometime soon. Besides that I love photography, I have been saving for a long time and now I'm the proud owner of a nice Canon 300D. Photography is a really nice hobby, especially now we're in the middle of autumn. Oh, and if there is some time left my girlfriend likes to get some attention
What websites do you visit for personal enjoyment?
Actually I spend most of my time on www.Bokt.nl which is one of the sites for which I joined the phpBB project. I don't have anything with horses but one of my ex girlfriend does, that's why I'm now 'stuck' with a large community of 'horsepeople'. It has been a really interesting experience to run that site. Most of the people there are Dutch and The Netherlands is a pretty small country which is one of the reasons that www.Bokt.nl is a very closely knit community. I've learned a lot from running that site and I've met lots of very interesting people through it. The site has cost me quite a bit of money and also caused quite a delay in my education but I wouldn't have done things otherwise if I had had the chance.
Besides that there is gathering.tweakers.net (a dutch IT community), www.tweakers.net (dutch news site) and of course slashdot.org
What are your plans for the future?
I would love to have very tight integration of Jabber with phpBB but before that can happen on a large scale there is quite a bit of work to do to simplify Jabber/Web integration for the average administrator. The main problem is that you currently need a Jabber server or Bot that runs 24/7 on a server and most forum admins are just not allowed to do that because they are on a shared server. But I think that good Jabber integration could add a lot to the online experience. Besides that there is ofcouse going to be the Portal/CMS for phpBB which will result in some very interesting additions for www.Bokt.nl after which I hope that I can earn some money with that site to cover for the hardware and bandwidth costs .