Lynne is an accomplished vBulletin add-on developer who has released numerous add-ons including New Social Groups page layout, Widget - Users Online, and many more. You can find her working on her site: The Traders Den. She has only recently joined AdminExtra but the staff felt she would make an excellent first interview. Lynne is also a vBulletin.org moderator and she spends most of her time helping out those who need help with specific code. So without further ado I present to you the interview of Lynne.
For those who do not know you, could you provide a little information about yourself?
For starters, I'm female. For some reason, many users think I'm male. I have a husband and three kids - a step-daughter who is married with a step-daughter of her own (yes, I'm a grandma!) and two teenage boys. I also have two cats.... or they have me, not sure which it is. Professionally, I was a Mechanical Engineer at Lockheed Martin for fourteen years before taking a break. I then worked at a small startup doing some web design until the money guys pulled the plug. Now I spend my time playing on the forums, reading, cooking, and being a soccer mom, although I'm more of a marching band and badminton mom these days.
How long have you be a software coder?
Well, the first time I ever wrote a line of php or a mysql query was after buying vbulletin and that was the end of 2004. So, I've only been coding for a bit over five years now.
Are you proud of how you have developed your skills or is there aspects of how you obtained your skills that you wish you could change?
I learn by doing, so that's how I learned to code. I had a need to have certain things happen on my website, and there were no mods available to download to do what I wanted, so I had to do it myself. I'm glad I am able to teach myself something like programming; I don't think everyone could pick it up as easily as I did. I'm no coding guru, but I can do most things that I want to do. At times I wish I had some more formal training just because the coding may come a little easier to me if I did. Sometimes I feel like I am trial-and-erroring a piece of code to death!
How did you get started on being a software coder?
I got started when I bought my vB license. I did have a pascal class back when I was getting my BS degree, but, um... that was a long time ago! I learned by necessity since it was either learn to do it myself or be at the mercy of someone else to get things done on my site. I started with small changes on my site, but have since written several custom mods that allow my moderators to run the site much more efficiently.
What software do you currently code for? Why?
Just vbulletin. I do occasionally help my husband with php when he is playing on his site, but I don't have any need to learn to code for any other software.
What would you want to do for a living if you weren't a software coder?
I've often thought it would be cool to be a chef. I wouldn't like the hours, but I do love to cook.
What kind of projects are you working on right now?
I have a ton of my mods on my vB4 test site that are 90% upgraded. They actually may be 100% upgraded, but I haven't tested them yet. Working with a tracker on a test site isn't always an easy thing to do.
Do you ever experience coder's burnout?
Sure. I haven't touched the code on my vB4 test site in a couple of months now. I got so far and then just didn't feel like working on it any longer. Of course, part of the reason was that I felt I was constantly having to 'fix' something because of a change in the code since I started these upgrades back when vB4 was in alpha/beta testing.
What are your overall honest thoughts of vBulletin 4.0?
It's sloppy and not deserving of being Gold right now. Honestly, I really wish they had not gone Gold when they did. I do understand the pressure to get it out, kinda, but I think they did more harm by releasing it as it was than if they had waited to release it. I don't think they have realized how much they damaged their name by releasing it too soon and they may not see the impact until they go to release vB5 and find they don't have users renewing, or upgrading, their vB4
licenses at that time. They've lost a LOT of customers because of this and their behavior the last year. I do like their CMS and have seen that grow a LOT since they first let me see it. Ray used to go on about their huge QA department and how things were going to be better, but their QA is definitely not doing their job properly.
Can you see yourself being a moderator at vBulletin.org for quite a long time? Why or Why not?
For as long as I'm still running a vB site, sure (assuming they want me, that is). If I were no longer running my vB site though, then I wouldn't have much reason to stick around on the vB sites.
What is your inspiration to login to vBulletin.org on a daily basis and help out all of us coders?
It's fun! I'm a geekette. I have fun helping people out. If it weren't fun, then I wouldn't be doing it. And I love it when I help someone figure something out for their site and then they are happy. I especially like it when they learn something from the process. I've never been one to come right out and tell someone how to do something - I like leading them to figure it out themselves. It gives them a sense of accomplishment when they figure out the code themselves.
What advice can you provide to those just starting out with vBulletin coding wise?
Take a while to look at what other coders have released before just jumping into writing your own mod. It really helps to start out by downloading a mod that kinda does what you want and then modifying it to do what you want. These coders have already figured out what is needed and which hook locations to use, so learn from their knowledge. Oh, and set up a test site. That is the best thing you can do if you really want to learn about vbulletin. Oh, OK, and also set up a test user and open them up in a different browser and always see what they see when you make changes. That's three things, but I think they are all good things to do.
What advice can you provide to those just starting out with any type of coding?
Google and books are your friends! There are some great sites out there ready to help you out, along with some great reference books at the library and in the bookstores. I do a lot of googling and flipping through books when I am trying to write something new. Part of the reason is because I haven't had any formal training, so I don't know if there is a php function to do *this* or a mysql clause that will do *that*.
Lastly as asked from one of our staff members and I'm curious as well:
Do you like long walks on the beach? Why or Why not?
Sure I like them. However, I really don't get the opportunity to take them as I don't live right next to a beach. I recently got back from a week in Hawaii with a girlfriend and we took a long walk along the beach every evening. There is something about the sound of the waves and the smell of the ocean that is very calming. It would be much more romantic though to have been walking with my husband.