Nexialys is wellknown around the vBulletin community. He runs http://vbenhancer.com, where he offers some outstanding products/add ons and instructions on how to enhance your vBulletin installation. But, what a lot of people don't realise is that vBulletin isn't the only area that benefits from his coding skills. We caught up with Nexia over the past week and asked him a few questions, which he kindly took the time out to answer. Thanks Nex for an intriguing insight.
Will you share a little background information on the person behind the username - Nexialys?
There is not much to say, i'm a working at home father, named Jean-Pierre Michaud, but if you ask in the industry, nobody knows that guy, they know nexialys, nobody else...
actually it's not a username, but a pen name, as everywhere i go, i use it... it's also my branding, as my business is named to it..
i'm not english speaking, i'm french with a babelfish in the head... so most of the english people say i need to learn english before chatting on a forum... personally i think i work my english pretty well compared to all these teen who write english like a chinese cow....
i've been active on the internet for so long, and for so much projects, it's easier to search for me on google than ask me to list all the things i've been into... i do not remember everything myself... rofl
in the last years i've been involved in vBulletin, but also IPB, phpBB, Wordpress in the late. That's in the code development, but i'm implicated in a lot of sites projects and web management as well... i'm a web-architect after all, more than a coder or a designer, i build plans based on the client needs and we find the best solutions to fit each clients needs, which make me play with a lot of things and usually customizing everything myself.
now i'm half-retired... working for the RedCross again, after more than 15 years of dedication and with this new crisis in Hati, here in Qubec they needed someone who can manage the projects here locally, as we're sending people and goods/medics etc... we're negociating with the governments to bring more people to regroup their families -- half of the diasporas of Hati are in Quebec, and we are the best population that can interact with them right now, as the americans and british are good in militaries but know nothing of the languages and the society... we are a bridge between the population there and the external resources.
ok, why do i have to explain myself again?... oh, yeah, people know me.... hum. I'm a polemicist... Paul M. can tell you a lot about that... i'm a real pain for these guys who manage big communities, and sometimes i can be a poison, just because i'm on both sides, client / developer, and i voice myself prettily..
so that's it... in real life, i'm 39, 4 kids below 13, i manage a synchronised swimming club, my older kids all go to the Cirque du Soleil's school (yes there is one, only one), and my wife is an international artist in her topic...
Wow, you sound like a very busy man! For those of us who know you, we're aware that you've been very vocal on the vB forums over the vB4 development process - since you mention having used both vB and IPB - what's your current opinion of the vB4 and IPB3 series software themselves?
comparing vB4 and IPB3 is based on the fact that people think they are comparable versions... but they are not. like a lot of coders said about vB 4.0, it is more a transition point that could be translated by a 3.9 on steroid due to the change of the template engine... on a development side of things, a major change like this require a change in the base version number, so we moved from 3.x to 4.x ... but the templates system is just 10% of the engine itself, so...
IPB at the other side is a major upgrade between 2.x to 3.x... the roadmap was clear with the change of structure, with a new technology, addition of features, not just bugfixes and patches. That's the difference with vB 4.0...
comparing both platforms?... they are both forums, they are both with blogs, profiles, admincp, front-end user interface, cms or portal depending on who talk about it, and basically both are using LAMP to the latest version. so that's the evaluation... you like the buttons or the colors, tada, you know what are the differences.
i worked on both platforms, i was in the first days of Invision as a third-party coder, and even if i saw some of my additions translated to the 2.0 version at that time, i was not really impressed with the commercial turn of the project, even if Matthew is a great guy with a bright future. the difference in the new management of vBulletin by InternetBrand will make the project way more competitive in the near future but more with the 4.2 version, not yet... That's why Matt is actually working hard to release new additions to IPB, because he really want to compete, seriously.
And what do you think will pop up in the next months?... vB vs IPB is not the only competition... i heard that Kier, one of the founder of vBulletin is working on something for the web clients... no idea yet, but i think that if Kier work on an engine based on his experience, a lot of jawbreaking will occur when he release his stuff.
Yes, we've heard a lot of rumours about the will he/won't he aspects of what Kier is up to - that's something to definitely watch out for!
You've also been working with Wordpress - how are you finding that? Will you be releasing any plugins and getting yourself known as well in the blogging world as you are in the forum one?
i'm actually way more popular in the wordpress community than in vBulletin... i was in the first days of Wordpress as a plugin dealer and concepts manager. in the past i coded more than 50 big plugins, mostly widgets, that are still useful today, taken over by more efficient coders than myself. in Wordpress i was more into ideas than coding, so i contributed with critics, reviews and suggestions... like the i18n and CSSGarden concepts.
when i came to vBulletin, i defied the team to provide a full CSS supported theme, which never came, even if i released 2 css-based themes with one that won the SOTM on vb.com... the team always thought it was more a designer thing than a company target... looks like the ones in charge are not in the project anymore, and they switched to a complete CSS-based style for 4.0...
i was not stick to Wordpress, i worked with b2evolution, and Spip, a french-based cms engine... i collaborate on many projects because i like to compare the resources and ideas among these projects.
right now i'm targeting the 3.0 version of wordpress that will offer a full multi-user version, as they merge with wpmu, from Donncha *(who also offered a bridge between Wordpress and vB)... but the biggest event in the Wordpress market is Buddypress, which merge all the usages of twitter, facebook, wordpress and multi-users groups. If well managed, this engine may be a mad competitor for any platform that provide multi-users content management...
Well, you've certainly coded for a lot of different things and for a long time! Was it something you taught yourself or was it part of your offline work?
actually i never thaught myself anything, i'm a little boy learning to play baseball... each day i learn something new, a different way to pitch the ball, or i hit myself so hard it hurts... i'm never satisfied, i always want to learn more, even when i do nothing else than learn and study. Lately i've been on standby from coding, i wanted to explore new worlds, and new civilisations *(sic), and i discovered Buddypress... oh so cool and flexible, but at the same time so cumbersome... it's a challenge to make it better than it is right now, and the guys there are working each day to enhance it...that's a project i will look at for a moment, and i'm happy that someone build it... Andy is also a funny guy everybody can chat with, compared to some project managers that are hard to reach...
And my best teacher right now is my partner Drew, who is building his own commercial engine. he worked with me for 2 years now and he is a king of OOP, first with vBulletin, but also with new engines we evaluate from time to time.
and btw, my offline work is way different ... i'm taking care of my gals... 2, 4, and 8 years old... these ladies, i could call them tramps and they are really into messing the house all day long... when their elder brother is in the place, they act like 3 guys, i see no more girly feeling in the house... there is no barbie in the house, we have trucks, lego blocks, robots, monsters and D&D stuff... i tell you they are girls, and hopefully they like girly clothes, or nobody would see it.
]We know you've been involved in quite a few sites over the years - and are currently running vBenhancer, where you offer some excellent addons, edits, etc. What do you see in the future for the site - will you be expanding to include vB4 modifications? Would you ever consider/have considered/are considering doing something similar for any of the other platforms?
vbEnhancer was create to answer the clients who are still using vBulletin 3.8. After years of observation on software developments, i can easily evaluate that more than 50% of the actual clients of vBulletin will still use the late generation for the next 2 or 3 years, even if their version is EOL. As an example, on the web you can still find thousands of vBulletin forums using the 2.x generation, a proof that the version can still be usable.
the actual situation with the new 4.0 generation is a problem. the act of changing the licensing processus from InternetBrands is not just causing a rush of people to renew their license, it also force people to re-evaluate the upgrade of their script, something new in the vBulletin market. People will stick to their actual 3.x version if they think the new version does not answer their need, which i can tell is the worst case scenario for the vBulletin upgrade, because an upgrade is usually for the better, not the worst.
So my market is actually requesting to stand still with the 3.8 version. Some people asked me to upgrade my main tools to vB 4.x because they want to upgrade their site and they need my tools to make their site run. strangely, they will not upgrade until i do the same with the scripts, because they do not think vB 4.0 worth the upgrade if they do not have all their prefered addons installed, not only mine.
When vB 3.x updated to 3.5, we had a major change of structure, and people thought they were gaining enough to upgrade even without their prefered addons... for 4.0, we see the opposite, they prefer to wait for their addons being upgraded before doing the move.
So with this in mind, i can say that a lot of people in the next months will still need support for their forum running vB 3.8. And in the next months, vBulletin Solutions will stop supporting their 3.x releases, so everybody who is not upgrading their forum will need real professional support for their site. I may be the only one standing, so it is important to continue on that path.
And for the future?... i stopped coding new addons in december because i had other projects to complete, so i'm not even close to terminate my work, i'll restart coding new stuff in the next weeks, releasing new addons never released in the past. *(parenting sites and communities will like them)
Coding for other platforms?... not interested right now, i already have vBulletin and Wordpress in hands, i do not need anything else. And the fun is that i could this a long time because both platforms have different markets and really different ways, so if engine X does not need a tool, the other can have a need for it. As i code for enhancing, and not to mimic, i can do a lot of things on wordpress that i can not do on vBulletin, etc...
You've mentioned buddypress a number of times, do you see this as the future of blogging/CMS platforms?
Buddypress is on the list of things i play with, but as i'm not involved in the development, i prefer having an eye on it, enhancing the addons i need *(because i'm never satisfied with the existing stuff). i'm chatting with the guys once in a while to see if they need my suggestions, and usually they are very polite with me... rofl they respect the elder.
And if you ask me about the future of web platforms, blogging etc, there is none. 6 years ago i saw a guy start a website called facemash, pirating his whole school internet system to start his own site... his playground was one of the funniest thing in the new century... small site, small goal, funny topic. Nobody was thinking at that time that the guy would be able to grab half of the whole internet activity on his site 5 years after...
So we never know... maybe a guy like Drew will code something so significant that the whole market will tremble when he comes online... or maybe i will hit a knot in the vBulletin code to make it run cars and airplanes... we never know.
personally, i've seen so much stuff on the internet these last 25 years, that i will never be surprised to see something new.