Brian "Tigga" Gunter is the coder behind the extremely popular vBulletin portal software "vBAdvanced CMPS" and other "vBAdvanced" products. He runs vBAdvanced and EDM Planet and is renowned for his vBulletin hacking abilities. In addition, he is currently developing a gallery that will be integrated with vBulletin that many speculate will give the competition a run for its money and then some.
Q. Brian, could you provide us with a brief biography?
A. Well I born on February 11th, 1981 in Roswell, Georgia, have lived in different parts of northern Georgia most of my life. I currently live in Marietta, Georgia. My mother and father are both self-employed accountants, and it seems that I've always done well with business and of course math and such. I always did well in school, but I started becoming a bit of a troublemaker once I started high school. Because of that, I started getting behind in high school and when I was 17 decided that it would take less time to get my GED and just go to college afterwards. I went to about 3 GED classes before getting bored with them, didn't return until the day of the test, and passed with flying colors.
I then started classes at DeVry Technical College, and about the same time started working on a club promotion business in Atlanta. Just before that I also started getting more and more into web development. After our third year of promoting club events it was becoming increasingly difficult to turn a profit as there just weren't enough people coming out like there had been when we started, and a few years before I got into it. So once things started cooling off with that, I went out and found a job for a web development company where I worked on some rather large projects, some of which were for huge companies. After a few months there, I figured I could do better on my own, so I started concentrating my efforts more on vBAdvanced.com and the products we have available there, along with doing more and more freelance work for people. Nothing too exciting, but you asked.
Q. What is your programming background, how did you get started hacking vBulletin, and how did you come up with the idea for vBAdvanced?
A. Well I really started seriously getting into things in 1999. My father had gotten into web development and hosting a few years before that. I was talking to him about it one day and thought "Hey, I want to make a web site about the EDM/club scene.". He basically told me to go and learn the code myself, do things the right way from the beginning, and to never use any WYSIWYG editors to start out. Though it doesn't seem like much, that's the best thing he could have told me. So I took that, went to Google, started searching for tutorials, and slowly started putting my website together. That thing was awful back then, but that's what really got me started and how I started learning. After some time, I started working more with PHP so that I would have more dynamic features to my site. Back then I had a Discuss board as the forum on my site, which was a horrible program at the time.
Finally I started looking at the other options out there and once I found vBulletin, I was instantly amazed at all of the features, options, etc.. I bought it that night and started setting everything up and changing all of the templates and such to my liking. After some time, there were certain things that I wanted to do that I couldn't find hacks for, or the ones available just didn't do enough, so I dove head first into the code and started playing with things. I've never been the type of person to be afraid of breaking something, so I would just sit there and keep trying stuff until I got the results I wanted, and slowly things started making more and more sense. About the only "teacher" I ever had was the tutorials I read and php.net. Other than that, I just pretty much figured things out on my own by trial and error. After a few smaller hacks and such, that's when I got the idea to write my own portal, then it went onto a links directory, files directory, gallery, ad banner management, and pretty much everything else you see on my personal site today. Of course the more I worked with things, the more problems ran into, and the more I learned. After a while people would start seeing the stuff on my site and want to know where I got them. I started getting more and more requests from people to buy the products, so I finally decided to start beefing them up, getting them ready to distribute, and started vBAdvanced.com.
Q. Can you list a few of your lesser known vulletin hacks and name one or two you are proudest of and why?
A. Well I haven't really released many, mostly because I just don't have the time to support them these days, plus there are already so many available. If I had to pick one that I am the proudest of though, it would have to be the CMPS. I'm sure it's the most widely used of the hacks I've created, and probably one of the top hacks for vBulletin as well. It's come a long way if you consider that the *very* first version was really mYvBindex for vBulletin 2.x. I've got a few things that I'm working on with the next version that I think people are going to love as well and it should be even easier to use and understand all of the features.
Q. Please tell us more about your upcoming gallery. A lot of people can't wait for its release. And how do you think it will compare to the current market leader?
A. Well, the gallery script has been in the works for quite a while now. It has just about every feature and option that you can imagine and I think it's going to be a huge hit. I think it's going to allow a great deal of control and allow webmasters to get very creative with its uses, plus of course it has a huge array of features and options for the end users as well. As for how it compares to the competition, of course I like our product better, but I'm probably a bit biased . My principle competitor has a great script though. It's been quite a while since I've really looked at their product, but I know our gallery has a number of features which theirs is lacking, and I'm sure they have a few features that we don't. Our gallery will be about 1/2 the price of theirs once it's released though (which should be sometime in early December). Without some serious work, I don't think that they will ever be able to integrate with vBulletin as well as vBAdvanced Gallery since our product uses vBulletin as a backend, while theirs is proprietary. Using vBulletin as a backend obviously has it's disadvantages since it limits our market to only those who own vBulletin, but it also has it's advantages as the level of integration that our product offers can not be achieved with any other products, plus I think the market for our gallery will be large enough with the number of people who own vBulletin.
Q. How much time do you spend coding on a daily basis and what is your typical workday like?
A. I've never been much of a morning person, so there are some weeks where I'll sleep in until 10 or so. I usually check my e-mail when I first get up and then start checking vBAdvanced.com to help and provide support, plus I try to spend some time on my personal site and see what's going on there. I will usually check back on both of those sites throughout the day while I'm working as well. The amount of that which I actually spend coding though will vary depending on what I've got going on at the moment. If I'm working on a project for somebody or working on one of our products then many days I'll spend more than eight hours actually coding, while others it might only be a few if I don't have as much going on. All in all I usually spend somewhere between ten and fourteen hours a day on the computer, though there are some days when I have to get other stuff done and may only spend a couple of hours on here.
Q. When you're not coding, what do you do in your free time?
A. Free time? What's that? When I'm not on the computer I'm usually spending time with my girlfriend, Kristina (for some strange reason she doesn't seem to like it if I spend my time on the computer when she's around ). I also go canoeing just about every weekend during the Summer and it's a rare occasion when I'm not in front of a TV or at the stadium for a Braves game. I also like to travel when I can, but that hasn't been too often this year. I also enjoy reading and am currently working on The Vampire Chronicles series by Anne Rice. Every once in a while I like to hop on pogo and play a few games of spades or chess as well. Oh, and of course I can't forget about spending time with the five cats that I've acquired over the last few years. I've always had a soft spot for cats and can never turn a stray or one that needs help away, so I've ended up with a few new additions to the family these last few years.
Q. After the gallery is done, do you have any new projects in mind you'd like to tantalize us with?
A. Honestly, I'm not completely sure what new products I'll be working on after the gallery is done. I know the first thing I will do will be to start working on new versions of the CMPS and Links Directory. I know I'll be putting out an ad banner management system, but other than that I haven't really decided what I'm going to work on next. I guess everyone will just have to wait and see.
Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule Brian. Best of luck with your sites and upcoming gallery release.