Stefan Kaeser, AKA Xenon (vBulletin.org Administrator), did an interview with us a while back (Interview with Xenon). I thought it would be nice to update that interview with some fresh questions...
Tell us your thoughts on vB 3.5:
What do you think of it compared to earlier versions?
Personally, I am divided. The Plugin system is a very good addition, and the code has been optimized quite a bit in many areas. But I also see a negative aspect - To me it seems like there is too much OOP in the new version, which wasn't really needed right now, and instead of helping it makes things more confusing than they need to be. That may change in the future (AFAIK there are some plans afoot at Jelsoft) but for now I don't think that was really necessary.
Same with the AJAX features - they are nice, yes - but I think it makes things too complicated. But of course that's just my personal POV, and I am a purist, so others might think that these things I've mentioned are the best additions of all...
How has the plugin system changed things for forum administrators? Are they adding too many hacks now that it's so easy?
Well, I wouldn't say too many hacks now that it's so easy... There were always some Admins who installed too many hacks and I don't think there are too many more now. The plugin system makes it easier to test a mod for a few days and to remove it completely if it doesn't work out as expected.
But there is also a great disadvantage now. Plugins can overlap and interfere with each other, and an admin wouldn't notice, or at least not easily. In the past that was easy to see - when one code modification touches the same section of a file as another modification, you have to be very careful. Now most admins aren't that careful anymore.
How has the plugin system changed things for vBulletin hackers?
Actually I think it's mostly the release process that has changed. It's easier to release a hack now, as most of the time you don't have to write install instructions. You just write it for yourself, then export it and voila. That makes things a lot easier for us hackers, as the support questions like "how do I install this" are gone as well, but on the other hand there are more "newbies" who install a hack, so more normal support questions come up.
Is there anything you'd like to see changed or added in the next version?
Nothing major - just a few optimizations to the hook system, like a bit more of them to be able to work like real hacks (possibility of code changes instead of just additions). Also the Ajax system has to be optimized - a lot of the code is just copy pasted in other files, which doesn't look good. But from what I know, these things are on the "To Do" list, so I am fine.
When will vBulletin.org be upgrading to vB 3.5?
I feel ashamed but I don't know exactly. We are behind schedule already, but it shouldn't be much longer. Believe me, I can hardly wait as well.
What changes are planned for vBulletin.org otherwise?
Well the new reinvented Hack DB will be the biggest change of course, and will make things much easier for users as well as for the team. Also, there are a few new products planned which will make things easier for Hackers to support their hacks, but i cannot go into much detail right now.
Apart from that we will increase the team a bit, and do some smaller optimizations regarding usability. These plans are currently being discussed - not everyone in the team thinks alike about which changes are good and which are not.
What if anything can be done to protect hackers from having their modifications pirated?
Unfortunately, not much. We're thinking about ways to make it at least a little bit better once we've upgraded to vB 3.5, but you know, no protection could hold them back very long.
Sometimes I hear complaints that vBulletin.org is not always a friendly place. Any comments?
Well, that's correct. It's not always a friendly place, but which place is? I think users who complain about things like that should think about what makes it unfriendly:
1. We are all humans, each hacker, each team member and each normal user could have a bad day, that's normal.
2. It can be a reaction to an unfriendly post itself. It's a difference if someone posts 'This doesn't work, need help' versus 'Excuse me, I have this and that problem, is anyone able to help me? I can't find a solution within this thread here, so does anyone know a possibility? Thanks in advance'.
3. Users get annoyed with other users. Shouldn't happen but see #1.
Generally if there is a problem I'd advise users to consider the POV of the others involved - why did they react the way they did. That would help a lot in most situations.
What are your thoughts on paid hacks? Do they belong on vBulletin.org?
Well, personally I am against paid hacks, as I want vbulletin.org to be free. But, from another perspective they could have a place there. If I am a user I want to see all of the possibilities on vBulletin.org so I can choose whether to use a paid one or not.
So I will wait for a decision as I am not the only one to decide this issue.
Have you been doing much in the way of code modifications lately?
Unfortunately not as much as I would like to do. I have a lot of work at the university, in real life, and with the normal administrative work at vBulletin.org so my time for coding is very limited. But I think that will change again.
Anything interesting going on in your life outside of vBulletin?
Hmm well, depending on how you see it. My time at the university comes to it's end soon, so a lot of hard tests are coming up. Apart from that my life has changed from the last interview in that I am currently not single anymore. But, as she lives in another town, I can still spend a lot of the time in front of my pc. (don't tell her )