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Stephen Opal

User: kristi
Date: 7/7/2009 10:25 am
Views: 3356
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The Essentials

Name: Stephen Opal
Username: sno
Age: 53
Profession/Employer: Developer at Plain Black
Place of Residence: Ann Arbor, Michigan

WebGUI Related Questions

In what way(s) do you contribute to WebGUI or the WebGUI Community?

As a Plain Black Developer, I provide Rock Star development and support to designated clients.  As I perform these services, I provide bug-fixes and upgrades to the WebGUI code base whenever possible.

When did you first hear of WebGUI?

As a development contractor, I responded to a Plain Black job posting in 2006.

How and when did you get involved in WebGUI?


From the time I first contacted Plain Black up until December 2008, I was contracted to do periodic task based development work for Plain Black regarding various projects.  I became a full-time staff developer in December.

Are you paid to work on WebGUI?

Both as a contractor and as an employee, I continue to be compensated for work on WebGUI and to address client needs.

How much time do you spend on WebGUI?

Full-time services are provided to Plain Black as a professional developer

What do you think is still missing from WebGUI or the WebGUI Community?

WebGUI is a mash-up of some really great ideas.  It provides many interesting enhanceable tools that help toward assembling a site.

One of the things that I would like to see is a set of finely-tuned mini-components and the ability to use recipes at the site manager level to build site features without the need for programming skills.  Successful recipes could then be shared and traded.  The more popular a recipe is, the more likely it would be considered for development into a dedicated feature of WebGUI.

What keeps you motivated to keep working on WebGUI?

All the things that still have yet to be explored by the WebGUI CMS. WebGUI is an open platform just waiting for the next great idea to be applied. While functional, WebGUI in its present state can be made better. There is a whole world of things yet to be tried and WebGUI is positioned to address those ideas.

What's WebGUI's killer feature and why?

Groups and sub-groups. Having a stable permission system on which to build and expose a site is a huge control feature. The implementation of groups in WebGUI is extraordinarily flexible and capable of being very granular. Additionally, social networking relies on creating connections between users and providing pathways to interaction. Group association ties that together flexibly.

What's WebGUI's greatest weakness and why?

Code-based development. WebGUI components are tied tightly to code solutions. In order to create a new feature, one must create an Asset object and build it based on a set of rules for Assets. I'd like to see more basic, granular features. Consider the paradigm shift experienced with the introduction of Legos, where before there were just stackable blocks. Small interlocking shapes put together to assemble some amazing and resilient structures.

What makes you work on WebGUI over the competition?

Open source. WebGUI is a feature rich CMS that exposes its solutions for peer review. It is both a learning experience and a teaching one.

What's your most brilliant WebGUI hack?

I'll let you know when I complete one. For now there are ideas awaiting time to be expressed.

Have you attended the WebGUI User's Conference?


I have not been to a WUC.

Where do you keep your Gooey doll?


Gooey looks down on me from the top of my desk workstation monitor.

Personal Questions

How would you describe yourself?

Accessible, responsible, open, honest.

Are you married, dating, or otherwise involved?

Married for 29 years this coming October.

Do you have any kids?

No children

Do you have any pets?

Two dachshund devil dogs, Dee Dee and Parker.

If someone visits your area, what's something they must see or do?

University of Michigan Campus, UofM Football Stadium (a.k.a. The Big House), Summer Arts Festival, Canoing down the Huron River, Top of the Park festival.

What do you hate?

Being pre-judged.  Getting older.  Strange food.  Broken things.

What do you love?


Barbara (my wife), my dogs, lightning storms, gentle snow, warm spring days, football (watching), bowling, assembling hardware.

What's the last book you read?

Caro's most profitable Hold'em Advice

What's the last CD/MP3 you bought (or downloaded)?

Los Lonely Boys - Sacred

What's the last movie you watched?


The Hangover

You're stuck on a train/plane for 6 hours and bored out of your mind, what do you do to amuse yourself?

MP3 music, read a book, listen to libra-vox books, watch a dvd, sleep

Any last words?

Barbara and I have worked our entire lives for the foundation we now have. It bothers me a lot to see people who take shortcuts financially or otherwise, then lose the gamble and blame others for their mistakes. Honest, fair-minded people rarely take shortcuts. I have little sympathy for the former, but would go out of my way to help the latter.

There is no hell terrible enough for people who are supposed to be the guardians of our future and our safety yet are gaming the system so that they can reap some short-term benefit. Cheating and greed are terrible sins. They weaken us all and often result in tragic consequences for society in general.

Nothing replaces hard work, responsible behavior, and the moral strength to say “I'm not going to do that!” For those people who can and will do the truly “Right Thing” I have nothing but the greatest respect and appreciation.


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