This month, we meet Antoine Taillefer. Antoine joined Nuxeo not too long ago, coming on board with extensive experience and a long history of working on Nuxeo projects. Aside from managing the technical relationship with our customers, he’s a vocal advocate for exchanging ideas and has brought a unique perspective to the Nuxeo development team, among many other things!
Tell me about your role. My primary role is to serve as a Technical Account Manager for clients who are implementing Nuxeo. It’s a new position that didn’t exist before and is meant to ensure that we have greater contact with clients on the technical side. It goes beyond the usual support that we provide via Jira tickets, our issue tracking system, and it’s more than what a typical account manager would do, such as discussing planning or business with clients—I’m here to provide a global and technical view into what clients do with Nuxeo and help them address any problems or questions that might arise regarding their implementation. Basically, I ensure that they don’t go in the wrong direction. This is especially important for our application builders, we want to guarantee that they do things well from the start and that they follow the main principles for development that we’ve established for the platform.
Being a new position, do you think it’s being well received by clients? I think so, yes. It’s a great service for our clients and for us as well. We have a lot of system integrators that are developing on top of Nuxeo and they are producing some really interesting features, so my role allows us to be more aware of what they’ve done. Additionally, I tell them how to contribute their job or can inspect their code and that way we can incorporate their development efforts into the platform. We’re not always aware of what the clients are building, often we only hear from them when they have problems, but it’s just as important to tell us when something goes right or when they’ve come up with something cool. It helps us keep track of how they use our product for their projects, support them in better ways, and also make sure the good ideas are collected and integrated into all Nuxeo products.
How many clients do you manage? At the moment, I manage 4 or 5 clients. I spend half my time as a Technical Account Manager and the rest of the time as a software engineer, so I develop for the platform just like the clients I support.
How long have you been at Nuxeo? I’m one of the newest arrivals. I started in November so it’s been almost 6 months now.
What were you working on prior to coming to Nuxeo? Well, one of the reasons they hired me is because of my experience implementing Nuxeo across many different sectors. For the last 5 years I had been working for a system integrator, so I’ve spent a lot of time integrating Nuxeo for clients. My speciality is not just as a developer, but I function as a consultant as well, one that’s aware of the client’s wants and needs (as any consultant knows, these two items are not always the same…that’s when it gets really interesting!). Needless to say, having worked on both sides of the equation has its advantages.
Are you also involved with training like the other Nuxeo engineers? Yes, that’s another aspect I’m involved with. I do training with Sun, one of the other Nuxeo developers here, I’m his backup. Right now we’re working on improving the training material to make it easier for other Nuxeo staff members to do the training. So that means keeping the training material up to date as well as upgrading the training section on our intranet site so we have a clear definition on the different types of training programs we offer.
As you’re involved in the training services provided by Nuxeo, what advice do you have to those trying to develop for Nuxeo—best practices or ways to speed up the process? Can you provide some pointers to educational resources? Well, I know it sounds obvious, but it really is important to read the documentation. Our documentation is quite good compared to others. It’s very well maintained. So, first, read the user guide and the developer guide. Also, don’t hesitate to test and install the platform on a local machine, it’s quite simple even if you’re not a developer. Use the tools we’ve created to help you do customization and development like Nuxeo Studio and IDE. These are a great help, engineers who don’t know much about Nuxeo are developing small features quite quickly. And, if you need a dose of inspiration, take a look at the Nuxeo code directly. That way, when you want to add a feature, you can look at the code for an existing feature and see how it was implemented, its location and how it’s organized and model yours after that. Often there’s a good reason the Nuxeo developers placed and organized it in a certain way.
Now that you’re working directly for Nuxeo, is it what you imagined it would be like when looking in from the outside? Yes, it’s quite like I had imagined it to be. No big surprises. The atmosphere is quite nice, the work is interesting, especially on the technical front. I mostly work with the technical staff, but it’s great to be able to interact and communicate with everyone and learn new things. Before I was working at a company of about 500 people, so it’s nice to be at Nuxeo where things are more close-knit. It’s easy to find out how other teams work and share ideas. Plus, as I was working with Nuxeo at my previous job, I already knew a few people here so the transition was relatively easy.
In your role, you must see a large number of projects, can you provide some expert advice for our readers on how to implement Nuxeo successfully?
One key is in the methodology that you use. And, this is a common theme for all IT projects—you have to have great methodology, such as scrum or extreme programming methods.
Another critical factor is quality. Here at Nuxeo we do a great job on continuous integration. Each time we develop something, it’s tested thoroughly. External developers should also use these continuous integration tools, including function and performance tests. Nuxeo provides a framework and tools to help developers who want to work with Nuxeo to ensure quality. I’ve seen clients who haven’t taken the time to do this and believe me, it makes a huge difference.
What are some of the types of projects you’ve worked on? There have been many different types. One that I’m working on now is with an insurance company. They want to use Nuxeo to store and manage their client’s contracts. Another big client is working in the commercial food industry and they are using Nuxeo to store all of the labels that appear on every food product you buy, from logos to ingredient labels. Also, in the education sector, there are many organizations that have used the platform to integrate social collaboration into their solutions.
One that was very impressive was for HEC Paris, the French Business Management School. They needed a platform that enabled their faculty and students to interact, something that would allow teachers to upload lesson material as well as enable students to download assignments, upload their exercises, and check answers. We did a great job on creating a user interface that they wanted, which was something completely different than the standard Nuxeo DM interface. They wanted more of an intranet site, but with all the backend features, rights management, and versioning that a CMS could handle. I wouldn’t have thought of using Nuxeo for this type of deployment, but it was a great idea and worked very well.
How is Nuxeo different from other software applications, as from your previous experience, you must have been dealing with different ECM apps? I’ve worked with maybe 2 or 3 others. The main differentiator with Nuxeo lies in its extensibility/modularity. It’s a base platform, on top of which you can add modules, we already offer DM, DAM, but it’s a great asset to have a core server and be able to plug-in packaged modules or develop a new module altogether. And with Nuxeo Studio it’s very easy to configure and customize according to your needs.
What are Nuxeo strengths? and weaknesses? Even though it’s extensible, when you download the Nuxeo source code there are so many plugins that you can easily get lost. It’s great to have so many options, but the way it’s currently presented is a bit overwhelming. In the future, I think we could better package the main platform—make it quite light and then users could add whatever they want onto it by looking at a list that can be categorized and sorted. Although people can go to the web site and see descriptions, most developers don’t do this.
In regards to the documentation, it’s really great, but sometimes it’s difficult to find things if you don’t know where they are. The search engine in the documentation site can be improved. But overall, the documentation has improved a lot over the last few years.
What do you do in your spare time? I spend most of my time doing sports or traveling. I like to go to the mountains. When I can I like to get out of Paris, it’s a big city with not much nature so I try to get out on the weekends. In the winter I ski, downhill and cross country, and in the summer I like to hike, go camping, and rock climbing.
Do you like working at Nuxeo? I do. There’s a good atmosphere here, nice people to work with. A lot of work, but it’s better to have too much than be bored.