Andrew, for our readers who may not be familiar with your name, would you briefly describe your involvement with Joomla over the years?
So, I've worn many hats over many years. I started in 2003 when we were called Mambo and quickly became part of the core development team. From there, I've served on the board of OSM, various teams, working groups and committees. I'm currently doing a tour on the Production Leadership Team that oversees all the development side of things for the project, and I'm also heavily involved in the Joomla Platform. I've contributed to most parts of the Joomla code base at one time or another, but most notably the MVC and JForm packages.
What is The Art of Joomla, and why did you create it?
Actually, it started out as a magazine for Joomla developers (go figure). I was hoping it would somehow attract other people to write articles but I got to the third monthly issue and realised that wasn't going to happen. So, I changed over to a blog-like model where I could just write about tips and tricks for using and developing with Joomla. Later, the site also became a platform for me to distribute free extensions that I had written for my clients.
After a while I started doing training workshops at some Joomla events and from there the sister site, Learn the Art of Joomla was born. This is where I posted learning material in either formal tutorial or video format.
This material has been by subscription-only up until now. Why the change to offer it for free?
Well, it's actually never sat well with my soul to charge people to learn about Open Source software that you get for free. It was a means to an end to supplement my income when I was consulting – everyone knows that in that game, several income sources are advantageous because cash-flow is never consistent.
But, over a year ago now, I went back into full time employment. The downside with that was it reduced the amount of time I could spend on writing materials, and particularly producing videos. When you work on a subscription model, there's a lot of pressure for you to "deliver" so that people feel they get value for money.
Unfortunately 2011 and 2012 were pretty hard years with several tough family issues and something just had to change. So, I decided to open up all my material for free, swapping to a sponsorship model for a bit of extra pocket money.
What Joomla versions will it help me with? Can I use it if I want to code for 3.0?
Yes, the video course that is there started soon after Joomla 1.6 arrived, but much of that information is still quite appropriate for Joomla 3. There's a really solid template developer tutorial that was written for Joomla 1.5 – it's on my list to freshen it, but you'll still pick up a lot of tips that still relate to Joomla 2.5 in particular.
Who is it for? What can it help me do?
There are two main thrusts on Learn the Art of Joomla.
The first is, not surprisingly, to help developers learn the "Joomla Way" – not just about how to copy and paste code but really understand why components are designed like they are.
The second thrust, and this is new, is to help people master the art of building Joomla web sites. To that end, I've been experimenting with a new powerpoint format that's hosted on Slideshare. So far I've posted detailed tutorials on the Load Module plugin, creating split menus and a reference guide to Joomla 3's Protostar template. All have been really well received. But more than that, they are much easier to produce than video tutorials. Videos take between 60 and 90 minutes per minute of video to produce so they are a huge burden when your spare time is limited.
Do you plan to update Learn The Art of Joomla as the software evolves?
I hope to. We are doing a lot of work on the Joomla Platform at the moment and when that is finished I definitely want to add tutorials on getting started with platform applications and also doing cool things like working with web services. I also want to keep doing interesting slide tutorials about Joomla 3 because I think this version of Joomla is highly underrated.