Leadership Interviews: Marco Dings
Before Marco Dings started his own web agency he had a career in IT. He worked for several large top tier companies and has experience in leading international teams. Marco became actively involved in Joomla when he merged his business into a bigger, full-service UK based web agency that employed several Joomla main contributors.
Marco served on many Joomla teams before he decided to run for production department coordinator. In this role, he wants to improve the clarity, focus, cohesion and drive for the team, the leaders in production and the OSM-board. His motto? “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime”.
Thanks for your cooperation in this email interview, Marco. Let’s start with the first question: why did you decide to run for the board, and why particularly Production?
“I considered putting my name up around November 2019 when we had a sprint in Bordeaux, regarding marketing. Addressing the main points discussed I felt strongly that Joomla would benefit from a better understanding of what its market should be. So not marketing, and not what its market currently is. We realised a strong collaboration with production would be required.
Additionally, we need more professionalism in the organization and an open mind for paid roles. That marketing meeting set the stage for “Forum for the Future 2020” and the streams I defined for that.
My expertise is in the areas of project management, software and product development and architecture. These are why I have been involved in the production department since 2014 and that makes the production department a logical choice.”
What can we expect from you as Production Department Coordinator?
“Traditionally the PDC is (or was) heavily invested in the actual coding part as release lead or otherwise. That focus took away from the coordination part if only because of the additional workload. The coding part is not my forte but I am knowledgeable in the field and understand the problems. I can bring more organization and collaboration with other departments to come to fruition to the benefit of the department.”
What is Productions’ main goal for 2020?
“First and foremost to bring out Joomla 4 as soon as possible. Other goals would be something that we would decide as a collective in the department. As coordinator (PDC) I’m but their voice.
I will address getting more people involved in development (volunteers, sponsored or paid), getting a long term strategy and shorter-term plans for next releases.”
And the question everyone is dying to ask: when can we expect Joomla 4?
“We are close to J4 beta, which means there is a feature freeze. There are plenty of Joomla 4 feature listings available so I’m not even going to try and list them.
I like to think in terms of qualifying or disqualifying features. Disqualifying features are commonly expected for a product and not having them sets you back with respect to the competition. A qualifying feature is something unique that elevates a product over the competition.
Joomla 4 will be a stronger and more stable product with an overhauled and better engine. There will be some disqualifying features introduced such as a long-awaited API and some qualifying or unique features, like better custom fields and workflow. We need to cover both for a successful launch of Joomla 4.”
In terms of product, what are the challenges we are facing?
“As I said earlier, we desperately need to understand what our market is going to be. For whom are creating the Joomla, what problem does it solve? Since Jooma’s inception, the www world has evolved and new players have taken over specific niches. We need to realize we cannot be everything to everybody, we need to find the place where we have a right to exist.
To use a comparison:
- Commercial off the shelf: an off the shelf model car, it is what it takes your pick from a large but finite catalogue (representing the WIX-es and Jimdo’s)
- Playmobil: Build your car with limited customisation after delivery (representing Wordpress)
- LEGO: Build your car with extended options for dynamic customisations after delivery (Joomla)
- 3D printer: Create your own model, anything is possible for the true experts (Drupal / Bespoke solutions)
To me, that is at 3, between the current WordPress market (2) and moving into the Drupal market (4)
Where we go as a community should be an outcome of the FFtF discussions/streams.”
How can we help?
“We obviously need developers and coders but there is so much more to do related to product creation, from testing to documentation everybody can participate and grow. It’s so easy to say what’s wrong and what others should do better. I challenge you to exercise your democratic right in an open-source project, contribute yourself and affect the change!”
Is there anything we forgot to ask but should have asked you?
“Yes: ‘Does Joomla have a future?’
The answer is a resounding YES, however, we need to act now and address acute issues, for it takes a long time to change course. The oxygen masks in the airplane have dropped, put on your mask first before attending to your child or neighbour, hug and cuddle them later.”