Meet a Joomler: David Jardin
David Jardin made his first website at the age of 13, for his brother’s football team. He got involved in the German Joomla community a couple of years later. David, who’s a sucker for good food and nerdy conversations, started his own business as a freelance web developer and became more and more active in the community.
Today he is Team Leader of the Security Strike Team, department member of the Production Team and a member of the CMS Maintenance Team, and the Events Team. Joomla has had a major impact on David's life: it gave him confidence, friends, and if it wasn’t for Joomla, he might have never met the love of his life. In his own words: “Joomla changed my life in many, many ways.”
Thank you for participating in this interview, David! Could you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is David Jardin, I’m 30 years old and live in Cologne, Germany together with my girlfriend. I’m passionate about the web, Open Source, Joomla, and good food. Give me a good plate of pasta, someone to talk about nerdy stuff with, and I’m a happy dude!
How did you get involved with Joomla and the J! Community?
That’s my younger brother’s fault. He played football (that’s soccer, dear US Joomlers) as a kid for several years. Someday his coach walked up to me during a match and asked me if I, as a 'computer guy', could help them set up a web page for the team. I agreed and started playing around with all those fancy web technologies (HTML4, table layouts and framesets) and created a first site when I was around 13 years old.
After a couple of months, the same coach asked me if there could be a way for him to add game results to the site on his own. So I bought a book about an obscure development language called 'PHP' and started building 'David’s soccer team manager'. It worked so well for the coach, that I started wondering why nobody else had built a tool to manage websites in the browser – and of course people DID build such tools and called them 'CMS'. I tried a couple of them, namingly TYPO3, phpNuke, Xoops and *drumroll* Mambo!
I enjoyed working with Mambo quite a lot, so I built more sites for family, friends and other non-profits, started helping other people in the German forum, witnessed the fork to Joomla and stayed there!
What Joomla teams are you in? What do these teams have in common, and in which aspect are they different?
Furthermore, I’m also in the automated testing team and in the CMS maintainers team.
Working in the security team is very special compared to the other teams, mainly for two reasons.
The first: a lot of our work is non-public by design. Security issues are reported in private and have to stay private until a patch is released – that’s why we have our own isolated infrastructure which is rather unique in the project.
And the second reason: parts of our work are very time-critical. New reports have to be triaged fast and depending on the criticalness of the issue, we have to start working on a patch immediately and all other tasks, no matter if related to our businesses or personal lives, have to wait.
It’s challenging, but also great fun!
What do you do for a day job, and if this includes Joomla, how?
I’m the owner and lead developer of the Cologne-based agency djumla. We are a team of 4 full time employees and several freelancers, building projects of all sizes for national and international clients – most of those projects are based upon Joomla. We specialise in more complex sites that require custom development, that’s why we often work for other agencies once they get into trouble.
On top of that, I’m one of the owners of BackupMonkey.io, a Joomla-maintenance tool allowing users to manage tons of Joomla sites from a centralised dashboard. You can monitor sites, apply updates, trigger backups, and (I love that part) automatically test the restorability of your backups – because, as Nic always says: “An untested backup is no backup at all”.
Do you use Joomla in other ways?
Yes! I've been running summer camps and other after-school activities for kids for more than 10 years and built a couple of sites for that.
Are you involved in the local Joomla community, apart from in your official position?
I kicked off the local JUG in Cologne shortly after the fork from Mambo and also attended the first German JoomlaDay in 2006, which was a great experience because I was finally able to meet all those people from the forums in person.
At the next JDay Germany in 2009, I volunteered to do some organisational things for the event. After the first day, the event organiser Robert Deutz walked up and asked if I would like to attend the general assembly of the German Joomla Association (back then still called 'Mambo e.V.') – I answered that I’m not a member, however Robert insisted and I joined the association right before the assembly kicked off. One of the agenda items was the election of new board members and Robert nominated me. People raised their hands and roughly 10 minutes after joining the Mambo e.V., I was elected as one of the two vice presidents. I was too shocked to raise any objections and so my first board term kicked off.
Today, more than 10 years later, I’m still part of the board and actively involved in various parts of the German-speaking community. I co-organised JoomlaDay Germany for several years, I’m the organiser of JoomlaCamp Germany, was part of the joomla.de relaunch and represented Joomla at various local events and fairs. My newest project is the very first 'Joomla Agency Day', which will take place at 5th of February 2021 in Essen, Germany. It will be an event specifically targeted at web agencies and the general goal is to allow these agencies to share knowledge and talk in a safe environment, to ultimately help them to become better service providers.
How did Joomla change your life?
Joomla changed my life in many, many ways. When I started playing around with it, I would have considered myself as a rather introverted person. I spent a lot of time alone in front of my computer, barely maintaining friendships. Helping people in the forums showed me that interacting with people and especially doing good was enjoyable. Gaining knowledge gave me self confidence and attending in-person events, where I was being treated as a valuable person, helped me grow my social skills.
Thanks to Joomla I also consider myself a part of a truly international community. I travelled to many countries, met people from all over the world, learned about different cultures and made friends! Whenever I now go on a 'personal' trip, I always check if there’s a local Joomla community at the place where I travel to and surprisingly often that’s the case. Even though I rarely attended one of the local meetings, it still is great to see that I’m part of a global movement.
Last but not least, Joomla enabled me to start up my business. A couple of years after I kicked off, my younger brother (which I barely had spoken with for years because he was a ‘pain in the ass’ when we shared a room at home) joined the company and now we work on all sorts of great projects. Having a running business also led to the decision to cancel my earlier plan and not leave Cologne to study elsewhere – and a couple of months after that decision, I met the love of my life in Cologne, which ultimately wouldn’t have happened without Joomla.
Joomla is celebrating its 15th Birthday. What wishes do you have for Joomla in the next fifteen years?
I have two main wishes for Joomla and the community.
The first wish is: 'stick your head out of the Joomla bubble'. A couple of years ago, I kicked off a cross-CMS marketing initiative in Germany called 'CMS Garden'. Within the garden, I had the chance to talk to core-people from other CMS, learn about their community structure, their workflows and of course about the pros and cons of their product. Until that point I had barely looked at other CMS and I was truly thinking that Joomla is THE tool for everything. Looking at other systems helped me a lot to understand what Joomla’s pros and cons are and what our main market is – that was a game-changing experience. I would like to see other community folks, especially in leadership positions, make that step too, to realise the challenges that we are facing and draw the right conclusions. Because, as we often say in the garden: “If your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail”.
The second wish is 'overcome fears'. In the last 3-4 years, it became more and more obvious to me that Joomla tries really hard to not make any decisions that could potentially drive people away. The best example for that: what is Joomla’s target group? Answer: everyone.
Seriously, how can 'everyone' be the answer to such an important question? Why are we trying so hard to cater to the 'end user with no knowledge doing his cat blog'-market and the 'complex enterprise website'-market at the same time?
In my opinion, we have to overcome the fear of losing more people and finally make a clear decision for our long term strategy. What is our target group, what type of sites should we target? Once that decision is made, we have a clear vision that can motivate people – and with that clear vision it’s also easier to decide what initiatives should be discontinued to not waste our resources.
You are involved in J and Beyond. Could you tell us a little more about that?
J&Beyond is an international Joomla conference that was started in 2010. Back in 2007, my board-colleague Robert had the idea to organise a conference for the global community to finally meet each other in person and share knowledge on a higher level than what normally happens in an average local event. He reached out to Open Source Matters, the foundation behind Joomla, with that idea and the board liked it – in fact, they liked it so much that they decided to organise that conference on their own with their own team. After that announcement, years went by without any progress and in 2010, Robert took initiative and organised the first JAB edition without the help of OSM – that’s also where the name is coming from: to avoid any potential trademark issues, he chose a name that does not have 'Joomla' in it.
JAB 2010 took place in a lovely venue in the middle of nowhere close to Frankfurt airport in Germany and was a surreal experience: almost 200 Joomla people from 25+ countries finally had the chance to meet all the people they had virtually known for so many years. The venue barely had any internet connection, making the attendees hang out with each other instead of their laptops even more. So, the famous 'hallway track' became the main focus of JAB and made it a very special event in the Joomla world.
However, in 2020 the COVID kicked in and we had to cancel the in-person event that was supposed to happen in Lisbon this year. We had the strong feeling that the Joomla world needed some sort of replacement, and so we organised a 24hour non stop livestream with 24 speakers from all around the globe. It was an exhausting experience for the team but well worth it!
What is your most memorable J!-memory?
In 2018, we did a J&Beyond conference in my hometown Cologne. It was an amazing experience to jump on my bike and have a 10 minute ride to a venue where my 'Joomla family' was hanging out. We went on a boat tour on the Rhine river during that conference, and every time I see that boat on the Rhine, all those awesome memories kick in again – a story that I’ll also tell my kids when we walk along that pier.