7 minutes reading time (1302 words)

Joomla 4 Basic Training: Boots on the Ground - Author Interview


We sit down with Herb Boeckenhaupt, Sharon Lee Hall, Brandon Batie and Philip Cave, the creators of a new Joomla book called Joomla 4 BASIC TRAINING: Boots on the Ground. We talk about the book, plans for additional books, and writing in general.

Herb, could we start off with you telling me a little about yourself?

Owned a printing/graphics business in the Washington, DC area when the internet came about. Sold the business and became a web developer and desktop publishing consultant. This brought me to Joomla in 2005, shortly after it forked from Mambo. Began using Joomla for all the website projects after that, many of which were NASCAR race teams, thus our company name: 200mph Media Group, LLC. We are publishing the Joomla 4 books under the “howtodoit.guru” banner.

Because of the race team clients, we relocated from Maryland to North Carolina to continue that work. Since that time, we have narrowed our focus to strictly Joomla projects, along with Moodle online training and related mobile apps on topics dealing with emergency procedures for high rise buildings in New York City.

Congratulations on publishing your book, “Joomla 4 BASIC TRAINING: Boots on the Ground”. Tell me about it. Who is the audience, and why should they read it?

Joomla 4: BASIC TRAINING – Boots on the Ground, is for those that are new to Joomla 4: novice and Joomla 3 users who want to get up to speed quickly with the new version. This first book covers the essential nuts & bolts of creating a Joomla 4 website and adding structured content, along with descriptions of the Components.

The book is 365 pages in 15 chapters with 64 exercises, which is pretty big for a “BASIC TRAINING” publication. We wanted to give the buyers their money’s worth and put in as much content as possible to get them started the right way with Joomla 4.

Because of the large amount of content in this first book, and our desire to cover Joomla 4 for users as thoroughly as possible, we decided that follow-up books were needed to cover the full spectrum of Joomla 4 use, but from a “users” viewpoint. We do not include coding guides, etc., for developers, extension developers or template builders. They do not need this level of training. Beginning and experienced users will find our books a gold mine of helpful information for their work as a website administrator.

Writing a book is a big undertaking. Would you consider yourself a passionate writer? If so, where does the passion come from?

We have been writing technical instructional guides from our days using conventional typesetting systems and then desktop publishing. We consulted with a large number of trade associations in Washington, DC, in helping them with their desktop publishing assimilation. Writing user guides for desktop publishing was both enjoyable and profitable. We never published any books back then, but made plenty of customized user manuals.

We did publish an extensive manual under contract with Xerox Corporation when they acquired the desktop publishing program “Ventura Publisher,” which at the time was an excellent software for creating technical manuals using style sheets. Xerox stopped selling Ventura Publisher to integrate their own authoring systems into their publishing platforms.

Writing instructions on using software, along with explaining the “how” and “why” users must do certain things in a certain sequence is fun because it gives the author the opportunity to explain what is going to be accomplished, then to show the reader, on a step-by-step basis, how to complete the tasks. We use targeted exercises to do this. It is fun writing the sequence steps and then testing them on a clean Joomla 4 installation to make sure they are correct.

How did you do the research on Joomla 4? Did you actively follow the development, or did you wait until it was released and then immersed yourself?

As experienced Joomla 3 users, we were keenly aware of Joomla 4 coming in the future and watched its progress closely. We loaded a test platform onto our server from an early alpha version and kept updating it each time a new version was released, exploring, testing and putting the program through its paces.

We began actually writing our book after an early beta was released and for over a year, we kept checking our book contents to the last release in beta and then the RC’s. Furthermore, we checked it again when Joomla 4.0.5 came out and again with 4.0.6 we made a bunch of changes along the way to keep up with the releases.

You also wrote a “Boot camp” book for Joomla 3. What would you say have been the biggest changes from Joomla 3 to Joomla 4 in terms of writing training/education material?

Before our “Joomla 3: BOOT CAMP” book, we published the “Picture Yourself Creating a Website Using Joomla 1.6.” Both the Joomla 1.6 and 3 books were published by Cengage PTR, who no longer publishes these kinds of books.

“Joomla 3: BOOT CAMP” has sold thousands of copies online and in bookshops. In fact, it is still a popular Joomla 3 book.

The differences between Version 3 and 4 are too many to list, but we can say that Joomla 4 is a quantum leap forward, especially with the integration of Bootstrap 5, which helps the developers and their page building extensions, not to forget those that build the Joomla 4 templates with all the customization features.

This is our first book using the Amazon print-on-demand service, and preliminary results are very favourable to continuation of using that service.

I understand that this book is the first in a series of Joomla training books. Can you tell us more about the upcoming books, when they are scheduled to release, and who the target audience will be?

After we got done with “BASIC TRAINING,” we took a look at the other subjects we wanted to cover under the “Boots on the Ground” series. Our tentative list is for these books:

  • Volume 1: ADVANCE EDITION - Boots on the Ground
  • Volume 2: ADVANCE EDITION - Boots on the Ground

V1 and V2 are companion volumes that cover advanced topics that will help all users. Expect release of Volume 1 in April and Volume 2 in June 2022.

  • Volume 3: Using Joomla 4 Template Builders – Fall 2022
  • Volume 4: Using Joomla 4 Page Builders – Fall 2022 
  • Volume 5: Using Joomla 4 Menu Extensions - TBD
  • Volume 6: Using Joomla 4 Form Builder Extensions - TBD

To get them all published, should take us well into 2023. But, as you can see, there is a plan to deliver some advanced topics to users in the same format as “BASIC TRAINING.” That book is an 8.5 x 11 size for easy reading. It’s black & white with colour covers.

Thank you very much for your time answering my questions, and once again congratulations on publishing your book. Is there anything else you would like our readers to know?

First, we would like to thank everyone that has purchased our previous Joomla books and especially those that have invested in “Joomla 4: BASIC TRAINING.”

Second, Joomla 4 has its place and some very functional and intriguing websites can be built using the platform. Sure, there are other platforms and cloud services that can also build websites, but they should be compared to your website needs and not just what is being “sold” to you.

Third, the Joomla worldwide community is huge, and websites are built using many different languages, which is one of the features that puts Joomla 4 above all the others. The support from within the community is excellent. Developers also have a good level of supporting their own products.

Again, thank you for purchasing “Joomla 4: BASIC TRAINING”

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