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Meet a Joomler - Tom van der Laan


Next in our Meet-a-Joomler - series we are going to meet Tom van der Laan. You might already have seen some of his work: he has made the latest release images as being in the Marketing team. But this isn’t where Tom started in our community. Enjoy his interview and find out what his first steps in the Joomniverse looked like!

Tell us a little about yourself

I’m Tom van der Laan, 38 years old from Sittard, The Netherlands. I’m a husband and father of 3 little kids (4 years, 2 years and 6 months old). I’m a classic car enthusiast (have a 1973 Opel GT), sports shooter and burger lover. I’ve been a self-employed web designer, graphic designer and photographer since 2008 so I have my 15th anniversary coming up this year in June.

How did you get involved with Joomla and the J! Community?

I got involved in Joomla back in 2008 when I built my ‘company’ website, which was the first web site I made in Joomla. It must’ve been Joomla 1.5.3 that I started with. I have used Joomla for my projects for years before I got involved in the Joomla Community. It started out after I joined JUG 043 (Maastricht, NL) in 2016. Seeing other people being so enthusiastic!

When I started doing custom Joomla development in 2018 I ran into Joomla Component Builder and Llewellyn van der Merwe, also a Joomler. And he got me involved as a Joomler for his Joomla Extension Directory Team (JED). I started out as a Listing Specialist for the JED team in 2021. After a year I moved on to the Marketing Team as Assistant Team Lead where I’m currently contributing my time and skills to the Joomla project.

I’ve only started learning to code 4 years ago and learned it by building overrides and custom components but I’m nowhere near the level of our top Joomla developers. I do hope I can work my way up there and be able to contribute code in the future.

What do you do for a day job, and if this includes Joomla, how?

I’ve had my own web design business since 2008. I started it when I was still in school and built a solid base so when I got out of school I just started to do it full-time. Besides web design and development I also do graphic design, print and photography. I think all of them take up roughly 1/3 of my time. So yeah, I’ve used Joomla to build websites for my clients since day one and never felt the need to look anywhere else.
And for the last couple of years I’ve been trying to stick to the core as much as possible, creating overrides and using custom fields to create a fun and easy experience for my clients. For instance restaurant menus or event calendars or tables.

Besides overrides I’ve also created some modules, specifically for Joomla 4 and Cassiopeia. I had a need for a client website and thought: why not create something other Joomla fans can enjoy too? They are free and you can check them out at extensions.tlwebdesign.nl. They work great together with Cassiopeia or any Bootstrap 5 template.

I’m also still a member of our local JUG (JUG043).

Do you use Joomla in other ways?

Yes, I’ve also built websites for clubs and friends.

Are you involved in the Joomla community, apart from in your official position

I already mentioned the JUG043 and I also attend the JoomlaDays in the Netherlands.

How did Joomla change your life?

It gave me the tools to be able to provide for myself and my family.

What did you learn and / or gain personally from being a J! Volunteer?

I learned there are some great people in the Joomla community and I’ve learned a lot about Joomla and how it works from other Joomlers. I also like helping other people whenever I can and there is nothing better than helping out a fellow Joomler.

What Joomla achievement are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of what the Joomla volunteers achieved with Joomla 4. It is such a big upgrade and I love working with it.

Do you have a memorable Joomla-moment?

I still remember attending my first JoomlaDay Netherlands event and how welcoming, exciting and fun it was. I knew nobody there except for Johan van der Velde, our JUG043 organizer. But we had a great time and I think it’s what made me dive into Joomla and the community deeper than I did before.

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