Joomlers: Merav Knafo
iJoomla and JomSocial owner Merav Knafo kindly agreed to talk to "Joomla! Community Magazine" on what has been major highlights for her team in 2014 but due to a logistical issue this interview was not published in due time as planned. Read on to learn about her experience of becoming a new "sheriff" in JomSocial "town" which she acquired two years ago; on how she and her team are striving to create a "WOW" factor; on her favourite food Sushi and on how today's computing graduates should approach pursuing their dreams of building their own web-development business.
Hello, Merav and big thank you for kindly agreeing to this interview for the January issue of our "Joomla! Community Magazine". I really appreciate it.
It’s my pleasure!
For those, I am sure a few, JCM readers who may not know you: could you please briefly introduce yourself?
I’ve been with Joomla! since the very beginning [of its history, that is from] 2005. In iJoomla [team] we released our first extension "iJoomla Magazine" and it was an instant hit. After that, we released ten more extensions, including: "Guru", "Ad Agency", "iSEO", "Publisher" and some others. Two years ago I acquired "JomSocial" and it has been keeping me very busy ever since. With my wonderful team, I was able to turn things around significantly and our customers are very appreciative.
Cheers for that. So, we are in December and it's normally time to count your chickens. How do you look back at this past year? Has there been anything you as a web-development company owner are particularly happy and proud of? Anything you'd rather not happen? Anything funny?
The year 2014 was a very intense year for my team. I made a big promise in the beginning of the year, to make "JS" [Joomla! extension] so amazing that people will say “WOM” when they see it. You can see me making this promise here.
We did not mess around and incorporated some very important tools and methodologies that took us to the next level professionally: we started using SCRUM methodology and Webdriver testing automation that made "JS" a lot more stable. In addition to that, we released version 3.2, that had a major improvement in the stream, and right away started working on version 4.0, - our biggest release yet, which will have a completely new design and tons of new features. You can find out more about this release on our blog.
We have been keeping our customers up to date with our development and their support and appreciation have been amazing. The whole team are all super excited about this version. It is not only taking "JomSocial" [component] to a whole new level, - it will make it the absolute best social networking application anywhere, not just in Joomla.
Anything funny… Hmmm… Well, I can tell you this, we have some of the funniest guys on our team. They always crack me up with their (sometimes inappropriate) banter and jokes. This makes working in the "JS" [team] a lot more fun for everybody. So, I am very lucky to have such an amazing team.
Regrets? Not exactly but I may have skipped the “Theme Designer” feature if I knew how long it would take. It took much longer than I expected and set us back quite a bit. That said, the result is so amazing that I feel like our customers would be happy and won’t mind the delay it has caused. So, "JS" 4.0 is going to rock your world, and it’s coming early 2015. Stay tuned for news [on its release] on our Facebook page.
That’s great. You know, you just mentioned that you promised back then to create the “WOX" factor for your customers in 2014, but may I bring us slightly back to September 2013? That was when I myself experienced that very “WOW” moment. I was really amazed when I read the blog post on your decision to invite into "JS" team an English A linguistic specialist for the major overhaul of the default English language of "JS" component! Being your "JS" Russian translation team, I also sometimes bump into a few English language source strings that could be touched here and there, but no way did I expect to see a major overhaul by invited AN in-house English language professional dedicated only to this task! As a "JS" team owner and leader, what was your experience around that time? What moved you to that business decision with launching English language strings overhaul project? Was that project smooth or a bumpy road? From your view, would you rather have spent your resources at the time on something else or would you still choose the same route?
Great question! As someone who is not native English myself, but who spent fourteen years in the USA, it was very important to me that we get on the right track and get "JS" language properly handled. We were somewhat successful but not 100% yet. I still bump into language errors more than I would like.
The main issue is that our development moves super fast and new language strings added all the time by team members who are not native English speakers and it is a bit challenging to keep it up. Before the release of "JS" 4.0, it is my goal to do another overhaul of our language and make sure we are in the best shape ever!
It is very important to me that "JS" language is not only grammatically correct, but it also makes sense and is “Reader friendly". That means that every field is labelled properly in a way that is easy to understand and that error and info messages actually reflect accurately the error or the info that we are trying to convey.
The "JoomSocial" language overhaul project was a brilliant move. It is nice to see your intent to keep working on the quality of English language strings in your Joomla! extensions. It really sets a nice example to other Joomla! extensions developers to follow suit and build upon your experience. Now, so far we have looked at Merav Knafo as a business woman, - a company owner, a Joomla! extensions development team leader, a forward thinker, a decision maker. May I ask as well a few more questions on your personal preferences side?
What is your favourite book?
My favourite book as The Law of Attraction
What is your favourite food?
My favourite food is Sushi
What is your favourite movie?
My favourite movie is The Machinist
What is your favourite pet?
Not really a pet person :-)
Marvelous. Let’s move on. If a computer science university graduate who is considering herself/himself an aspiring entrepreneur, comes to you today for a word of your wisdom on starting up on her/his own, as a web-developer, what would your word be? I mean, we essentially live in a recession economy, and they most likely already accrued some debt while studying. Shouldn't they first start looking for a security of a job working for an employer and paying off their debts before going on their own or should they still follow their dreams and pursue their own path until they succeed?
Actually, I don’t have a university degree in computer science, my degree is in "Nutrition and Biochemistry". I do have a diploma for programming but I am self-taught mostly. Entrepreneurship is not for everyone. Some people put higher value on security, more than in adventure and risk, which is all good.
Working for someone else is a great start - you can learn a lot about what you want and what you don not want to do with your career and acquire new skills [in the mean time]. Once you crystallised your wants and needs, you can then take the leap to working for yourself. Start slow - start a side project in evenings and weekends.
You will know soon enough if it is catching on or not, - based on the interest people have in your service/product. This is a very sensible, reasonable and risk-free approach to making the leap into entrepreneurship.
This is very sensible approach indeed and on this point, I would like to conclude our interview, Merav. It has been a real pleasure talking to you.
From myself and on behalf of our "Joomla! Community Magazine" readers I would like to wish you and your "iJoomla" and "JomSocial" teams happy and prosperous year .
Happy new year from iJoomla to the entire Joomla! community!
We at JCM wish Merav Knafo and her team a happy and prosperous year 2017. Please send in your well wishes and comments below.