4 minutes reading time (842 words)

How the Joomla Community can help a web project - A Case Study


In 2001, I had a bright idea. I'd combine my love of writing with my software skills and create a writers' website, a place where writers could share and showcase their work, readers would enjoy a wide range of writing, and publishers could unearth new talent.

It took sixteen long years and a lot of help from the Joomla open-source community to launch Tall And True!

There were many reasons for the delay in realising my bright idea, my dream. For a start, the technology I planned to use for Tall And True in 2001 wasn't as easy-to-use and website-friendly as I'd hoped. Though, to be fair to the technology, my software developer skills weren't up to the task, either.

Back then, there were no website builders, like Wix and Squarespace, nor even open-source website platforms like Joomla or WordPress. You had to know how to code in HTML, Java and JavaScript to make a website — and I didn't know any of that!

A further diversion arrived in 2002, with the birth of my son. Fatherhood changed my priorities, and I settled into being a work- and stay-at-home-dad (and changing nappies!). But I still loved writing, and I kept my writers' website dream alive by regularly renewing the Tall And True domain name.

Discovering Joomla

In 2008, a friend suggested I take a look at the Joomla open-source platform to build a website for my local (not-for-profit) dog training club. Despite being less technically challenging than HTML, Java and JavaScript, I still had a steep learning curve with Joomla. But thankfully, around this time, I discovered the Sydney Joomla User Group (JUG)

One of the upsides of open-source platforms is the community of developers and enthusiasts prepared to share their experience and expertise with newbies, like me! And thanks to the Sydney JUG, I built the dog club website and started exploring how I might use Joomla for Tall And True.

One of the downsides of open-source platforms is the bewildering array of website templates and extensions for delivering beyond-the-basic functionality. It's like trying to select your favourite assorted cream biscuit. The temptation is to gorge yourself on the lot, and you end up feeling bloated and sick. And that's how my early attempts with Joomla and Tall And True looked and felt! 

The near-perfect template

However, in 2016, I stumbled across a magazine template, which, out-of-the-box, presented stories in an attractive and browsable format. It just needed a *little* tweaking, customising colours, layout and functionality, to make it look and feel like my dream Tall And True website.

Despite having found the near-perfect template, and my growing competence with Joomla and continued involvement with the Sydney JUG (where I now helped newbies!), another year rolled over on my wall calendar without a website.

Finally [fade in drum roll, please], in 2017, I finished fiddling and faffing and launched Tall And True. Fittingly, it was at the August meeting of the Sydney JUG. My dream was a reality, and, after sixteen years, I had a website where I could share and showcase my writing and invite other writers to do the same.

The Four-Year Itch 

In August 2019, I marked Tall And True's second anniversary, with a presentation at Joomladay Australia in Brisbane on how Joomla had helped me realise my dream writers' website. And in April 2020, I gave a talk via Zoom at the inaugural Australian Virtual JUG on how I had built a blog into the website.

I knew many in the audience at both presentations from my long-term involvement with the JUGs and other Joomla events. After my April JUG talk, I chatted with an old Sydney JUG friend (and an award-winning website designer) and mentioned I had been thinking of updating Tall And True. 

While the website was only two-years-old, the customised template was four-years-old and was starting to look dated. But, as I explained to my friend, I didn't fancy a sixteen-year upgrade process!

Displaying the typical Joomla community spirit of sharing experience and expertise (even with not-so-newbies!), she offered to help me with a template recommendation and layout guidelines. We had a couple of short Zoom meetings and a few chats via Messenger, and I spent a month building and testing the Tall And True template changes. 

New-look Tall And True

On 22 May 2020, I launched my new-look writers' website. I am pleased with the cleaner look-and-feel of Tall And True and think it will prove easier for writers, readers and publishers to browse and enjoy the stories, articles and blog posts. And for writers to share and showcase their writing.

The original and new-look Tall And True (and my dog club website!) would not have been possible without the Joomla open-source community. On my long journey with Tall And True, I struck more than a few roadblocks and detours. But thanks to the JUGs, forums and friends I made along the way, I arrived at my destination. Later than planned, yes, but safe! 

And all thanks to Joomla and our open-source community.


Community Openings - July 2020


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