6 minutes reading time (1240 words)

Ryan Demmer, The man behind JCE


Among the extensions that Joomlers have become accustomed to installing as standard on their sites, JCE is generally at the top, and has been for years. Users are so used to it that they forget that behind this editor is a developer who has devoted 20 years of his life to providing a quality tool. Let's meet Ryan Demmer, the proud father of JCE (Joomla Content Editor)

Hello Ryan,
Many Joomla users are familiar with your JOOMLA CONTENT EDITOR extension, but we don't really know much about you. Can you give us a quick introduction?

I am originally from South Africa, my wife and I moved to London in 2009 where we live with our 10 year old son. 

What was your first encounter with Joomla?

I actually started in the Mambo days, which I discovered when looking for a CMS for the website of a museum I was working at. I was fortunate to see the exciting birth of Joomla and the community that it created.

When did you start developing? At the same period before or later?

My first extension was for Mambo, called Tinymce-EXP, was an extension of the Tinymce editor in Mambo, adding an Image Manager and File Manager (adapted from the PHP Image Manager and File Manager developed by Wei Zhuo for HTMLArea, another popular WYSIWYG Editor of the time). This then became MosCE, and later when Joomla 1.0 was launched, JCE 1.0.0, which was released on 2nd March 2006.

What led you to create your Joomla extension in particular?

Mambo didn’t really have any form of media manager, and inserting images into articles was a bit of a clumsy process. For some reason I thought I could do something about that, and after finding the Image Manager by Wei Zhuo, I had a go at integrating it. That was successful and popular, so it just carried on from there.

What challenges did you face? How did you overcome them?

Not really knowing what you are doing is always a bit of a challenge, but if you hit a nail hard enough and for long enough, it might not be pretty, but it’s going to go in!

I’m essentially self-taught, and learnt javascript, html and css mostly from copying the code of Johan Sörlin, the original Tinymce developer, and PHP from the Joomla core developers. Keeping my head down and trying not to give up too easily has got me this far, so I must be doing something right!

Did you start earning a living quickly or was it complicated?

I started selling the JCE Subscription in mid-2006 but it wasn’t until some time in 2007 that I was able to consider doing it full time. There weren’t many payment providers that were available to South African businesses at the time (no Paypal), and the one I was using - 2Checkout.com - only added Paypal support some time in 2007, which made a big difference to sales. I quit my job at the museum at the end of 2007, and have been doing this full time since then!

Also, all of us who were selling some sort of subscription or product for Joomla pretty much had to build or adapt the tools to do it. Thankfully by the time EU VAT became an issue I sort of knew what was doing. Luckily Paddle.com came along just before Brexit - as a Reseller and Merchant of Record they handle all of the global tax stuff - otherwise it would have been a nightmare!

Is this still the case?

Technically it is not as complicated, thanks to Paddle and similar companies it is a lot easier to sell software and services globally.

As for continuing to make a living, it does seem to be getting a lot harder now. The global cost-of-living crisis has put a squeeze on budgets, and a declining interest in JCE and Joomla in general has definitely affected sales, which is a constant worry.

Are you in contact with other independent developers? How can this kind of collaboration work?

I’ve always been a bit of a hermit in this regard, although I occasionally seek the advice of some developer veterans like Nicholas Dionysopoulos from Akeeba, and of course the Mattermost community. That said, I’m sure people know where to find me, so…

What are the most common misconceptions about your extension?

I think a common misconception about most Joomla extensions is that many of them are developed and supported by teams of people. With the exception of a few extensions, I think that most are created and supported by 1 or 2 individuals. Or that this is a hobby or “side hustle”, but for me it’s a full time gig, 6 - 7 days a week!

A misconception about JCE in particular is that it uses an old version of Tinymce, when it doesn’t actually use any particular version. It is essentially a heavily modified, constantly evolving fork of various versions, that still retains some older naming conventions. This is proving difficult to maintain, so the core of it will be moving back to Tinymce 7 in a future version.

What is the one thing people don't know about your extension?

One thing? It’s such a complex extension that there is definitely more than one unknown thing. Brian Teeman used to do an entire presentation on this called “JCE Hidden Secrets”!

OK so here’s a tip - CTRL + ALT + Z will reapply the last formatting you did…

And a useless bit of information - all the major versions are named after Neutrinos : electron (version 1), muon (version 2 - current version), tau (version 3 - next version).

What are the topics people always ask for support?

Historically, anything to do with iframes has been the most common issue. They are used a lot, especially for embedding media, but are a potential security issue, so are not allowed by default. Some other Joomla extensions that offer security solutions for a site also mess with them, which causes support issues for me.

Do you get a lot out of the Joomla community?

I’m not that much of an active participant, but Joomla is the Community and the Community is Joomla. JCE would not exist without either.

What is your involvement in the Joomla community?

Not much unfortunately. I know I should do more, and resolve to try, but any free time I have has got to be spent with family.

What do you think of Joomla's ecosystem?

I think it is an excellent product that doesn’t get the attention it deserves. It is so much more powerful, secure and sophisticated than some alternatives, but as CMS market-share shrinks - due to Saas alternatives like Squarespace or AI-assisted design tools - there will naturally be a decline in usage, which will affect the community as a whole.

How do you see your future with Joomla? Do you have any surprises up your sleeve?

I’m getting close to completing initial development of the next major version of JCE, which will be powered by Tinymce 7 and is essentially platform independent, allowing for a Joomla 3 and 4 version, a Joomla 5 and 6+ version, and a Wordpress Classic Editor alternative.

Anything else you’d like to say to our Joomler friends?

Thank you! I’ve spent nearly 20 years as part of this community and it has been a wonderful, rewarding experience.

Ryan Demmer's extension site : https://www.joomlacontenteditor.net

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Comments 1

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Semaphore on Tuesday, 02 July 2024 13:38
Thanks Ryan

Thanks Ryan, for providing us such a complete tool for our clients ;-)

Thanks Ryan, for providing us such a complete tool for our clients ;-)

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