The long awaited Joomla! 1.6 is finally here and has been here for about two months now. Joomla! 1.6 introduced a lot of new changes and improvements and it was released 1084 days or 2 years, 11 months, and 19 days after Joomla! 1.5's release. Joomla! is now on a 6-month release cycle and Joomla! 1.7 is scheduled to be released in July 2011.
The new 6-month cycle hopes to bring with it a new level of stability, reliability, and innovation by implementing smaller, more manageable, and consistent version releases. That means that Joomla! 1.5 to 1.6 is the last big migration; we won't have to wait three years for necessary improvements to the Joomla! core; and it encourages more Joomla! developers to be involved in core development.
Releasing a new version every 6 months means people using Joomla! gain a huge benefit, however there is a catch. It is up to you, me, us, the Joomla! community! If you are new to Joomla!, let me break the news subtly to you: Joomla! is run by volunteers and not by a big corporation. Everyone who has contributed and improved Joomla! is a volunteer. It is entirely community driven and as community driven as it gets. Other large CMSs are not the same; they have a large financial backing and have paid developers. Joomla! is different, and its future rests in you, the community.
So how can you be involved in one of the greatest community projects in the world?
1) Answer Questions in the Forum
The Joomla! Support Staff has been doing a poor job answering support requests recently because they are desperately undermanned. The main reason being, there is no Support Staff. As mentioned earlier, Joomla! is entirely community driven and that includes the support. We help each other to help ourselves to help each other to help ourselves.
The forum is an extremely friendly and helpful place to ask and answer Joomla! related questions. It is one of the best supported forums that I have ever been a part of. It is also a great place to gain experience (and get noticed) by answering questions. Be careful though, it can get quite addictive, so do try and balance your time well!
If you are new to Joomla!, do not think that you cannot help in the forum. That is the one of the best ways to learn! You will gain a lot of experience, and even if you do not answer completely accurately, you will find that you will be quickly corrected, in a friendly brotherly/sisterly manner by someone more experienced than yourself. You will be faced with new challenges every day and before you know it, two months will have passed and you no longer have to Google every answer, but instead you will know it by heart and by experience.
Ways to contribute in the forum:
- Register and login at http://forum.joomla.org/
- Access a specific forum
- Access a topic
2) Report Bugs
Bugs are those really annoying things that make you think that you are losing your mind and keep you wondering why Joomla! is not doing what Joomla! is supposed to be doing at an hour that you need Joomla! to do what you want Joomla! to do, even though you have checked and rechecked 100 times that you are doing things correctly. Perhaps we can shorten it to, bugs are unintended flaws that produce unintended results. In either case, it needs to be reported and you have the responsibility, and privilege, to report it.
Here is the basic protocol for reporting a bug (or see full protocol):
- Register at joomlacode.org
- Access the Joomla! Bug Tracker from the menu
- Search to see if the bug has already been reported
- Submit a new bug tracker item with a sufficient detailed description and simple step-by-step of how to replicate.
3) Squash Bugs
You do not have to part of the Joomla! Bug Squad to provide patches for bugs, test patches, etc.
- Create an account at joomlacode.org
- Open up an item
- Start fixing!
Also, anyone can join the Joomla! Bug Squad:
- Fill out the entry form
- Email Mark Dexter ( dextercowley AT gmail DOT com ) requesting membership
By fixing bugs and/or being part of the Joomla! Bug Squad, you will be contributing to the Joomla! project in a huge and needed way. You will learn a lot about Joomla!, and gain a lot of experience, which would be a great addition to a resume.
4) Write Documentation
Writing documentation is like changing diapers. It is necessary but you always expect the other half to do it, and without it, you are left with a mess. We have a small team dedicated to making the Joomla! documentation better, however with more help we can really make the Joomla! documenation great!
Basic protocol for contributing to the documentation:
- Register and login at http://docs.joomla.org/ (top-right of the page)
- Learn the basic Wiki markup
- Visit any page that you want to create/edit by going to it or typing the URL.
- Edit an exiting page by clicking on the edit tab. If no page exists for the URL, the editor will display when the URL is accessed.
- Great place to start is on Joomla 1.6 Documentation
Also, be sure to join the official Google group
5) Translate Joomla!
The hope is that Joomla! will be made available to everyone and anyone. Joomla! is definitely an international powerhouse and Joomla! 1.6 added some major international enhancements, however there is still a lot of work to be done. We need the help from talented native speakers who wish to contribute by translating Joomla! 1.5 language packages into their native language.
Ways to contribute:
- Create a language pack
- Register and login at joomlacode.org
- Create a new project and upload the language pack
6) Join the JED Team
There are about 7,000 extensions listed on the Joomla! Extension Directory. That is a lot to keep track of, not to mention all the associated reviews with each extension. Each and every extension and review has to be examined before being approved. The JED, because of its sensitive nature, is one area where one cannot just jump in and start contributing, but in a few, easy steps you can!
7) Write an Article in the Joomla! Community Magazine
This one is really simple and if I can do it, you can do it.
How to become a JCM Author:
8) Spread the News about Joomla!
No sign-up forms are needed for this one. Just tell others about your experience with Joomla!, the good times and bad. You are the expert when it comes to your experience and others can greatly benefit from it. Your friends, your neighbors, and even random people in the super market are all good choices. Perhaps you should start with your friends that need a website or are having difficulty with static HTML site. You can twitter about it or announce it on Facebook. It's up to you in more ways than one!
9) Make a paid contribution
As I mentioned before, there are no paid developers and essentially everyone is a volunteer, however there are expenses, including but not limited to promoting Joomla! and protecting Joomla! Copyrights. Check out the Contribute page.
10) Discover Other Ways to Contribute
This list is by no means exhaustive, however it's a definitely a good starting point from my experience. Joomla! is huge and so there will be many different ways to contribute and give back to the community. What are some other ways that you have found? Share it with others! Perhaps write a follow-up article to this one, or leave a comment to this article.