Meet the Joomla Documentation Team
What do you do when you want to explore a functionality you didn’t know yet, or you want to know how a Joomla feature works, or you just want to know how to get something done? Most people will RTFM, or Read The Fine Manual, aka the Joomla Documentation. And guess what: Joomla’s Fine Manual doesn’t write itself, there are actual people doing this. We’ve talked to two of them. Read all about this nice team, their important job and how you can help or even join them!
What is the team’s main goal?
Mike Brandner (Team Lead): Our goal is to maintain and promote the official Joomla documentation. In our hands lies the entire knowledge around the project Joomla and the CMS itself. Every day, users around the world call up our documents and inform themselves how to use our CMS. Whether via the help pages or a tutorial - almost everything is documented. But this also means that we need many supporters every day.
What is your place in Joomla’s ecosphere?
Mike: Our place in the Joomla ecosphere is right in the middle of it. Because we connect the developers and the community with the world of the users of our product.
As part of the Production Department, we have direct contact with the ongoing development of the CMS. On the other hand, users search the JDocs for instructions on how to use the CMS.
What roles do you have within the team?
Mike: As the team lead, I check edits in documents daily. If changes have been made to the original texts, I release them for translation, where the translator team supports me. This also applies to newly created pages. Furthermore, new user registrations are checked regularly and spam entries are deleted. I also try to structure the work a bit and set priorities. When events are due, I prepare ToDo lists accordingly, which can then be processed by helpers. Every 2 weeks the production department meetings take place in which I also participate if I find the time. Here general discussions about the development of the CMS and all topics of the production team take place.
In addition, there are currently some strategic discussions about how the documentation should be further developed in the future.
Recently, a test phase for developer documentation (JDevDocs) was started. If this works, the technical documentation will be done in GitHub and the current wiki will focus more on the users. The documentation team has to manage both.
The second task at the moment is a new workflow. With each PR, new features or changes are added to the CMS. We try to record this in the documentation, but this is hardly possible. Currently I'm looking for a way to enable a workflow from the PRs in GitHub towards the docs.
Team members: introduce yourself please :)
Mike: I' m an automation engineer with a background in chemistry and on the side I’ve worked with Joomla since version 1.0. I also run a small agency with which I create and maintain websites for customers. There I use 100% Joomla.
I have been a member of the Joomla community since 2014, when I participated in a JAB for the first time.
About six years ago I started to support the documentation. Initially as a translator, then as a translation coordinator and since 2019 as team leader. Before the position as TL of JDocs, I was also TL of Community Translations in the Marketing Team for about 2 years.
Martijn Maandag (team member): I am retired now. I worked in ICT for 30 years at a banking company. In 2007 I started with Joomla creating my own travel website. After this I helped on a Dutch forum and to organize the Dutch JoomlaDays.
I do a lot of different things. My main work is taking care of the Dutch Language pack and translating release announcements into Dutch, but this is not part of the work for the Joomla Documentation Team. For the Documentation Team I mark documents with translation tags. These Tags <translate>text</translate> mark parts for translators. These parts must not be too big, because smaller parts make it possible to quickly translate just a few sentences in between other work. When these tags are placed I generate the document so every part gets a number. If a part is changed in the source language, translators see this and can review their translation of that part. With the new help screens in Joomla 4 last year I helped marking them for translation and translating them of course. I have been a member since 2014.
How often do you have meetings, and how do they take place?
Mike: We usually have meetings once a year. This should take place more often in the future to better coordinate our activities. Team leader and assistant have the department meeting every 2 weeks.
What tools do you use to work together?
Mike: We use Glip to stay in touch. When working in the JDocs, we use the discussion functions of the wiki or write emails via the wiki messaging system, for example to notify the translators.
If you had three words to describe the atmosphere within the team, what would those words be?
Mike: Quiet! We’re documenting!
How did the team develop over the last year(s)?
Mike: Over the last few years, the team has become smaller and smaller. In principle, only a small core is now active. In addition, there are sporadic users who also document something, but then are usually inactive again. Just like most registered users of the wiki. I think this is also the main problem, because the focus is on the product (CMS). Documentation may seem unattractive and theoretical, but it is really important for software to have good documentation. Well-documented software is a pleasure to work with, and this could make Joomla stand out. We have found many helpers at events like PBF or JoomlaDays, when we have also launched a working session. At such events, there are always a lot of helpers, but they usually don’t stick around for long. Due to the situation, however, these events have unfortunately been largely canceled for the last two years.
Do you need extra volunteers, and if so, in what capacities?
Mike: We need many contributors to help us create and update documents. Everyone is allowed to write in the wiki, but there should be more coordinated work. You don't have to be a team member to support the JDocs.
Nevertheless, our team has become smaller over the years and we are looking for new members to be a permanent part of the team.
What is expected of a member?
Mike: As a member, you should know the CMS well and be keen on writing tutorials and instructions. It should also be possible to take screenshots in your own Joomla installation (in English) and upload them to the JDocs. A certain degree of independence and self-initiative is also required. You should also keep the big picture in mind to ensure good navigation between the individual documents - the documents should also be findable later. The documents must be written in English and will be translated afterwards. We are also looking for coordinators for the translations, but they do not necessarily have to be team members.