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Meet a Joomler: Richard Fath

Richard Fath

His professional activity is not related to Joomla. Richard discovered Joomla! trying to create his own personal website, and he was fascinated: “A CMS for free, open source, driven by volunteers, and everybody who wants can contribute, suggest and provide improvements and help with fixing bugs.” 

In 2014, he began to volunteer to open issues on GitHub, and making pull requests, until he took part at a local J!Day in Germany where he lives. He met other volunteers in person, and became more active in the community. 

Richard Fath is a member in the Bug Squad and CMS Maintenance Team. 

Tell us a little about yourself

I’m a 52 years old single guy coming from and still living in a small village near Heidelberg, Germany. A wonderful region I can recommend to everybody for a visit.

How did you get involved with Joomla and the J! Community?

I never saw the need of having my own website until I wanted to upload some mp3 files of my own music. I’ve noticed that it was impossible because all providers of upload platforms at least here in my country assumed that any sound file was an illegal rip of some hit in the charts. I could have made a video of it with a fixed image, but that seemed so silly to me that I decided to create my own website.

I could have made a static site, but I was curious on technology, and so I’ve decided to try some CMS. I’ve first tried Drupal, but I didn't really get familiar with it.

Then I’ve found Joomla! and was fascinated: A CMS for free, open source, driven by volunteers, and everybody who wants can contribute, suggest and provide improvementsm and help with fixing bugs.

So, I decided to use it, and then it was not a long time until I opened my first issue on GitHub, made my first pull request, and slowly I got deeper into it as a contributor on GitHub.

What do you do for a day job, and if this includes Joomla, how? 

My daily job has nothing to do with websites.

Until a few years ago, I was making and maintaining for many years software applications for Network Control systems for energy transportation and distribution grids. Grids for electricity, gas, district heating or water, applications like Automatic Generation Control, Economic Dispatch of power units, load and demand forecast with ANN and much more.

Now I am doing software service in the same business, Network Control. That means I support international clients or colleagues with configuration of their systems or investigating possible bugs.

This job requires solid base knowledge on everything related to computers, computer networks, and databases, that’s of course useful for my contributions to Joomla!.

Do you use Joomla in other ways?

I use Joomla! for my private website, even if that site is so static and small that it doesn’t need a CMS. But with Joomla! I am ready for the case that I once will decide to become a blogger.

With overrides, I could adjust it to my needs. At a first look it looks like a standard Protostar, but if you check for details like the green buttons or the self scripted HTML 5 audio and video players or the fb open graph data, you will see it has some small improvements.

So it became a little hobby to keep it up to date and running and from time to time implement something new.

Are you involved in the Joomla! Community, apart from in your official position?

Until the end of last year I focused on my contribution on GitHub and wasn’t involved in the community so much, even after I have been made a member of the Joomla! Bug Squad in April 2019.

But that has started to change after I was gifted by German JandBeyond with free tickets for the JoomlaDay Germany in Gießen as a thank you for an urgent bug I had fixed in a 3.9 release.

This Joomla! day was a great event. I could meet people whom I know since years from GitHub. I could also see that the community is much bigger than the GitHub activists only. It was very interesting to listen to professional website and extension builders about what their needs are, and it made me be more aware of the fact that I contribute to something which is not just a hobby but also feeds people.

Since that I am a bit more active in the community, e.g. on Glip during the current Bugs and Fun at Home events.

How did Joomla! change your life?

If Joomla! has changed my life then it has happened so slowly that I didn’t take notice of it, like the frog in the pot full of water which is cold at first but slowly brought to boiling. I think contributing to Joomla! helps me at least with not wasting too much of my time with useless stuff like watching too much TV.

What did you learn and / or gain personally from being a J! Volunteer?

From being a volunteer among many others from all over the world I have learned to be more aware of the fact that not all people are living in the same time zone. That helps me in my daily job, too.

Recently I had a nostalgic moment, and so I’ve looked at my first pull request for Joomla! CMS on GitHub from 2014.

It was funny to see again how I had to struggle with the typical beginner problems. And it was nice to see again how much help and advice I have received from other volunteers.

I can only recommend every experienced contributor or maintainer to do that from time to time, look back on your old stuff from beginner times. It helps much with being more patient with new contributors and giving them advice.

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