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It's a Magical Place
Everyone has their own story behind '10 years of Joomla'. Most of us haven't witnessed the entire decade, or followed every area of the Joomla ecosystem, ranging from development, leadership, community, extensions, templates, frameworks, documentation, events ... but there's one common topic you'll find every Joomler agrees on: our community has some great people in it. So I thought I would write something up about some of the remarkable people I met. There will be no names, because in reality, many Joomlers fit each of these descriptions -- feel free to think of your favorite person while reading. For me, it's a small way of saying thanks for making Joomla possible.
People who code
We've had some brilliant minds working on the Joomla core technology. I think when Joomla opened up the architecture and made extension development without hacking core a real possibility, we saw a revolution in the quality of extensions made available. If you can download modules, components, plugins and the like today, it's because of the framework structure of the CMS. While developers will never cease to tinker with the definition of 'the framework' and it has been going through a number of significant changes, I salute the hardcore geeks and visionaries who engineered Joomla's backbone and made it a campfire for all of us to gather around. May you be forever cached in our minds.
I have already mentioned extension developers in passing. It's a sure sign of success when people are willing to spend a significant amount of their time, and in some cases their livelihood, in building and maintaining an add-on to a product. They prove on a daily basis that there is a market of end-users / customers who want to use Joomla for their sites, and who are in search of particular functionality that no OS project could ever dream to develop by itself. It's the variety and choice available in the JED that makes Joomla so attractive, and what is built by extension developers brings back both new requirements and creative ideas to the core team. So while downloading, take a second to say a silent thanks to each and every participant in the JED (and the team who manage the JED itself). Understand that whatever they charge, if anything, it's only a fraction of what they gave you.
People who code and then some
Websites are created to attract visitors. While Joomla's components and modules provide you with a rich visual structure for every page, template developers make sure these elements work together well on the screen, and provide a memorable experience tuned to the site's particular brand and audience. Perhaps that was an easy task when Joomla started and everything was table-based and used sliced GIFs, but in today's world, UX design is probably more crucial in your site's success than your choice of CMS. Template designers answer the question 'if you had this kind of content, how would you make it look good' with examples and a usable template. Their value to the community is often underestimated, as pictures say more than 1024 words.
Integrators are the people who talk to clients who want a web presence, need to interact with an audience of look for a way to get information A to person B online. They need to make the choice between Joomla, Wordpress, Drupal and many others, and more often than not, stake their entire business on that choice. Individual web developers, small or large shops, their job is to build the dream of a customer, on time and on budget, and keep it maintained for a couple of years, security fixes and all. They are the ones who convince the customer that yes, Joomla can do all this, and yes, it is backed by a stable and vibrant community, and yes, their site will rock. They mix Joomla, extensions and templates into just the right blend. And if we can say that Joomla is one of the most popular CMSs, it's because integrators did such a wonderful job building them all.
People who use Joomla every day
Strangely enough, we hardly ever talk about the Joomla webmasters. Who write articles, crop pictures, manage translation workflow for content, interact with their business owners to run campaigns on the site, report on analytics, make sure the hosting is setup correctly, do the maintenance updates, restore the odd backup and handle a daily dose of 'I would like to add this to the website'. If the sites go down, they're the first line of defense. If marketing or communications need something put online immediately, they burn midnight oil. Everytime I hear a story about a webmaster being capable of handling one of such situations, managing a huge amount of content singlehanded or just keeping the monthly book reading club informed, it reminds we of why I like Joomla.
People who help people use Joomla
None of these people would have a clue about Joomla if we did not have a bunch of natural gurus in our midst. People who claim to have no real developer or designer knowledge, but are willing to pay their own ticket to a conference to present what they do and have learned, for the betterment of others. It takes some serious cojones to get up in front of an audience and talk about what went wrong in your project, or to try a live demo. I'm not aware of any other community that is so full of eager presenters, and at the same time so welcoming to their contributions, in user groups, national or international events. They are the most powerful tool for Joomla to convince others that they too can shape Joomla into a solution for their problem, and that there is a huge group of people out there ready to answer questions and help you find answers. From keynote speaker to Dr. Joomla to forum enthusiast, much of the shine of Joomla comes from our many speakers.
Some of the brighest gems of the Joomla community are not immediately visible at the surface. They document Joomla. They manage the forums. They review JED submissions, organize events, put in hours and hours to help structure the Joomla project itself. I even stuggle to find a term to describe all of the Joomla project volunteers who keep things running. It's not always a popular task, particularly in such an outspoken community as Joomla is, and we've had a history of personal and style clashes throughout the decade. But without the effort of all of these volunteers, for better or for worse, Joomla would be a sterile project. The documentors, forum administrators, team or group leaders, magazine editorr or whatever their role in the Joomla project, we need to hug them much more often.
And many, many other people
As with all lists, I'm forgetting people. Commercial partners providing the necessary funding for new initiatives and events. Rockstars willing to make complete fools of themselves on or around the stage and make events fun as well as interesting. First-time Joomla users whose comments and questions bring back menories of when we were starting out. Beer buddies, code companions, thought leaders, free spirits, avid tweeters and design wizards. I can see the faces of so many of my Joomla friends when I write this. I can remember the chats, the beers we had at conferences, the heated twitter wars, the customer stories and the beautiful things they showed me. They're all just people, like me, with strengths and weaknesses, strong ideas and quirky sensitivities. Whether they contributed a lot to the project or not is not for me to say -- but for my personal Joomla experience, they were and are indispensable. Let's add another decade!