6 minutes reading time (1167 words)

How I learned Joomla - Rolf Dautrich


Rolf Dautrich was a professional in IT and one day he was asked to create a website, and he chose Joomla. Since this time, this site has got some brothers and sisters. As he described himself, he is a hobbyist who doesn't create websites commercially, only for “friends and family”. Let's listen to his story, which has followed the development of Joomla from the outset and throughout version changes.

Could you tell us a little about yourself?

I was born in 1949, I am married, and have always lived in the Frankfurt area in Germany (I live about 50 km to the east from Frankfurt in the little town Wächtersbach).

I have been very active in various sports (when I was younger): Tennis, table tennis, skiing, mountaineering…

What about your career ?

I've been in IT throughout all my business life, starting with my first programming lessons (does anybody remember FORTRAN?) at Frankfurt University in the summer of 1969. Later I worked for IT companies as well as for a major German bank until I retired. I held a broad variety of job descriptions, including, but not limited to Professional Services, Systems Programming, Sales Support, Marketing, Project Management, and Business Analysis.

How did you get into website creation?

In spite of my IT background, I was a complete newbie in website creation and maintenance, when I started my first Joomla site for a local non-profit organization in late 2007. The idea was to create a website for a local association ("Weinfreunde Neudorf"), but to also make this website a showcase for the village of Neudorf, a suburb of the German town of Wächtersbach. Among the six or eight people discussing that subject, I was the only one with an IT background. So I made a tough statement: “I will develop and run the website!”. Nobody objected.

What made you choose Joomla among other CMS?

It was obvious to me that the site would grow to 100 or more pages over time. My IT experience told me that I would need a CMS for the site for maintenance reasons, and a free solution for financial reasons. By chance, I found a comparative test of three open source CMS in a major German IT magazine: **c't**. The candidates were TYPO3, Drupal, and Joomla; Wordpress was not considered a CMS back in 2007. TYPO3 was too complex, Drupal was too specific. After reading, I decided on Joomla. 

Can you describe the process of creating your first Joomla site?

First steps: 

  • Buy a book about Joomla; 
  • Order some cheap hosting with PHP and MySQL; 
  • Decide between version 1.0 and 1.5beta: result 1.0; 
  • Download Joomla; 
  • Find a good-looking template ("Brazen Ascend" from Ryan Rhode). 

I can't remember whether I did some tests on my local PC using WAMP. Eventually I managed to install Joomla at my hosting provider, install the template, and create my first articles.
From my IT background, I knew that I urgently needed a backup solution. Searching the Internet, I found JoomlaPack, the backup solution from Nicolas Dionysopoulos, which would later become Akeeba Backup (you know now why Akeeba's backup files carry the .JPA suffix). By early 2008, my site was running with some meaningful content.

What challenges did you face?

In the very first days: Administrative tasks to get a domain, set up the environment, install Joomla, and get things going.

Later, I forced myself into learning some CSS.

How did you solve them?

With the help of my huge IT background, and the Internet has been my friend since the early 1990s.

I bet you didn't leave it at that ?

I was very proud of my new website. Looking back, I shouldn't have been that proud. Reason: I regularly added content to my site, updated Joomla to 1.0.13, and did not do much more. Over time, my website was totally outdated, and I had some serious internal problems. Moreover, I hadn't installed any security updates for years. My site was an example of a completely neglected website.

I decided to change that in early 2013. I built a completely new site with Joomla 2.5 and a new template from A4Joomla. Internally, I completely restructured my category tree and my “images” directory. The migration was tough, because I had to transfer all my articles via copy-and-paste, with new links to my images. In June 2013, my new site was production-ready. And I swore to never neglect my site anymore.

In December 2014, I switched to Joomla 3.3. A responsive template, which required a lot of work on all embedded images, followed in Summer 2015. I regularly updated to current versions of Joomla and my bunch of extensions. Slowly I got some experience with Joomla and developed better knowledge of HTML, CSS, and Joomla; PHP and JS have not yet been on my agenda. I also became an active member in the German and English Joomla user groups on Facebook, later also on Mattermost, to share my experiences with the Joomla community.

In 2020 - Joomla 4 was on the horizon - I switched to a new template again: Skylar from Joomla51. Main reasons were better navigation on mobiles and a good perspective for Joomla 4. 

Today there are well over 400 publicly available pages, more than 50 modules, and a lot of extensions of all kinds. Akeeba Backup is still there. 

I'm on Joomla 4.3, MySQL 8.0, and PHP 8.2. I've already started some testing with Joomla 5.0, starting from the first Alpha (which resulted in an article for the JCM: Joomla 5 Alpha - First experiences).

Do you think Joomla was the best choice? 

Even though I am a professional in IT, I don’t create websites commercially, just for a non-profit organization and for “friends and family”. Using Joomla definitely was the best possible choice in 2007 for my project.

I’ve never needed to use any other CMS, because I have never been limited by Joomla in any way.

In the meantime, I like the architecture of Joomla.

You belong now to the German and English-speaking community, how deep is/was your involvement? 

I have been a member of the German and English Joomla groups on Facebook for more than six years now. I started as a reader, but with my growing knowledge, I gradually started to answer questions.

I’m also on Github, where I follow many discussions and also report issues.

As long as it’s available, I’m also on Mattermost.

I’ve never attended a Joomla Day (or similar) or an offline JUG meeting, but I sometimes participate in JUG online sessions.

I don’t know other Joomlers personally (apart from a guy living in my town, who builds websites commercially), but I think I know many (or most) of the important players in the Joomla universe from social media.

If there was one sentence to sum up your relationship with Joomla / Joomlers, what would it be?

I think that I will stay in the Joomla universe as long as my physical and mental condition allows me to.

Volunteering for Joomla: what’s in it for you? 
Joomla Documentation - A Joomla Solution


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