Hi Parth. Thank you for setting aside your time to answer my questions for Joomla Community Magazine. Really appreciate it. For those JCM readers who don't know you, could you please briefly introduce yourself?
My name is Parth Lawate and I am from Pune, one of the important IT cities in India. I am a Mechanical Engineer by education and have also done a Masters in Business Management. I first got introduced to Mambo when still in Engineering college while working on a non- profit portal (which was back then based on "PHP Nuke") Impressed with the fact that it could actually install stuff and do such a lot of things with ease, I was completely hooked !
Since then it's been an awesome journey of discoveries and innovations. When we formed our company "Tekdi Technologies" in 2006, Joomla became one of the key focus areas. Further on in 2009, we started "Techjoomla" to specifically focus on Joomla based product development. And recently our mobile apps division "aptitude" has also started coming up with Joomla based products! For me Joomla has been much more beyond a means to do business and open source forms the heart of all our business values. You can read more of our Joomla story in a community magazine article I wrote a few years back.
I am involved in every way I can in the local as well as international Joomla communities. I am part of Joomla user group in Pune, that organizes national Joomla Day India event as welll Currently
I am part of the spectacular "Joomla Marketing Working Group" as the Strategic Marketing Manager for Joomla. I love to travel and speak at events and spread Joomla love. We are working on a lot of exciting marketing campaigns right now and always looking for volunteers. So if you would love to do your bit for Joomla, do join us!
When not in the office, you will find me in the mountains, hiking or cycling, reading a book, tinkering with electronics and computers, cooking or doing gardening. My latest project is a plant watering system based on a Raspberry Pi :)
Thank you, Parth. Let's get started our Q&A session.
We are in December, reaching the end of the year. How do you look back at it? Has there been anything you're particularly happy and proud of?
Its been a pretty exciting year. On the work front, we are close to releasing "Shika" - our new learning management system (LMS) for Joomla. It's generally been a year of innovations both idea, product and process wise. We have made quality a central vision for the company and have been doing some pretty awesome things with our "Tekdi Quality Circle" (TQC), the process and findings of which we are going to publish soon and hope that it will help other companies! I am extremely happy about this new initiative. In addition, we have also made contributing back to open source one of the key performance indicators for our staff from the upcoming year.
On the community front Joomla World Conference 2015 will be held in India next year and the local community is extremely excited about it. I think, it is a great thing that the JWC is reaching out to new places and it will help energize the local community in a big way.
The last few months have been pretty busy with quite a lot going on. The "Joomla Marketing" team has been involved in a lot of campaigns and we are seeing some great success. The latest campaign, launched at the Joomla 2.5 EOL is a collaboration with the "Joomla Update Working Group" and aims at reaching out to maximum number of people on Joomla 2.5 and getting them to update to the latest and greatest Joomla 3. A more challenging task that lies ahead is getting Joomla 1.5s migrate on Joomla 3. I am very happy about the way things are shaping up. The onboarding process, the workflow and culture code of the "Joomla Marketing Working Group" ensures that we can work more efficiently and keep delivering! So I am very glad we invested the time in coming up with those!
I am very thankful to all in the "Joomla Marketing Working Group" and the leadership for their support, help and contributions in making things happen!
I also feel that "Migration" is going to be a big word in Joomla-sphere this year. Parth, you just came back from Joomla Day Thailand in Bangkok. How was the event? What was your message to Joomla folks in Bangkok?
Joomla Day Thailand (Bangkok) was an awesome event. This was my second time speaking at the event and it was a blast. The talks were both in Thai and English. The English ones were translated for the local audience by the local translation team. I will be writing a detailed blog about this event soon. To keep it brief, the event was extremely well organised, the talks were very informative and the audience super awesome. Krit and the team was very hospitable and we had an awesome time!
My message to the audience was to be a little selfish and contribute to Joomla and any open source project they use. Contributing to #opensource gives you one such super selfish feeling - feeling awesome! You can view my presentation slides here:
I fully agree when you say that contributing to an Open Source project is rewarding, be such “selfish” contributor an individual or a business. Judging by the slide show you’ve just referred to, you talked to Joomla lovers in Bangkok about five benefits of contributing. Could you please elaborate on them?
Let me start with the straight material benefits, a contributor receives when contributing to open source. Firstly, when you contribute, you get direct recognition from the community for your efforts and you are known in the community.
Secondly, when you are contributing code that you developed for your project, you are getting it tested in lots of scenarios by lots of users, all for free.
The third benefit of your contributing code to the Joomla core instead of hacking the core only for your own project is that you have to invest much lesser time long term in maintaining your hacks.
The fourth benefit, that I feel makes a big difference, is that when you contribute to the common denominator, you are helping yourself as well as others focus on innovation rather than reinventing a wheel.
The last but far from being the least benefit is that you get a lot more experience and exposure than you would have if you did not contribute.
These five are just a few benefits. Nothing beats the feeling of exhilaration that you get helping someone or when your contribution is approved and accepted to the Joomla core.
So, practically, if a person with web-programming skills comes to you today and says: “Parth. I would like to devote some of my time to Joomla CMS and help with its development. Where should I go and what should I do to start contributing?”, what would you practically suggest to this person?
First of all, let me make it clear that you don't really have to be a developer to contribute to Joomla. There are lots and lots of ways to contribute to the project. Now, specifically to answer your question, if it's a developer that's just starting to get into Joomla development, a good way to start would be to join the "Joomla Bug Squad" and start solving bugs. The "Joomla Issue Tracker" is another good place to go and see what bugs are reported. The next step would be to help add improvements as per the roadmap and suggest and code in features.
That’s lovely. On the subject of helping with Joomla bugs. I remember when I just entered Joomla-sphere, the phrase “Helping with Joomla bugs” to me always sounded like something related only to those cool guys and gals familiar with Joomla programming. Now, fast forward a few years, and I don’t think this is actually a case, and it seems that anyone can help with Joomla bugs, not necessarily a programmer. Am I right, Parth?
Absolutely right Alex. Even with something as technically sounding as "Joomla bugs" there is a lot a non technical person can do to help. One thing is that they can help test patches. With the awesome patch testing component for Joomla, it's now super easy to apply a patch which lets you add bug fixes or feature implementations to your Joomla install and test them. Verifying patches helps get them into the core faster. This is just related to bugs. Overall, in Joomla there are a multitude of ways to help out. Coding and bug fixing is just one of them.
Good stuff. At the top of our interview you mentioned that you are helping your local Joomla User Group in Pune. Have you been involved in starting it up or did you join it after it already was formed, registered and started? What is your regular JUG Pune meeting like? Did your Pune JUG meetings change over time, format and content wise, compared to the very first meetings back then, when it just started?
I have been involved with the JUG in Pune since its conception and was one of the co-founders along with Ashwin, Amit and Saurabh. The Pune JUG meets every month on the first Saturday at six o'clock at the evenening. Currently its meeting format is divided into knowledge and community slots. Every month we have expert speakers talking about Joomla as well as general topics on Open source. The community slot is either a talk or a group working session.
Currently on the community end the JUG team is focused on a student outreach program we are working on to get Joomla introduced to students. Initially we used to meet once in a while at some public place and the audience used to be very limited... mainly the leadership. Since changing the format to a regular monthly one with pre-announced talks and scheduled, the membership and attendance has steadily improved. Also, we are now working on forming a new leadership in the Pune JUG so that I can work independently of the current leadership's involvement.
So, if someone comes to you in one of Joomla Day India events and asks you: “Parth, you know, we have a few Joomla users in my locality and are considering to start a Joomla User Group. What would you suggest we do? Do we have to officially register at Joomla User Group Directory before we start meeting up or can we start meeting first, get some practical experience as a JUG and then, once we get the ball rolling, register officially?” What would you say to them?
I would say the important thing is to get started first. Start meeting and talking. You can get the registration done on the way anytime. It's very simple and doesn't take much time. Having a listing however can help you grow faster as it will get you public visibility. Bottom line however is to reach out and engage as many people as you can and get them involved in the Joomla community. You could also start with the "Pizza, Bugs and Fun"event. It's a great crowd puller. Some other things, that have worked for us is free Joomla training in local events. That also helps build up membership.
That's great and practical advice, Parth. Cheers for that. It's been such a pleasure to have this conversation with you but, I am afraid to say, due to time constraints I have to round up it here. In conclusion, any New Year wishes from you to Joomla community?
Enjoy the New years celebrations and start the new year on a contributory note. How about we all join hands and decide to contribute 4 hours in the month of January to Joomla ? You can find more on how and why to contribute here http://www.slideshare.net/coolparth/getting-involved-with-joomla-why-and-how-to-contribute. You can start with something small like registering on the Joomla forums (if you haven't already! ) and help out 5 people with their problems. The coming year is the 10th year of Joomla. I would love your help in increasing Joomla's market share by 10% this year ! Are you with me on this ?
Thank you kindly, Parth for this interview for Joomla Community Magazine. From myself and, I am sure, many folks will join me in this, I wish you and your company a happy, restful and prosperous year 2015. Cheers!
Note to International Translators:
- Do not translate this interview into Russian language.
- Permission to translate this interview to other than Russian languages granted, subject to publishiing the translated interview only with Joomla Community Magazine.