Interview with Brian Teeman

Written by | 01 October 2014 | Published in 2014 October
Joomla is becoming more and more popular and spreading around the globe at an incredible pace. As more and more people are drawn into community life, it’s time to ask questions that may interest many. This month here is some first-hand information about Joomla in an interview with Brian Teeman – a Joomla co-founder. Enjoy!
Interview with Brian Teeman Photo: Kristoffer Sandven

Hello Brian, as a co-founder of Joomla, what is your estimation of the current situation of the platform? Are you satisfied with current results and the achievement of earlier defined goals?

For me one of the great things about working in the internet is how quickly things change and evolve. Something that was an essential requirement a few years ago is no longer even considered, and things that are essential today were not even discussed a few years (or even months ago). Joomla does a great job in reacting to this. That is why we were the first major CMS to adopt multilingual content, responsive design and two factor authentication and are well on the way to fully supporting Microdata.

Even though some local communities are becoming more and more integrated into the global Joomla community, what do you think is preventing some international communities from breaking in to the Joomla world?

Language is always a barrier, as are our different cultures. We've done a lot in the past few years to try and break down some of those language barriers but of course we can still do more. One initiative I've seen to overcome the language barrier is in the German speaking community where they have created their own bug tracker and have designated a few people to translate the issues and post them on to the projects issue tracker in English.

But we can still do a lot more. For example Joomla offers various integrations with Google services such as reCaptcha and Authenticator, but until recently when I met some of the team from Yandex I hadn't appreciated that in Russia (and some other former Soviet states) over 60% use Yandex compared to 25% using Google.

With over 9000 extensions in the Joomla Extensions Directory (JED), in your opinion, what is the best way to find a balance between quality and quantity?

I believe that the community finds the quality extension - that's what the rating and review process is for. Just like a hotel review site it may not be perfect but it is a lot better than leaving it to a few volunteers to make a decision. After all we all use and look at extensions in different ways. A developer might comment on the code style while a designer might comment on the aesthetics. Its a very personal thing.

To ensure the quality of extensions, why aren’t more of them included by default in the core, rather than relying on 3rd party extensions which vary in quality?

One of the aims of the current roadmap is to reduce the size of the core installation by removing some extensions and making them installable as "official" extensions. This not only means that you can build a site with just the extensions that you require, but it also opens the door for other extensions to be "official". In the past there was a criteria that it should be useful for all before it would be added. This new policy offers us the opportunity to change that.

What do you think about past Joomla forks? Is there enough space for Joomla enthusiasts to improve the core to avoid such situations?

Forking an open source project is a good thing. But that doesn't mean it will ever be easy or a success. I've been there and done it and I can tell you I wouldn't want to lose my life to another one.

Is the community open to discussion about the development strategy of the global platform? Can the opinion of community members (through polls, etc.) change the situation?

I believe it is  - although polls and voting are not a good solution. If I was to propose that in the next Joomla release we should be able to print our own money, I'm sure that would be very popular and gain a lot of votes, but then we wouldn't be building software to represent ourselves on the internet.

Do you have a full-time job, or does Joomla activity take all your time?

I've had several careers. I started in computer hardware, moved to be a children’s social worker, then went back to technology creating CD-Roms and finally running an ISP. For the last four to five years I've worked exclusively with Joomla! providing training and consultancy services.

Brian, you’re a frequent visitor and speaker at different conferences and events. Do you have a favorite experience?

I've spoken at events with 20 attendees and at events with 7,000. I've spoken in English and with translators. I've spoken to technical audiences and to some where even using a mouse is a challenge. I've travelled to every continent. Each event is different and they are all special in their own way. I wouldn't like to pick a favourite but I can say that I will never tire of travelling and meeting people.

Could you please shed light on your future short term plans?

Right now I am planning on switching off the computer and going for a long walk in my local park. In the last few months I have come to realise and appreciate that it is important to take some time everyday disconnected from the net and enjoying the natural surroundings.

What is your life dream that you have already made come true?

My life dream was and still is to contribute to society to remove prejudice, discrimination and inequality.

As a past speaker at the Drupal conference, do you see a way to collaborate between our communities, which are often seen as competitors?

I don't see Drupal, or Typo3 or any other community that I have spoken at as competition. I believe there is a place in this world for all of us and that we can each learn from and share with each other whilst remaining our own unique features and markets.

Much has been said about the CMSgarden event. In your opinion what benefits can CMSgarden give to Joomla?

I'm not sure what you mean about rumours as I've not heard of any. CMSgarden is a collaborative effort from almost all the Open Source CMS present in the German speaking world to share experiences and to share the expense of exhibiting at conferences. I was lucky enough to attend World Hosting Days in Germany this year which is the premier event for the hosting industry. Here the CMSgarden had one of the biggest exhibition spaces where each project was presented. Without this collaboration I am sure that if any of the projects had attended they would have been stuck in a corner with a tiny booth.

Are there any plans for Joomla code refactoring and speeding up performance?

Code refactoring takes place all the time and any developer will tell you it's a never ending process. Of course at the same time we have to ensure that we are only refactoring and not introducing backwards compatibility issues - you don't want an upgrade to break your existing sites. This summer during the Google Summer of Code there was a project to review some of the slower sql queries and optimise them. They are currently being tested and the results I've seen so far are very impressive.

I’ve heard that work has started on making SEO features like article title tag management default. Could you tell us a little bit more about it?

Personally I believe that Joomla is very good at SEO and the recent additions of microdata have pushed us even further forward for those people who want to implement that. There is a project by Hannes Pappenberg to look at rewriting the Joomla router but I've not seen any progress on that at this time.

Blogging has become very popular, especially considering the mobile technology boom and new design trends like Flat UI. Are there any plans toward making blogging functionality a core Joomla feature?

Joomla is and always will be something that is developed by the community. The leadership teams are there to guide the way. I often feel that the community expects the leadership teams to write the code and give them what they ask for. It should be the other way around. The community should be writing the code and offering it to the project.

What does OSM think about the fact that some developers earn money with Joomla by offering services or making commercial 3rd party products? Does it contradict to the Open Source philosophy?

I can not comment on what the current members of OSM think about this because I am not one of them but I can't see any problem. If people weren't earning money they wouldn't be able to put food on the table. Joomla may be software that is downloadable without cost but when we talk about free we do not refer to the cost but to the freedom to use, adapt and share the software.

Is there any plan to promote the Joomla CMS and market it as a platform that can be used for big projects and by this improve the perception of Joomla among web studios and developers?

In the last year a very active and hard working team of people have formed a Marketing Working Group and I am confident that in time their efforts will be rewarded.

Joomla is an Open Source software that can be downloaded for free, however the development team needs to pay the bills and support the project infrastructure. Donation cannot guarantee enough cash to cover all expenses. May I ask about the sources of funding?

First lets remove any confusion. No one at all is paid by the project to work on the project. 

OSM receives funding from numerous sources as detailed in the published accounts. You will see that donations represent such a tiny fraction that is hardly worth even commenting on - most of the revenue comes from advertising in various forms.

I remember JoomlArt started an interesting campaign with other clubs to earn $1,000,000 and donate it to Joomla development. What was the result of that attempt?

I forget what the final total was. It wasn't a million dollars but it was a significant amount of money and was greatly appreciated.

Brian, if someone wants to invite you to local JoomlaDay, JoomlaNight, JUG meeting or other J related event, what should they do? Are there any basic requirements that organizers should know before contacting you?

If you can cover my travel and hotel expenses then I will go anywhere, any time any place.

J&Beyond is successfully held in Europe. Is it possible to have other similar events on such a level?

J&Beyond is intended to be a European based conference for anyone interested in the development of Joomla. The next event will be held in Prague in May 2015. As it is an independent event organised by the participants there is nothing to say that someone could not create a similar event in another location. But I can tell you it's one heck of a lot of work to organise.

In few words, how do you see the future of the Joomla CMS?

If I could see in to the future I would not be here. That's what is so great. Joomla offers us all the opportunity to work together to create our own future.

Do you mind if someone will disagree? ;-)

I don't care ;)


Tagged under Feature Stories, English
Eugene Sivokon

Eugene Sivokon

Team leader, web developer, and Joomla enthusiast who has has been a part of and has worked in many of the major web development roles since 2002 taking on a wide array of various projects.

CEO and founder of NorrBits network which includes NorrTheme and NorrNext clubs. Team leader of extensions and templates development for NorrBits network and RoundTheme club.