Casey Newton: Well I guess technically I am more qualified...
Frank Walker: Are you? How so?
Casey Newton: Because unlike you... I'm an optimist.
From Tomorrowland (film).
A week ago, I attended the Joomla Forum for the Future, as part of the Joomla contributors that collaborate with the web platform. For starters, Joomla is the second most popular content platform, it is open source and fully managed by volunteers (there is no company behind). The initial version of Joomla was released in 2005, and after 14 years, three major versions, and tectonic changes in the industry, we need to embrace the change to renew the platform.
In this article, I'm going to write more about my impressions than publishing hard/inside information.
I've attended a good number of technologic events, so I expect the traditional sequence of sessions about assorted topics. What was intriguing was the word "Forum". It was certainly something new in the context of Joomla. Secondly, the duration of the event, three days, from Friday until Sunday of open discussions about Joomla. Amazing, the outcome could only be a surprise since it was never attempted before.
The Forum was organized in a central venue and in four rooms. Each room with a defined topic of discussion and you could join any room to discuss it. We followed a schedule to discuss in a room for 1-2 hours and then return to the central venue to share ideas with all. Each room had a room organizer and moderator to coordinate the discussions.
- Re-engage & Re-ignite
From the onset, it was clear that the Forum was organized around the main areas of work that Joomla has to solve.
Not everything was perfect. For instance, it was not clear in the beginning if we could change between rooms, and people changed between rooms according to their interests; and sharing between teams. Additionally, the schedule was not settled in stone, so at some point, there were people discussing in the rooms and in the central venue. We could say that there were many discussions going at the same time.
This room was full. More than 20 people assisted and the energy was very high. Joomla is solving real problems today, so we can better define the market and focus our energies on being the best in that field. As a consequence of the Forum, now there are new volunteers joining the teams to canalize and start with the 2020 endeavor.
I was in this room. I planned to change between rooms, but since I am more a management person, I ended being in this room working to achieve the objective of improving the Professionalism.
Frequently, when a company starts developing software everything goes smoothly until a succession of failed deadlines. Well, we are discovering that Joomla is an organization like the rest of the world and being volunteers doesn't save us of bad project management decisions.
On the bright side, there were healthy and professional discussions to implement well-known management practices. We had in our room a good number of experienced managers, even a professional project manager. So, the plan is starting to improve the internal processes and communication between teams.
I was gladly surprised when we reached a general consensus between all rooms and the attendees that a common roadmap must be our main communication tool and represent the agreement of the project general plan: The transition to a product-lead organization.
Re-engage & Re-ignite
The idea is to improve how we collaborate with Joomla and focus the message to reach volunteers that not currently active or simplify the rules that were defined years ago. For instance, Joomla User Groups will be able to organize the meetings with online video and/ or virtual user groups organized around interests.
This room was also packed, full of developers trying to figure out what to do. Joomla 4 has reached four years of development (not counting the initial reboot). There's now an internal strategy leader, within the tech team, and they are evaluating the status of the pending points. It was announced that in February we could have the first result of this analysis.
There were also discussions about Joomla 5 and the next releases. But, a decision must be made about Joomla 4 first.
About Joomla 5, a bullet point of nice-to-have features showed the inclusion of Laravel Eloquent. Since I'm already working with Laravel technology on Joomla, I can say that the best achievement that the Core could bring is adding the level of innovation and freshness that comes with it.
Joomla is a Business: If you are new to Joomla, you could say that it is an obvious statement. Of course, it is a business. People make good money around Joomla: providing hosting, consulting services or developing extensions and themes. However, from the old times, the managing of the project followed chaotic processes, mainly driven by the contributed code of individual volunteers. That practice could have worked at that time, but now with the current level of complexity of the platform and the organization, we need professional practices to compete on the same foot with established businesses.
Overall, the energy of everyone involved and the outcome of the project has been surprising to me. There are new plans to change and modernize how we collaborate to improve the platform. The message of the Forum: was clear we need to change and evolve in the organization. Now, let's continue with the good work to translate the ideas into actions.
P.S. To read more about the Forum:
- Fun, frictionless publishing – the key to the growth of Joomla, by Vic Drover
- Reading List 247, by Bruce Lawson
Photo: The Science Museum of the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia was used as a background in Tomorrowland. By HuseyinUlucay - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0.