About Joomla

A summary of information gleaned from Joomla turned 1 year old on 1 Sep 2006.

The story behind Joomla! is long and rich in detail. There are many different perspectives. The story below is the author’s on Joomla. Since it describes what Joomla is about as no other I thought I would post it:

The birth of a new project

On the 1st september 2005 Joomla! was born. Some called it a fork. Some called it a spoon . Some call it an entire table setting. Whatever your philisophical persuasion, the facts are that Joomla was a continuation of the work of the Development Team which unanimously resigned from the Mambo project in August 2005 . To my knowledge this was an unique event in the history of open source, never before did a complete project and community move house.

After the actual split we where put in both an exciting and difficult situation. Exciting because we managed, for the first time in history, to re-brand an open source project and move it to a new home. Difficult because this had never been done before. We were writing the blank pages in our own roadbook, one step at a time.

The whole effort also put alot of strain on the core team. Growing pains that normaly emerge over a period of months or years, needed to be dealt with in a period of weeks. Community pressure was high, resources needed to be created, a version released, a vibe established, … and above all we needed to keep cool. When looking back a year later I’m still amazed what people can accomplish when they set their minds to it and I’m proud to have been part of writing opensource history.

A new project, an old product

The re-branding of the project was a big succes and the Joomla! project swiftly made name in the opensource landscape. We managed to establish a clear brand and identity. Despite all our efforts, the re-branding of the product was less succesfull.

What’s the difference between Mambo and Joomla ?‘ This must have been the most asked question in the months and weeks after the split. A valid question indeed. What is Joomla! 1.0 actually, is it Mambo’s own ‘Lor ‘, suddenly appearing, or is it a new born product ?

After the split we were faced with a problem, while Joomla! 1.0 was indeed a rebrand of Mambo it hadn’t established it’s own persoanlity yet. Although it already had a huge user base from it’s birth, to a new user it was still a Mambo copy-cat. Looking and functioning in the same way, the only difference are the logo and name. How does that set Joomla! apart from Mambo? It doesn’t.

A new project, an old team

It became appearant that we needed to create a new version soon to show the project was still very much alive and to differentiate ourselves from Mambo. But how did we proceed? Follow the old roadmap or not? Choose for a longer release cycle or choose a safer solution by doing a short and quick release? Lot’s of questions, very few answers.

At that time the latter seemed the best approach. The whole team was still there, we could easily pick up development again. International community pressure, especially from the French community, convinced us to go for a shorter release cycle and put forward internationalisation as the main feature. In october 2005 we picked up development as if nothing had changed.

It would soon become clear that this was a vital mistake. The spooning of the project had left it’s strains on the community and core team. New people were invited, others left, processes needed to put in place and roles shifted. We saw a time of heavy and sometimes heated discussions on the mailing lists and forums about a multitude of problems. Slowly the realisation grew that not only our project name had changed but this also had vast implications on our community structure and processes.

A new project, a new team

In the months that followed we had quite a struggle to norm ourselves as the Joomla! team. At that time we where moving into the storming phase and we dealt with a multitude of issues, mostly surrounding communication and processes. We could have called a time out, stopped all our work and get our issues sorted before moving forward again. Instead we kept going. This resulted in a longer (1.1 beta was originaly slated for april 2006), more natural,agile development process and eventually in what will be Joomla! 1.5.

In the mean time community pressure , especially on the forums, grew. People voiced their discontent with the way things where going. Politics always have a negative effect on a community process and Joomla! isn’t any differenent. It’s only in the last two months that the working groups are starting to settle in and we are slowly moving into the norming phase while motivation is increasing.

It’s good to see this happening, this means we are on the right path. Over the next weeks working groups will slowly move to the performing phase where we will be able to function as a unit as we find ways to get the tasks done in supporting Joomla! 1.5.

The birth of a new product

Joomla! 1.5 will be the first product we release as a community. It is the result of the process we went through since the split and personaly I think it will become an excellent product, one we should all be proud of.

Goals behind 1.5

The main drive behind the design of Joomla! 1.5 is to try and use the Joomla! 1.0 architecture at it’s full extend. We can’t deny that the API’s in 1.0.x are not in line with latest professional coding standards. Most of the API’s are not flexible and not always using proper Object-Oriented principles. These problems had been discussed time and time again and everyone agreed that something needed to be done about it.

In the past these changes have always been put off since they would be coming in a 5.0 version . A version that was started multiple times but never got out of cvs. In order to make the Joomla! codebase more attractive to professional developers we just couldn’t leave it as is.

The development cycle of 1.5 was the ideal time. We have used the time it took to properly research the UTF-8 issues and refactor the codebase. We based ourselves on the feedback gathered over the last year and the experiences from developing 4.5.3. As a result the system has been restructured and the API have been cleaned up resulting in a flexible and powerful core framework that sets new standards for all future Joomla! development.

Why 1.5 ?

Alot of the larger features (ACL, NBS, …) on our roadmap can’t be implemented in a backwards compatible way and need a major version increase. Joomla! 1.5 tries to address all of the issues that can be addressed without compromising backwards compatiblity. The main reason to call it 1.5 and not 2.0 is just that, because it is 90% backwards compatible and is using the same database schema as 1.0.

A lot has been told about the development of Joomla! The reality is that the story is bigger than just Joomla! 1.0. It goes back years, spans continents, and includes a cast of thousands. It’s a fantastic story, with all of your standard themes — greed, rage, turmoil, love lost. But mostly it’s a story of dedicated people laboring to create something they truly believe in. That’s something I think everyone should be able to relate to – no matter what their walk of life. That’s why Joomla! is so powerfull.

For me, the story included the realization that I had never believed in something this much before, and discovering how easily and arbitrarily your dreams could be snatched away. Ultimately though I realized that with some patience and good old-fashioned hard work, anything is possible.

In the coming years, I hope Joomla! will gain the ability to be a crossroads where people can come together and share their thoughts on society and where it is going. Different people have different ideas, and these are borne out in the many different extensions that exist today. These extensions create the ecosystem that is Joomla!. Whatever project scratches the itch of any particular person, having their contributions and ideas around is beneficial for everyone.

Joomla is so successful today that it is gaining attention from people across the globe. Many new contributors are finding the project and new ways to help out. This sort of thing is essential to keep the project vibrant and maintain the flow of innovation. It is important that those of us who’ve been round the block a few times share what came before, what did and did not work. The struggles that were fought, the price that was paid. This project has not been successful by accident. Its success represents the sum total of the energy expended by thousands of people around the world for more than half a decade.

A year ago the world had never heard about Joomla!, today Joomla! has earned it’s spot on the virtual highway, it will be exciting to see what tomorrow brings. Happy birthday !

Septemer, 01, 2006

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