We continue our series of interviews with CMS experts by having a chat with Parth Lawate. Parth is web professional in Pune, India. Focusing on providing stunning cutting-edge technologies that are easy to maintain, usually using Joomla! as a CMS, Parth has co-founded Tekdi Web Solutions and is the owner of Techjoomla.
Parth has managed to work with Joomla! For 10+ years, and we are sure that our chat will be both interesting and useful for those of you who dream to create a stunning website based on Joomla! CMS.
Let’s learn from his experience and start the interview 🙂
Thanks for joining us today, Parth. Please, tell us a bit more about your background, how long have you been working with Joomla! and about your current ventures.
I’ve been working with Joomla for 10+ years now. Well, back when I started it was called Mambo and I was still in college working on my Engineering degree. Our first introduction to Mambo/Joomla came when we were working on a Non for Profit community portal. We were using PHP-Nuke initially but when we saw Mambo we were blown away and immediately transitioned over. It was practically love at first sight ! That actually had a major impact on the direction we took. This was back in 2006. Initially, our focus was providing consulting and development services on the Joomla. That’s how our company Tekdi Technologies took shape. Starting with typical design and integration work, we eventually evolved to become a core Development company.
Further down the road in 2009 we decided to launch Techjoomla with a view to focus on Joomla based product development. Techjoomla has some awesome solutions for a lot of Joomla use cases from Ecommerce to Event Tickets to Crowd funding and Non-Profit solutions. The latest addition to our kitty is the e-learning extension ‘Shika‘ where we have looked at providing a modular and scalable e-learning platform for Joomla.
Later in 2011, we plunged into Mobile application development by launching AppCarvers (called apptitude then). Here a lot of our product development focus is on Joomla but we do bespoke work as well. Currently, we are working on a framework called Unite that will make mobile app development based in Ionic much easier.
When was the first time that you really got excited about Joomla! and at what point did you decide to make it your career?
This was back in college around 2004. We were exploring better options for our Environment related Nonprofit social community portal when we stumbled upon Mambo. At the first look it looked a little daunting coming from PHP-Nuke which is what the portal was built on then. Mambo’s extension installer really got us hooked. In PHP nuke to ‘Install’ an extension, you had to upload packages manually and edit half a dozen files all over the place ( can you imagine that ? ) The Mambo/Joomla affair was love at first sight for us really !
Discovering this awesome CMS literally empowered us. With this, me and my Partner Ashwin we were able to roll out powerful sites with almost no coding. Since we did not code a lot then, it was fun and challenging to integrate the right extensions to get the right mix to solve Client problems. Once the coding bug hit us, however, there was no going back ! We incorporated our company while in the final year of college in 2006 and that was the point when an official stamp was applied on the decision to GO Joomla !
Where do you go first to get Joomla! news, insights, and updates?
Typically its Joomla.org and community.joomla.org. Besides that, Facebook and twitter are always a great way to hang on to grapevine and get a lot of information that’s not always available on the official channels. We also travel regularly to Joomladays and conferences like the Joomla World Conference and J and Beyond regularly.
What Joomla! tips would you give to beginners?
There’s a lot really! We, in fact, have some awesome SOP’s in our office that we are planning to publish as an Ebook. Besides this, we have something called as the Joomla Mistake master which is a Bible of sorts of all the mistakes we have ever seen been done with Joomla which we will be publishing soon ! However here are a couple of quick ones:
Creating Menu Aliases
When you need more than one menu to point to the same item, make sure you create a Menu alias for all the duplicate menus. This ensures that the item id stays the same and you don’t get weird behavior in your URLs and module/template assignments.
Resize images to the sizes you need!
Always resize images to the exact size you need before you upload and use them. Using larger images and just dragging them to suit your size requirement slows your site down considerably!
For developers make sure you are following the Joomla APIs when you develop!
Confess to us your biggest moment of Joomla! fail?
That was when it was decided that Joomla 1.5 to 2.5 will again be a migration and not an upgrade. However, when I look back now, it was probably for the best which enabled Joomla to adopt faster!
So what does Techjoomla do? What do you think helps your solution stand out from other extension development companies in the field?
Techjoomla is focussed on creating extensions that solve real-world problems. Quick2Cart which is a multi-vendor Ecommerce Solution, JTicketing which is for selling Event tickets and creating multi-vendor E-commerce marketplaces, JGive is a crowdfunding and donation solution again with multivendor features, SocialAds which is an Advertising solution – all of these help site owners monetize their websites.
I think our focus on solving end-user problems, our strategy to be agile and involve customers in our product development strategy ensures that products evolve continuously to customer needs. We have recently added some additional focus on taking our Quality and support to the next level. We also ensure all our products integrate well with each other.
We believe that Open Source can only be sustainable if everyone living off it does what they can to contribute back. And hence contributing to OpenSource is strategic for us. We try and ensure that every project and product we work on allows us to contribute something back. The Joomla REST API, The Common Payments API are all graduates of this program. This allows us to share what doesn’t need to be duplicated and concentrate on innovation !
What’s the coolest Joomla! project you’ve ever worked on?
There’s so many ! However some really stand out. For instance, there is a full Agricultural Warehouse management system using Joomla where we integrate with huge Weigh Bridges to measure the grain and also do some banking function with Joomla! In another instance, we used Joomla as a base to build a Cloud-based Vehicle management and Booking system which was also pretty cool!
What do you think is the biggest challenge for Joomla! to face in 2016?
I think it will be critical for Joomla to move fast in 2016 to adopt stuff like Web Services and make the core even better positioned to be used as a base for creating Web Apps. Speed is always a challenge in a community project. However, its something that all of us in the community can easily solve. By making sure we contribute in every way we can. Be it feature development or Bug fixes or Education and marketing. But overall i think we are on track!
If you could change one thing about Joomla! today, what would it be? What CMS is the best to build a website on?
One thing to change — In short it would be overall ‘Better UX’ one of the key outputs of this will be the Joomla admin template and also a lot of functionality around that which will save on work duplication and make it simpler to use. For Building websites – it depends on what kind of website you want to build. If you are building something serious and better code management is a priority then definitely go with Joomla.
What new features would you like to see in upcoming versions of Joomla?
Web Services, a better Admin template, Abstraction for UI frameworks to allow for stuff like Angular JS, Bootstrap 3/4. I’d also love a core CCK but it has to be built right. If it ends up being a patchwork job, it won’t be worth it as there are several better extensions around.
If you were interviewing a web developer for a job, what question would you ask first and why?
I would ask questions which would test their abilities to problem solve and learn new things.
Have you ever faced the problem of website migration? If so, how did you manage to resolve it: by converting your website data manually or via an automated tool?
Quite a few in fact! We have done several migrations to date from Custom software to Joomla, from Drupal or WordPress to Joomla as well as Joomla to newer versions of Joomla. Core migrations are not a huge issue usually. However, the extensions where a lot of work is needed. We have down our migrations using both Manual & Automation using off the shelf tools as well as building our own in some rare cases. We are still about to try aisite!
Tell us a bit about your working setup (hardware + software). 🙂
I normally work off a Ubuntu laptop but for the last 6 odd months, I’m using Elementary OS which looks pretty cool. For development, we use a custom VM based off Ubuntu which has all the tools we need. A large screen with a chrome cast for when we need to work in larger groups completes the setup. A lot of work also gets done off my OnePlus2 phone.
Finally, have we missed anything? Here’s your chance to fill in the blanks and add something you want people to know about you!
I’d like to bring your attention here to Shika our e-learning extension. With this extension, we are trying to really change the way Learning works in Joomla. With powerful features for end users, great flexibility for Admins and superb scalability for developers, with Shika, we are taking a very different look at extension development. The stable version was launched just over a month ago and we are seeing great traction and feedback. We hope some of your readers will also be interested.
And finally one message to everyone. Joomla 3.5 is out and it’s awesome and fast. Get your upgrade done and feel the speed!
Once again thanks Parth for taking the time for this interview, and we wish you all the best for this year, we are sure you will reach all your personal and business goals! 😉
Don’t wait up! Try how your website looks like on Joomla CMS and feel the awesome speed of your online project!