“You Can Do Almost Anything With Joomla!”, – Interview With Robert Deutz

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We are continuing our series of interviews with CMS experts sharing their knowledge and experience. Today our blog guest is Robert Deutz, founder of Robert Deutz Business Solutions, a software and web development company in Germany specializing in Joomla!, serves as Production Team Member for Joomla! Enjoy reading!

How long have you been a part of the development world? Do you remember the first time you get involved with Joomla! CMS? What were your first impressions about this CMS?

I was involved before Joomla even exists 🙂 I found Mambo in 2004 and I liked the simplicity of the CMS. Joomla 1.0 was technically Mambo in a different colour. Over time we changed not only the colour we also lost a bit of the easy usage and we got more and more options and switches. I am really missing the easiness but it is also clear for me that we need to involve the CMS.

You are an active open-source contributor, Robert. What things in Joomla! community are you passionate about? Maybe there are some drawbacks you would like to change?

I think the big problem is the quality when we change things. Joomla! is so complex that it is very hard to change something without having a side effect and to break something else. Even when you fix a bug you might find someone who relies on the bug and with the fix you break it. So I try to spend my time on the automated testing area and to setup something that helps us to deliver a high quality product easier.

One thing that has happened too often in the past was that extensions developers tested new versions of Joomla! when we released the final version and not while we are in Beta or RC state. It would help a lot when they would do it sooner so that we can fix bug before the release.

You are known as Events Team Leader for OSM. Could you share your vision and experience? What is the most shining difference between Joomla CMS events and alternative meetups?

A long time ago I was part of OSM and the events team leader. Maybe some people don’t know, we here in Germany organized an event in May 2005, the Mamboday. This event was more or less the first one of this kind of event and now we as the Joomla Community have organised more than 200 Joomladays all over the world. Joomladays are a huge success and the glue of our community I think.  

Compared to other events Joomla! events are smaller, we don’t have the 800 people events and that is a good thing. On a conference with 200-300 people you have a chance to speak with a lot of people, if you are on a 2000 people event you are lost. There is some kind of family feeling on Joomla events.

A good example is JandBeyond. It is a yearly three day developer and site builder conference with round about 200 attendees from more than 30 countries. There is a lot of time to have social interactions, speak, laugh and have fun. This year we were in Prague and next year we are going to Barcelona with the conference. In total it will be the 7th time we are organising the event and it was always a huge success.

Are there any challenges in using Joomla CMS? What kind of help would you like to have as a non-tech user? Maybe some additional features would be better added?

I don’t think we have a feature problem, we have all what 95% of the users need and with Joomla! as a development platform missing features can easily be added. The real challenge is to find out what is the target group for Joomla! Is it the mass market simple site or the enterprise sector? Unfortunately I don’t have the answer to that question. My gut feeling is that it is more the simple side market with some special features as the enterprise sector.

If you had to explain what Joomla! CMS is all about to a non-techie person – what your explanation will be?

It is like a family at Christmas. There is the strange uncle from the US, kids waiting for the presents, some people working in the kitchen but all are happy to be together.   

Joomla has risen up as the dominant platform. As Joomla expert, what makes it stand from the other CMSs?

Our technical base is outstanding. We started very early with using OOP/ PHP Design Patterns and used best practices. Because everything is changing some of the best practices now are no longer a best practice but that is the way it goes. Some of our changes are sticking to what we belief is the right way doing it resulted in losing market share. I am not happy about it no doubt. But looking at others CMSs we can see that it can take a lot of time to start using a better technical base for a CMS. Drupal needed so far 5 years to move to symfony and that is only for using a „ready to use“ framework. WordPress has to do that also sometimes, so they will face the problems we have already faced. I wish them all the best because I don’t see it as a competition, the market is big enough for all of us.

What are the most common beginner’s mistakes when they start working with Joomla? What’s your piece of advice to Joomla newbies who are just at the beginning of their Joomla path?

Installing everything they can get there hands on is the biggest mistake. Do it, but please not on the production site. Because it is free doesn’t mean you have to use it. A website needs proper planning, think about for whom you are doing it, what is the main message you would like to show.

Imagine that Joomla CMS is no longer existing. What alternative would you choose? Why?

That’s a challenge to imagine it wouldn’t exists. I might use Mambo 🙂

Essentially, what we all should do is to find out, if the tool we love, is the right tool for the job. You can do almost anything with Joomla! as you can do with Contao, Modx, Typo3 or Pagekit  just to name a few and not always the same. In some projects I have used Laravel or other PHP Frameworks, also Angular and Vue.js are options.

Using the right tool for the job is the most important task as a consultant and developer.

Joomla is currently recognized as one of the most popular and trusted CMS with more and more people willing to migrate their sites to this platform. Do you have the experience of a website conversion? Is it crucially important to migrate design?

I think we need to look at what is the reason for the migration and then think what are the right steps.

And the last question. What changes do you think the future holds for Joomla? How do you see this CMS in a perspective of 3-5 ages?

We are really on a good way. With Joomla!4 we are making a step into the right direction. We will solve a lot of problems we have now with our 5 years old technical base. We will be able to use Joomla! only as a backend service and create a totally new user experience. In three years we are still supporting our 3.x branch of the software, but we have a solid Joomla!4 ready to use and stable. Migrating from 3 to 4 will be not a huge problem so all will be good.

We would like to thank Robert Deutz for the time spent to share his ideas and professional experience.

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