Inside Joomla with Open Source Matters President Robert Jacobi

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Interview with Open Source Matters President Robert Jacobi

As one of the top three content management systems, Joomla is used by many website owners for all kinds of sites. Having recently surpassed the 80 million download mark, the Joomla Community continues to thrive. Robert Jacobi was recently elected President of Open Source Matters—the organization that supports the Joomla project. It was my pleasure to get the chance to talk with Robert about Joomla and content management systems—including what to look for when shopping for Joomla web hosting.

Among the topics he addressed were:

  • The Mission and Vision of Open Source Matters
  • Joomla’s Recent Improvements
  • How Joomla Compares with WordPress and Drupal
  • The Best Way to Learn Joomla
  • What Type of Web Hosting is Best for Joomla
  • The Future of Joomla

Web Hosting Cat: Joomla recently surpassed the 80 million download mark. Can you tell us about the Joomla Community and how it has grown over the years?
Robert Jacobi: We’re a not-for-profit organization so Open Source Matters is the legal and financial arm for Joomla. Open Source Matters is completely volunteer. The entire Joomla Community is completely volunteer. It’s one of the largest open source projects on the internet, powering almost four percent of the internet, over seven percent of known content management systems—a huge project.

WHC: As President of Open Source Matters—the organization that supports the Joomla project, can you talk about the mission and vision of the organization?
RJ: First and foremost, our mission is open source—making sure that whatever we develop and build out is freely available, easily accessible, and easily useful. We believe that there’s a way to communicate across the web that’s not as simple as just a blog service and also not as complex as building up from scratch. So we try to hit that middle ground where we can appeal to developers who can easily download templates and expand their visual repository of developed sites as well as designers who are developer-centric.

WHC: What are some of the recent improvements from Joomla?
RJ: We just announced Joomla 3.7 beta 4. We’re looking at making content more accessible. We’ve added custom fields to a lot of our content, so it’s not just one big article, as well as expanding our international language support. And that’s really been one of the key amazing things we’ve worked on very hard over the last almost five years.

WHC: What’s your take on the current state of content management systems and where are they headed in the future?
RJ: Well, there’s two very distinct groups right now. I would say there’s the download your software and get it running–whether you’re doing it on your own set of servers or using a hosting provider, as well as the cloud software as a service. Joomla actually has a managed services module at joomla.com. The software is available at joomla.org. You can also go to joomla.com to run it as a service.

WHC: How would you distinguish Joomla from other content management systems such as WordPress and Drupal?
RJ: WordPress serves a great specific niche, and it’s a sweet spot and very successful that they own 50% of the market. Whereas you look at Joomla, even though it’s in second place, it’s just around 4%. WordPress could get simple levels of content out to the consumer of that content very quickly. What we focus on at Joomla is taking that next step. How do you get someone who is comfortable with a WordPress type module and then having them add a store very easily, add workflow very easily, different types of content structures—without having to be as technical as a Drupal developer. I think we understand the consumer better when they need to do something simply in a powerful way.

WHC: If someone wants to learn how to use Joomla, how would you recommend they go about it?
RJ: Go straight to joomla.org. But we also have a large educational center on the website that provides a lot of hands on videos to walk through before you’re sitting there downloading it. We also have multiple types of demo environments for running Joomla. There’s demo.joomla.org. There’s joomla.com which offers free packages, so you don’t even have to worry about downloading it and installing it. You can get a very good idea of how to utilize the software just through your browser.

WHC: Joomla powers all kinds of websites including Holiday Inn, United Nations, and Michael Phelps. Is there any particular industry or website type that you’re seeing increased growth with regards to Joomla usage?
RJ: Traditionally, Joomla has been very popular for non-profits. And they’ve found that we’ve understood that community very well and we know how to communicate with them and set up sites and work with them. But it has been used across every industry. So, we get a lot of government websites especially outside of America actually. So European websites, governmental websites are Joomla based, Africa, Mid East, and Southeast Asia—as well as eCommerce stores that sell tens to hundreds of millions of dollars of products and services. So, there is no specific end user. It really targets that user that wants to do more and doesn’t want to be weighed down by tons of software code or learn whatever Drupal 7’s procedural language is.

WHC: What are some of the important factors to consider when looking for Joomla web hosting? What type of hosting would you recommend?
RJ: A lot of it depends on your needs. So, some of it may be, “I really need someone to hold me through the whole process.” You can also do great scalable websites with Microsoft Azure or Amazon web services. Microsoft Azure has a one-click installable Joomla version. Obviously you want a web host that is running the latest version of PHP.

WHC: What’s in store for Joomla in the future?
RJ: We have Joomla 4, which is looking to be probably end of the year, that’s expanding the architecture for rest APIs, more communication between other software and services, streamlined user experience. So there’s some exciting things that we’re looking at.

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