This month we are thrilled to include a double interview with the new Joomla 4.3 release team: SD Williams and Olivier Buisard. The aim of these interviews is to let the Community know a bit more about the release leads and their plans for the future of Joomla 4.3.
First of all, SD and Olivier thanks for meeting virtually for this interview.
I know you through our chats on Glip and various projects that we are involved in, but for those who don't know you, please give us a quick intro.
SD: I answer to both Shirielle and SD. SD is a bit easier to pronounce and spell.
I live in the Chicago area in the United States. I am in a suburb about 26 miles northwest of the Chicago Loop.
Olivier: My name is Olivier, most people know me through Simplify You Web because of the extensions I have built over the last 11 years. I do live in New York, but I am a French native, born in the Loire Valley.
SD: When not working, reading, teaching, and talking about Joomla you will find me baking. Several years ago, I attended a class at a local cooking store to make croissants and ever since then, I have been baking every weekend, mostly breads and pastries.
Olivier: Before getting into coding my biggest interest was for model trains. I have kept my passion on the side for now. I have also pursued computer graphics, theatre, and entertaining kids, all of which are a big part of me.
SD: Many years ago, I was volunteering with a local non-profit organization that needed to update their website but in a way that non-technical team members could assist with the content updates. I searched and found Joomla 1.7. I gave it a try. That began my Joomla Journey. Shortly thereafter, I found the Joomla User Group Chicago North meetings back in 2008 and have been involved ever since.
Olivier: I came across Joomla in the early years of 1.5. I was looking for a jumpstart solution for the websites I was creating and a way for my clients to update their sites’ content by themselves. I started building my own extensions and templates for those sites. I fell in love with Joomla, it was so flexible to me and easy to extend with the functionality I needed. I did not know PHP but my background in Computer Science made it much easier to learn.
You are both members of the community; not every Joomla user chooses to give back to the community, what made you decide to make that journey from user to community member?
SD: In some ways, it was a natural progression from user group lead to JoomlaDay organiser to community member. Of all the technologies I work in, Joomla is by far my favourite, mostly due to the people that I’ve met from around the world, all kind and all willing to help. My development days are long gone but I wanted to help, to show appreciation to the community that has been so helpful to me for decades.
Olivier: It’s been quite a long journey for me. I started joining JUGs, first in Chicago, then in New York. I participated in Joomla Camps in New York and Joomla Day in Chicago (where I met Shirielle, she was the organizer of the event). Then I moved on to be a part of the Joomla Day USA team with Laura Gordon, who really helped me over the years in getting more and more involved. Sponsoring events, presenting and helping others during the events were my way to give back to the community, at my modest level. I met a lot of volunteers throughout and got to know them and the work they were doing for Joomla. I have tried contributing as a developer to the project, but I found it intimidating at times. I also created the third-party extension developer JUG with Eoin Oliver and Yannick Gaultier. When Benjamin Trenkle came to me about the possibility of becoming a release team manager, I thought it was the right opportunity to participate in the adventure big time.
SD: Great question… some. The update to Joomla! 4 is underway - slowly. It is picking up now. My clients are less technical, self-maintainers. What I have loved seeing is after the first introduction and getting used to the new look-and-feel, they are excited to use their updated sites. Comments like “Oh wow, it looks so modern”, and “It makes sense, I can do this”. That is probably the best part for me. With all of the inline help and improved links to help content creators, I am finding my clients showing less apprehension, making our conversations less prodding to update and more about all the things they could do with their website.
Olivier: I do use Joomla 4 on a daily basis, especially because I develop extensions under Joomla 4. As a developer, I feel that Joomla 4 is giving me better tools to build extensions than Joomla 3 was. It’s been a bit challenging, but I really like the improvements. On the developer side, my favourite new feature would be the assets management. On the user side, the huge improvements made for accessibility.
SD: Another great question. At the moment I can’t think of anything. Can I get back to you on this?
Olivier: I really can’t say that I do, although the interface of Joomla 3 became very familiar over the years so It was a bit of a disruption when Joomla 4 came out. Nevertheless, I do think we made a huge jump forward.
SD: We’ve had a lot of great conversations with past release leads, present release leads, content creators, developers, and community teams. While we have not yet set the final list there are a lot of great in-flight features to consider. We would like to incorporate features from the Accessibility team, Google Summer of Code participants, Third-Party developers, and more. We will be nailing this down in the coming days, STAY TUNED!
Olivier: We really want to make sure that Joomla 4 can be installed by anyone, with as small a learning curve as possible. We need to keep tweaking the UI and continue delivering stable versions, following the footsteps of the previous release teams. Our goal is to improve usability and accessibility, as well as performance. There are great projects underway that can help us in that endeavour.
SD: It’s early days yet, ask me in a couple of months.
Olivier: Joomla is created, improved and maintained by volunteers and dedicated actors in the community. Getting user feedback is primordial, and we need to make sure we listen to the end user as well as the third party developers, even for minor releases. The challenge now is to ensure people know they have been heard, that we cannot commit unless we have the necessary developers to help build desired features and make modifications. So let’s keep on improving communication!
Thank you both for your hard work already and becoming so active in steering Joomla to a new release. From talking to you both we can see that you have a mixture of nerves and excitement for the journey ahead. If people would like to get behind SD and Olivier and help them make Joomla 4 even better then please do reach out via the volunteer portal and contribute to the Joomla page and support SD and Olivier.