The March 2013 Joomla Community Magazine published an article about JUGT by yours truly, “Joomla User Group Toronto — The Journey”. Read it at:
I thoroughly enjoyed yesterday’s Joomla User Group Toronto meet-up. It’s not the first time I forgot to take pictures at a JUGT. Excellent to meet Allison and Sheldon. Good to put a face to Facebook!
As happens, the turnout was modest, but it gives us the opportunity to get to know each other and have deeper discussions. For the first time, we played pool (across the road) which was a nice break — certainly for me, deep into debugging this week. A good mental break.
Yesterday was “Consultants talking about their client engagements”. It was very interesting and intriguing. Just about every extension mentioned I had “done something” with it over the years. I was complimented on how casual I was in mentioning this-or-that with obvious knowledge. Well, nothing casual in wrestling with the code to customize it — lots of pain!
I mentioned that I did not like the installation procedure for a small little plugin available for free by a well know Joomla template club. So, I built my own Joomla installable zip. My consulting peers thought that was great — thank you! But, I have to tell you, I did not program anything in doing it, since it was an exercise in excluding extraneous code. It’s not very mysterious — the only “trick” involved is understanding the installation xml, (sometimes called “manifest.xml”), which is not even PHP. It’s a Joomla specific thing, every single installable plugin, module, component, and library has one. Handy to understand!
A typical ecommerce scenario was posed. Up front, it was clearly stated that this was a super duper easy breezy Joomla ecomm site to set up. I like easy! I always start my questioning from the end of the checkout — what is your payment method, what are your shipping rules, etc. There were a number of modifications that came up. Also, there were different ways of accomplishing the objectives. Not as easy as advertised, but very normal when digging into the real requirements. Because I’m all-in with the coding, including having a Joomla distro ready-to-go, all solution scenarios are possible!
A very interesting question was posed: how do you know what the good extensions are? My answer is, of course, you always have to go through the code. This is the starting point. This is the glory of open source — that the source code is there for you, and that you can do anything to it to use the code as you require for your use.
The “Free” in “Free Open Source Software” = freedom! (you thought it meant “no money”!)
As Michael Douglas said in “The American President”, “America isn’t easy. America is Advanced Citizenship. You’ve got to want it bad”.
Open source is software freedom. But you have to want it bad. You have to exercise your freedom to benefit from it, and to make that freedom work in the real world. In fact, if we do not exercise our software freedom rights (that are enumerated in the GPL), then the software creators have, in essence, proprietary software. And, many sneak in things that impair exercising our software freedom with their code. If we do not reject their code, then we are in fact acquiescing to impairing our freedom. It’s not easy, software freedom. It means you have to Get In The Code!
I want it bad! I want my software freedom. So much so, I forked a huge full featured ecomm extension, and set up LaSalleCMS, my Joomla distro.
I keep harping on this, because it keeps coming up. Get in the code!
I was asked about Google Analytics and traversing the checkout. My perspective is so different, having revamped the cart. We have the code! Why be reactive? Why have a lag between fetching the stats and the customer who is long gone? Customer service is a huge difference in conversion. Why not “do something” in the code that is pro-active with cart abandonment, that redirects buyers to calls to action, so their sale is ultimately consummated? Can you imagine the RoI of this code!
I’m a rebel with a cause!
Looking forward to our next “Ask The Expert”…
Upon arrival from the Joomla User Group Toronto’s “Ask the Expert” panel session, I composed this blog post. Might as well have called it “3:00am Ramblings of the Irritated”. I keep thinking I have to stay up at night and do more posts like my “Late Night Thoughts on LaSalleMart“, but in reality not such a good idea!
I thoroughly enjoyed this session at the Oasis Skills Building on the Danforth. New venue, good turnout, excellent moderator (thank you Gilles!). We repaired to a local spot that felt like Thursday pub night at UofT that played great music, than awful ear piercing crap, then good music again.
It continues to amaze and astound me the fetish Joomla has for WordPress.
Tonight, apropos, the WordPress theme du jour was directed at me about doing ecommerce in WordPress. Inside, that set me off big time. Outwardly, I was just mild mannered Joomla ecommerce guy. So, naturally, all the inward stuff channeled unfiltered to my blog post. Oh boy, to just click publish — on my WordPress blog! Ha!! Oh, dear reader, I’ve learned long ago to write first, publish later.
Now, something very interesting happened on the way to my upgrading two very active WordPress sites to WP3.5. The “Know Your Rights” page that displays after successfully upgrading. This page is sitting at /wp-admin/freedoms.php.
What took me by surprise was the prominence of this message. Not squirreled away in some footer tag, this was slap in your face (must be on my mind) stuff.
My answer to many queries posed was “use your power”. The power vested in you by the General Public License. Here’s what WordPress is telling you:
WordPress is Free and open source software, built by a distributed community of mostly volunteer developers from around the world. WordPress comes with some awesome, worldview-changing rights courtesy of its license, the GPL.
- You have the freedom to run the program, for any purpose.
- You have access to the source code, the freedom to study how the program works, and the freedom to change it to make it do what you wish.
- You have the freedom to redistribute copies of the original program so you can help your neighbor.
- You have the freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others. By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes.
Don’t you wish all software came with these freedoms? So do we! For more information, check out the Free Software Foundation.
Substitute the word “power” for “freedom”:
You have the POWER to run the program for any purpose; you have access to the source code, the POWER to study it, and the POWER to CHANGE IT TO MAKE IT DO WHAT YOU WISH; you have the POWER to distribute copies of your MODIFIED version to others.
I don’t give a rat’s ass how skilled you are, it does not matter. YOU HAVE THE POWER. USE YOUR
WordPress is shoving it in your face, first thing you see when you upgrade. Are you listening. Luke, USE YOUR FRIGGIN’ POWER.
Joomla is GPL. Same deal. USE YOUR FRIGGIN’ POWER.
Study the code, simply because you can. It’s an act of freedom and power. Using your power is enormously valuable.
I’ve learned that getting an interpretation of the code is not as valuable as understanding the code. So valuable that any understanding of the code is a plus, regardless of how deep your knowledge goes. In Star Wars, Alec Guiness says:
The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.
With open source, the code is what gives us our power. Don’t settle for peoples’ interpretations of what the code does. Look at the source code directly. Joomla’s source code represents millions of dollars — look at it!
The database is open source too. Look at it. Some tables are actually intuitively named! Don’t worry about it being your first time launching PhpMyAdmin — just launch and look. The second time you look, it makes more sense. In fact, by the 50th time, even the field names will become familiar to you.
In a previous life I worked in corporate I.T. I’d have to genuflect and beg and offer burnt sacrifices for the opportunity to be refused to see the database scripts. On one project, I was the very first business analyst to ever be granted a workstation licence for the Oracle database — the first chunks of the castle wall to fall around the DBA guys. They did it to get me off their ass ’cause I was on ‘em constantly for my project.
With the GPL, it’s all there. So take a look. You will be amazed what your eye can pick up.
I was asked what Joomla ecommerce extension I thought was best. What I said, and what I thought, were of two different worlds.
What I said was: “I am biased. You realize I am an extension purveyor” — or something like that. I referred to the great overview video at the JoomlaDay 2012 by Deb Cinkus:
What I was thinking was, “Oh gee, here we go again, the consumer’s guide to building an online business”.
I just don’t look at things like I used to. It’s been a long grind with Joomla freelancing. Mere days before the JUGT event, I ironed out the last of my LaSalleMart 2.0 builds/downloads. It’s been a tough grinding slog. Plus, I’m going where the ball is being thrown, not expecting to do an inside curl and thinking the ball will be where my feet are planted.
The power goes to the code creaters. Create, do not consume, software. That’s where the value is. So use the power vested in you by the GPL. Have a way in which you can modify/fork OSS.
And, always know what you need today and what you’ll need tomorrow. Choose the best tool for the job. Even better, create the tools yourself! Or, at least have the ability to customize.
Looking forward to our next such event.
Answering Alan’s Clarion Call to organize the Joomla User Group Toronto at the Yonge/Sheppard Firkin, we huddled in our usual main floor booths to organize JUGT.
Track the progression at JUGT’s Facebook page.
A new website, more events, and seeding GTA JUGs require more organization to deliver. As well, we may incorporate JUGT as a non-profit, in order to handle money that would be necessary to host an annual JoomlaDay Toronto.
A lot of action’s happened in the few weeks after this meeting — documents, the first Google+ Hangout, a new Google Group. We are forming an informal formal group, in part as a prelude to formal incorporation, with a real executive organization.
On the one hand, to me personally, it seems overblown to have such an organization. On the other hand, it is a critical mass to an explosion of activity.
There’s a Joomla pub meet-up this Wednesday. I’ll post a follow-up. In the meantime, keep an eye on our Facebook page.
Doug, Andrew, Zach and I met up at Yorkville’s The Duke of York yesterday for JUGT.
The Duke closed its upstairs and downstairs, so we huddled at a table near the entrance.
Our Joomla 3.0 discussion was brief, because its acceptance at the table was unanimous. The question was: do we use it? Well, it’s alpha, so that’s a no. Do we program with it? Well, if one accepts concurrent programming in both 2.5 and 3.0, then go ahead.
We talked about Framework on Framework, and what role it plays. The FoF wiki was updated earlier in the day, so take a peek.
We had quite the conversation about LaSalleMart, which I will talk about in my Mid August Update.
Also, I am keeping an eye out for the videos from the recent JoomlaDay Chicago.
Looking forward to the Fall JUGT meet-ups.
On a rainy mid-summer’s evening, just two JUGT regulars shlepped out to the Firkin at Yonge @ Sheppard on Wednesday July 25th.
Yup, just me and Douglas.
You’d think that it was a lousy turnout, but our Joomla meet-up was a raging success! Why? Because, the fact that we got to know each other at these JUGT’s led to a request to help with a project.
So we spent our time well, discussing Joomla with a certain intensity over pub fare, talking about a real project. No hypothetical scenarios, no discussions about state of the JED (confession: it was a nice break!). We talked about how the Framework on Framework (aka “FoF”) really does save time writing components, using reference tables, using repositories and Phing, test-driven development, and a bunch of other things specific to the project.
Attending Joomla meet-ups is as much about getting to know fellow Joomla pros as it is learning about Joomla. For me, getting to know the JUGT regulars over the years has proved a massive plus for my Joomla freelance consulting business. How satisfying it is to help a newer regular in a similar fashion that I myself was welcomed when I was a “newer regular”.
Bring your problems to the August 22nd JUGT meet-up in Yorkville. Hope that just a few of us make it down, so you have us all to yourself!
A place where LaSalleMart interest is nascently percolating is the Joomla User Group Toronto’s Facebook page.
Which makes sense since most Club Commerce Founding Members are JUGT regulars. It’s a great connection to the Joomla project. Through Club Commerce, I want to give back to JUGT — and JUGSWO — and by extension (wow, am I funny today!) to the Joomla project.
Geez, it’s through JUGT that I was introduced to Tienda. JUGT hosted a Tienda seminar. I am grateful for the wonderful connections and look forward to Club Commerce being an active JUGT and JUGSWO sponsor.
Ah, here is the Facebook link. There’s two FB JUGT pages — Alan explained it to me but I forget why. Zach’s June 25th post — read the comments.