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”…