The Bob Bloom Show #34: David De Boer: Choices and Decisions – Joomla Development

May 26, 2011



We are a Dutch company, founded by David-Andrew in 2006. After specializing in Joomla! web development, training and hosting, we started shifting our focus to Joomla! extensions. We are now working on Joomla! extensions full time, with the goal to make extensions that are both easy to use and powerful. The idea is that we simplify and improve processes in any organisation that uses Joomla!, so their goals will become easier to achieve.


Bob: Welcome to episode 34 of “The Bob Bloom Show”. Today is Thursday, May 26, 2011.

This is Bob Bloom from Toronto, Canada.

David de Boer joins me today for my first interview this year on “The Bob Bloom Show”.

David is the founder of Nicholas mentioned one of David’s Joomla extensions, “ccInvoice”, on episode 5 of  The Round Table Show (this podcast show is deprecated -Bob.). Not being familiar with this extension, I looked it up. A very interesting site… hmmm, maybe I should contact David for an interview. And here we are!

In our first of two segments, we got to know David and

In this second of two segments, we talk about JAB11,  and the changing Joomla development environment.  David attended JAB11 and has a different perspective than my Round Table guests.

Bob: You went to Joomla And Beyond ’11 which was almost around the corner from you.

David: Yes, there was a three hour train trip, but yeah.  Compared to people coming from New Zealand it was pretty close.

Bob: What were your impressions?

David: It was great, it was a lot more open that I expected.  You could really talk to anybody and I thought well maybe the real experts know the celebrities of Joomla are maybe high in an ivory tower, but it wasn’t true.  You could really talk to anybody and ask questions and everybody was very open, and the beer was okay.  [laughter]

Bob: Maybe that’s why they were so accessible.

David: Yeah, and Ebay of course sponsored the community event on Saturday so they paid for the barbecue and for the beer and I’ve heard rumours that that cost them about 5,000 euros.  So that was really nice, thank you Ebay.  And well I already had a proposal to ask Microsoft to sponsor the community event next year, because they still have something to make up to us for Internet Explorer 6.  So maybe we’ll get them that far. [laughter]

Bob: Oh I hope they’re not listening.

David: I’m not going to say I don’t care because before you know it, Skype doesn’t work for me anymore [laughter] Microsoft, let’s not get into that.

Bob: Have I missed something about your extensions or your site that you wanted to bring up?

David: Well, I can comment on the no Joomla 1.6 extension, because some people misinterpreted that as a statement against 1.6 and it’s actually not really about 1.6 it’s about I’m egocentrical few — that’s the way you say it in English?  It’s about me.  The reason we’re not doing Joomla 1.6 extensions is primarily because we’re not ready to shift our development style to support two Joomla versions.  We’re still really in start-up phase, it’s been a year but we’re still really in start-up phase developing new features for current extensions and developing new extensions, so it’s not logical for us to start converting them to another Joomla version and then adding the features to two versions or any other solution.  So it’s not a statement against Joomla 1.6 per se.

B0b: It’s an effort to commit to the versions and you have to make a decision.

David: Yeah

Bob: To go from Joomla 1.0 to 1.5 was no decision, you just did it.  but now it’s not as cut and dried.

David: Yeah exactly.  For a number of reasons, but I have this idea and I’m not sure you agree or other people agree.  But I have this idea that one of the people that really, in English, the people that were really there during the 1.0 to 1.5 conversion were the template developers.

Bob: Um hum.

David: They were.  I mean huge companies at that time and extension developers were also there but not as huge for example RocketTheme or JoomlaArt.  And I wonder, I’m not sure, but I wonder that the 1.0 to 1.5 conversion might have been one of the reasons that the template developers decided to start developing template frameworks.  Because JoomlaArt or RocketTheme etc. now have their own frameworks…  so converting their templates to a new Joomla version is really easy for them [probably not -Bob] and I’m wondering if the 1.0 to 1.5 conversion might be one of the maybe subconscious reasons to develop a template framework because as an extension developer if you knew about it then it wouldn’t be a strange idea to develop extension framework about a year or two ago and then you would have your extensions working on 1.6 a lot easier than now converting to the new 1.6 framework.  Does that sound logical?

Bob: That’s worthy of a few shows.  My theory is there was an honest reason why they built up their own little template frameworks because they were doing the same underlying things every time for their new extensions [I meant “templates”], so they wanted to genericize some functions so that they could concentrate on the template and not the underlying engine that drove it.  And then I think as that grew they also had – I forget the term – they could also develop features that were unique to them that would work with their templates by putting it in the framework.  So instead of having a module, they could put it in the framework and that sort of ties you also to the templates and the other thing is a diversification.  Because they’re trying to take the frameworks and putting them into other CMS’s.

David: Yeah.

Bob: and I find that’s a canary in the coal mine, watching them diversify out of Joomla; and, I find that very fascinating.

David: Yeah, me too and definitely from a business perspective.

Bob: So fascinating that it’s going to be a topic on our next round table show!

David: That’s going to be an interesting one.

Bob: Somehow you felt that ESP going?  I find the template developers are a bit of a canary in the coal mine, they seem very sensitive to the business aspect and I saw them diversifying out of Joomla, I thought either they hit a bit of a top in how much business they could get from Joomla so they’re diversifying; or, they’re diversifying out because  just in case Joomla isn’t as hot, then they’ll be in the other thing and if the other thing’s not as hot and Joomla picks up then they’ll be in Joomla.

David: Yeah, I agree.  I think what I’m noticing at least is that most template developers are as a business more mature than extension developers because they are mostly older and because they are older their business are more mature and they have issues like this and make decisions like this and decide to diversify.  If a company is really new like my company for example, we can’t diversify any time soon because we’re still building our Joomla business and for a company like RocketTheme which has everything done and ready and the processes are all stable then the next step is to increase your profit and if that doesn’t happen within Joomla, yeah it could be worth it looking at Druple or WordPress or PHPbb or anything else.

Bob: Well I don’t just want to say you know RocketTheme, I think all the template developers as a whole have the same type of issues because there are a lot of template developers and they have to differentiate themselves and they use the framework for that. Although they are mature they’ve been around, there’s pros and cons with that as well.  I don’t want any flame emails after the show.

David: I’m really interested in what are the cons of being mature?  So, please please tell me.

Bob: A con of being mature is that you have a lot of templates that you have to go back in retrospect and keep up to date, even though the revenue you get for updating that particular template doesn’t really cover the cost of updating it, if you fail in keeping up with your portfolio of offerings, then the optics aren’t very good to the public who may decide to go with someone else.

David: Yeah, that’s a good point.

Bob: There’s a struggle to keep up to date just as you are deciding whether you should go to 1.7, 1.6 or whatever, they have to look back at what they already have and they sort of have it in reverse.

David: Yeah, I didn’t see any of the template developers really communicate this very clearly but most of them are starting with converting their templates to a new Joomla version for example, with the newest template.  So the one that’s the most up to date with design trends, etc.  And then going backward.  I’m not sure but I think that a few of the template developers didn’t convert their oldest templates at the moment and I’m wondering if they ever will.  But they don’t communicate that they won’t, but maybe they will just never convert their first template because I can imagine that almost nobody wants to use it anymore. Because, if you look at the old templates from Joomla or the Rocket Theme then you see that the design is old.  You know we have web design trends with the way you style buttons, and they are really old templates, you wouldn’t really use them on a new website.

Bob: Well and the problem is the old ones aren’t on Gantry or T3 or whatever, they’re just the predecessors to how they got to developing a template framework in the first place, so they’re probably saying “you know what I don’t really want to convert that now because there’s no money in it”.

David: Yeah.

Bob: And my experience with RocketTheme, I’ve worked with RocketTheme over the years more than any other and I’ve worked with the older ones and the older ones are different, it’s like a different person worked on them and they have different ways of doing it.  So, it’s going to be hard to go back to the really old ones which some of them had really neat ideas.  But also I guess that’s one reason  they went to a template framework because then they could have many developers working on them in a standardized way.  You can see when, again, RocketTheme is just an example because I’m so familiar with them compared to the others, converting to WordPress.  It takes time.  The ones that are on Gantry and Joomla it takes time to get them on WordPress.

David: Yeah, and it’s not only a technical thing you have to do it’s also, at least I believe, it’s also understanding the WordPress community and how you can have a business model  that works in that community.

Bob: I don’t want to blow the discussion I’m going to have, but you can see I like to know that it’s topical and it’s one reason why I want to elongate this conversation, you brought something up very well, but there are symmetries between do you go to Joomla 1.6 to Joomla 1.7 or even to Nooku and you can see a corollary with how they go to WordPress or how long it takes the Drupal version because they committed to that.  And you can see how long it takes and I wonder if the numbers support it.  But now if they don’t have that portfolio then you know, you get dissonance when people purchase for Druple and that version’s not there.

[Nicholas, David Deutsch, and talked about the WordPress and Drupal, but subsequently decided not to do a Round Table about ‘em, since we don’t work with ‘em. eg: this site is in WordPress, but I’ve not maintained a live Drupal site. This site uses a child theme based on a WordPress theme developer’s own custom theme framework. It makes sense to have a WP theme framework, because a WP leaves it to the theme to do a lot of heavy lifting. Why should a theme developer have to recreate that heavy lifting each time they do a theme. Interestingly, WP theme framework/theme cost more than buying a Joomla template. -Bob]

David: Yeah, I think that also more of a communication problem and I’m not sure if everybody is really thinking enough about the business aspect for going to WordPress or going to Drupal because for example, not to point any fingers, but you see that JoomlaArt did Drupal and they said I believe a few months ago that they were going to pause Drupal template development because they were running into issues and I think that’s not exactly a technical problem because, yeah well CSS and html is html ,but more of a business problem that there are really differences between the Drupal and WordPress and Joomla communities, also in very basic things such as pricing – what is a Drupal developer ready to pay for an extension and what does a WordPress developer want to pay.  So you can develop it but you also have to think about how you’re going to sell it and support it, etc.

Bob: and maintain it.  I think the devil is in the details and don’t discover all the issues that are involved until you get into it and now you’re into it.

David: I think it’s brave from JoomlaArt to then say okay we’re taking a pause and rethinking this, that’s a brave decision.

Bob: I think it’s a brave decision that you decided you were just going to release your extension for free and see how it goes.  And because you have to try it a lot of the times to understand if it’s going to work.

David: Yeah.

Bob: It’s a, talk about chicken and egg.  It’s, just like you said, Drupal has different issues than Joomla but if your speciality is Joomla you sort of learn as you go.

David: Yeah.

Bob: It’s funny to see the framework development for themes in WordPress versus the frameworks in Joomla.  I’ll just leave the appetizer and we’ll dig into that on the Round Table show – it’s different but the same.  I think once the template developers got into WordPress, you know they discovered as they went along, you know you can’t just pour what you did in Joomla to like Nooku.  You just installed Nooku as a component and then the plug-in you just enabled a plug-in and it says okay Nooku’s there, I don’t think it quite works that way in WordPress.

David: Well they did have Nooku running in WordPress I’m sure you were aware of that.

Bob: Yeah, Stian ran a test and that sort of worked. [!/stipsan/status/8485611765764096 -Bob]

David: Yeah you still get as, I dropped out of College or University or whatever so I can’t call myself a “Usability Expert”, I can’t call myself anything.

Bob: But all the brilliant developers, you know, drop out.

David: Yeah, well I like to be compared to Steve Jobs and he dropped out, so there you go.  But you can develop a Joomla extension and maybe run it in WordPress but WordPress has a different user interface and different icons and a different way of working.  So I’m not sure that a Joomla extension developed on Nooku framework working in WordPress would be nice enough.

Bob: Sure David, my Round Table show has two subscription developers, so I should have them on this show.  You perfectly telegraphed a branch of the discussion that we’re going to have.

David: [laughing] maybe you should use this as an intro to that discussion.

Bob: I will and it’s topical.  But the issues are similar from what you have and what they have just, you know, sort of different cases.

David: Yeah, different flavours.

Bob: and it’s something I’m, you know with Joomla they have to be careful, just be careful because it’s such an investment in the versions.  So I think they tried something and they’re trying to settle down and I think the existence of Nooku and the existence of Molajo is actually going to help Joomla settle down, I think they’re going to find their level of how they’re going to proceed.

David: Yeah and it looks like everybody is getting their place because of these new projects.  So you have the people working on the Joomla core and you have the people on Molajo or on Nooku and the people on Nooku and also on Molajo actually really want to be at the burning edge of innovation and the Joomla core just I think can’t be there because it’s used by so many websites and users.  But now the people that want to do these great improvements to user friendly interface like a new template in Molajo – they have a place to go and to develop to show this to the world and well the big hope of everyone of course is that these innovations eventually make it back to the Joomla core.

Bob: Or, they cross pollinate and so they don’t have to wait for the Joomla core it’s, you know if it’s in Nooku and Nooku works with Molajo theoretically or Joomla, then it won’t matter.

David: Yeah, well we’re very much in the beginning of these developments still so we have to see how the details really pan out.

Bob: I think we’re looking at fragmentation.  I listened to the Molajo people on JoomStew yesterday and I kept saying in my head “fragmentation, fragmentation”.  Joomla’s already different than say WordPress because WordPress is unified but Joomla, it’s fragmenting and it’s a good thing.

David: Well besides that it’s a good, it’s the way Joomla is and in the past we’ve had a lot of people saying Joomla should be more of this or that, more Drupal or more WordPress.  But I’m not a founder or whatever, I’m not here since the beginning so I see things with my own eyes and not with what I think they should be and what I’ve seen since the beginning is that Joomla has always been fragmented and there’s always been competition and I’m wondering if maybe we shouldn’t accept that and that we won’t be a Drupal that’s really focused on collaboration a lot but will be more fragmented and you have Molajo doing their own thing and Nooku doing their own thing and Joomla doing their own thing.  Maybe that’s just the way the Joomla community works.

Bob: At Joomla and Beyond I think the most photographed event was that eBay barbecue.

David: Probably.

Bob: Because those are the photos I’ve seen the most and it was fascinating looking at the T-shirt people were wearing.  There was a lot of Nooku, there was a lot of …..

David: Yeah, they’re in the corner, I have two, three, four, five, six, six t-shirts from Joomla and Beyond.

Bob: and what are the logos on those?

David: I’ll grab them.  Well there is the What Nothing? tshirt from Peter from and there’s the tshirt from Microsfoft where they wisely didn’t put their logo on because they did do that with the Dutch Joomla Days and they didn’t get rid of the tshirts so they added the Joomla logo, and it says “Make Web Not War”, so that was also a popular one.  Then we have the tshirt that says “Code Strong” from Accelerator, they developed the iPhone application for J and Beyond.  Then there’s the old J and Beyond tshirt in orange and the J and Beyond tshirt in blue.  That’s one, two, three, four, five…

Bob: You didn’t get a black Nooku tshirt?

David: No, because the Nooku guys were only giving those to Contributors.  So I got a Nooku tshirt from a Nooku gentleman Robert [unintelligble]  but I didn’t get the contributor tshirt.

Bob: Ah hah.  Well see I didn’t know about that.

David: If I knew about that I’d ask Johan for thecontributor agreement but I didn’t, so I didn’t.

Bob: Well I looked at the pictures of everyone in different tshirts and noticed that there weren’t exclusively Joomla tshirts and I got the visual impression that Joomla’s a family.  It was like a family gathering, that’s my major takeaway of JAB ’11 are the pictures and to think of Joomla as a family and not as sort of a single unified  thing.

David: Well it is.  I think I can agree on that.  It’s more of a group of people working and innovating on the web and not necessarily a group of people working and innovating on the Joomla CMS.  At least it’s not anymore.  We’re all working on the web and we’re going in different directions and the main reason we know each other and we’re connected is because of the past we have in Joomla and it still connects us because it’s still huge, of course, but we are more individuals and individually thinking and developing things and if you look at for example Drupal then you see that there is more a spirit of doing things together and sticking together.  I’m not saying one is bad or the other is bad or good or whatever, I’m just saying what I think I’m seeing.

Bob: I think one reason it’s good is you never know how technology is going to change and by being able to house sort of a lot of different technologies under you know, the family.  Whatever happens in the world Joomla’s going to be able to react and I think that’s a big plus.  That’s my personal opinion.

David: Well I agree but I’m not going to say a lot about this because I really don’t know a lot about politics.

Bob: Oh I’m not talking about the politics.  Just the different technologies.

David: Yeah, but I think for Joomla itself to benefit from the different technologies there has to be a way for the different technologies to get back to the core.  Joomla itself has to have a benefit from otherwise it is a family but will just grow apart and maybe the reason we’re a family in the first place will fade.  All the stuff that’s happening around Joomla, that’s of course the clue – it’s happening around Joomla and Joomla itself has to some way get the benefits of that so I almost feel as if I’m, how do you say that, I have to do this because I have so much to thank the Joomla project for that the stuff that I am doing if in anyway possible, I should be giving back.  And what you see now with Nooku and Molajo is that they are still having difficulties with finding a way how to give back, they want to, but there still have to be like a process or okay, how are we going to actually do this because we’re just innovating and not looking back and how do we get the innovation back maybe at a later moment and if they figure that out then Joomla itself gets benefits and then it’s the entire movement moving forward instead of just the people around the core that are not in the core but around the core.  Some people will hate me for saying this but the third parties.

Bob: Well right now I’m interpreting the CMS platform separation as a response to how do we put Nooku things in there or incorporate ideas we wanted to put in or how do we respond to whatever?  Now they have two streams that don’t necessarily tie in together so theoretically it makes Joomla more responsive.  We’ll have to wait but I think it’s a good development.

David: Yeah and maybe we’ll have to wait and I think it’s also a good development but I’m not aware of how exactly because I’m not really a coder so that’s a bit above my head or that’s how we say it in Dutch.  Because what is interesting is that Molajo decided to also become an application on the Joomla framework, so I’m not sure but I believe it started as a version of Joomla 1.6 as a distribution and now they decided at J and Beyond they were talking about it to be an application on top of the framework so there is no Joomla CMS in Molajo in the future, there’s only the Joomla framework and then a Molajo application layer and then the Molajo CMS on top of that.  And that combined with the development that the Joomla team is separating the platform from the CMS, that’s really interesting because it looks like, we’ll have to see where it goes but it looks like eventually the platform will become more prominent on for example and the CMS will just be a flavour and you’ll also have to flavour Molajo and maybe there will be different flavours of CMS on top of the framework but we’ll really have to see how that works out.

Bob: That was a great explanation.  I’m not exactly sure what’s separating CMS and Platform means but that’s very interesting.

David: Well they say platform but actually maybe it’s easier to understand if we call it a framework, that’s what it is and you have the framework which has all kinds of – I’m not a developer so I can try to explain it in a non-developer way – you have the framework which has all kinds of code that you can reuse to build something on top of it that’s easier to build because of the framework, you don’t have to program everything yourself and separating that means that the CMS part we know so /administrator for example is a part of the CMS and the CMS part itself lives on top of the framework and because they are separate you can have a framework that is developing quicker than a CMS and then just decide well we can’t have the CMS develop that fast so we’ll just use an older framework/platform version for the CMS which is built on top of the framework and we’ll just keep innovating the platform/framework separately from the CMS.

Bob: It’s reminiscent of what they were talking about on the JoomStew Show that I listened to yesterday.

David: Yeah, I still have to catch that one.

Bob: Yeah, a bit of a  mixing and matching of, you know, you use this for this and that for that and this for this and then somebody asked well what about Gantry? and I’m thinking…

David: What does that have to do with anything?

Bob: …will Gantry work in Molajo and I have to admit, I kind of lost the conversation but there seems to be, I’m thinking maybe there’s a trend towards, you know, fragmentation but also mixing and matching and it won’t matter where something’s developed because it will work in the other thing.  It’s all too nascent.

David: Yeah, but I’m not sure if Gantry for example is developed on the framework then and Molajo, for example, is also developed on the framework, then the Molajo people would still have to decide to support every framework function, I think, I’m not a developer so correct me if I’m wrong.

Bob: It even gets worse because Chris Rault ofProThemer [and Joomla Junkie], it’s based on Nooku.  The template framework [called “Morph”] is written in Nooku.

David: Really, is that in the wild or is it still in development?

Bob: Excuse me if I get the timing wrong, I think it’s out.  It’s either in very late beta or it’s been released.  Stian was working on that.  I have that in a podcast from last year and it’s taken awhile to develop.  You get all the details once you dive into it.  So I don’t know if that’s going to necessarily if the new Prothemer, sorry Chris, if it will work in Molajo at one point or whatever.

David: It depends on the parties, so if Nooku

Bob: He’s breaking new ground.

David: Yeah and a lot of people are at the moment with these projects we are talking about and it’s a mutual thing.  If the Nooku framework decides to fully support Molajo at all times and vice a versa on Molajo decides to support Nooku at all times, then of course it will work but if one of the two says “well whatever we’re not going to do it” and there’s something that breaks and they’re not going to fix it, well then it won’t work.  I think it’s more of a gentleman’s agreement “okay we’ll support each other” to have everything work together.  I don’t think it’s a standard.  I don’t think that a new framework will work in the other framework by definition because they are really going their own way, so there has to be somebody that’s going to test it and say “hey, this doesn’t work, will we fix it or not”.

Bob: I think that’s part of the family [Godfather clip], you know, every door’s open to the other family members.  I think it’s like can you use a Ford engine in a Chrysler pick up?

David: Yeah, if the Ford

Bob: It’s not so much I’m going to let you use it, it’s you know, can you drop one in the other?

David: Yeah and if Ford makes an adjustment to the engine so it hooks up to the Chrysler cable, then it’s going to work or if Chrysler makes an adjustment to the car so it can connect to the Ford engine, then it’s going to work but if both decide not to, then it’s not going to work.  Yeah, well exactly so it’s going to be a bit of an experiment to see who will support who and if that means that we can just install a template in 2013 in Molajo and Nooku Server and Joomla 1.20 and all the other distributions that are probably going to get developed now.

Bob: and if somehow you’re hedged with your extension will somehow work in Molajo and work with this and work with that, and if you stick with Joomla, for example, Joomla 1.5 development and it works in these other things then you as an extension developer are hedged that it will work or it might need minor tweaks and so you’ll be confident to develop in the one knowing it kind of will work in the others too and no matter where people gravitate to, they can still buy your product, they can buy your extension.  I think that’s the thinking behind it as well.

David: Yeah, but from really a business perspective a lot of people in the Joomla community that have a Joomla business are also developers.  Like PHP developers or template developers so they are entrepreneurs but also a developer so the way they see things tend to differ from someone that’s only an entrepreneur, like me.  But as a business, because you see that a few people are already saying, “okay I have this product and it works in Nooku Server and in Molajo and in Joomla 1.5″ and I think that’s pretty cool.  I won’t name a few examples but there are not a lot that do that, but from a business perspective you don’t really have to because at the moment 99 percent of your revenue will come from Joomla and it’s cool to say well it works in Nooku Server and it works for Molajo but in my case if I would communicate that on my website then 99 percent of my users would say, “What? what is Molajo and what’s Nooku Server?”. Because most users have no idea that Joomla 1.7 will be out in, I believe, a month or two.  So they even have a lesser idea of the existance of Molajo and Nooku Server, so as a business I believe there is no reason to support Molajo or Nooku Server right now it’s probably just going to be if you like to do it for innovation reasons or other reasons, okay, but purely for revenue or for other business reasons there is no reason because there are not enough users, I believe, to warrant that decision. And also besides that both Molajo and Nooku are still alpha so I personally at the moment am not going to put a lot of energy in supporting those CMS’s with all of my extensions because a) they are alpha and b) there won’t be a lot of users using them at the moment.  And if that changes and you see that 20, 40 percent of users still Joomla users but using Molajo or Nooku Server, then of course it’s very interesting to start converting your extensions and making sure that they also work with the other distributions/CMS versions.

[For Nooku, I disagree. Two other frameworks are already built with Nooku — see, and Morph. It’s time to look ahead — see RocketTheme to sponsor Ninjaboard development for a year and this forum this in RocketTheme. -Bob]

Bob: I have about an hour of things I could talk about from that and I might on other shows.  David, thank you for being here; and, thank you for sponsoring today’s show transcripts.

This is the second of two segments today with David de Boer of

This is Bob Bloom, signing off, wishing you a profitable week.

You have been listening to a production. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of SouthLaSalleMEDIA dot com, nor of the organizations represented. Links and materials discussed on air are available in the Show Notes for this show. Information contained herein have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but are not guaranteed. Podcasts are released under a creative commons licence. Some rights are reserved. Email correspondence to the attention of Bob Bloom at info at SouthLaSalleMedia dot com.


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