This week, you'll meet Hilary "Hils" Cheyne. She's a British web developer and an instructor of online Joomla! Fast Track Training Course at LVS Associates.
She's also involved in the Alltogetherasawhole.org site, as well as an active contributor to the recently launched Joomla Community Magazine.
Join me as we get to know Hils a little better.
Hey Hilary, please tell the readers a little about yourself - where you're from and where you spend your time.
I'm a Brit!, originally from the North West of England. Pre-internet days used to mean 'home was where the work was' so having lived in London, Aberdeen and in between and being an internet early adopter, now I am able to work from my home studio on the edge of a National Nature Reserve in Norfolk UK.
How did you first get in contact with Joomla!?
Via Mambo – someone at a Dog Show said casually that they had a friend who had developed a commercial CMS (.asp). I hadn't a clue what CMS meant so I did my research and made the best decision of my web life. I can still remember the fork and deciding to follow the Developers to Joomla!; to follow those whose vision I trusted. It was a big decision at the time – on a par with deciding to choose css/html rather than tables for flat websites!
What are the extensions you recommend and use and why?
In common with many other Joomla! Users: Joomla! Content Editor, NinjaXplorer, jSecure, Akeeba Backup and Update Manager go into every site of course but all other extensions are added depending on the type of site. Being a Trainer, I have testing sites where I 'play' with many extensions but I do keep a careful watch on the Joomla! VEL (Vulnerable Extensions List) as well as subscribing to the JED Recently Updated feed – and Twitter.
You've been with the project since the Mambo days.
How is the Joomla project different today than it was when you started?
This is difficult to answer as my own perspective has changed dramatically. I began as a self-taught, excited user with very little Community involvement and now I am starting to learn how to pay back for all those years of 'free ride' and learning what 'Community' means. So the honest answer is that I don't know because I wasn't involved in Community back in those days.
What attracted me to Joomla! initially was that I could create powerful web sites without knowing PHP. Since the beginning, Joomla! has become more and more powerful and as I have stayed and learned, using Joomla! is part of whom I am.
I saw on your website that you teach by having students create a full website.
Please tell us a little bit about your teaching concept and why this works so well.
Student 'focus' is the main reason for creating a full website with all content provided. The course was designed this way after years of watching students, in other online courses, spending more time wondering what to write about and what images to add rather than actually learning the subject!
I was fortunate to work with a brilliant teacher, Vikki Brooks of LVSOnline, for several years in the CSS Advanced Positioning Class. That is where I learned how people learn, what people need from an Online Course and how to deliver sometimes complex information in an easily digestible format.
The course of six pdf lessons and virtual classroom access is designed to teach the basics of Joomla! 1.5 to new Joomla! Users. At the beginning of the course full illustrated step-by-step how-tos are provided, but as the lessons progress, students are gently encouraged out into the Joomla! World so that they know how to move forward with their own work after the course ends.
Teaching Joomla!, a subject I love, is a privilege. Very few things can beat witnessing the excitement new users show when they begin to understand the power of Joomla! and the ease with which they can make a good looking, functional website with no coding knowledge at all.
You've recently joined the Joomla Community Magazine team - what made you sign up for that and how has the experience been so far?
I have always written in one form or another so when I saw the new Magazine Project announced at ATAAW it seemed to be the perfect way for me to get involved. This lead to helping to form Team EaSE (Extensions and Services Evaluations) in February 2010. Not only is the subject extremely interesting but being able to work with such a fabulous team of Joomla! Professionals continues to be a very special experience for me.
Another project you're a part of, is the upcoming Joomla movie project. A very exciting project, I must say. Can you tell us a bit about how this came about and why you're involved?
I was seeing other FOSS projects producing great promotional work and, with the encouragement of ATAAW, a call was put out to gauge interest in producing a professional movie short for Joomla!, using the professionals that we all know are part of our Community. The response has been amazing! Expertize, scripts, ideas – all came flowing in.
The original idea has now become a series of movies promoting Joomla! following the initial Happy 5th Birthday Joomla! Movie which currently has at least 27 countries and languages involved. All produced by the Joomla! Community as a present for Joomla!.
What else do you do – apart from being a Joomla addict?
There are two other projects I am involved in. One is helping to ensure the survival of an ancient and endangered breed of dog, The Dandie Dinmont Terrier, and the other involves a start-up company licensing IP for an innovative Advanced Position Sensor (Beam Deflector).
For leisure my tastes are simple. If I was given fabulous food & wines on a boat gently drifting at dusk with the sounds of nature settling down for the night, I could happily float off into the sunset!
Anything else you want to share with the JoomlaBlogger readers?
Encouragement to get involved with Joomla! It is a Community project, our project. Look for a place where you can contribute – the Bug Squad? the Joomla! Community Magazine? The Joomla! Forums? The Joomla! Documentation Wiki? The Joomla! People Site? The benefits to you will be massive and for those already involved – thank you!
Thank you so much for sharing yuour thoughts with us, Hils - and good luck on the Joomla! Movie project!
You can follow Hils on Twitter: HilsCheyne