This week, I have the pleasure of introducing Marco Barbosa. Marco is a Brazilian working and living in Sweden, with a glowing passion for Joomla.
He's known to some of you as the guy behind Minima, the exciting new admin template for Joomla 1.6, as well as an active contributor in the Joomla UX group at people.joomla.org.
Hi Marco, please tell the readers a little about yourself - where you're from and where you spend your time.
I’m from the south of Brazil (Florianópolis anyone?) and currently living in Sweden. If you ask me what is a Brazilian guy doing in Sweden, I’ll tell you a looong story of a guy who met a nice Swedish girl on the web around 4 years ago (it has a nice ending though :)
Web development is my field and I love following the latest web topics closely. I’m having a passion for the “User Experience subject” right now. I build sites with Joomla!, designing the template, programming, adding client customization - all with a special “M” touch during the process.
Currently, I’m starting my own consulting company.
How did you first get in contact with Joomla!?
I was working in a company in Brazil taking care of their portal when they presented me their problems & ideas for their custom built CMS. Now, I don’t quite remember exactly how I found Joomla! but I was reading about some open source CMS:es back then. Though I do remember that it was 1.0.x and my jaw dropped when I first used the J! Installer.
Just sent a zip file and *boom* something was installed. I was like “w00t! that’s it to extend it?” Loved the concept and presented to my boss immediately.
Any thoughts on Joomla! strengths and weaknesses?
I think Joomla’s Community is it’s best strength. For those who were at “J and Beyond" probably felt that too. No matter what FOSS (free open source software) you look, if you really want to invest time into it, the community it’s the most important “feature" to me. I’m also a fan of the template system.
For the Weaknesses, I think Joomla! needs some general “house cleaning” at the moment. You see other open source CMS'es innovating while we are still to release 1.6 with (finally) nested categories.
So I think it’s important that we get this 1.6 out as soon as possible for I feel we are passing through a stormy “change” period.
The good thing is that after the storm goes away then comes the sunshine! Joomla! has a promising and interesting future ahead.
When I first met you at J and Beyond, you told the audience about your new User Experience (UX) project for the Joomla Administrator in Joomla 1.6, called Minima. Please tell us what Minima is and how it came to be.
Minima is a administrator concept to make the back-end easier to use by “minimalizing” things. I believe that any back-end deserves the same attention as the front-end.
I had many ideas in my head and some useful information from some client trainings I did in a company during 2009 (read it “indirect usability tests”). Then I decided to use Joomla 1.6 as my playground thanks to Mootools 1.2 and a proper MVC back-end.
When the most “ambitious” features - like the toolbar - started working well I just got more excited and knew this could be something great. You can say that Minima with some final touches is “alpha” today, but I still need to wait for a stable J! 1.6 to release it. It will be available soon after 1.6 becomes stable.
Minima is GPL and will be available to download for free.
Sounds great! So what are the main features of Minima at this point?
- Minimalist interface. Lots of noise removed and a good use of contrast;
- Minimal Toolbar. With “Actions" drop down for better understanding;
- Tabbed interface;
- Add Article is much cleaner and easier;
- Control Panel with 2 columns (soon more customizable);
- Components tab. To emphasize Joomla! extensions;
- Choose the logo and color of the template;
- Shortcuts navigation that you can add or remove just what you want it available (in progress!);
- No Joomla hacks! Mostly Mootools goodness.
The list could go on..but these above are what will make you enjoy Minima.
You can try the demo: demo/demo.
You're very active in the Joomla UX group over at people.joomla.org.
Why do you think it's important to improve the user experience of Joomla in general?
Kyle's Joomla Magazine article "Redesigning Joomla" shows the interface history of Joomla:
If you look at the backend history, one could think that you are playing the “7 errors game”: Try to find 7 differences between them and you will beat the game. There isn’t much change at all.
Seriously though, User Experience is definitely where Joomla! could improve best when you follow other open source cms:es great progress in this area. “Easiness” is a must in interfaces now thanks to the huge growth of Apple products and smartphones in the past few months.
And I actually don’t blame Joomla! for the weak backend it has, I think the official dev team has other priorities to catch up on first (see the “house cleaning" weakness above). So it’s the perfect time for the community to step up and help lift this to a new level.
What else do you do - apart from being a Joomla addict?
I’m quite active actually. I train some “Practical Tai Chi Chuan” and I do gym every now and then. Vacation is when I jump into books, specially fiction: Just finished about 3 books in July. Love traveling. I try to go to Brazil every 6 months.
I’m also working on my Swedish language skills. Förstår du? :D
Anything else you want to share with the JoomlaBlogger readers?
Help Joomla! and get a warm fuzzy feeling in your belly that you are helping something you use and like. I recommend it!
And don’t eat sugar after 6 pm, it’s bad for your teeth.
Thanks a lot, Marco! I wish you all the best and good luck on both Minima and your consultancy business - och din svenska ;)