Sarah Watz is the President of Joomla! User Association Sweden, and the CEO of Pixpro, a Joomla consultancy business in Stockholm, Sweden. Sarah is also one of the driving forces behind the new concept called "Joomla!Night". She organized the first such event, which took place in Stockholm in February 2011.
I've met Sarah at several Joomla events, and apart from her being a really nice person, I've noticed she's involved in several aspects of the Joomla project. In this interview, she shares some of her views on Joomla, the community and how you can contribute to the project.
Hi Sarah, please tell the readers a little about yourself - where you're from and where you spend your time.
I'm a Joomla evengelist that lives just outside Stockholm on an island called Lidingö with my family.
Please tell us a bit about Pixpro and your role in the company.
Me and my husband Peter started Pixpro in 2003 starting out working with the CMS Mambo. Pixpro is at this point Sweden's leading Joomla consultancy with eight employees and seveal partner consultants. In my role as the CEO I'm not the behind the desk person. I'm more directly involved with spreading the word about Joomla and what Pixpro can do with Joomla. And as a result bring great projects to the Pixpro Team to create. We are really good at integrating Joomla with other soloutions and we mostly do custom work (templates and extensions) on the Joomla plattform. We also conduct both in-house education and open classes in Joomla for both editors, developers, designers and administrators.
8 times a year we invite people who would like to know more about Joomla to a Pixpro Breakfast Seminar. It's free - Pixpro pays for the event. This year we had topics as Joomla 1.6 beta - under the hood, Joomla and integrations, Joomla - an introduction, 10 best cases with Joomla by Pixpro. This is a way for us to give back and also a possibility for us to market Pixpro services.
Via Pixpro Labs we also bring extensions as the very popular PixSearch (featured on the people.joomla.org site). PixSearch has been downloaded more than 56.000 times from our site :)
You are very much involved in the organizing of Joomla events. Why do you think it's important to organize events like Joomla! Days and Joomla! Nights?
Getting people physically together at one location (no matter how big or small) you get a certain energy that is hard to get online. In between these meetings you than can continue on your conversation online until the next event. During the events there has to be scheduled mingling times. That is actually more important than the sessions.
In Sweden we run Joomla!Days for two days. And there is a lot of preparation for these events with several tracks, sessions, locations, sponsors, etc. Next Joomla!Day Sweden will be arranged this fall.
The Joomla!Nights are supposed to be smaller, easier to to arrange, focusing on one topic. And should be easy for anyone to set up in their own local community/town.
It could be just meeting up at a coffee house bringing your laptop and discuss a topic ie webshops and paygates. Sharing experiences. And socializing.
Last friday May 27th we arranged the 2nd Joomla! Night Stockholm. The topics were cloud computing, html5 and migration 1.5 / 1.6. We hade a good turnup, great speakers and discussions. We are planning for two more Joomla!Nights Stockholm this fall.
You've been to J and Beyond on both occasions. What do you think about the conference and what does it mean for your company?
Again, it's all about meeting people that you know from people.joomla.org, twitter, facebook, websites etc. It's great to talk to developers to give feedback on their work and describing what is confusing or missing in their extension from our end users point of view. Or just give a great thanks for getting your stuff out there for everyone to use and build solutions with. J and Beyond is also great for trend spotting. This year it was all about the services build on Joomla and Joomla goes mobile.
For the Pixpro Team Developers they get insights, building new releationships, getting inspiration and getting the feel for the Joomla Community.
I think that a lot of developers and users worldwide miss out a lot when they don't get that there is a vibrant community around Joomla and not just a free CMS to download.
How did you first get involved with Joomla!?
I started out using the Mambo CMS and when that was forked to Joomla I followed. I registered in the forums and after a couple of years building websites on the Joomla plattform I heard about this Joomla!Day that just missed out on that was arranged in Sweden. So I made sure to get registred to the right channels to get the next date and attended. Since then I've been involved in the Swedish Joomla Community.
Any thoughts on Joomla! strengths and weaknesses?
Right now all the drama in the Joomla community is a big weakness for everyone that don't know anyting about Joomla. They feel insecure that Joomla has a future. On the other hand, I feel that as a person that knows about the forces in the community it is neccessary to look at the community and the work we conduct from a different angle now that the project has matured. The structure has to change to be more suitable for the mature project that it is. It's a work that is ongoing and can't happen over night. Don't forget that this is all based on volunteery, free efforts. OSM has done great work in their organization to show other teams how it can be done and they are still progressing. Nice work!
Joomlas strength is in the Community - everyone that brings anything or efforts to the table. It's just amazing that we have more than 7.600 extensions to choose from and several hundreds of Joomla!Days a year - just to mention a few things.
What are your favorite Joomla extensions?
I like Yootheme templates, JCE, ZOO, JomSocial - extensions like these they are great because you don't have to know programming to build a site with these extensions. That's a strength that Joomla has!
As an evangelist for Migur I have to say the upcoming Newsletter component, that will be released late this summer, is a favorite.
And also PixSearch from PixproLabs is a must.
What else do you do - apart from being a Joomla addict?
It's a fulltime jobb :) But now when summer time is here it will also be time for traveling, gardening, hanging out with friends and spending time with my husband and the kids.
Where do you see Joomla going in the future?
Joomla is one of the mostly used CMSs in the world. In Sweden and in Europe #2 after Wordpress.
I think with the new approach to have a separate plattform project will be a great strenght and show new possibilities for Joomla developers and users.
And the initiative what Joomla 2.0 will be is an exiting new era to the Joomla project.
What would you say to people who want to help the Joomla project but don't know where to start?
It depends on if you would like to bring your knowledge you already have to the table or if you through helping out would like to learn how to do new suff. Figure out how much time you can invest per month. And be frank on this when applying to a position or to a team.
Register in the forum if you are a forum kind of person. Respond to questions that you know on any level.
If you are good at documentation contact the documentation workgroup and say - Hi, were can I help?
If you are more like me with a lot of knowledge in arrange events and education you can contact your closest Joomla User Group and ask how can I help?
Start a discussion on LinkedIn if you are registered there and create a dialogue about why Joomla.
It's not a lifetime thing it's up to you how much time and how long you would like to contribute.
Kristoffer, you are doing a great thing when blogging about Joomla to spread the word and knowledge. So it doesn't have to be just within the projet you can make a difference.
Anything else you want to share with the JoomlaBlogger readers?
I would like to say a BIG THANK YOU to all of you that are involved in Joomla at any level. You are all that matters. You are the Joomla Community. And without you there would be no Joomla.
So I have a challenge - if you spend just ONE more hour on working with Joomla a week than you do now there would be huge difference because we are so many involved. For sure. Joomla needs this energy boost. Are you with me?
Thank you for sharing, Sarah - I'm looking forward to meeting you at a Joomla event somewhere!