As you might have read here on the blog earlier, I attended JoomlaDay Spain 2012 in Mérida. These last few days have been great fun and I even made some new friends.
Attending a JoomlaDay has always been a nice experience for me, and this was no exception. Read on for more about the event.
The event was organized as a joint-venture between the local governments of Mérida and Extremadura, Open Source Iberia, the companies Complusoft, CyxMedia, Esparkle and more. I enjoyed seeing how the organizers had managed to fill the schedule with a lot of interesting talks and workshops. At the same time, they managed to keep the event friendly and warm. There was an area set aside for networking, complete with a foosball table! A great way to meet people and have some laughs when trying to beat each other in a game of foosball.
The JoomlaDay was combined with the «Congreso Hispanoluso de Software Libre» (Spanish Congress of Free Software), so there were some sessions that were more general and not Joomla-specific.
Sessions were divided into talks and workshops. The talks were presented in the main auditorium, and the workshops in smaller conference rooms. Even though there was a bit of a problem with the WiFi the first day, this was quickly fixed and every room had it’s own wireless network.
Apart from myself, Max Milbers and Saurabh Shah were invited to speak and give workshops. Max, who is the lead developer of Virtuemart, did workshops on this ecommerce solution. Saurabh Shah was supposed to give a workshop on creating and modifying templates with the Gantry framework from RocketTheme. After talking to the crowd, it turned out they wanted to learn how to customize an existing template. The workshop was so popular that they went over time and had to finish it on Saturday in a special session. Both speakers had a good crowd in their presentations, and the feedback was great.
Personally, I did a talk in the main auditorium on Friday afternoon. The talk was laid out in two parts, weaving into each other. The first part was about blogging with Joomla, in which I wanted to give the audience some hands-on, simple tips they could use to improve any content-driven web site. Some of the tips might seem obvious to people who have run web sites for a while. However, there are many small things that can and should be done on a regular basis to achieve the results you are looking for. Consistency is key, and that was a big part of my message in the first part of the presentation.
The community message
In the second part, I aimed to inspire the audience and have them reconsider their view on what Joomla is about. Joomla is not about technology. Joomla is not a product in the traditional sense. It’s about the people coming together for a common good. It is about a whole community of which every member does his or her best to help move Joomla forward. People are working on the project all over the world, every day. For your benefit! This is nothing new, of course. This message has been transmitted many times, but I believe it is a message that people need to hear directly and something we need to remind ourselves of.
I talked to a couple of people there who really took the message about community to heart. Spain is one of the countries in Europe that have been, and still are, hit hard by the economic crisis. According to the people I spoke to, the low point is yet to be seen. In this context, a community-driven, open source project has an incredible value. Even if the funds are low, people are able to build business and create value on the efforts of the whole community. The feedback I received after the talk was very positive, and I’m grateful for it. I sincerely hope the presentation will help someone be even more confident in their decision to move forward with their Joomla projects.
One of the things that amazed me about the event was the fact that the local government had provided professional translators for the sessions. There were at least two translators present at any time in the main auditorium, and they provided real-time translation between Spanish, Portuguese and English. This was a huge benefit for us non-Spanish speaking attendees. We all had a headset that provided different channels of live translations. This wasn’t something that was well communicated beforehand. If the JoomlaDay Spain web site had been in English as well as Spanish, I believe they might have had more visitors from abroad.
All of the sessions that took place in the main auditorium were transmitted live through a streaming service. I was really impressed by the people doing this streaming. There were at least 3-4 guys sitting inthe streaming booth at all times, editing on the fly. They had one camera following the speaker and simultaneously streamed the actual presentation from the presenter’s computer. I haven’t seen the live stream myself, but from what I could see on screen there, it looked great!
A friendly and welcoming crowd
Even though I don’t speak much Spanish, I found the people to be very open and welcoming towards me. Everyone tried to make the other international speakers and me feel at home and even those who only spoke a little English tried their best to include us.
As mentioned in the other blog post, Mérida is an ancient, Roman city. Saurabh and I spent some time roaming the streets, looking at the sights. There are some great Roman ruins of temples, a hippodrome, aquaducts and more there.
And not to forget, the Roman legion that luckily had decided to rally that weekend. We were lucky to see them, as the yearly event called the "white night" took place when we were there. The image below shows one of the Roman soldiers, ready for battle!
I would like to thank all of the attendees and organizers for inviting me to the event, and for taking such care of all of us visiting speakers. Particularly I'd like to thank Pedro Vidal, Irene López, Jose Ferrero, Albert Bosom and Alberto Gómez-Chacón. And all of you other guys whom I met and had interesting discussions with. I’m looking forward to attend a JoomlaDay soon again.