Steve Burge

Our New Product: Admincredible

admincredible-adamRemember that new product mentioned on the blog at the beginning of May?

I’m delighted to say that things are coming along great.

The name of the product is Admincredible and I know you’re going to love it.

We’ve absolutely loved building it.

In building Admincredible, I’ve had the chance work with a lot of people that I’ve long admired. TJ and Eddie from Joomlashack are helping me bring the product to fruition. Fotis, Chiara and the Nuevvo team are doing the design work. We’ve got some great coders on the project too.

Visit Admincredible.com to sign up and become one of the very first to know when we launch.

You can also follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

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First Peek at a New Business

Tonight at the Joomla User Group in Atlanta I’ll be giving the first public peek inside our new business.

Details of how to attend are here: http://www.meetup.com/atlantajoomla/

I’m really excited about this project:

  • It involves a lot of great Joomla people that I’ve met over the years. Some of them I’ve been hoping to work with for a long time.
  • It scratches my own itch. OSTraining is my main business and that is designed to scratch other peoples itches. Even if this side-project completely flops commercially, I’ll still use it myself.
  • Intially it will be a Joomla project, but I hope it will end up serving a much wider audience.
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A Short but Honorable List

Someone asked me a question last night so I racked my brain and came up with the answer of “5”. I’m a little sad this list is so short.

So, kudos to these open source events:

  • DrupalCon Munich
  • DrupalCon Denver
  • DrupalCon Copenhagen
  • JoomlaDay New England
  • JoomlaDay Netherlands

Anyone know what these events did to make the list? Even better, any ideas for making it longer?

*Update* The answer is “events that are brave enough to invite speakers from other open source projects”.

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No Upgrades? You’ll Scare Your Users Away

Today is Halloween so it’s a good time to addresses a scary topic.

After a baby-hiatus this summer, I’ve been back on the road again teaching a lot of Joomla and Drupal. I’m talking to a lot of end-users and finding that there’s something really scary In our open source platforms.

No Upgrades? Your Customers See an Exit Door

I tweeted a while ago that a lot of people are migrating to Joomla and Drupal from the Vignette / OpenText system. Why? Because OpenText are dropping support for an old version and moving to the new version requires a major migration. People are using that opportunity to shop around. If they’re going to have to rewrite their whole website, why not see if there’s a better alternative out there? Every time there’s a difficult upgrade, your customers seen an exit door.

The worst part of every class with Vignette users is explaining that neither Joomla or Drupal are better with upgrades. It’s not comforting to explain to new users that they got out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Times Have Changed

Here’s the thing: people’s expectations have changed. This isn’t 2005 when phones never updated and new Windows versions often required buying new computers.

In 2011, your phones, computers and tablets update automatically. In 2011, WordPress runs 15% of the web and its updates are like butter. In 2011, we all run on the cloud and we never even notice the updates. That’s today’s standard. Any system which doesn’t provide an easy update path isn’t living in the 2010’s.

Conclusion

I hope that Joomla devs provide a smooth upgrade from 2.5 to 3.0 and that Drupal devs provide a smooth path from 7 to 8.

I fear a scary experience for the users of either platform if they don’t.

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The 4 Pillars of Open Source Communities

In 2006 I quit my job to work full-time in open source. It was fortunate timing, because the years since then have seen extraordinary growth. What was once a hobby or a sideline has now taken over the web. It’s almost certain that more than 20% of the web will run on either WordPress, Joomla or Drupal by the the end of 2011.

What is even more amazing to me is how fragile it often seems on some days. Having worked in and paid close attention to the people and structures running our three huge projects, I’m constantly amazed by how we survived and made it so big.

I’d been pondering how we made it so far and those thoughts accelerated after reading this post by Matt Asay back in May: “Wake up, Linux hippies“. I knew he was partly right, but missing the much larger picture. I knew I agreed with Glynn Moody, whose post Matt was replying too, but I couldn’t properly explain why.

Continue reading “The 4 Pillars of Open Source Communities”

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Joomla! Explained and Why Writing a Book is So Hard

Phew. Joomla! Explained is finally out.

If you’ve written a book, you know how I feel. Phrases like “piece of cake” and “walk in the park” aren’t involved.

Why Is Writing a Book So Difficult (Particularly for Web People)?

    1. Print. Oh man, the boot was on the other foot this time. If you’re a web designer, you’ve had a requests like these: “I’d like the image to be 5.4 cm high”  “I have this pixel-perfect magazine ad that want translated into a website”. I’ve been guilty in the past of making light fun of print designers who try to tackle website. Oh man, the boot was firmly on the other foot this time. I had a lot of ideas of how the book should be laid out from a tear-out handout to an almost-blank splash page for each chapter (an idea taken from Steve Krug). Now I was the noob. Everything was foreign from dealing with Word documents to formatting to image numbering. My editors did a great job of steering me gently away from my wackier ideas and producing a good output at the end. I now have a LOT more respect for print designers.
    2. Iteration. As web designers we’re so used to iterating that anything is really hard. After years of making small incremental improvements to everything, it’s really confusing to now have to produce a piece of work that’s perfect first-time and can’t be tweaked later.
    3. 450 pages?? Books requires radically different skills and thought processes those we use every day. Twitter? 140 characters? A blog or forum post? 500 words. Even a university dissertation? 150 pages. 450 pages is hard to conceive and plan for. It’s certainly hard to write that much and write it accurately. It’s really like running a marathon – way outside the range of things that people normally do.
    4. Rewriting. I was such a noob that I really didn’t know how to approach the book. I re-wrote it at least three times and went through around 30 different tables of contents.
    5. Joomla 1.6. The book started in late 2009 but really didn’t start to fall into place until Joomla 1.6 reached Release Candidate versions and things were stable enough to commit to screenshots and content/

    Why Write a Book?

    Quite a few people warned me against writing a Joomla book over the years. Barrie North coined the term YAJBB (Yet Another Joomla Beginner Book) and it neatly summed up why I didn’t want to write one: it’s been done so many times already. Then there’s the book-writing process itself: low-pay, long hours and little reward. Most of my friends who wrote books said they got no royalties at all: only ancillary benefits such as being able to raise their rates.

    In the end I decided to write it for two reasons:

    • The offer was from the Joomla Press (a portion of the money goes back to Joomla).
    • It finally felt like I had something different to offer in a book.

    What’s Different In This Book?

    The book is based squarely on my experiences as a teacher (we’re closing in on 300 public classes and well over 100 private classes). I can sum up what I’ve learned in one word:

    Workflows.

    Building CMS websites is not a straightforward task. Everything from adding content to menus to extensions requires multiple steps.

    • Want to add set up a contact form? That’s around dozen clicks.
    • What to add an article that’s categorized and visible via the menu? That’s around a dozen clicks.

    Why is WordPress generally easier to use? Because those tasks take less clicks.
    Why is Drupal generally harder to use? Because those tasks take more clicks.

    It’s not easy for users to remember what or where to click and each additional click is an opportunity to get lost or click the wrong thing.

    So the book is entirely based on workflows.

    • Want to add a contact form? Want to add an article? Both of those are dealt with using the CASh workflow: Categorize > Add > Show. In Joomla 1.5, this was the famous SCAM (Section > Category > Add > Menu). However, this really helps. Lots of users would start with the menu links because that’s how Dreamweaver works. Lots of users would Categorize and Add and then wonder why they couldn’t see their new content. Workflows hold their hand and guide them through the process.
    • Want to add an extension? Research > Download > Upload > Modules > Modify. Lots of users would forget to do their research at the beginning or to move their modules around at the end. Workflows hold their hand and guide them through the process.
    • Want to build a whole site? Installation > Content > Extensions > Templates. Lots of users would start with the design of their site and then  wonder why building a site was so hard. We found in our classes that we really had to stress to people that they couldn’t reasonably design their site without any content or any extensions. Web designers routinely used to design site and then wait months for the client to send the content. That doesn’t work well in Joomla or indeed any CMS. Workflows provide reassurance and hep with best practices.

    So that’s they key thing that’s different about Joomla Explained. Almost every chapter and every task in the book is accompanied by a workflow.

    If you want to read more on this, I’d recommend reading The Checklist Manifesto. It explains how people have to remember so many things in the modern world that they routinely screw up. The author explains how everyone from pilots to doctors to people building skyscrapers use checklists / workflows to minimize errors when there’s so much to remember.

    Who is the Book For?

    Joomla! Explained is aimed squarely at non-technical users. There are about two lines of code in the whole book and those don’t have to be used.

    In the introduction I mention that I wrote the book for my Dad. I firmly believe that Joomla should be easy enough for anyone to learn. If my Dad can use Joomla, so can you and your family.

    Want a Review Copy for You or Your Joomla Event?

    If you write a blog post on the the book, or if you want a copy to give away at your Joomla Day or Joomla User Group, drop me a line via this Google Docs form.

    Thanks and if you’ve written a book, find me at an event and I’ll buy you a beer. I’m sure we’ll both agree that having written a book is much better than writing a book.

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Any good CRMs or ERPs for Online Businesses?

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been trying to get a better handle on our business over at OSTraining.com. Since the launch early last years, things have been growing faster than my ability to analyze and understand it.

It’s been a pretty sobering experience so far and I ended up experiencing some pretty eye-opening problems with all the tools out there?

First, I realised once and for all that the major payment gateways are really living in the 1990s when it comes to their websites. We use PayPal and Authorize.net  for payments and “wow!”, they do not make it easy to do any analysis. GaragePay helped us to get the data into a usable format from PayPal (thanks to Kyle from PixelPraise for that suggestion) but I’ve not found a good tool yet for Authorize.

Continue reading “Any good CRMs or ERPs for Online Businesses?”

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The Open Source Wall Revisited: Drupal and Commercial Modules

wallI’ve been on record here saying that Open Source project should focus on learning from one another rather than competing.

So it’s been interesting to see the Drupal community talking about commercial modules this week. It’s very similar to the discussion that took place in the Joomla community during 2007 and 2008. Back then I wrote a post detailing the experience of some friends and colleagues called “Hitting the Open Source Wall“.

Earlier this week an eerily similar post started the conversation in Drupal: Is it Evil to Ask For Payment?. You can follow some of the debate by following the #drupalappstore hashtag on Twitter.

Continue reading “The Open Source Wall Revisited: Drupal and Commercial Modules”

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New Years Resolution Challenge (with thanks to Mos Def)

“Listen.. people be askin me all the time,
Yo Mos, what’s gettin ready to happen with Hip-Hop?”
(Where do you think Hip-Hop is goin?)
I tell em, “You know what’s gonna happen with Hip-Hop?
Whatever’s happening with us”
If we smoked out, Hip-Hop is gonna be smoked out
If we doin alright, Hip-Hop is gonna be doin alright
People talk about Hip-Hop like it’s some giant livin in the hillside
comin down to visit the townspeople
We (are) Hip-Hop
Me, you, everybody, we are Hip-Hop
So Hip-Hop is goin where we goin
So the next time you ask yourself where Hip-Hop is goin
ask yourself.. where am I goin? How am I doin?”

Continue reading “New Years Resolution Challenge (with thanks to Mos Def)”

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