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Joomla Leaders: Enterprise Is Better With Open Source [INTERVIEW]

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Unlike with other open source content management systems, it’s hard to pin down one founder of Joomla (Joomla). The CMS that now runs about 2.4% of the top 1 million websites was created by a group of developers that split off from a similarly open source project called Mambo.

The developers felt that Mambo’s founding company, Miro (Miro), was attempting to regain proprietary control of the code (the company denied this), and wanted to continue their work elsewhere. They changed the name of their software to Joomla in 2005 and founded the Open Source Matters organization to manage it.

Since then, about 2,500 programmers have contributed to the project’s core database. Joomla has been downloaded about 19 million times in the past three years, and a diverse range of sites, including McDonald’s and Harvard University, are using it. Recently, the framework has also drawn attention from Microsoft and eBay; both recently signed Joomla’s contributor agreement.

Ryan Ozimek, the president of Open Source Matters, and Louis Landry, a member of the Joomla production leadership team, recently spoke with Mashable (Mashable) about the current role of commercial interests in the project, the future of open source, and about how open source projects are winning acceptance from large enterprises.

  • 1. What is the role of commercial interests in Joomla?

    Ryan: One of the things that’s heavily encouraged and supported in the Joomla world is an economy of GPL — open source license software –- built by developers but sold commercially. We’re really trying to help and encourage our community in the monetization of their open source software so long as it respects our license… With a community like Joomla that supports commercial open source software, we’re able to allow people to focus and build niche products that they can continue to grow and to provide a lot of niche features that the framework doesn’t have right out of the box.

    Businesses are incentivized to develop and grow interesting niche features for multiple communities… Over the course of the last year or so, there’s been a pretty significant pick up in the the enterprise [and] commercial world using the Joomla framework and the content management system. I think part of it [comes] down to when you are looking at the different CMS services that are out there … Joomla has a really strong framework. CMS is the thing that gets us in the door, but the framework is what is really interesting to a Microsoft or an eBay.

  • 2. If there’s an evolution of open source, what do you think is the next iteration?

    Louis: The bigger businesses are starting to see open source as more of a tool in the sense that they don’t have to maintain all of the common software that they all build independently. They can participate in an open source project that solves the generic problems, and then they can focus their resources and finances towards building the niche stuff that makes them important — that makes them separate from all of the other competitors that they’re competing with.

    Ryan: A lot of folks, from an enterprise perspective, say open source projects like Joomla provide the glue that allows them to connect together a lot of other proprietary systems or internally created services that they’re trying to integrate together. I think open source by its very nature allows it to happen… I really see Joomla’s ascendancy over the course of the last two years, and open source’s [ascendancy], as being simply because we’ve been able to bring open source projects like Joomla or Firefox (Firefox) to the masses in a way that is user-friendly, easy to understand, and is just a comfortable platform or tool for people to use.

    Open source projects used to be, and still sometimes are, installed by going to a terminal command prompt and having to know something about databases and web servers. But if you’ve go something like Joomla or newer open source projects that are out there that are making it easier through basic point-and-click installations and management, you’re really allowing us to hit a much broader focus of users in today’s world.

  • 3. I noticed that Microsoft recently signed Joomla’s contributor agreement. Was getting enterprises to accept open source projects, instead of perceiving them as threats, a gradual process?

    Louis: I think that there was probably a time when technology companies particularly saw open source as a threat. The simple reality is that open source is where most of your passionate technologists exist. Even if you have a developer in a traditional proprietary software company, what the guy is able to do on the side is where his passion lives, and generally speaking, that has been in an open source project in the last few years.

    And I think that is going to continue to grow, and that enterprise is really starting to realize and understand that if you want passionate software developers on a particular topic or a particular issue, then you go through the open source community because these guys are giving up their time for something that they feel really strongly about anyway.

  • 4. The Joomla newsletter asks people to submit haikus about Joomla. Are people really so passionate about this project that they’re writing poetry about it?

    Ryan: I have not personally written a haiku about Joomla… But we have a really, really passionate user and developer community. And I think a lot of this harkens back to a community that really started as kind of a foster child — that came from a company that just wanted to give it up to the world — and we haven’t been led by a large corporation or a benevolent dictator or any one person that has kind of been the king of the project. It’s really kind of this hippie, communal type of project that we have. And it really kind of stirs up passion, a mode of connections, and I think we see this best when folks go to “Joomla days,” which are kind of like our small, mini-conferences in different regions of the world. And people are just extremely passionate about it.

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