Meet Mathias Bolt Lesniak, TYPO3 Board Member, Norway (Application Podcast S02E07)

Categories: Community, Podcasts Created by Jeffrey A. McGuire
In this episode, I speak with Mathias Bolt Lesniak, a TYPO3 Board Member and valued TYPO3 Guidebook contributor who also works at the Scandinavian agency, Pixelant. In this episode we speak about Mathias’s favorite TYPO3 features, TYPO3 as a force for democratization in the world, and the give-and-take of open source contribution that characterizes the TYPO3 community.

Listen to the full interview in the audio player here, watch the interview video below, where you’ll also find a full transcript of our conversation. Don’t forget to subscribe and send us your feedback and ideas! 

Mathias’s Bumpy Introduction to TYPO3

Mathias and TYPO3 go way back. In 2003, Mathias wanted to build a website, and a friend introduced him to a CMS that used PHP: TYPO3. Mathias downloaded TYPO3 and started playing with it, which didn’t go well at first: “I tried to rename a folder for security reasons and I crashed my first TYPO3 install,” Mathias explains with a laugh. Put off by this experience, Mathias explored other avenues for website building and content management. “I got really upset with TYPO3 and I sat and tried to write my own CMS, which in the early 2000s, was a pretty normal thing to do.” he notes. “Six months later, I had to crawl back and ask for forgiveness.” 

The TYPO3 Guidebook Works for All Roles

Mathias’s extensive experience with TYPO3 is one of the reasons he was such a valuable contributor to the TYPO3 Guidebook, which helps other people avoid pitfalls like his. Mathias has high praise for the Guidebook’s approach. “I’ve read a lot of books about development or about how to start using a new CMS. The TYPO3 Guidebook is really the first guide I've seen that takes a holistic perspective to using a CMS in your agency.” He names several of his favorite segments of the Guidebook:

  • How to set up your first TYPO3 website
  • What TYPO3 is and its main selling points
  • How to start a business using TYPO3
  • How to start interfacing with the TYPO3 community

Mathias concludes, “The TYPO3 Guidebook is the book that you can give to anybody in your business, from developers to sales and everyone in between.” 

Mathias’s Two Favorite TYPO3 features

Mathias’ first favorite feature in TYPO3 is the page tree. “It's just so ingenious.” he says. “You get all of your structure in one place.” His second favorite feature is the content elements. “You can actually put multiple types of functionality and content on the same page without reconfiguring the page, which you had to do in pretty much every other CMS.”

TYPO3 as a Democratizing Force

Mathias’s one word to describe TYPO3 is “democracy.” In Mathias’s view, using TYPO3 is not just using a CMS, and that’s part of what makes it so special. “What we’re doing with TYPO3 is much bigger than a commercial CMS. What we are doing is inserting seeds of democracy.” As part of the TYPO3 Board, Mathias gets an up-close-and-personal view of how a democratic, open source community functions in real life. “In order to be active and really contribute to TYPO3, you have to understand the concepts of community decision-making.” TYPO3 has intentionally created a space where newcomers can become active more quickly.  “TYPO3’s flat structure means we can bring people in at almost any level, and make them feel a part of the democratic processes very early on.” Mathias says. 

He ends on a philosophical note. “What I develop for TYPO3, I give to the world, because I know even that I just give it away, the world will also give me something back. I'm part of this circle where everyone just gives and everyone receives without tracking the transactions.”

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Need More Reasons to Press Play?

Fun fact about Mathias — not only did he try to write his own CMS, he tried to do it in BASIC, a programming language that first appeared in the 1960s. As always, we round up today’s episode with some rapid-fire questions on TYPO3,  including our favorite ‘Suggest-a-Guest’ segment.


Application, the TYPO3 Community Podcast could not have happened without our special guest Mathias Bolt Lesniak, b13 and Stefanie Kreuzer for our logo, and Maestro Patrick Gaumond for our wonderful, quirky theme music. 

And a huge thank you to the TYPO3 Association for sponsoring this podcast!

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Meet Your Host

Jeffrey A. "jam" McGuire, Partner at Open Strategy Partners, helps organizations communicate and grow at the intersection of open source software, business, and culture. He connects the value and people behind the technologies to the people who need to know about them through inspiring conversations, keynotes, podcasts, and more. 

His approach to technology marketing—sharing the human context of complex technology solutions, and celebrating the expertise and success of their creators—has left its mark in business and open source communities over the last 15+ years.

Interview Transcript

Humans recorded this podcast, and A.I. transcribed it. Humans helped. A little.

Jeffrey A. McGuire  0:00
Welcome to Application the TYPO3 community podcast.

Mathias Bolt Lesniak  0:07
My name is Mathias Bolt Lesniak and this is application, the TYPO3 community podcast, sharing your stories, your projects, and the difference you make. Celebrate the TYPO3 community on application, the TYPO3 podcasts meet the humans behind the technology. One,

Jeffrey A. McGuire  0:31
two. Welcome to application, the TYPO3 community podcast. I'm Jeffrey A. McGuire. You can call me jam. And this is where we celebrate the TYPO3 community sharing your stories talking about your projects and the difference you make in around and with TYPO3 CMS. On today's episode of application, that TYPO3 community podcast, I have a long and interesting conversation with Mathias Bolt Lesniak who's been involved with TYPO3 since at least 2003. That's the first time he broke it. We'll talk about his history with the project, how he became part of the TYPO3 Association Board, we go into a lot of his thinking about the value of TYPO3 and open source in the world and how to communicate that value, which is another one of his real passions. And for me, one of the real highlights was talking in quite concrete terms about how being part of an open source community and contributing and benefiting from contribution in an open source community can make the world a better place. I really hope that you stick with this one and learn as much as I did when talking with Mathias. Thanks for listening.

Welcome to application the TYPO3 community podcast I'm very pleased to be speaking today with my friend Mathias Bolt Lesniak. Mathias, welcome. How are you today?

Mathias Bolt Lesniak  2:15
Thank you for having me. I'm doing great, thank you.

Jeffrey A. McGuire  2:18
So we are speaking in the middle of 2021. It is still pandemic time. It's going up and it's going down. How's your pandemic been over the last year and more than a half?

Mathias Bolt Lesniak  2:34
Well, I actually have to say that I'm really happy right now because I'm going in a week's time, for the first time and was a 561 days I'm going to physically touch a colleague, if I'm allowed to, of course, but I'm going to physically see a colleague that that's fantastic. Get consent first. Yeah, I've allowed now to go and visit the colleague or the colleagues.

Jeffrey A. McGuire  2:59
It's really interesting because I've through this thing I've missed being able to, frankly to be able to be at events and and do keynotes and presentations and missed the interaction with people. And yet large groups of people around large groups of people I get very nervous right now, so don't know how that one's going to resolve itself. On the other hand, someone from Bonn got in touch with my company this week and asked about a workshop and for the first time in how many days

Mathias Bolt Lesniak  3:32
for me, it's 561 per year, it's probably a bit lower.

Jeffrey A. McGuire  3:36
But the first time in more than 500 days, I could ask this person Hey, so that workshop that you're interested in online or in person and that felt really strange to to ask and to be honest, we're way better at online workshops right now than we are in person. I don't even know where all the paper is anymore. So

Mathias Bolt Lesniak  3:55
you know there there are these there are certain things that actually work better online, shorter meetings, for example, you know, you really get things concentrated because people can't just sit there and listen. But I find that it's one of the things I've actually looking forward to is to go to people and have difficult conversations because difficult emotional conversations talking about topics that are hard but important, right that's almost impossible online.

Jeffrey A. McGuire  4:26
Tell me more about that.

Unknown Speaker  4:28
You know, it is something I probably related to body language and those kinds of things but I find that when you can actually sit down with a person you have the opportunity actually to look away you have the opportunity to you know not always look straight at the person you have the possibility to get up draw on a whiteboard or Blackboard call and someone else to the room get a second opinion. You've really can't do that when you when you talk online. I don't know I mean, I'm just saying do not really know, imagine that we had a really interesting conversation and I just wanted to draw up some kind of process for you and we were to discuss it, yeah, it would have been so much easier to actually be drawing on the same whiteboard or Blackboard. And the same thing, if it is a really difficult conversation, then you've really want to not only be able to, to hit someone in the face, you want to actually be able to sit down and physically read all of the signs about what's going on in the other person's head. One of the things I've discovered with doing online meetings is that I have to do a heck of a lot more acting, I have to act up my feelings, if I'm happy, I have to be really happy. And if I'm, you know, serious, then I have to do something else.

Jeffrey A. McGuire  5:56
It's definitely not just that you can read and receive more cues. But you have, you can broadcast a lot more by stomping your foot or by or by, you know, drumming your fingers, or by, you know, whatever it is all the small signs. I've done remote work for so long that of course, that's true. But um, I guess I'm just used to overreacting. I have to say, though, that we are looking for a new office, specifically, one of the reasons specifically because there's not enough room to effectively do whiteboarding and planning and and that that physicality is for sure. I mean, Miro is a great platform, but it's still really, really hard to like, get that group energy going. It's an interesting challenge. It is.

Mathias Bolt Lesniak  6:37
And I think another thing I mean, I've also been doing, I've been working from home, yeah, 16 1718 years, which is less than you, but still

Jeffrey A. McGuire  6:49
only only a little bit.

Mathias Bolt Lesniak  6:51
And what I've found is that people are actually learned now to be aware of online meetings. Previously, I could sit in a group with a group of people and I could, you know, they were all in one room somewhere else, and I was in my room here. And something would happen in the room, someone would throw a practical joke, or just say something that was inaudible for me, and everyone would laugh, you know, haha. And I would sit there and feel stupid, that doesn't happen anymore. And that's really, really great. So we've really learn.

Jeffrey A. McGuire  7:25
So people are aware of this as a situation. And whatever the constellation is, they're reacting to that that's nice, on a very practical level, in this in this shifting ground between the pandemic and how long it's going to go on, and some people are going to want to meet in person that we've also had the sort of luxury of having way more time to get work done and having to sit much less time in trains and cars and planes, and that the whole cost of working and cost of transferring information at the human level is quite different. I think for from my company that's been good. It's been nice that things have been more efficient and cheaper. I wonder about the human element of that, too. I think we've lost something by not having the events. But I'm not sure we've lost much not being able to go and do every client meeting in person. I think maybe that's mostly okay.

Mathias Bolt Lesniak  8:21
Not sure you've kept some clients,

Jeffrey A. McGuire  8:24
kept clients because they didn't have to put up with me in person.

Mathias Bolt Lesniak  8:27
Yeah, probably. Wouldn't you like to think that

Jeffrey A. McGuire  8:31
I would like to think even better things to be. So, TYPO3 CMS, you are from Oslo, Norway. What was going on in your life? When you found out about TYPO3?

Mathias Bolt Lesniak  8:47
I found out about TYPO3. Not in Norway, of course. Because at that point, Norway was probably the country with the highest number of CMS is pro capita. Thinking back. If you were going to build a website, you built a CMS.

Jeffrey A. McGuire  9:04
So many of us, so many of us did it. That made perfect sense in the late 90s. Right, early 2000s.

Mathias Bolt Lesniak  9:11
We definitely it did. And I mean, I met TYPO3 for the first time in 2003, because I was going to make a website. And then someone I knew came and said, oh, there's this system you can use. It's using PHP, and you can install it on the server. And there, these guys are using it and it's working really well. So I downloaded TYPO3 looked at the one or 2 million files or whatever it was at that time. And I started trying to use it of course first I uploaded it to the server which took just as long as FTP and sort of got it running and then I thought I should configure it and make it work in the way I want that to work. So there was some possibility to rename the TYPO3 folder there was, I think there was a configuration or something like that, that you could use. And I thought I should move that folder, you know, rename it for security reasons. And I renamed it and I crashed the entire TYPO3 install. And because of course TYPO3 was hard coded into a lot of the cool

Jeffrey A. McGuire  10:28
things and URLs, for sure. And,

Mathias Bolt Lesniak  10:31
yeah, so I crashed my first TYPO3, installation. So I got really upset with TYPO3. And I think I sat for about six months and tried to write my own CMS, of course, that's what you do, until I, you know, had to crawl back and ask for forgiveness,

Jeffrey A. McGuire  10:46
and wipe, wipe your server and FTP. Upload it again.

Mathias Bolt Lesniak  10:51
Yeah. And I think actually tried to write that CMS and in basic, which was not the thing to do.

Jeffrey A. McGuire  11:01
That's an interesting choice. Now, two things about what you've just said. You said you didn't find it in Norway, where did you find it?

Mathias Bolt Lesniak  11:10
I was in Switzerland at that point. Oh, falling in love with my soon to be wife,

Jeffrey A. McGuire  11:16
and soon to be a mess.

Mathias Bolt Lesniak  11:18
Yes, you know, do you meet all the important people in Switzerland? That's what Switzerland is there for? And, you know, forget about the rest of the world? That's where I was. Yeah.

Jeffrey A. McGuire  11:30
Can you name any of the other CMS? Is that were floating around at the time?

Mathias Bolt Lesniak  11:34
No, because I think a lot of them were actually just proprietary closed source solution. So a few years later, you had, what's it called the that precursor to Joomla. manvel.

Jeffrey A. McGuire  11:51
Yeah, thinking about the early 2000s, it was perfectly normal for any given agency with a with an ambitious CTO, or any given ambitious developer to go and write her own CMS, because you know, that made sense, I'll organize, I'll just do this thing to organize my files, I'll just do this thing to organize that and then I'll be able to get on with my work. But it either ate them alive, and cost them a lot over the years, or whatever, or it was big and successful, like TYPO3, and Mambo and Drupal and some of the others. It's so interesting, how many of them floating around were and it was really interesting when, through the 2010s. And teens, how many of those were left? And how many there are now? And I bet there aren't very many now, anymore. In the old days, I would ask people, so like, how many people in the room wrote their own CMS? And a surprising number of hands would go up? And then I would say, and how many of you are still running clients on that? And there was always like, one or two people were like, Yeah, because of course, we were at a CMS conference, or a PHP conference or whatever. So that was fun. What's your first, what's your first positive TYPO3 memory,

Mathias Bolt Lesniak  12:57
there are really two things that really stayed with me in my relationship with the TYPO3 all the way since the very beginning. And it's it's two things actually, it's one thing is the page tree. And the other thing is content elements. It's just so ingenious is you know, firstly, you get all of your structure in one place. And the second thing is, you can actually put multiple types of functionality and content on the same page without, you know, reconfiguring the page, like you, at least had to do back then in pretty much every other CMS. You know, if you were going to have a news listing, you had to create a news listing page. And if you were going to have a forum page you had to I mean, that's that's just so good and so nice. And I really get this wonderful warm feeling in my tummy each time I opened up TYPO3 and see the page three and the content elements. The content

Jeffrey A. McGuire  13:55
elements have really proven themselves as well. It's so it's so interesting how, how they're like, tiny encapsulated bits of functionality, as well as being semantic information or whatever else they're doing at the same time. Yeah, that's a good point. Tell us who you are. And what you do.

Mathias Bolt Lesniak  14:15
I'm Mathias Bolt Lesniak. I am a board member and the TYPO3 association and when I'm not that doing other stuff, I work at Pixelant. I'm the Pixelant office in Norway, and pick what is pixel and pixel and is a Swedish web agency. It's actually a brand of larger agency called recertify. They're based in Malmo in Sweden with another office with developers in live in the Ukraine. Okay,

Jeffrey A. McGuire  14:47
so a nice, a nice big agency and you do TYPO3. I do

Mathias Bolt Lesniak  14:51
TYPO3 there and well of course, I do a lot of opinionated reactions to things that happen other places. In the company too and I tried to I mean I I'm really I really love marketing which is another thing that we do and I really love copywriting which is another thing that we do and right you know, I can't stop putting my finger in other people's work.

Jeffrey A. McGuire  15:17
There are a couple of potentially great title for this episode now. I think the best one is meet Mathias Bolt Lesniak opinionated comments, comma, Norway, right. Or TYPO3 Association Board member and sticking my fingers in stuff.

Mathias Bolt Lesniak  15:41
That's sort of how I originally got into the TYPO3 Association Board. Because I was, at that point, my boss, Robert Lin was in the advisory board. I was complaining to him about you know, there's so much different spellings, there's so much strange going on in the news on the website, we need to you know, it needs to be proof read, we need some kind of project for that. And we need to improve the communication for TYPO3 And so he spoke very loudly about me probably at some meeting, and I was asked them to, to come into the TYPO3 Association Board to work with external communication, which is what I'm still doing does that now, actually, I've been booted, and instead of just being asked to come you were

Jeffrey A. McGuire  16:28
volunteered in somebody's volunteers forcibly volunteered. It sounds like you were doing some borderline red flag open source behavior. My my classic moment is when anyone says somebody should and whatever they say after I'm ready to say I'm so glad you're volunteering to do that. You know, I in in other communities with a benevolent dictator, it is name of the liberal benevolent dictator should fix this. Do that. Know that right? For company x? Yep. It's a it's a classic. So since your first TYPO3 experience was uploading it through server, and then immediately breaking it, what pitfall would should other people know about and know to avoid when they're paying up TYPO3 and learning now?

Mathias Bolt Lesniak  17:22
Based on mine, using FTP? That's right, I can't recommend that. Definitely. Try to get it running before you start really playing with the settings. Okay.

Jeffrey A. McGuire  17:37
All right.

Mathias Bolt Lesniak  17:37
I mean, use some kind of guide book, for example. Take what, you know, yeah, have a good starting point, install the bootstrap package a d3 kit or something like that. And start with something that's actually set up and then you can go in there and you can start trying to break things one item at a time. And then you know, just make sure that you revert if something breaks.

Jeffrey A. McGuire  18:02
And make backups and use version control if you possibly can. Friends, don't let friends not use version control. Nice plug, by the way for the TYPO3 guidebook, which, which I was part of creating to help new people learn and find out about the community and avoid some pitfalls actually.

Mathias Bolt Lesniak  18:21
Yep. So we should actually talk more about the the guidebook as well i think so.

Jeffrey A. McGuire  18:25
Should we list well that's, that's an elegant segue. Tell me tell me about the TYPO3 guidebook Mathias

Mathias Bolt Lesniak  18:32
Well, the TYPO3 guidebook as the book that's supposed to save me from crashing my next TYPO3 installation pretending that I'm new to TYPO3, I've read a lot of books about starting using a CMS or about, you know how to develop for a CMS or had to learn certain things in in PHP, and those are all good books. But the TYPO3 guidebook is really the first book that I've seen that really takes a holistic perspective to the whole, using a CMS in your agency, it doesn't just show you how to set up your first website, it does that. But that's actually a smaller part of the book. In my opinion. What it does is that it also tells you what TYPO3 is what are the, the great selling points for TYPO3. And one of the chapters that I love the most as well as that. It also tells you how to start a business using TYPO3, how to start interfacing with the open source community with the TYPO3 community how to involve yourself in the work that can help you become better in using TYPO3 as the professional content management system that it really really is. Right? I

Jeffrey A. McGuire  19:47
like that it's one of many parts of the book that give a lot more context. It's interesting that you mentioned that I certainly hadn't thought of it as we were working on it and I was I was part of the team that channeled community knowledge and experience into this book. And that's that the community creation of the book is something I'm really proud of, to have been able to facilitate that process. But the context of the material that's in there, it is more than, like, Once installed, set your session, so variable to this and a timeout that and then make sure when you go into production to change the caching to, to, to to, and it's like, okay, maybe if I have a full and complete understanding of what the web is for, and why doing web publishing, and whatever, and I just need that fine. But I can look in the documentation for that. We put the book together in two halves. And the first half is for chapters that honestly say, Okay, here is the web, and this is web publishing. And you know what, here's how you can think about setting up a web design project. And when you need a site, and here's the thought process about you need this before you needed this after and don't forget about and then also, where is TYPO3 in this context, and who are the people and then what is the community look like. And it's so much more than just configuring PHP variables, right. And then the 10, sort of practical chapters that make up the second half of the book, one of them is to start a business, my favorite is actually probably I mean, there's like, Okay, how to write an extension. And we have an opinionated, a few different ways that we thought were best practices and represented a very good path to configure to customize to extend to make a private user area, you know, tutorials like that one was about starting your business around an open source CMS, and to be honest, you could fill in the name of something else. And it was still really solid advice. My favorite was the security and debugging chapter, which was also you know, a dozen pages or wherever it came out of the principles of finding and isolating and fixing security issues and bugs, and not specifically like TYPO3 stores that this in this folder, and you have to bubble up, it's like, here's a pattern, here's how to think about it. And I really, really liked that I really like how that sort of stuff came out.

Mathias Bolt Lesniak  22:02
So the TYPO3 guidebook is actually the book that you can give to anybody in your business. And I mean, you can even give it to your mom and dad or wife or whatever, if they wonder what TYPO3 is or you know, they can use it, it will, it will even for Mark marketing and sales people about how they can talk to customers about TYPO3 and right, that holistic approach is really great. And I think it's also a good description of the TYPO3 community as well. I mean, the TYPO3 community isn't just, it's not just nerds sitting and typing all day, I do have some of those. But there are a lot of other people as well. And a, quite a broad section of society involved in in TYPO3, she's super,

Jeffrey A. McGuire  22:50
I like to call it a vibrant, professional community. And I like that it's vibrant. And I like that it's professionals. And for an open source community, it's quite well focused and quite low conflict. And a lot of the energy goes into having a great professional tool, and making that tool better and making it available to more people. And I love the community structure, how the Association and the community work together. And there's the, as a community, we have the means to have a real mentoring program. And we have the means to go and help governments in Africa with with web infrastructure, and like all the other cool projects that are going on, it's incredibly it's really it's really exciting. So it is it is a really nice balance in there TYPO3 guidebook, a press available on paper, and as an E book, cool, what is the coolest thing you ever built with TYPO3?

Mathias Bolt Lesniak  23:44
Actually, I add that there are different levels of cool, you know, you can be cool from the way Oh, wow, I built a website, and it has this really amazing content on it. That's one approach, you can also, you know, build some kind of functionality and and say that, wow, that was fantastic. That's like the best functionality I've ever seen. And so you have to choose some, some angle to that. There is this thing with with software development than I do, do do software development. There's this concept of scratching your itch. And over the last year, I've worked on some really cool technologies for the product manager, which is a large huge extension that we make at pixelart. That's also on the extension repository, and we're working on version 10. It's taking a lot longer than we thought those kinds of things. But we've done a few things there that are really really cool. And that, you know, I want to jump up and down when I hear about them because they solve some of these problems that I've had with TYPO3. Just to take one of those when built something called rendering stacks, it's based on an old idea I had once upon a time, but I never really got time to. To do it. If you work with TYPO3 and you work with fluid templates, you know that you often have to modify a template in order to put something new into it. Let's say that you want a button from an another plugin to suddenly appear somewhere in a template, partial or something like that. And then you have to create your own override template. And you have to maintain that template separately. Well, what rendering stacks does is that they introduce a little view helper that you can put into any template. And when that is rendered, the view helper looks for declared keys for other templates that should be put in here. So you can use type of scripts to define what you want into this, you know, you define the sort of put any button in here. And then you can put in 12345 100 buttons into that space just by defining them declaring them in TypeScript. Which means, which is really important for the product module, we can suddenly have a separate compare extension that we can install, and then it automatically puts buttons into the template without us having to change the original templates, which is so much easier.

Jeffrey A. McGuire  26:27
and way more maintainable. So I'm hearing that that's like a tokenized. dependency injection, kind of a pattern. Yeah.

Mathias Bolt Lesniak  26:35
call it that. Well, that

Jeffrey A. McGuire  26:36
is pretty darn cool. So that means that these templates can basically remain the whole, you put in a placeholder there. And then you can also change out whatever that is, whenever you need without breaking anything else. Yeah. All right. And tell me about the time that you gave yourself your biggest Wow, I programmed that moment.

Mathias Bolt Lesniak  26:56
I'm never surprised by my own knowledge. And

Jeffrey A. McGuire  27:04
no, no. how humble, are you? back?

Mathias Bolt Lesniak  27:13
That's a really good question. Again, that comes from you know, you can have different different angles that will give you different answers. I had a time just to take something that's not now I had a time when I tried to write everything in TypeScript. Also, more or less functionality, just tried to plug it in. So I actually made a rather complex extension, you can call it just by compiling for handler in TypeScript. So I built forms and created listings and all of those things, just with TypeScript. And that was, the important thing for me was that that was the time when I really understood TypeScript. And I've loved it ever since. Okay, I don't make those kind of extensions anymore. Because

Jeffrey A. McGuire  28:02
Well, I mean, it doesn't sound like it. Abuse would be that would have the wrong connotation. But it certainly seems to be like pushing a bunch of boundaries that you you might have reconsidered as you've grown older and wiser.

Mathias Bolt Lesniak  28:15
Exactly. But actually, the starting point with it was that I want to build something that is low maintenance. And TypeScript is low maintenance, because it's being kept pretty much the same forever. So you can just make something that connects with something else that somebody else maintains, and then you can expect it to live forever. Because form handler didn't live forever,

Jeffrey A. McGuire  28:42
right? Well, things things do get updated. Often for good reasons. If you had to talk about a technology right now, that's exciting or interesting to you. That's not TYPO3 but still on the web, what would it be?

Mathias Bolt Lesniak  28:56
My doc

Jeffrey A. McGuire  28:59
Great. That's, that's

Mathias Bolt Lesniak  29:01
written in Symphony, so I'm allowed to say that. Okay,

Jeffrey A. McGuire  29:04
so what does that do for us?

Mathias Bolt Lesniak  29:06
Well, you can't do everything in TYPO3. And I think that's a really important realization as well, that TYPO3 is good at a lot of things, but you can't really force TYPO3 into being something that it isn't, and if it's not based on a page structure, and if it's not in need of content management, TYPO3 is sort of not the target anymore. And then Symphony, which of course TYPO3 is using a lot is a good basis as well. But the reason why I like my doc in that project, which has been driven now by the team and the TYPO3 company for quite some while is that what's being built there is a central place to manage your membership and everything that has to do with you within the TYPO3 ecosystem and that kind of Central profile is really, really useful. And one of the things I'm really excited about that is coming. Sometime I've been saying that it's coming in a few months for many years now. But I really, you know, it's one of these things that you really wish could just be there at once. And that is the karma points project. So trying to visualize Paul's contribution to TYPO3, and not only code contribution, but people who write articles, people who put things into the documentation, people who come to events, and I mean that that's a really important thing to think about when you are in an open source community. Yeah, just that someone come to an event is actually a contribution to the community, if you're new, taking that step across the threshold, and actually coming to an event is something that you should be valued for. And so getting karma points, which is the name for doing different things in the community, and visualizing that is really important. That also means, which is the second really exciting thing about this project is that that makes it possible for you if you want to, to show your points. So you can say that, well, I'm I'm this involved, I've done you know, lots of things, even though you're not necessarily coding, you can show that you have an involvement and right business you work for the agency you work for, can collect all of those points and say that, well, this is what the people who work for us do for a TYPO3, which is another way of showing involvement.

Jeffrey A. McGuire  31:48
Right now, when someone changes agencies, does that first agency lose the points? Or are they going to stay there?

Mathias Bolt Lesniak  31:57
The details haven't been really discussed yet. But what I would like to see would be that you you know, the business keeps the points that you have, you know, that the employee has yet given while they're working for you. Of course, if if this is only free time, you wouldn't have gotten any points anyway, it's up to the employee to say that, well, this is actually right, as I think that I'm doing for my job. But then when you start working somewhere else that would become visible for the other agency. So from the first day you work at the new agency, you start collecting points for that agency,

Jeffrey A. McGuire  32:32
right? So there's a grammar to commit comments basically, about who did the work, where were they working at the time, perhaps who was paying for the work at the time, kind of all of those, it's going to be a five dimensional really cool, interesting graph.

Mathias Bolt Lesniak  32:48
Very, and we've started also collecting that information already. So that when it comes, we can go back in time as well. Maybe we go a year or something and collect ice information. So if you go to today and see that somebody has written an article, that is a data point that we can use, okay, somebody has contributed an article to But if you scroll further down, just before you get to the discussions, you will also see people like me, who have published the article, that's also sometimes a bit of work and who has proof read it, for example.

Jeffrey A. McGuire  33:25
Okay, that's cool. That's cool. Speaking of contribution and really valuable, non code contribution, can you tell us about the TYPO3 mentoring program,

Mathias Bolt Lesniak  33:37
I can, I'm not the biggest expert, but I've been a part of, sort of designing it, you could say, the person who's really put the most work into that program is Daniel homeready. On the mentorship program is really about connecting people who don't know much or anything about TYPO3 with people who know about TYPO3 and putting them through 12 chorus educational program that are with 12 lessons that you can call it and teach them how to get started with TYPO3. So we've done that a lot with thus far people from Central Africa. We've done it with people from Cuba and the rest of Latin America. And we're looking at getting more people from the rest of the world. But the point here is that if you have an agency that needs to find a professional CMS that you can use for your clients, it's quite an investment for you to just go and say, Well, I'm gonna choose TYPO3, because nobody in your organization will know anything about it. So the mentorship program places you in the possibility and of course, it's not only for agencies, it's also For freelancers, but let's say you're in an agency, then you can say that this employee is going to be a part of the mentorship program, you can sign that person up, and that person will have someone from the TYPO3 community who knows TYPO3, as their mentor. And they will go through, then 12 lessons over usually about 12 weeks and learn the core fundamentals of TYPO3 and where you get a hosting environment that you can play around with. The thing about this is that it's not just you know, someone giving away their time, either this is actually an investment from the TYPO3 association into growing the community where the mentors are actually, if they want to receive it, they can also get a small payment from the Association for doing this, we know that if we put money into teaching people TYPO3, that is something that can give a really lasting result, a legacy four, four TYPO3 in that agency nine and that as well. Getting that first help to learn TYPO3 is really important. And TYPO3 is one of the CMS is that really, really needs a greater involvement from countries outside of Central Europe. That TYPO3 developing world does,

Jeffrey A. McGuire  36:29
and because because TYPO3 is open source and because TYPO3 is to a very large extent written in the most popular and and you know, web standard languages, technologies, and is absolutely clean. And on the on the on the front end of where web publishing is going. It's a wonderful opportunity to give people a career, the ability to support themselves and their family. Anyone who can get to a computer and get online has the chance to support themselves make a difference in their own country, help other businesses, all of these wonderful enablers, the work that so many people have put in all through the years, making the system rock solid, and then and you know, handing their best ideas in to the community for for multiplication and reuse. I really love being parts of stories like that.

Mathias Bolt Lesniak  37:26
But jam, it's actually bigger than that.

Jeffrey A. McGuire  37:31
There Wait, you there's more.

Mathias Bolt Lesniak  37:33
Yes, there's so much really exciting going on. So the thing that really, that we can see with our involvement and building TYPO3 is that we're not only building like it would be with commercial CMS. If we were a commercial CMS, we would gladly pay people to learn TYPO3 in developing countries, for example, and medium income countries, because we would then know that there would be a market for our CMS, someone would pay our by our licenses, we would get lots of money back. But what happens when TYPO3 goes into country like I mean, what we are doing right now with, with Rhonda, for example, also one of these wonderful projects that Daniel has been working on by helping the random government use TYPO3 and help agencies and Rhonda learn TYPO3, we are creating independent businesses that can stand on their own feet, and earn their own money, none of the money that comes into an agency in let's say, run that will have to be paid back to TYPO3 unless I mean, you can buy a membership, but it's not as much as you would pay for a license, for example, what that does is that it creates a community in a country. From the open source perspective, what we're will see then as well is that we get companies that have their needs have there once and who develop software that we get back. So we get maybe new types of software. But something really exciting as well happens in addition to that, which I really love, which is that a community like TYPO3 is built around a democracy. So in order to work in the TYPO3 community and be active and really contribute, you have to understand the concepts of democracy and decision making. And all of those things and how, how this is working within TYPO3, you can set up your own organizations in your own country. And what you do is that you're building civil society and you're educating developers about Democracy, that is democracy building. And that's what TYPO3, especially TYPO3, because we have such a flat structure, we can bring people in at almost any level, and make them feel a part of the democratic processes very early on. Imagine that that's a really, really amazing type of development aid. Instead of just sitting here and earning money, we are putting seeds of democracy into places that really need to have their civil society developed, because that's one of the things that we see in developing countries, building civil society, building organizations, where people have to have some kind of democratic structure, in that microcosm, also helps them macrocosmic democracy building, and in that country and in that region. And because this is also something that can work on and earn money from building local websites, working for local institutions, it's democracy, and it's building independent business,

Jeffrey A. McGuire  41:09
as open source practitioners, sharing this knowledge and enabling others. This is not only enlightened self interest, but we are leading by example, right? sharing our best ideas, helping each other out, showing that you can compete or disagree with someone and still believe in the same principles and still work to better goals. choosing which way you solve a problem in open source software, by making rational arguments and whatever, as you point out, is very similar to having a policy discussion in democratic setting. And in TYPO3, you're not going to win that argument by calling the other person names and yelling and screaming and creating controversy, you're going to win it by saying no, no, no, if we implement it with this library that gets us that and it's faster, and it's whatever it is. That is such an interesting comparison. I have not thought of that before. I think that the the level that I stopped that is still important. And to me, I think of the immediate potential economic impact on an individual, her family, her town, her society. On an economic level, I think of that as a kind of zero point energy. If we can get online and use a computer that works online now, we can generate economic value out of a pool, that open source contributors have been filling since the 90s for us, right? And it becomes more and more valuable over time, the more more people use it. Lots of big heavy stuff of this episode. Mathias Bolt Lesniak are you ready for our quick fire question round

Mathias Bolt Lesniak  43:03
never been readier. But don't feel particularly ready. But shoot,

Jeffrey A. McGuire  43:09
what one word would you use to describe TYPO3?

Mathias Bolt Lesniak  43:12

Jeffrey A. McGuire  43:14
What is your favorite feature of TYPO3?

Mathias Bolt Lesniak  43:17
I have to it's page tree and the content elements?

Jeffrey A. McGuire  43:20
What feature Would you like to see added to TYPO3?

Mathias Bolt Lesniak  43:23
I would like to see more blank more things that people can see. And you know, just see and love

Jeffrey A. McGuire  43:29
because some of it's kind of subtle, right?

Mathias Bolt Lesniak  43:31
Some of it's kind of subtle, but I'm trying to keep my answers short here too. Okay, okay. Yeah, you know, blink like something that's shiny. When you try to sell a content management system to to a new customer. That customer needs something that generates positive feelings. And then because I mean, positive feelings are important for what emotions you're left with. And that isn't always just the technical stuff. It needs to be wild. That's easy. Yeah. Wow, that's really nice. Oh, what I've been looking for that. Yeah, and TYPO3 has some of those features already, but they need to be more in your face. And I've been doing a lot of development work on front end editing for TYPO3. For example, in front end editing is, you know, it's one of these things that you will never use when you're a really experienced type of user because it's too simple. But having sitting down and trying to sell TYPO3 to a customer who has never seen TYPO3, it's a lot easier to take 30 seconds, sit them down, show them the web page, click somewhere in the text and start writing. And the customer is then thinking wow, that's easy. Yeah. And

Jeffrey A. McGuire  44:50
then when I change it here, it changes everywhere. Boom, boom, yes,

Mathias Bolt Lesniak  44:54
and it. It gives that emotional positive vibe which is really important and it It is easy to forget when you're a developer or when you're someone who has been working with TYPO3 for quite a while. And we have that challenge and TYPO3 that I often compare to, to the World Health Organization, the World Health healthcare organization, they look a lot like TYPO3, actually, they have two big things that they're working with. They're working with obesity, and lack of food, hunger, those are not compatible. You can't go out to the whole world and say, eat less, you're too obese because there are so many people who are hungry and what they need is to know what to actually get food to eat. And TYPO3 is really really strong in the German speaking world, which is a terrific starting point because we have really the resources there we have the people there we can show that it's working. But the way that you sell TYPO3 to a German is very different to how you sell it to Swedish business for example, because in Germany, TYPO3 is already at the top of the list for very many businesses who want a new website. But if you go to Sweden, that very often not heard about TYPO3 at all, or they've heard something 10 years ago that was maybe even wrong in order to grow TYPO3 abroad as part of the world that needs needs to develop TYPO3 prescence you need something that are easy conversion points for people things that just introduce them to TYPO3and make them feel that they want to know more and talk with you has so many strong features but you can't go there at once

Jeffrey A. McGuire  47:00
they're not packaged in a way that makes them like that boom boom, boom. Beautiful demo, right?

Mathias Bolt Lesniak  47:06
Yeah. And you know, you can always look down on on quick sells and sales pictures but the important thing to remember is that if you haven't got people's attention at the first moment you talk to them, they're not going to listen, at least not in the same way when you tell them about the really important stuff later on. So like when you hold a presentation for example, it's a very good idea to tell a joke or a story because at the point when people laugh or something after a few minutes the other people who haven't been listening in for actually come online and and start listening so it's creating the space for showing the really powerful features that are within TYPO3

Jeffrey A. McGuire  47:56
right so when you say bling you want to be able to generate enthusiasm quicker

Mathias Bolt Lesniak  48:02

Jeffrey A. McGuire  48:03
and excite people

Mathias Bolt Lesniak  48:05
yeah and making people curious you know, I can say Wow, I've got this really big diamond here and people go wow, and then I say well, but now you're gonna hear the story about this diamond. But now that you know you've got them listening

Jeffrey A. McGuire  48:19
and it has a page tree and content elements.

Mathias Bolt Lesniak  48:22
Yeah. First diamond with a comp with content elements.

Jeffrey A. McGuire  48:26
What rule creature Would you like to see removed from TYPO3

Mathias Bolt Lesniak  48:34
that's an impossible question. I'm going to you know it's like this thing about backups you know, the moment you delete a file and think you're never going to use it anymore someone's gonna come and tell you

Jeffrey A. McGuire  48:48
do you have a base their entire business on that?

Mathias Bolt Lesniak  48:51
Yeah, so I mean, the way to to make people use all of the features in TYPO3 is actually to remove them and then people are gonna ask to have them back because they'll scream

Jeffrey A. McGuire  49:01
all of a sudden you'll find out how many users

Unknown Speaker  49:03
never use this feature but you really have to have it in because I need it now.

Jeffrey A. McGuire  49:10
All right, can you tell us something you wish people knew about TYPO3 but they usually don't. How about the P

Mathias Bolt Lesniak  49:17
i made someone really excited this summer. Okay, tell us about your vacation for one night this summer. driving down towards Hello would you know on my way south after being at my wonderful holiday house another Norway we get got to stay at this wonderful amazing farm and turn the login sort of Central Norway middle Norway. I don't know what you want to call it. And I talked to this guy around Norway, right? That's not downtown Norway. It's it's sort of two thirds of the way up but it looks like halfway and he asked me what I'm working with. And well, you know, I can say I work with development and all those kinds of things and I make websites and stuff. But what really excited him was, when I started talking about how open source is democracy and how, really by using TYPO3, you participate in a community effort that gives you a lot of possibilities and, and a lot of freedoms, but also should require something back from you as well. And involvement. Give me an example of that. You can download TYPO3 you can install it, you can set up a website, and that's fine. Nobody really asks you to do anything more. There comes a point, you know, it's it's, do not ask what TYPO3 can do for you ask what you can do for TYPO3. At the point, when you find out or when you start actually giving back. When you start involving yourself in the community, when you start taking your solutions for your itches, those things that you have, and you start spreading them out to others, and you get others to improve on it. When you make improvements on stuff that others don't, that's when you really get the benefit of TYPO3, that's when you you enter into an exchange that is mutually beneficial. And it's not a zero sum thing. It's a benefit for both people. And I mean, goes back to the basics of you know, monetary science that you know, if I want to buy something from you, that's because you want the money more than I do. And I want what you have more than that exchange, being able to work on something that you're actually not paying for, but starting to give what you have made out to the world. without necessarily expecting something back, that's when things turn, you know it is, to me, it is a very good picture of selfless love. That can sound tacky. but hear me out because and I've talked about this in a couple of presentations that I've done. But let's say I have a friend, everyone hopefully has some kind of friend. But the important thing here is, I have something as well, I have a garden full of rubbish. My friend has a pickup, I don't have a car, because I don't need a cart usually. But now when I have my garden full of rubbish, I need someone to help me drive that away. And my friend says, Yeah, sure, you know, just put it in my pickup, I'll help you, I'll drive it off. And we do that because we're friends. That's what friends do. And friends don't expect anything back. Friendships are based on giving something to people without expecting something back, that's, but it still gives you something back, you know, because it generates so much. So that's the thing with TYPO3 I have something really great that I've developed, I give it to the world, because I know even that I just give it away. And the world will also give me something because I'm part of this circle to call it that, where everyone just gives and everyone receives without actually tracking the transactions.

Jeffrey A. McGuire  53:27
But blending in the The Lion King Circle of Life music under this Yes. If I had the rights to it, which I don't that is a such a powerful, amazing answer to that question of what is it that people don't know about TYPO3? And frankly, this applies, of course to, to open source, right? It's just and it's such a powerful answer that expands on and fills gaps in between things that I've thought myself for years. But that's so great. Thank you for that, we have a little thing that we like to call the suggested guest who should the people listening have a chance to meet.

Mathias Bolt Lesniak  54:11
I'm suggesting Steven rukh from New Zealand, because I know that both you and I have a very close relationship to New Zealand and New Zealand is very far away. And actually putting a light on the community members that are farther away is really important. When you really have a dynamic community, things happen at the edges and it's silent in the center. And I think it's really important that real needs what people really need from TYPO3 and the things that really make people choose type three, although they're maybe the only people on their island, the only people in their country. We need to listen to them because they have perspectives that are very Important and are going to be vital for a total of three going forward.

Jeffrey A. McGuire  55:03
I can't think of a few community members who kind of fit that definition. That's a great, that's a great project. Maybe we can make an outliers series where it's that small community members from around the world who who come and tell us. Tell us about how that experiences. That'd be cool. They can be big, too. How do you mean,

Mathias Bolt Lesniak  55:25
they're not the little people?

Jeffrey A. McGuire  55:32
Now, when I say when I talk about my sense of humor, I almost always do giant air quotes. Because the things that I find amusing, other people often find peculiar. However, my screen is not big enough to do the air quotes that I need to talk about yours. Thank you for your time. Mathias. Cool. Super good to talk with you. Glad you're back.

Thanks to the TYPO3 Association for sponsoring this podcast. Thank you b13. And Stephanie Kreuzer for our logo. Merci beaucoup Patrick Gaumont, TYPO3 developer and musician exraordinaire for our theme music. Thanks again to today's guest. If you like what you heard, don't forget to subscribe in the podcast app of your choice and share Application, the TYPO3 Community Podcast with your friends and colleagues. If you didn't like it, please share it with your enemies. You can find show notes, links and more information in our posts on Remember, open source software would not be what it is without you. Thank you all for your contributions.

Additional contributors for this article
  • Content Publisher : Mathias Bolt Lesniak