Jeffrey A. McGuire 0:00
Welcome to Application the TYPO3 community podcast.
Stefan Busemann 0:07
Hi, I'm Stefan Busemann, welcome to application that TYPO3 community podcast, your stories, your project, the difference you make
Jeffrey A. McGuire 0:15
one to one Welcome to application, the TYPO3 community podcast. I'm Jeffrey A. McGuire, you can call me jam. And this is where we celebrate the TYPO3community sharing your stories talking about your projects and the difference you make in around and with TYPO3 CMS. In this episode, I speak with Stefan Busemann. Stefan began TYPO3 in 2005 rapidly became a TYPO3 freelance developer and then a TYPO3 agency founder and owner around 2010. In that time, and since then, he's been a huge contributor to the project in many ways. And today, he's still a TYPO3 Association Board member, a member of the TYPO3 company supervisory board and a member of the TYPO3 dot org website team. In our conversation, we go into open source project sustainability, international expansion and project governance. And so very much more recently, we had some data loss and recovery issues around the podcast, I had to fix all that to get the latest season two episodes produced. And I am so glad to be back on a regular schedule again. Now, we recorded this conversation in late 2020. Deep in the pandemic here in Germany, and the last 10 minutes or so of this episode were really interesting, but didn't quite fit in with the flow of the rest. Listen right to the end for Stefan thoughts on remote work versus nice offices in in person sprints. All in all, I think this is a warm, wonderful and informative conversation with a warm and wonderful TYPO3 human. I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed talking with Stefan. Stefan, how long have you been using TYPO3? And how did you discover it?
Stefan Busemann 2:01
It's a good question. I think it was in my company I was employed many years ago, I was working in a consulting agency. We had a on a website, of course, and I was tired of paying agencies just for changing some words and pictures. And I thought there must be a better way. And I think it was at the end of 2004, when I asked my apprentice to look for a system. And he found TYPO3. And he himself attended the first TYPO3 conference in Karlsruhe, which was in 2005. And he came back and he was so delighted and said, Hey, this is a great community a great tool. And we need to introduce this. At the end of 2005, I found my first role. And the post editor, I was the editor of my first own website, build was TYPO3, I was very happy. Then my colleague and I set up a intranet for our consultants. And we our task was to to introduce a knowledge management database. And so we coded a system which was built on digital asset management called dumb. It's an old module, which is not in place anymore, it is now fairly file extracts layer, we call it our first own extension. And at some point, we decided, Okay, we wanted to contribute or we wanted to provide that extension also to tr. And so we published the extension, that was very first time where I get to touch with the development. And so I attended in 2006. And second developer days in Swiss was, for me a great adventure, getting in touch with all that international guys from the community. I was heated up then. And then at some point, it's starting to get funny because once that extension was in the T er, some guys asked me, okay, it's a cool extension. I would like to have their feature and I would, I would pay you. So I started to freelance as a developer, I introduced some additional features. And then I went the Chinese to the next step, I got a type of 3d developer I got TYPO3 minutes later, I got in touch more and more with the community. Since 2009, I'm organizing the user group in Munich. Together with Peter kraoma, I was drawn deeper and deeper into the total system. I was very proud to get also in touch with Kasper, the great group of TYPO3, because at the former times, I was also in the video team and we recorded the TYPO3 conference in developer days. And so this was my first official role because then in Casper went away, I was the head of the TYPO3 video team and so it was the next step. This was then also the step that I was suggested to join the type of free Association Board. And then I started to be the secretary of the board. And I was organizing the elections, trying to improve the association organization. And then one step for another, I got thrown also into the TYPO3. org website team. And now I'm there where I am, I'm still in the board and the website team, and then supervisory board of the company. And since 10 years now, I'm also a company owner, which into code and we're doing only TYPO3 so I'm really living TYPO3 Wow, types, both breakfast, lunch and dinner, right. Okay, so tell me about into code we started 10 years ago, two friends of mine, Alexandra Kayla, which is an author of polar male, which is well known extension. And Tina Agus tiger, she left us in the meantime, because she wants to get to have a family. We started the company, and we're growing very fast, up to 25 employees now. And our focus universities and, and b2b enterprise business, we are quite happy to be part of the whole story of the whole adventure. And the success of TYPO3 is our success. So I'm very interested in that TYPO3 will remain successful.
Jeffrey A. McGuire 6:26
One of the things that I care about, one of the things that I have been thinking about a lot in the last couple of years is that TYPO3, CMS is open source, it's PHP, both of those things are very important and quite accepted in the world. Now, a lot of businesses and governments and universities and so on they, they use those things, TYPO3 isn't as well known as it should be. I think it's time to get the word out again. And I think I'm hoping that someone will listen to this podcast and get inspired. There is the first book in English about TYPO3 coming out soon. Where do you think TYPO3 could or should go now,
Stefan Busemann 6:59
TYPO3 started in Kasper in Denmark. And then somehow it's Reddit very fast to to Germany and to Swiss and Austria. That is the reach where we are quite very successful. In my audience, we should look for regions where content management is needed at all, for example, Africa is a good region where we could head there getting websites online and helping the organizations to grow and they profit from our software. Yep. Still, it is a it is a dream to be also successfully North met in North America, of course, right. One reason why TYPO3 isn't that successful still is that there is maybe a different culture, to set up projects, for example, because I think the way the projects are done with TYPO3, especially in Central Europe, is very sustainable, that a project is used for a very long time a website is updated as upgraded is reflected. But it's not built from scratch. I think in America, at least my impression that projects are often built from scratch, and thrown away after three years and looking a few years and and using a different tool or a different set up. This may or may not maybe fit to the TYPO3 approach. That's interesting TYPO3 is certainly has a lot of instances that have been online for 10 years and more. It is, quote unquote, hard work to set it up. But I think that it's because a lot of the system makes you do it the right way and make make choices up front, the upgrade paths have always been good. And I know that you can still take up 4.5 instance and get it through a couple, you know, some work, but you can get it up to version 10 right now and add features to it. And that's that's really, really impressive. Would you say that as a matter of culture, that TYPO3 has chosen sustainability as a design principle. I'm not sure if this was done by design that just happened. I think the way that TYPO3 is like it is is based on Kasper's idea to have a highly customizable system, which is structured in a way that it can be extended very easily. This combination allows us to customize the system very well. To follow very different approaches to to integrate solutions. This is one part of the success and one part of the hell because you have to some people compare TYPO3 with a Swiss Army Knife where you can do many, many things with but you have to know the tool to do the things right the project is somehow made by volunteers or by contributing work done for other people back and needs people's time to take care of so it's never done and it's never finished and it's never perfect, right? Then the documentation could always be better. And if I take a look at the project product, which what what improvements we have made in the last few years, I think we are, we're heading in the right path, the product is defining more and more better defaults. For example, how to how to set up a template, how to be pre configured, so that the learning costs is getting less steep than it's that it was in the past. And I think that's the right way, the system must be very easy to set up, and people must have fun to use it. I like the focus on making backend interface that's good for the people who work in it every day for content, authoring for editing for moderation and approvals. You know, I really, really appreciate how that's have the structure support that one of the big advantages of type three is that has a kind of abstract view on data that, that you can use the list module to seek to identify and, and work with different data types, that you don't have to extend the system, the core system, without fuse in the back end, you can edit a calendar entry, a new entry that you can any type of record type can be edited to the to the back end very efficiently. And I think this is one of the big advantages of TYPO3. Because it manages content. Well.
Jeffrey A. McGuire 11:34
It's good that it does, right.
Stefan Busemann 11:36
Yeah, I think we need to put a lot of effort into next year's into the documentation and into the onboarding of for more international community. I think that that is the key to stay successful. And also to get more growth into our community. The top three association is trying to push that topic in on two different levels. We try to organize For example, this year's the ultra rich sprint concept, due to Corona, it not happened would have been very cool. But maybe next year, hopefully we'll be able to see each other again in person. Have you been involved in the mentoring at all this year? Yes, I'm involved in during my board work. It's not my responsibility area. But of course, I'm informed. And I think that's a great way to spread the word about TYPO3 and also help students around the world to improve their life and their work and work possibilities, career possibilities.
Jeffrey A. McGuire 12:42
So we're testing out at this phase of the podcast, we're just getting rolling the recording the first conversation, so we're testing out this tagline, where it's the TYPO3 community podcast, your stories, your projects, the difference you make. And I love in open source that we've built and given ourselves tools and all of our friends and predecessors have given us so much to work with that can help people communicate, build community, give themselves career opportunities, change their economic fortunes, it's it's it's such an empowering feeling. And I, I love to see people from different places and different backgrounds coming and discovering it. And I don't just need for a mean, for example, what's it bytes for babes in South Africa, we're using TYPO3, which is a fantastic thing that people should be looking at. It's really cool. And I'm hoping I can meet them sometime. But I know a woman who was a career changer in her mid or late 50s, who became a developer and works as a defense, a professional developer using open source software, because people were generous enough to share the documentation to do videos online, because she, every buddy in the West, more or less has a computer now and more or less has access to the internet. And she could go and make something of herself at at a phase in her life when when, you know, that would have been considered unusual in the past. You know, I met in Austria, I met a Joomla contributor who won that community award a few years ago. And she's also in her I think she's in her 70s. And she had answered something like 6000 support questions in their forums. And it's just what she does. And it's so empowering to make a difference in the world.
Stefan Busemann 14:25
That is the good thing of open source and a positive community that you have the freedom to do everything. Once you understand that construct. You can do everything in a in an open source project you have, you have much more fun, because some people are thinking they have to wait for for allowance to do something. I think it's the opposite. You can just do it. If someone doesn't like it. It can be reverted. So,
Jeffrey A. McGuire 14:53
Oh, I see. Yep. It's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. Right?
Stefan Busemann 14:58
Yeah. I know the TYPO3 common community now for 15 years. And in that time, a lot of things shifted. Because 15 years ago, there was less competitors at the market. The whole, the whole ecosystem was not that professionalized. Companies weren't that big. Everything was a bit smaller. many stories appeared in that decade, for example, we have that story with CEOs and two products in parallel, a lot of confusion about the future TYPO3. But everything worked works now very well. And I think we are on the right way. But it's a different situation. Now, as I told you, everything is professionalizing. Now, and that's also a reason why the TYPO3 association made the plan five years ago to set up a company, which is taking now a lot of operational work for us now, and also ensures us financial contribution for the whole TYPO3 project. Right? that change is now I think, is also necessary in the type of community that we need to introduce some governance to allow us to lead the community also into the future. That's a big challenge for the next years. Because the more the community is growing, the more conflicts you have to solve, and the more challenging it is to keep the good spirit.
Jeffrey A. McGuire 16:32
Yep. And there's a concept where people say you should write contracts in the good times so that you're prepared for the bad times. And I think it's important as the community is growing, and as the potential damage is growing, because more and more people rely on TYPO3 economically, more and more people do their work, more and more companies have their infrastructure on it right, if something goes wrong, the damages is potentially much greater. I think it's really important to focus on preparing structures and processes that can also scale and not just focusing on a particular incident or a particular small problem. But looking at what could have helped avoid that. Or how can we deal with things in principle in the future so that we have patterns ready so that we're ready for that sort of thing, preparing for more growth and more success more. And in ever improving onboarding experiences for new users is great. There's some good training material out there. I think it's a problem that there's a lot of outdated technical information online for older versions. And I wish we could learn how to clean that up. I think sharing our successes is a good idea. And I think that something else that people should, could to help people choose to be part of this is the community structure, the typo three project is, in my experience, organized in a really smart way that I think is a shining example that other people can follow. And maybe a reason to come in. There is a community and an a vibrant community of professionals. It's focused a lot around agencies and delivering client websites as a fundamental mission of the technology. And then it has a nonprofit association that in my view, has done a very good job of taking care of the community and making the best decisions it could, and building structures for events, and so on. So a solid nonprofit, like a lot of projects have, and a really solid community of people who are genuinely nice and welcoming and smart. And that decision that you took five years ago with the community with the association, to build a commercial arm, as 100% subsidiary of the association and to represent the community and by its actual articles of incorporation, the rules that govern the country, by law, it cannot, must not will not compete with anything anyone in the community does. And it's there to negotiate and to build partnerships with industries to represent the community to be able to show up and have have conversations at eye level with much larger and non open source organizations. I think that's an incredibly smart move. It's been running now since 2016 2017. Yes, so I know that it's profitable, which means that it can sustain itself. So it must have been a good idea. And you say it's contributing back to the project. How do you think that's going what's what's next.
Stefan Busemann 19:26
In the first one or two years the company had a phase of setting up and finding also the mission and vision. We had a business plan, which was focusing on different projects. And I think since since this year, at latest, we know where we are heading to. We have a strong product for the company, which is the so called LTS extended long term support, which provides us a lot of financial contribution to the project. The next step is now that the company For me is taking over the processes of the TYPO3 Association, like setting up a proper ecommerce system for managing the memberships or the Partner Program, which is now the professional service listing. We have a merchandising shop, I think more products in that way will come so that the company will provide us financial profit for the project. And in this Yes, we can have some advantages of that construction, for example, the company will now be able to raise the cooperative from 350,000 to 500,000. euro. So this is a direct contribution for the TYPO3 project, which will help our project and the community and the product quality.
Jeffrey A. McGuire 20:47
Nice. It's great. Growing, developing, moving in the right direction. sounds really good. What is the coolest thing that you ever built with TYPO3?
Stefan Busemann 20:57
It's always the first baby, you have the first laugh. And this is what's my extension, which I built with my colleague, the knowledge database, where you were able to select PDF documents by combining different search parameters, which project were where I was very proud of. So for us,
Jeffrey A. McGuire 21:17
so you could you could you could set parameters to search for data points, and then they were turned into PDFs. Is that right?
Stefan Busemann 21:25
Jeffrey A. McGuire 21:25
or the information was pulled from PDFs and turned into data?
Stefan Busemann 21:29
Jeffrey A. McGuire 21:30
that's pretty cool. 10 points for Hufflepuff. for that one. What are your favorite features of TYPO3?
Stefan Busemann 21:36
I think I love abstract data, a few forks for more or less the tcaa because you can use
Jeffrey A. McGuire 21:42
the table configuration array.
Stefan Busemann 21:45
Yeah, thank you, you can define a different setup set on data items. And tcaa is rendering. The TCP TCP configuration engine is rendering the TCP forms. It's rendering, it's rendering the tcaa definition. So you know, I'm a structured guy, and I love to structure data.
Jeffrey A. McGuire 22:10
Okay, so we'll just write TYPO3 approach to structured data, because I saw your eyes light up and how you were just going to fully geek out on like, Well, you see, actually the TC takes the part of venues, observe them and then renders and then if you take the variables on them, which is great. And TYPO3 is all about that stuff. And that's that's where it all comes from. In the end. What should everyone know about typo? Three,
Stefan Busemann 22:33
that I think we have to create a community on Earth.
Jeffrey A. McGuire 22:36
Okay, and what's something that people generally don't know about typo? Three that maybe they should?
Stefan Busemann 22:41
Maybe people think TYPO3 is very complicated. In fact, I think it isn't, because TYPO3 is very structured, as I told you before. And the main concept of TYPO3 is the page tree, where somehow everything is organized by that tree. And maybe that's the reason why it is successful in Germany, because the Germans like to structure everything. And that TYPO3 is, is a structured system, right? So I love that approach of the tree where you can organize your data in a very visual, visual way. You see in the back end the navigation structure in the front end. And that's I think that is a huge advantage. I am a big fan of the hierarchical organization of the page tree and some of the tricks it does. Did you know that there is the crazy tree limiter inside? Yeah, there's a variable called Tracy tree limiter, a crazy tree limiter, and it is sets to 9000 9999. Page tree has a maximum recursion level of 9000 9009.
Jeffrey A. McGuire 23:44
Now from a UX perspective, if your website has 10,000 minus one levels of information architecture, I think you're probably doing it wrong. But maybe that'll be useful when TYPO3 is dealing with machine learning recursion data sets or something in the future. So good to know. Thank you. That's a cool bit of trivia trivia that could go on the trivia night pretty well.
But but it could be it could be that my knowledge is outdated.
Stefan Busemann 24:15
Okay, asking the audience in our comments on the blog post on this or the the episode where you're hearing it or to us on Twitter, crazy tree limit or variable? Is it still 9999 into 2020? Going back to the thing that you said before, when you said Well, maybe that's why it's so popular in Germany, because it's so organized. So the old TYPO3 community motto was inspiring people to share right? What if we change it to TYPO3 ordinal must sign
I think it would fit. I think then we would limit the success finally only to Germany.
Jeffrey A. McGuire 24:57
Okay, you have control We did a great deal to TYPO3, starting with finding it and starting to use it in 2004. And then writing your own extension, going through being on the video team on the Association Board, starting your own company helping, presumably hundreds of clients along the way. Tell us about a time that the community helped you,
Stefan Busemann 25:22
I think they they helped me. A lot of times, especially, I learned so much from the community, about technology, about ideas approaches, which I was able to introduce in my company. For example, one one big thing was with the whole tenuous integration with Git lab, I was learning in the TYPO3. org website team. And so I was able to carry a lot of best practices into my company. And that that's the thing which I can recommend everyone contribute. build up your own network. Give and get.
Jeffrey A. McGuire 26:00
Stefan Busemann your feature request for TYPO311 What is it or TYPO315
Stefan Busemann 26:08
I would love to see a better experience for editors in regards to file management, that people are able to look for, for assets via categories that they can have a more powerful switch at the moment, you have to know the folder where the file is stored, or you have a simple Full Text Search, but it's not powerful. I want to I want to use categories, I want to have the possibility to have a big preview image of assets. Okay, that would be my greatest wish.
Jeffrey A. McGuire 26:41
And that would be incredibly helpful. And I think it would match people's everyday expectations of how how things work on the web today and how things on their phones work today. So that makes total sense. And we know it's well within reach, we know the pieces that we can put together to make that happen. So okay, so that seems like a valid topic for the next couple of Sprint's. We can pass that on to Benni Mack to make sure that he gets his marching orders so to speak. In a normal year, if someone wanted to come and contribute, I would say hey, go to TYPO3.org find out what the next sprint is get in touch with the teams doing it they'll help you find a place to stay and you can go and do this in September or wherever in but humbug or Munich or Hamburg or Spain or whatever it is, how can I find and join contribution activities as of late 2020. And how do I how do I join a sprint
Stefan Busemann 27:30
in 2019 it was very easy because we had regular open Sprint's to which we announced at TYPO3 dot org and social channels in 2020. It was much different because we had to we had to try to onboard people remotely, which was happening and was quite the same way that we introduced that we announced that Sprint's on TYPO3 dot org. And we try to use also the social media to announce sprints. And then we had a an uplink where people could enter their names into a note where they can find the channels where they can reach out on teams, for example, the discord on slack channels where they can get in touch. But I think this is an important topic, I see. There's also a lot of room for improvement. And this should be one of the most important projects for 2021 that we improve the onboarding experience and improve the onboarding documentation, make it easier to get in touch with people and teams,
Jeffrey A. McGuire 28:41
and really take into account now that not everyone can show up in person every time. And it doesn't matter if that's because they're in an interesting place. Or because none of us can travel right. I think that that's probably an accessibility and inequality issue that could really help us enrich the pool of contributors that that can come to us.
Stefan Busemann 29:03
I think another important aspect which everyone should know is that you don't have to be a programmer to to contribute. For example, I am a very poor programmer. My colleagues hate me if I start coding PHP. A lot of I know a lot of old stuff. So very well old versions of TYPO3. I can be very helpful that newer versions I'm not the best colleague to ask, but there are so many different levels where where you can contribute to the project for example, I think in within the next two weeks, there will be a marketing sprint where people who who have just great ideas for marketeers they can attempt there. We are always looking for people who are willing to contribute to the board for the association people who would like to steer an organization and improve the processes in the organization and then are many other examples where you could contribute without being a programmer,
Jeffrey A. McGuire 30:05
right. And so on the technical side, of course, developers and programmers have a lot of opportunities in the TYPO3 core or maybe with underneath Steiner on the server team, or all of that infrastructure stuff and all of the actual project. Of course, the community itself has a number of groups that make it easier to contribute, because they're directed at specific activities, the marketing group, you mentioned, there is a Communications Group, which not only puts out the TYPO3 newsletter, but if you want to write something that's related to TYPO3, you're not the best writer, they actually have a process for helping you get your blog post together, and maybe getting it on TYPO3.org, for example, which is, which is interesting. There's the design group, and then there have been special groups set up for particular projects over the years. So there, there are a ton of really, really interesting activities and 2020 is so dominating, right, but like, normally, I would say, is there a local user group in your town, if yes, go there and hang out. And then if it makes sense, you help organize it next time, or you bring sandwiches or whatever, I think the modern version of that is a little bit different, and who knows what its gonna look like next year. But anything that you can do with or to help humans can become relevant in this space to
Stefan Busemann 31:18
another important project, which we are actively working on is the visualized contribution project. It's the aim to make the contribution of many people more prominent. For example, the company introduced the developer Appreciation Day, in the past, there were only the quad developers mentioned with their commits. Nowadays, we have also included the TYPO3 document citation improvements improve us, and the TYPO3. org website improve us. And at that level, we want to start to make the contribution of individuals more transparent. On the other level, we want to also provide a benefit to companies who sent their employees to contribute and provide them for example, a benefit that they will get end up in a ranking higher than other companies who do not contribute.
Jeffrey A. McGuire 32:15
Yeah, when you and I started in open source, it was all developers all the time for developers. And of course, contribution meant literally only code and it made perfect sense to give people contrib credits for patches and so on. And because we have become a whole economy, a whole whole community, and there are lawyers, and there are business people, and there are designers, it's it's hard to put a specific value on a thing that someone does, but it's important to recognize and remember that everyone is needed to make the rich, vibrant group that we have supporting these activities. And here I'll try a trick. Now, it's important to remember that your stories and your projects are how you can make a difference in the world. Right. On that note, that feels like a perfect place to say thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me today and sharing your experiences. And thank you so much for all of your contributions and inspirations over the years. It's really, really great. Thank you so much,
Stefan Busemann 33:16
Jeffrey A. McGuire 33:19
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 typo3.org. Remember, open source software would not be what it is without you. Thank you all for your contributions.