Jeffrey A. McGuire 0:56
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.
Hey, hello, thank you for tuning in to application that TYPO3 community podcast where we share your stories, your projects, and the difference you may have some great examples of that. My guest today is Sybille Peters, who works on the TYPO3 installation at the University of oldenbourg. We talk about a lot of the technical and usability things that go into that we talk about the interesting chicken and egg problem around creating new code or refactoring old code. We talk a lot about community and contribution and Sybille has done a lot of contributing. And I got a really warm, fuzzy feeling hearing about some of her experiences. I hope you do too. And I hope you enjoy listening to this episode as much as I did, speaking with. Sybille, where are you located?
Sybille Peters 2:21
I live and work in Oldenburg in
Jeffrey A. McGuire 2:24
Oldenburg at the university, right. What do you do there?
Sybille Peters 2:27
Yeah, I do. Well, of course, TYPO3 I work on our web page is situation. And I do some extension development, and also take care of updating because it's always a challenge to upgrade to the next version. Right.
Jeffrey A. McGuire 2:47
And Ben, by the time you've covered all that, that sounds like a pretty full day. Yeah.
Sybille Peters 2:50
And there's some other things I mean, I'm not gonna mention all these details, but it is four days.
Jeffrey A. McGuire 2:56
So you're responsible for the web presence at the University of Edinburgh? And basically, yes, I suppose I want to know how you discovered TYPO3.
Sybille Peters 3:05
Yeah, it's not so much that I discovered it, I applied for job, it was at the same place where I was already working. I was I was working at the university in Hanover in a search engine project. And that was had a limited time because it was a research project project limited. And so I was looking for a new job. And then at the same institution, they had they were looking for someone in the TYPO3 routine said, Okay. I didn't know, at all. So that was new. And
Jeffrey A. McGuire 3:42
how long ago was that? Oh, I
Sybille Peters 3:44
don't remember. It's quite some some years ago.
Jeffrey A. McGuire 3:47
What what version of TYPO3 Did you run into when you change them? That
Sybille Peters 3:50
was 4.5. Okay, so
Jeffrey A. McGuire 3:52
you've been doing TYPO3 for a while now? Yes. Yeah. What was your experience and qualifications going into that job? Since you hadn't done TYPO3 before? Well, I
Sybille Peters 4:03
had done programming before. But actually, everything was new, because I hadn't really done PHP, and then any development. don't really like working with CSS. I made several attempts to do that. And it's always really frustrating. I like working on things where you can see the result. So I kind of I like doing web development in general. So I think that was there was a good choice. But at the beginning, it wasn't really easy to get started.
Jeffrey A. McGuire 4:36
What was your experience before that?
Sybille Peters 4:38
Well, completely different. When I started working, I think I was doing a C Programming. For a while I worked at a company which which sold Canadian real time operating systems all that was very low level, right? completely different from what I'm doing now. And when I start At the University, we're doing mostly Java Java development. It's also I mean, it has a lot of a lot of things are similar, but it's it's quite a different world. Sure.
Jeffrey A. McGuire 5:11
So I can imagine that moving to PHP, it's incredibly, it's incredibly refreshing that you don't have to compile anything, right? You just, you type in and run it.
Sybille Peters 5:23
Actually, I like that. Because if you compile, I mean, it spits out every arrow you make. So it doesn't, you know, in PHP, you can have really bad arrows, but you don't notice them until runtime. I mean, all the habits changed a little bit because you have more static analyzers. And you can do more and more checking, right. But from the language point of view, I actually like the compiler.
Jeffrey A. McGuire 5:52
But that's a really, that's a really good reason. You know, debugging has a completely different conceptual hierarchy in a compiler based system. On the other hand, I like what you said, talk about the web work from the perspective of you do something and you get a result and you see something,
Sybille Peters 6:08
it's generally up, for example, I like or website, I don't really do that much of the front end stuff. I do that very little. So other people are doing that. And I think they're doing a good job. But, but I like when I do some programming and do some testing, I can look at the results. And also consider things like usability. And
Jeffrey A. McGuire 6:34
so what's the intersection between usability and the sort of programming you do? If you if you're not really, you really don't want to be touching the front end? How do you how do you think about creating a good user experience when you're working on the back end stuff?
Sybille Peters 6:48
Yeah, well, of course, what I would like to do, I'm not really there yet. But I would like the editors to have a good editing experience. So. So it's really important to make it very well, well usable. In the back end, there are still some some things to be accomplished. And I'm not really quite happy yet with everything, but it's all a work in progress.
Jeffrey A. McGuire 7:14
So you do quite a lot of contribution for TYPO3. And I'd like to ask you, what have you contributed? What are you working on
Sybille Peters 7:22
also has a long history or actually not quite so long, is there because I've been doing that quite as long as I've been doing terrible three, I found that was very motivating for me. So I don't really know if what I'm doing is so, so useful. I hope some of it is useful. But actually, it's more useful for me because it's, it's a lot of stuff, I can contact with people I get, I get feedback on my reviews. And so for me, it's really useful. And what I'm doing the last two years, I've been doing a lot of documentation. When I started to contribute, let's just fix the link, really data and pitch. Because data is essential.
Jeffrey A. McGuire 8:07
So I have several follow up questions. Now. It's awesome that you noticed something that needed improvement, and you jumped in. And that's exactly the sort of inspiring, correct example that people should take from open source. Like, if you see it, and you know anything about it, there's a chance that you could be the person that cares the most. And you can go help everybody by fixing it. So thank you. That's fantastic. Tell us what link validator is and what it does.
Sybille Peters 8:34
It's a core extension. So it's only backend, it detects the things inside and just check, check them and find out which ones are broken. So the target does not exist. And you get a 404 not found page not found usually or something,
Jeffrey A. McGuire 8:52
right. And then super useful. Because I remember in the olden days going through my site and like running tools against it and getting reports and like getting links colored red and green and whatever and having to load every page. Now I know this is super old, old Olden internet days, but I find it super helpful that TYPO3 does that I loved what you said a few minutes ago about contribution and that you find it really inspiring and exciting to contribute to a two TYPO3 talk. Can you can you talk about that.
Sybille Peters 9:24
What I find inspiring is it has a lot of aspects. I can remember at the beginning, it was very good because it was all great and motivating. And after a while I had I had some things that were frustrating it came to and they increased so so it's kind of an up, up and down process. But I remember at the beginning it was all positive for me. And what was for example, very motivating. Well of course, doing your first core patch and actually getting it merged. That is just Really great, right? Because I mean, it's not so easy. I mean, if you'd make small changes, there are actually a lot of possibilities to get started and make really small changes there. But, but if you do something, actually, my first batch was really small. So, but anyhow, I was really good at that. And I got so much feedback and help sometimes people just contacted me on slack to say, thank you. What a nice community actually, that is decreased. I didn't get any worse. was wondering. I think after was that they just they know, you're already kind of a part of it. And then right, they don't do that as well.
Jeffrey A. McGuire 10:49
Okay, so, so general announcement to the TYPO3 community if you're listening, no matter how long, we've been helping out, everyone still likes to get a compliment, or a thank you for what they're doing. Do you remember? You were working on that patch? And you'd been doing TYPO3 for however long it was? And then you got that patch accepted? Did you feel different about TYPO3 from from then on? Was there like a different emotion? Maybe?
Sybille Peters 11:13
Yes. I don't know if it was just one, one event. For me. I think it was the attending the camps and contributing, and getting help, because also had people who helped me and ask questions on slack that helped help with some things. And for some of the patches, also, other people jumped in and helped. So that was really great interaction. I remember I made a suggestion in Slack channel, should we do this and this? And then somebody said, Yes. But wouldn't it be better to do that, and that, and then I said, Oh, yeah, that sounds good. I'm willing to do that. And then I started to write a patch. And then it proved more difficult than I thought. And then somebody else came and helped and added another patch set. And then was finally finished and immersed in collaboration of the people and helping was really great.
Jeffrey A. McGuire 12:14
I think it can be such a powerful force for good in the world, right? You made some software better that that 1000s 10s of 1000s, hundreds of 1000s of people interact with all the time. And you you you got to know and help and be helped by a bunch of other smart people, and you have virtual colleagues everywhere. Plus, you know that every day code that you wrote is being downloaded and installed and used all over the place, right? It's like a tiny little bit of yours.
Sybille Peters 12:43
actually did Don't think about that. That much. So good. A little scary. Haha.
Jeffrey A. McGuire 12:50
What is that favorite contribution you ever made to TYPO3?
Sybille Peters 12:53
I think that is the one I just talked about, which was the get commit hook for contribution. Because it used to be somewhere external and file admin and then was it was integrated into the core. And now everyone is using it who's contributing?
Jeffrey A. McGuire 13:13
That's a big deal, right?
Sybille Peters 13:15
I didn't actually write this from scratch. It was already there. Just Just integrated. And then there was also some some other scripts involved, which changed,
Jeffrey A. McGuire 13:27
what's a cool TYPO3 trick that that that you that you could share with people. And some things in terms of three not so many people know about.
Sybille Peters 13:37
Mass editing mode is pretty cool. Again, multi language Shandling's is really cool. There's some I'm pretty sure there's still things I don't even know about because I see. So one thing too is, from time to time
Jeffrey A. McGuire 13:56
talk about what is the mass editing function.
Sybille Peters 14:00
If you're in this module, you can edit several records at once. So I always find this a little tedious in the page module, because you have to edit each content element that you visually can do, you can make changes. It's more efficient. I didn't really know this well because I don't I don't do a lot of editing with images. But I'm starting to learn more about these kind of things or rediscovered them. When I started working rotation.
Jeffrey A. McGuire 14:39
I'm a little bit scared of that kind of functionality, the mass editing. Of course it can be helpful because if you have referred to super cool thing incorporated in 55 blog posts and then that company changes its name to purple green Incorporated. You need to keep all that up to date, of course, it's a total pain to go in and deal with that page by page by page by page. But I get really scared about changing all of those things at once. And in another content management system that I have worked with extensively. Also open source, also PHP also wonderful. We had a novelty module that would change the language on your website for Talk Like a Pirate Day. And it would change certain key phrases into quote unquote pirate language, except the way it was written early on, it would also change your URLs, the URL of your of your pages.
Of course, the stupid thing was only to be stupid anyway. But it
Sybille Peters 15:47
was more like a joke or something. Yeah,
Jeffrey A. McGuire 15:50
it was like a novelty, the idea of changing things in bulk without checking is, you know, a little scary. And TYPO3. Also, it's incredibly convenient. It also lets you search all of the content of the website and and find and replace stuff programmatically as well. As long as you use that power for good. It's very helpful. And I think it speaks to the mission, I find TYPO3 very, very well suited to large websites with a lot of information on them. So I think universities fit into that category enterprises, very, very content, heavy, structured websites, two, TYPO3 does really, really well with those. Do you customize the authoring experience in general in the backend at the university?
Sybille Peters 16:34
Yeah, we do that. But I think we should do it more. The thing is, actually, there are a lot of fields, it's kind of overwhelming for the editors. But I'm kind of at the moment, I think they're using more than they should, in my opinion. But that's also something we need, we need to discuss first and agree on which which fields should be displayed. So I think we should do more than that.
Jeffrey A. McGuire 17:02
In general, people's creativity is sparked by by limitations. Also, the fewer options that we give to non technical users, you know, the safer the installation is and the cleaner the data is over time, right? Could you sum up somehow what value TYPO3 delivers to the university
Sybille Peters 17:24
that is pretty heavy, heavily used, not all the content is maintained on the website, because we have, we also use Institute IP to manage all the courses and persons.
Jeffrey A. McGuire 17:38
That's a system
Sybille Peters 17:41
that's also open source, based on PHP. So that is in there. But we have extensions in TYPO3 which fetch, fetch the data from source IP, and also display it on the website. So the website is pretty heavily used also to look up contact information, we'll look at the study courses, even though the main work is then for the students isn't working was still stood up.
Jeffrey A. McGuire 18:12
And they do their course planning and that sort of thing. through there, and TYPO3 connected to integrate it with it.
Sybille Peters 18:20
Young interpreter is kind of the gateway to it. I mean, this, it's kind of like the first contact people have interested students, they can look up courses. on the SAT page, we have interesting news from from research projects. So it's kind of very good communication and marketing.
Jeffrey A. McGuire 18:43
Nice. So you get the advantages of the content management system. And then you didn't have to build all of the other stuff you integrated with a system that does that right? as well. That's, that's, um, and you know, that, like I just said, for enterprise architectures for larger systems, that's really, really perfect. Instead of instead of maybe stretching a system to go beyond what it's good at. So you contribute. And thank you for that. What would you like to see next? What would improve TYPO3,
Sybille Peters 19:14
actually, I think, TYPO3, when you when you go and log into the backend, and look at the back end. It's hard to describe, but I think the complete look and feel has gotten really nice. compared to older versions. I mean, I like these these cards for the system maintenance and upgrade wizards and icons. And so I think that's a lot of work has been done. A lot of work has been done for accessibility. And so I think they're already on track with that, right, but they're also on track with with cleaning up. So I think some areas in the core, they're still a little difficult to use as a developer. So That's really important to clean up the API. And that's, of course, something you don't really see. And the the end users don't really
Jeffrey A. McGuire 20:12
work on every day. Right? Every.
Sybille Peters 20:15
It's important also for, for people to use the TYPO3 API and make changes in the core. Right. So that's, I see a lot of work going on. So at the moment, for example, PHP, Stan is being used to check as a static analyzer to to check the code. And when you have to, when you run that you can set which level it should use to check. So if you have a low level, then we'll just check some basic things and increase the level to more checks. And I think they're currently working with him on that. And on to more strict type checking, for example, which makes in the long term, makes the code more stable, because you can find errors easily. So of course, that's, that's more under the hood, I'm sure.
Jeffrey A. McGuire 21:09
But that's incredibly important to you know, developers might want to know, should I choose this PHP project or that PHP project. And if they know, that type of three really cares about coding standards, if typo threes, very compliant with most of the current PSR is and so on? that's a that's a selling point for the system, for sure.
Sybille Peters 21:28
And I think that the test suite is just really awesome. Because I think it's just, I mean, of course, other projects have had that, putting in so much work. And the testing so much the testing, the calling guidelines, the functional tests, their acceptance tests, so every time you create a patch, and upload a patch, the test suite runs and detects those errors. And you can't, you can't merge any, any patches with which don't comply. So,
Jeffrey A. McGuire 22:03
Sybille Peters 22:03
Of course, that's there. I mean, that's not new. And that has been going on for for several years. But yeah, I just see, work is still being done on that and constantly improving. And so
Jeffrey A. McGuire 22:15
I admire their commitment to quality that, you know, that that shows
Sybille Peters 22:18
what one thing I don't like that much. I mean, it's it's a feature of TYPO3, but it's also some as a disadvantage, you sometimes have several ways to do things. And they're, you know, yeah. I mean, for example, with it with the database. With the database persistence, you have the integrated doctrine, database, abstraction layer, and then you still have expertise. And then you have the data. And, and I mean, each have has its application. And of course, if you know what to use where and how it works, then it's not a problem. But for new users, it's just really confusing.
Jeffrey A. McGuire 23:03
And the overlap of you could solve this problem there. But you could also solve it there. And with less experience, you might not know what is the more sustainable or the more compatible way to go in the future, right? What is the best practice keeps, keeps changing and moving. And I think sometimes you can look at that sort of thing in open source, hey, go fix it, you can make the solution and then somebody makes something in their style, and somebody else makes something in another style, or they make it five years later. And then we do end up with with a multiplicity of solutions. And then somebody at some point has to make hard decisions and clean things up. And that's, that's tough, right, and deciding what to deprecate. And what, what to use moving forward.
Sybille Peters 23:45
Yeah, that's I think that's really difficult. I mean, the plan was to create nails to create something new. And then, at one point, when the decision was made on nails split off, and TYPO3 has been refactoring and refactoring. And there are a lot of breaking changes. But I think they made the right decisions, because the alternative would have been to keep the old code. Sure, I think, sometimes it's very painful for for for extension developers, because there are a lot of breaking changes, and they have to change the code. And, of course, for the upgrade process, it's it's not so so great. But I think they really made the right decisions.
Jeffrey A. McGuire 24:31
To be fair, there's a couple of things that I think are fantastic, about TYPO3 that needs to be said in this context. For one most TYPO3 sites going back to version 4.5 can still be upgraded to version 10. Now, you have to run them through the subsequent upgrades, but it is there are upgrade paths, all the way from four to six to seven to eight to nine to 10, which shows how solid and consistent network has been over the years. Yes, if you're in extension maintainer, there's going to be potentially breaking changes every 18 months. But during the the main version, our main release time, I don't know, every year and a half to keep things up to date. That's not a bad shedule. Right? Like, I think it's, it's reasonable and and we seem to get a lot from the upgrades as we go. I'm also incredibly impressed that built into the code base, there's all the like, the the extension checker, and the thing that says, hey, you're using this, and it's, it's deprecated. So, you know, the next major version, you better pay attention to that. Like, it's, it's so the usability for developers is, is is really wonderful with with helpers, like that. And then the thing where you build your own upgrade wizard, like, hey, analyze my thing, take care of this. That was really good. I mean, like, they said, their deprecation so that they don't go, oh, by the way, we
Sybille Peters 25:53
change this now. Tomorrow, you have a deprecation. So you get it, you can see that in the deprecation lock, you can use the extension kind of scanner and then for the next version, it gets removed. So that's, it's a very good process.
Jeffrey A. McGuire 26:09
Yeah, it's cool. I want to know who in the TYPO3 community you you you follow look for advice or perspective or, you know, you're just interested in what they do. I was I was in the documentation team,
Sybille Peters 26:19
a lot of contact with with Daniel's man. So we also got some some good tips from him. And he's also a Linux users. Linux, it's always good to to exchange
Jeffrey A. McGuire 26:36
knowledge and equipment is that is that is a wonderful human and incredibly generous with his time.
Sybille Peters 26:42
Yeah. And he also says he likes to help people. And it's not just words, he really means it uses any you did a lot for the documentation to
Jeffrey A. McGuire 26:53
and the second thing that I wanted to capture in this bracket was if you were going to suggest who I should speak with next on the podcast, who should I should I call up for this?
Sybille Peters 27:04
Well, you can you can also find think Alexandre Schnetzler is doing a lot of interesting things because he's the expense component module. He's doing a lot of work on experts. And but he's also doing a lot of work for the bhp Stein example. I also would be interesting, interested what what Kristin crew is doing, because
Jeffrey A. McGuire 27:31
Sybille Peters 27:32
Yeah, he's working on workspaces.
Jeffrey A. McGuire 27:35
He's doing full time contribution right
Sybille Peters 27:37
Jeffrey A. McGuire 27:39
that's a great idea. So I think I have one more topic that I wanted to touch on. We were talking about contribution and your involvement in that. And you made very significant contributions to the TYPO3 guidebook and it's the first TYPO3 books in English in about 10 years, and I was involved in putting that together. And you gave us a lot of really valuable, interesting information. How did how did we find you? And what did you think when you found out that some some people were doing a book again?
Sybille Peters 28:12
Listen first, because I think I did. Earlier did a one hour interview with me. I've contributed that much.
Jeffrey A. McGuire 28:21
Oh, no. It's like the whole No, no, you know, but there's really, really helpful, you know, checklists off the top of my head, like preparing for upgrades and things like that, where you were, you gave us a lot of real help.
Sybille Peters 28:34
I mean, the bootcamp Andreessen Olivier was there with Ellie, and then they announced it. And then I think later, she contact me. And we did this one hour interview, which has been
Jeffrey A. McGuire 28:49
terrific. I think it's really high time that people heard about TYPO3 again. And I think that there are wonderful opportunities in the world right now, for us to help people and for more people to know about TYPO3 than right now, I think that there's a system that offers, you know, we need more TYPO3 developers, everyone who has an agency says they need more developers, you know, so there's a career path. It's written in the biggest language on the web, following programming standards. It's fully open source, like there's a ton of reasons to check this out. So I'm hoping with things like the mentoring program, things with a light like a book in English, I'm really, really hoping that we can expand the community to, to a lot more of the world. I'm really kind of, I'm excited to see where things go in 2021. Take care of yourself. Take care of yourself. Thank you for all of your contributions. And yeah, talk to you again sometime. Thank you.
Sybille Peters 29:50
Thanks for having me. I
Jeffrey A. McGuire 29:54
thanks to the TYPO3 Association for sponsoring this podcast. Thank you, b 13 and Stephanie coin So for our logo, now Siebel Cooper three comma TYPO3 developer and musician x tall the noun 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. Would you like to play along and suggest a guest for the podcast? Do you have questions or comments? reach out to us on Twitter at TYPO3 podcast. 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.