Ten Years of News

Categories: Development, Community Created by Mathias Bolt Lesniak
Photo: Composition. Background photo by Kristina Evstifeeva / Unsplash.com
9 September, 2021 is the 10th anniversary of the News Extension, created by Georg Ringer. This extension is probably the most popular third-party extension in the TYPO3 ecosystem.

To make a little noise about the jubilee, I reached out to Georg, who lives in Linz, Austria, to learn more about his decade-long life and journey with the extension News (aka. News system).

2011: A Time of Change

The News extension was launched during a time when a lot of changes were happening to TYPO3. “Like moving away from t3lib_div to namespaces, using Git instead of SVN, and Gerrit instead of mailing lists,” says Georg. 

It was a lot to take in at once: “I remember a crazy time in Berlin when we in the Core Team got an introduction to Git, Gerrit, public and private keys, and all with combinations of Windows, Mac, and Unix. Most of us had no clue—at least myself.”

Another important technology pair was entering the stage too: The Extbase framework and Fluid templating engine. Georg loved it. “It was actually the first real API giving you a kind of Model-View-Controller (MVC) pattern. I have always liked the fast results you can achieve by using Extbase, Fluid, and the Extension Builder.”

I can hardly imagine a site that wouldn’t need the News extension. Furthermore, the News extension provides many helpful examples, even for the Core Documentation. It was the first extension to make me see a real value behind Fluid. The TYPO3 world would be a poorer place without Georg Ringer’s extensions.
—Lina Wolf, Developer, Documentation Team member

The Need for News (Without Markers)

The News extension wasn’t the first news extension for TYPO3. Back then, the most popular news extension was tt_news, but it was based on the old standard: clunky templates with replacement markers and lots of TypoScript.

“tt_news was used in every project and we had grown tired of markers like ###TITLE### and the need to use TypoScript,” Georg explains. “Creating a modern successor was a clever solution.”

Developing a New News Extension

“In the agency I worked at in those days, we started with one of the biggest TYPO3 projects ever and we needed a future-proof solution—so I started a new extension called news2.” 

Why that name, you might ask. Well, Georg couldn’t get hold of the extension key. “The extension key ‘news’ was reserved, but not used, and I couldn’t get hold of the owner,” he explains. Luckily, the extension key was released by the admins after a while.

Georg worked on the extension for about six months before publishing it. Working with a new technology like Extbase wasn’t always easy: “You had no clue if it showed you an unknown error.”

Developing the extension was actually quite fast compared to taking it live. Georg explains that “it took way longer to migrate the from news2 to news in the customer's project than it did to build it, because their project was already in production.”

Georg has been doing great work on the News Extension for ten years, making a huge contribution to TYPO3. Besides functionality, successful extensions such as the News extension have always delivered reliability, quality, and good documentation. This is why I am so pleased that the News extension will be one of the first Verified Extensions to further strengthen the ecosystem.
—Volker Graubaum, TYPO3 chief product officer, TYPO3 Company

Living With the Extension

Ten years of extension development has made the extension feature-complete, and it has become a go-to source of best-practice coding examples both for new and seasoned TYPO3 developers. 

That’s no bad thing. Quality is one of the things Georg emphasizes when talking about the extension. He says “I always try to keep its code in a good state because I know that it is often used as a good example, and people—including myself—copy code and reuse it in their own extensions.”

For Georg, the extension has also been the source of occasional consulting jobs. “As a freelancer, I get contacted to fix bugs or extend it for specific needs. I have had the opportunity to implement some very nice things, but I’m sorry I can't reveal any client names or project details.”

Still, the usage areas for such a popular extension is also a source of surprise. People don’t just use it for news articles: “The craziest solution I’ve seen is to use it as a gallery,” says Georg. “But overriding models and controllers is harder now that we use Extbase. The Extension Builder helps a lot too, so I see far fewer crazy adaptations now than I used to do with tt_news.”

My experiences were really good. In short, the News extension has three things that helped me a lot:
• Many years ago it was finally an alternative to tt_news, with a really good code base.
• Georg used many different approaches for connecting to the Core that I copied.
• The News extension was an inspiration for my extension just_news.
—Thomas Löffler, leader / technical lead, typo3.org Website Team

Fabulous Features

There is no small selection of features in the extension. 350 of the extension’s 2680 commit messages on Github are tagged with [FEATURE]. Georg’s favorite is the “Top News” checkbox. “I like it a lot because it was so easy to implement and helps in a lot of projects,” he says.

There are also some features that are almost unknown. When I ask him, he has one ready: “By using [me‍dia] in the RTE field you can move FAL media items from the relation into the text—just like using images within the RTE”

When you think of community, then Georg and his great attitude comes to mind. His extensions are catalysts for adoption of best practices. Georg took an essential TYPO3 functionality and moved it further. He is always responsive to questions and gives his advice at any time. Next time I see Georg he will be able to choose a drink on me.
—Olivier Dobberkau, president, TYPO3 Association

Give Georg Global Greetings

For the News anniversary Georg’s gift wish is a simple one: “Getting postcards from people using my extensions!”

So, why don’t you find a nice card from your local area, write some words of thanks, and send it to:

Georg Ringer
Hirschgasse 5
4020 Linz

PS! If you wonder what happened to tt_news, it is still alive and actively maintained by Rupert Germann. The latest version is compatible with TYPO3 version 10, and 22 December, 2024 it’s been 20 years in the TYPO3 Extension Repository.

Additional contributors for this article
  • Proofreader : Felicity Brand