December 10 saw the launch of TYPO3 Neos 1.0. The TYPO3 community has been anticipating this release for many years and the road to Neos 1.0 was bumpy. Of course we are not there yet. In fact we are never there, we are living the permanent beta stage. Just like in life there is always room for improvement. Our projects, like all other software projects, will always have bugs to fix, patches to be applied and features to be added. It is the TYPO3 community that has done this incredible work and got the TYPO3 project to this level. We can be proud in a solid understanding that what binds us as people is the driving force that inspires us all to share the things we love.
For this special day in TYPO3 Kasper, Rasmus and Robert give some input on the occasion of this special day.
Day: December 10, 2013
TYPO3 was developed from scratch by Kasper Skårhøj, a Danish developer, in 1997. The term “Content Management” was still widely unknown, but as websites became more and more complex, the idea to have a system that separated design and content was a smart solution to an emerging problem. Kasper doesn't develop on TYPO3 anymore but continues to meet with and inspire the community at some events. These days Kasper is actively involved in engineering and building <link http: skaarhoj.com about in-private current-projects>open source multimedia hardware. You can meet him on <link http: skaarhoj.com about in-private>his website or read <link http: typo3.org about typo3-the-cms kaspers-korner>Kaspers Korner with more personal insights and TYPO3 history.
“Inspiring People to Share is not a random tag line or a fancy way to express philanthropic wishful thinking. It was essentially something we deducted from our de facto values back in the days of early TYPO3 development some 10 years ago. Back then I didn't realize how deep it was, but after all these years I continuously re encounter how important it is for my own sense of purpose in this life, how it is an expression of love to give, to share and help other people with what ever resources I've got. With Open Source we can do so much good without it every incurring any real costs to us - just by sharing what we already have. Enjoy it, everyone! Enjoy your power to so easily bless people around you with the infinitely replicable value you create as a programmer!”
Rasmus Skoldjan is brand manager for the TYPO3 project and is the driving force behind the User eXperience design of TYPO3 Neos. Rasmus writes about this journey on typo3.org and on his blog <link http: rasmusskjoldan.com>rasmusskjoldan.com
. Rasmus is employed by <link http: www.moc.dk>MOC in Copenhagen.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I'm the son of two classical musicians. My mother is a now retired opera singer and my father is a classical pianist. They have both been very into the experimental composition scene in the 70's – so I grew up listening to the quite special music of John Cage and Steve Reich. Today, I'm increasingly discovering how much I utilize artistic processes in my work life doing web projects. I think this will be a major area of interest to me in the future; how art and technology work together. I have a wife that works as goldsmith. She designs very minimalistic jewelry. Some of the jewelry forms are quite inspiring for me when I'm working on application designs like in Neos. Combined, we have 4 kids in our home.
My main hobby is portrait photography – I don't have too much time for it but try to do a couple of sessions a year. Sometimes it even sneaks into my agency work. Apart from this, I practice Zen meditation and winter bathe in the harbor of Copenhagen.
I'm a very slow, very bad runner – and I'm unable to help my 12-year old son with his school math.
Viking takes a winter bath in Copenhagen harbor
What are your ties to the TYPO3 project?
When someone first showed my TYPO3 I was literally amazed. At the time I had been working on insane amounts of self-built CMSs in the agencies that I had worked for. My earliest experiences designing CMSs date back to around 2000 – but I started working with web design in 1996. With TYPO3 I didn't have to Photoshop all graphical menu items. That was so amazing at the time for me since I did really graphics-heavy stuff. I think I met Kasper in 2005 or 06. I quite quickly got involved in the branding project and headed the redesign of the TYPO3 logo into the shape it has today.
I was involved in Phoenix UX/UI from the start of the project but was then out of it for some years. I kicked back in at the beginning of 2013. I have literally been dreaming about Neos this year – countless nights I've been awake thinking about how to do the most optimal User Experience infrastructure for the project.
You compared developing a CMS to city-planning. What are the analogies here and where did you get your inspiration from?
For me that all started with the famous Brazilian/German architect Oscar Niemeyer speaking about the City Beautiful movement, Brasilia and how architecture is such a beautiful problem. I thought that yeah, content management is actually also a beautiful problem. Why? Because both city planning and CMS planning has to deal with unknown future use. There is no way you can know what a city will be used for. You just have to do what you can to achieve great livability in the city. The same goes for the CMS.
After that I started viewing endless hours of master planning lectures by Rem Koolhaas, Bjarke Ingels and a bunch of others. The more I learned about it, the more I saw that urban planning and CMS planning share the same problems about compartmentalization, transport-led development, livability, inclusiveness, privacy, public space – and how big features cast shadows on smaller elements close to the big ones.
It got me thinking that I should focus on doing User Experience infrastructure – instead of being too insane about details and very specific functionality. Neos is structured so that many different things can traverse through the interfaces. They are quite generic. It's actually the exact opposite of what guys like 6Wunderkinder are doing with Wunderlist. Of course I also obsess over details in Neos – but compared to the master plan of Neos, details are less important.
Design and User eXperience are very much tied to the times we live in. In what way did you take changes, in the way people perceive this in the future, into account with the design of TYPO3 Neos?
This goes back to doing a UX framework instead of doing a long series of very specific screen designs. Planning for change is just as important to UX as it is to development. I've been having endless discussions with Robert about planning for change. It's a very important concept. If we had not planned for everything to change, there would be no way we could have produced a revelant product today. We would have been stuck in the thinking from when the project began many years ago. Doing the Flow framework first has turned out to be the wisest decision. I'm merely trying to copy what Robert and Karsten have done in the development side and get framework-thinking into UX and UI.
How would you define the position of the products we have now in the TYPO3 project and it's relationship towards the TYPO3 community
To me, the TYPO3 community is a quite wonderful phenomenon. I think at its core lies the typic values in open source that excellence and quality are the top priority. Since there is no single power entity that decides what should happen, we constantly argue over how to achieve higher quality. I love that.
As I see things, all three TYPO3 projects have endless possibilities ahead. I don't see any end date for either of the three. Personally, I hope that TYPO3 CMS can now be set more free to go into a completely other direction than Neos – with another focus. Obviously, we need to make it easy for clients to import content – but we shouldn't end up with 2 CMSs that are too similar. There are endless paths to take for TYPO3 CMS now that Neos 1.0 is launched. I think, it's a very creative field for the people in the community that are involved on the TYPO3 CMS team. I would love to see the TYPO3 community building and maintaining 2 different CMSs that cover different needs. That is totally possible – it's all a matter of motivation and about really strong collaboration. What I find most important for all three products is that their future development must rely on very strong collaboration between developers, UXers, designers, business people and content strategists. Neither developers or UXers or business people should decide on the product visions. It has to be done by people in collaboration – and by people who really love to work together.
Robert Lemke has been in the TYPO3 community like forever, also as a member of the steering committee we used to have back then. Robert worked together with Kasper quite intensively. Together they created the basis for the TemplaVoila , a revolutionary templating engine for TYPO3 that provides point-and-click mapping interface to connect template parts to the content areas in TYPO3. Robert initiated work on Flow and Neos and has been working on the realization of the TYPO3 project's next generation CMS since 2006 together with Karsten Damblekans. Both are employed by <link http: www.techdivision.de>TechDivision currently.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I started programming at age 11 and sold my first software when I was in 9th grade. I really love this notion of programming to create something out of pure imagination and thoughts which can potentially be useful for many. But because I loved developing software so much, I was afraid of to spoil my enthusiasm by choosing it as a profession. So eventually I decided to learn something „real”, was trained as a Media Designer and worked for 7 years in total at a large TV service provider. As exciting it is to work „for the TV”, I ended up working with computers anyway and the lack of freedom to shape my work eventually led to me leaving the company and studying Applied Cultural Studies out of the deep desire to concern myself deeply with a subject.
Through a coincidence I stumbled over the first freshly released version of TYPO3 and started using it for my own website. After a couple of projects for real customers I decided to concentrate fully on TYPO3 and leave university for it (I already got to know my later wife there and concluded that one person who finished her studies was enough for one household).
In 2006 I started what today has become TYPO3 Flow and TYPO3 Neos. Working for all these years, with dedication and passion on an application framework and content management system, I have developed a special sense of quality. I also love communicating with real people (despite what you might expect from a stereotypical coder) and that’s why I love all these conferences, sprints and other events - there’s some magic energy which fuels you up and leaves you tired at the same time
Curiosity is deeply rooted in my personality and I’m probably interested in way too many topics, considering that I’m far from being a professional in all of them. I love topics like branding, design, video and audio production and gear, hosting, project management and even bookkeeping.
What keeps me grounded though is my wife, my two daughters, my friends. And if I take the time, some drumming on my set right across my desk in my home office.
How do you feel? How do you experience This Day in TYPO3 (December 10, 2013)?
The whole day has been completely unreal. The whole team was so deeply consumed by fixing last minute issues, launching the new website and preparing the demo that we hardly realised how unique this day is. It’s a bit like on your own wedding where you are busy thinking about the caterer or if your friends planned too many surprise acts. But when we finally tagged Neos 1.0, the realisation came and all of us where staring at or hugging each other with a look of plain disbelief.
I am so proud and thankful that the Neos team became what it is, a group of people with different skills, personalities and attitudes based on common values and great responsibility. I love these guys and if something would have kept us from creating or releasing Neos, we would have found something else to work on together.
The road to Neos has been a bumpy one to say the least. I integrate failure as a topic in my presentations and as a matter of fact the name TYPO3 is also connected to failing and building a better foundation on that failure. What did the failures in the project deliver?
There’s no learning without failures, so the question is not to avoid failures but how to approach them and make sure you do learn from them. Something which completely caught me off-guard was the political aspect and communication of such a project. When we founded the TYPO3 Association, it really took a while until we realized that we now entered the field of politics. We naively thought that good intentions would be sufficient and underestimated what it takes to transport the vision and intentions.
I don’t like politics very much but I had to learn that it’s important to scan emails and articles for possible ambiguity and letting them be reviewed by friends or colleagues before I send or publish them. In face to face communication I hardly ever had a problem explaining my point of view, but communicating with a general public is different. You have to accept that people will attack you personally because they might have had a bad day, disagree or simply their experience or point of view doesn’t match with yours. Since we have a solid foundation now - in terms of team, values and the product - I can accept even emotional criticism much better than before because it doesn’t put everything in question.
You and Karsten are working for Techdivision now and implement Neos to production environments. How do customers experience Neos now and what do you see is the biggest challenge now in regards to customer experience or as a Neos experience as a whole?
Having TechDivision as a home base was really helpful, because we knew that we could „do it properly” and get the necessary time to implement missing features and fixes for Neos. On the other hand, working on the two websites for American Express was a major challenge, also considering the short time frame we had: we started with groundwork for Neos core in September and with the actual website implementation in October – launch date of <link http: www.centurion-magazine.com>centurion-magazine.com was November 18th.
But this intensive time was all worth it, we got insanely positive feedback from editors who work with Neos which even made them forget stability problems and glitches the site had before the launch. If you don’t count in the time we spent with enhancing Neos, these sites took a really short time to develop. I so glad and honestly surprised how well TypoScript, the Node Types concept and Fluid play together and allowed us to create new content types on call. Despite the search functionality and <link http: www.elasticsearch.org>Elastic Search integration, both websites are running on an unmodified Neos 1.0 - no custom plugins!
In total the customer was really happy with what we created and we are talking about future projects. And of course many more companies are now interest in Neos, too
What is your vision on the TYPO3 project and especially the relationship to the TYPO3 community?
The TYPO3 community is like a big family - there are friendships but also the occasional fights, there are people you like and others who’d rather go into a different direction. Diversity is important and at the same time we need (and have) values which unite us. Unlike in a family, new members join the community and others leave. And you can, if needed, ask someone to leave for the community’s peace and his own sake. What’s really important for a project as big as TYPO3 is a community manager which weaves the communication channels between teams and keeps an eye on the community’s health. You can’t overvalue that effort and I’m glad you’re doing that job.
My feeling is that the TYPO3 communities gained new energy through all the initiatives individual people took. There are so many great people who take the courage to just fix something or create something new, even if they are unsure of their own capabilities. And with that I’m not just referring to code: Tymoteusz Motylewski just pushed enough to make a TYPO3 conference in Poland happen or Daniel Homorodean who passionately toured from event to event to promote TYPO3 Eastern Europe. The concept of „self-igniting fireworks”, a term Kasper coined in the beginning, is still valid and helps us to stay in motion.
What I hope for is that we can recollect on the reason why are actually part of this community. Everyone’s motivation for that will be slightly different and very personal. But in the end this project is much broader than a group of people working on products because they need it in their jobs. I think that if we can establish more trust and respect in our community, we’ll solve many problems which are hard to tackle on its own.