You, me, and TYPO3 … with Oli Bartsch

You, me, and TYPO3! is a fresh take on young people that make our TYPO3 community so unique. I want to put the spotlight on the humans behind the computers, and, as we say in the TYPO3 community, inspire people to share—share their stories.

Today, I'm talking with Oli Bartsch—TYPO3 / PHP developer from schoene neue kinder in Munich who I've met at various TYPO3 events, and I think you’ll enjoy reading what he’s been up to!

How did you get in touch with TYPO3?

When I started using TYPO3, I was a trainee for applied computer sciences, and the company I worked for was focussing on TYPO3 and WordPress. You know, back then I started by installing TYPO3 extensions from TER (TYPO3 Extension Repository), and I modified some Fluid templates if the client wanted to have some icons in the footer of a website.

But once I changed my job, moving to my current employer, I had a huge learning curve. I needed to really understand TYPO3 internals and start doing TYPO3 professionally. My team, which consists of 20 people in total, was responsible for everything TYPO3-related in our company. And there were people who knew the system by heart for about 10-15 years already. From 2017 to 2018, I learned so much that by the end of 2018 I started contributing my first patches to the TYPO3 Core.

At the beginning of my TYPO3 journey I struggled to understand the basics of TYPO3. For example, I did not get the difference between an extension and a plugin, but nowadays it’s clear that an extension can have multiple plugins. But these small parts helped me to understand so many extensions out there in the wild.

What does your average day look like with TYPO3?

At my current job I focus on two larger projects where I’m the technical TYPO3 lead. So, I’m doing a lot of code reviews of the work of others, but also I’m integrating APIs into TYPO3 - for instance with a PSR-15 middleware. I really love that feature in TYPO3 v9. This is really great for integrating TYPO3 with other systems.

But at the same time, I am advising the project managers in our company how to approach customer requests and transfer them into a technical specification for our developers.

Who was or still is the most important person when getting going with TYPO3?

Jens Ulrich — my colleague who explained most of the concepts in TYPO3 to me. He does not know the answer to everything, but he always had the right pointers for me. From there I start to look around, check out the TYPO3 documentation or read TYPO3’s Core source code and I usually find a good solution.

In our company, we have recently established an internal bi-weekly TYPO3 meeting for our developer team to share the latest changes in TYPO3, and to help each other point out things how to solve things the TYPO3 Core way.

Nowadays, I usually start to look in TYPO3’s source code and I look at how Core solves the issues I have to tackle myself. This gives me good pointers.

What can you do with PHP that you love and stick to it instead of any other programming language?

I know my way around PHP so I can get the job done quickly. I really enjoy the new functionality in PHP to have type-safety since PHP 7. This helps me make fewer mistakes. I’m also looking forward to PHP 7.4 and PHP 8 where this improves even more.

But PHP can be written both in a good and a bad way. I’m really happy with how TYPO3 provides a good framework for me to fulfill the technical requests of our clients. You’re already starting with object-oriented development and a useful architecture for an extension or plugin—this is a huge improvement over other content management systems.

The HTTP concepts of Request/Response with PSR-7 make it really easy to develop PHP on the server-side nowadays, I really like that.

What was your most recent "Aha moment" with TYPO3?

Ha, this happens to me all the time! I learn every day. In the last few months I finally understood the “FormDataProvider” concept in TYPO3’s FormEngine. Once you understand how to hook into this process, you can extend FormEngine very comfortably with your own fields and providers - making life easier for the editors of custom extensions.

Also, there is a filter functionality for the Element Browser in group TCA (Table Configuration Array) fields. I didn’t know that existed - really cool! This is similar to the Suggest Wizard, but the Element Browser can be filtered as well.

One other thing I started to enjoy is TypoScript. When I started my job in my current company, everything was done with Fluid and with Plugins—even for simple content elements. But the more I understand TypoScript, the more I enjoy doing things in TypoScript and DataProcessors to send preprocessed data to the View.

I remember back then, Benni, when you said to me: “It took me three years to understand TypoScript. And once I read the source code, I completely understood the concepts. A new world opened up, and I had this Aha moment about why the documentation was written in this specific certain way by Kasper”. I really appreciate this input, as I’m understanding TypoScript more and more as well.

What do you enjoy most about the TYPO3 community?

One thing I really can’t get enough is the fact that you work with sooo many people on one single project. You learn from each other’s opinions and share your concerns and ideas. That motivates me and also improves my view on various aspects of TYPO3.

On top, I really like that warm and fuzzy feeling on a personal level when talking to people within the TYPO3 community—like chatting with Oliver Hader at TYPO3 Camp Munich and meeting him randomly again at the Munich train station by coincidence! I’m looking forward to seeing TYPO3 members again at the next TYPO3 event.

What was your main reason that you started contributing to TYPO3?

I started back in 2018 to contribute code to the TYPO3 Core. I saw things that were buggy, but I liked the fact that I could fix them myself! I keep contributing - because there are a lot of people who just complain, and you can make a difference with small changes. Instead of waiting for others to make bigger changes, I like the small details - like a smoother module menu in TYPO3 v10. 

Stay positive and be part of the change, no matter how slowly TYPO3 evolves from the outside.

What TYPO3 events do you usually show up to?

My number one event of the year is the TYPO3 Developer Days, that’s a no-brainer.

I’m also at TYPO3 Camp in Munich. I’ve never gotten around to attend the TYPO3 User Group Munich, because I have a soccer team training on Tuesdays. Now that Corona is stopping all sports events, I want to join the User Group Munich, which will happen remotely.

Follow Oli on Twitter

What do you do besides TYPO3 in your life?

Next to soccer, as mentioned, I also like playing darts. And I’m into sports cars, I’ve had a thing for cars since I was a teenager. This is actually one of the benefits of living in a small suburb, and not in the city: You can get in your car and cruise around the Bavarian countryside.

What's the one thing you miss or want to do about TYPO3 in the future?

Personally—from a technical side—I would really like to dive even deeper into TYPO3 development, and to be part of a bigger feature that gets into the TYPO3 Core, by taking action and responsibility for a significant change of a new feature.

For gadgets, I enjoyed this TYPO3 Lego person I saw at a TYPO3 Camp. But one thing that is truly missing: The official TYPO3 Beer.

This interview was taken by Benni Mack, TYPO3 Project Lead, in April 2020.