TYPO3 Talk with Marc Willmann: Leader of TYPO3 Education Committee

TYPO3 Talk with Marc Willmann: Leader of TYPO3 Education Committee

Welcome to the TYPO3 Interview Series - 12!

This time we're honoured with interview of Marc Willmann, Head of TYPO3 Development at F7 Media GmbH in Hamburg and also Leader of the TYPO3 Education Committee. Of course, he is also certified as TYPO3 CMS Certified Integrator (TCCI), Developer (TCCD) and Consultant (TCCC).

This is an interesting TYPO3 talk, grab the cup of coffee to explore Marc's insights about his views, history and potential of TYPO3 and open-source community, and how we can build a better TYPO3 Eco-system together!

Let’s explore his journey with TYPO3, and a lot more!

  • Interviewee : Marc Willmann
  • Company : F7 Media GmbH
  • Designation : TYPO3 Education Committee - Leader
  • Topic : Together Building a Better TYPO3 Eco-system
Q1
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Hey Marc, Tell us something about yourself to our audience.

I am 44 years old, married and have a son. I was born and raised near Stuttgart, but have now lived in northern Germany for more than half of my life and have made myself at home here. I am interested in everything to do with technology and enjoy travelling the world with my family.

Q2
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First question, How did you initially get involved with TYPO3?

I first became aware of TYPO3 around 2002 when I was working with content management systems at university. The basic concept of how pages can be structured and content maintained excited me from the start and still does today. A short time later, I also started to implement professional websites with TYPO3 and offer this as a service.

Q3
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How do you contribute to TYPO3? How does your company encourage open source business practices?

In different ways. I have been a member of the TYPO3 Education Committee since 2015 and have been chairing it since 2017. In the Education Committee, we are responsible for the further development of TYPO3 certifications and try to make it easier for new users to enter the TYPO3 world.

As developers, it is of course also fun to provide patches and thus contribute to the project.

I work in Hamburg at F7 Media GmbH. We live the open source idea there. Most of the time I spend on the TYPO3 community is normal working time for me. I am very grateful for that. My employer has realised that this investment also pays off for him - because our employees are always up to date, well networked in the community and we also understand the project in depth. Our clients also appreciate this and benefit from our expertise.

Q4
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As a TYPO3 Professional, What was your biggest challenge to building your TYPO3 business? Do you have any special tips & tricks for TYPO3 business people?

To be honest, I did not find this particularly problematic. I had previously worked as a start-up in the medical technology industry, which was much more difficult.

My TYPO3 services were more and more in demand and I was also very quickly recommended to others. The big TYPO3 projects then came on their own. Even though the TYPO3 agencies are of course in competition with each other, from my point of view it's not a fight but a constructive cooperation - even if you lose an order to another agency or take over a project from there.

You can quickly be sidelined in the TYPO3 community if you behave unfairly: my advice to all newcomers to this world is therefore: treat your clients and competitors correctly, you always see each other several times in life. It's worth its weight in gold to be able to ask for advice and get tips outside your own company when problems and hurdles arise. And of course: Be active in the community, no matter what.

Q5
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Over the years, the TYPO3 open source ecosystem has evolved. When you look back, Are you surprised or feel lucky with the overall success of TYPO3? Where do you see it going in the future?

I am very happy with the path TYPO3 has taken. Especially in the very difficult time for the community between TYPO3 4 and 6, a lot has changed for the better. Cleaning up the old code base was a huge task, but it was worth it. With each major release, TYPO3 has become faster and more reliable.

As part of the Education Committee, I see that getting started with TYPO3 can be very difficult; the learning curve at the beginning is very high.

But along with that, I also notice that the level of professionalisation in the TYPO3 environment is higher than with other systems.

Q6
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TYPO3 is 20+ years old OpenSource CMS, Although we have very little CMS Marketshare. eg., At present, TYPO3 0.6%, WordPress 63.6%. In your personal opinion, What do you think about what we majorly missed in the TYPO3 journey?

From a technical point of view, I am very satisfied with TYPO3. The system is often said to be difficult to use: to be honest, no one said that after a training course I conducted - but here we developers and agencies have a duty to create an easy-to-use interface for editors. TYPO3 offers the best prerequisites for this.

The fact that TYPO3 relies internally on standard libraries for standard functions helps us to get more developers faster. And the more TYPO3 becomes known outside Central Europe, the easier it will be for us to increase our market share. One simple thing can help us do that: Whenever someone writes a blog post about TYPO3, please provide an English version of it. This is very easy, even if someone is not a native speaker, and it helps the project a lot to get noticed beyond Central Europe.

From my point of view, however, we don't necessarily have to compete with WordPress or the like with TYPO3: TYPO3 has a very stable market, with customers who are very focused on quality and are willing to pay for it. This cannot be compared to a WordPress blog with a standard template.

Q7
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Unlike other CMS' where do you think the TYPO3 opensource ecosystem lags behind?

In some areas, you can still tell that TYPO3 was developed by technicians. Here, too, much has improved in the last versions. The problem is that a system seems totally logical when you've been working with it for 15 years. We need new people in the community to make suggestions for improvements and to draw our attention to inconsistencies or an approach that is too technical.

I have had the situation where new editors timidly asked a question in training sessions and I then realised that the function was too hidden or misleading. Fortunately, the patch is then often quickly created and the editors are happy when they are listened to and could even contribute to improving the product.

Q8
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What do you think of the global expansion of TYPO3? What do you feel the TYPO3 OpenSource Eco-system needs most?

It must become a matter of course to communicate in English on TYPO3 events - the same applies to instructions, blog posts and much more.

At the moment, too much is still done in German; this excludes many interested and interesting people who could help to drive the project forward.

Q9
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TYPO3 is built on PHP. PHP was established and it’s easy to understand. There was a huge community for PHP already. How important was that “TYPO3 was powered by PHP” for its popularity?

The question is difficult to answer. As a developer, I would say: if someone can programme, he can do it with any language.

I would still say that PHP was the right choice, if only because all web hosting offers support PHP. Hosting other languages is often more expensive and more difficult to implement, especially for newcomers.

Q10
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There are extensions, multilingual, multisite enterprise CMS, ease of use, among all these, what attributes for the TYPO3 success?

You can't separate it - all these characteristics make TYPO3 and lead to success. There is probably no site that really uses all the features of TYPO3. TYPO3 is incredibly flexible and powerful due to these features and, of course, especially due to the successful extension integration.

Q11
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Who is your open source mentor/hero? Can you name some people (at least 5) whom you follow to get knowledge and updates of the TYPO3?

I'm not sure hero is the right term. When Benni Mack or Christian Kuhn give a talk or publish a blog post, you can actually always learn something - even if you yourself have been familiar with the system for many years. The same applies to the extensions by Georg Ringer (e.g. news), who has implemented an insane number of great things very cleanly and close to the core. Susi Moog always has great ideas on how to make life easier for developers and write clean code. I also enjoy reading Daniel Siepmann's blog.

Q12
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What are some places, blogs, and online communities you would recommend to our readers that you think are the best places to get help about TYPO3?

First, of course, there is Slack. Here you can quickly get in touch and get ideas for concrete problems. Unfortunately, Slack is too often used as a support forum. That's a pity because the questions that have already been answered are very quickly out of focus there. Such questions are much better off on StackOverflow.

In the case of blog posts, I would like to see all the solutions described provided with a TYPO3 version; newcomers often despair of a solution described because it does not match the version they are using.

Q13
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Do you think TYPO3 still needs more active contributors? Especially in awareness, branding, and marketing.

I think TYPO3 is well positioned. But you can't have too many active contributors. It is good to see that the further development of TYPO3 does not depend on just one person, as is unfortunately often the case in other OpenSource projects. But every extra shoulder helps to build a better product.

In this context, it is important for me to make it clear: Everyone can help. Of course, we are happy to have good developers with great ideas and the skills to implement them. But other help is also very valuable: when someone writes a good bug report, has ideas for improvement, writes instructions or much more.

 

Q14
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Last but not least, Apart from TYPO3, What're the things you love to do?

I like spending time with my family, playing board games. I also usually like to travel the world and meet friends - and look forward to when Corona allows me to do so again.

Many thanks Marc for taking the efforts and time to conduct these interviews and sharing your views with insights. 

If you too want to share your views regarding the TYPO3 Eco-system, you are more than welcome. Feel free to reach us or drop us a message in the comment section below.
 
Also, thanks to all Post Status readers, we will see you at the next interview. Till then stay tuned for next exciting T3Interview :)

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