TYPO3 Talk with Ric, Ex vice-president of the TYPO3 Association

TYPO3 Talk with Ric, Ex vice-president of the TYPO3 Association

Welcome to the TYPO3 Interview Series - 11!

This time we're honoured with interview of Ric van Westhreenen, member of the Supervisory Board of the TYPO3 GmbH and a serial entrepreneur under the label Accans BV, and for the last four years interim Product Owner Digital Workplace at T-Mobile The Netherlands.

Grab a cup of coffee and read the interesting article where Ric shares his 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!

TYPO3 Talk with Ric
  • Interviewee : Ric van Westhreenen
  • Company : Accans BV & T-Mobile
  • Designation : Owner
  • Topic : Together Building a Better TYPO3 Eco-system
Q1
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Hey Ric, Tell something about yourself to our audience.

TYPO3 Talk with Ric

I’m a serial entrepreneur working on digital transformation and digitization. I’m living in the southern part of the Netherlands, with my family and our black cat. 
Next to that I’m responsible for the TYPO3 trademark, globally and member of the supervisory board of the TYPO3 GmbH.

I have a strong opinion on how people want to work, where they want to work, and how companies can deliver an excellent employee experience. On a regular basis I write articles around that subject on my website and on the Dutch magazine Management Tribune. In the last year, I have been driving how T-Mobile employees worked with digital tools, resulting in a satisfaction score of 80% this fall.

Last but not least, after being asked by the current Board of the TYPO3 Association to run again for a position, I will nominate myself for the upcoming year to have an active role again.

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

TYPO3 Talk with Ric

I think it was around 2003 or something, at that time I was one of the owners of a small internet agency, and we were struggling to find the right tool to create more advanced websites to fulfil the needs of our clients.
We started with some evaluation of proprietary software and open-source solutions. TYPO3 was eventually chosen, mainly because of the possibilities and flexibility of the system.

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

TYPO3 Talk with Ric

Until april 2020 I was vice-president of the TYPO3 Association, and I have been actively promoting the use of TYPO3 CMS by presenting the business value of the product at conferences and events. Next to that I have been in close contact with agencies to understand what their needs are and in some cases what they need to do to arrange for instance budget requests. 

I’m also the host of several TYPO3 LinkedIn groups, like TYPO3 Professionals Worldwide. 

One of my tasks is still handling all TYPO3 trademark matters. Things like maintaining the trademark registrations, or working together with our trademark lawyer on trademark cases regarding infringements. Next to that, I am also part of the Supervisory Board of the TYPO3 GmbH. That way I’m helping the company prosper in a way that benefits the whole community.
With regards to my encouragement of open source, I always value the fact that it is a possible solution for my daily work.
When working as a digital transformation and digitization consultant, I always consider open-source software as a viable option to create more value for the customer.

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?

TYPO3 Talk with Ric

I read an interview this weekend with Derek Roos, one of the founders of Mendix. Mendix is a software company that has been sold to Siemens. When Derek was younger, he worked for a small software agency as a sales professional. One of his reasons to start Mendix and create the solution that Mendix offers is that at that time he was the one talking with the customer, and translating their wishes to the developers. Each time the developers created something, his clients were surprised that it was something completely different than they expected.

I recognize that. It has always been one of the hardest parts to first of all translate the ideas and wishes of the customer into something we could build. And also, quoting it for the right and acceptable price.

With the arrival of agile methodologies, like the Scrum framework, I was able to solve some of those challenges, but new ones popped up. For instance, how can you convince the customer to buy sprints instead of a finished product?

If I look at what is important, my advice would be to focus on quality. The TYPO3 CMS is a product that can only be seen as one of the most quality-driven products within the CMS market. As a TYPO3 professional, it is better to refuse a project, than to ignore quality.

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?

TYPO3 Talk with Ric

It definitely evolved. I can mainly look at it from a business owners perspective. It has evolved from a mere technical tool to a more user friendly tool. It’s still not there where it should be. Technically it is still very advanced, but that’s not always what the customer requests.

I think it has been a good step from the Association to set up the TYPO3 GmbH. I see the role of the Gmbh as a partner for the agencies becoming more important and to help them in reaching more clients and larger projects.

Q6
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Can you give us a sneak peek of TYPO3's future visions?

TYPO3 Talk with Ric

At the Supervisory Board we have many interesting talks regarding future strategies for the company, and the way the Association and community are collaborating. 

With the current pandemic, we proved to be an agile company and organization to change. In our future visions we will use that experience to improve the product and the offered solutions.

Q7
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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?

TYPO3 Talk with Ric

80% of all websites are varying from personal, hobby, or small and medium-sized companies. TYPO3 CMS is not the best choice for those sites. With TYPO3 CMS we have chosen the path of offering an enterprise-level solution that is a stable application that can run in complex situations.
Looking at WordPress, it’s easy to set up, average complex to maintain, but difficult to optimize for complex situations.

Q8
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Unlike other CMS' where do you think the TYPO3 opensource ecosystem lags behind?

TYPO3 Talk with Ric

We lag in marketing at the enterprise level and offer a level of guarantees to enterprises who simply need a solution that is chosen by the international consultancy agencies like Gartner, Enterprise organizations not only look at the quality of the software, but simply the fact that applications are on someones shortlist.

Q9
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For people, it’s challenging to understand the philosophy of OpenSource and Business together. What’s your opinion on making a successful OpenSource Eco-system by maintaining the ethics of OpenSource?

TYPO3 Talk with Ric

It’s simply a matter of looking at how you want to earn your money. Selling licenses or subscriptions is easy. If your customer base grows with 20% each year, you know exactly what your profit is.

With open source, you do not have the possibility to sell licenses.But, you can see that many agencies who stay true to their ethics and offer a solid and quality driven solution, thrive.

Q10
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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?

TYPO3 Talk with Ric

Three things:

  • More easy entry into educational material in English
  • More localized marketing spearheaded by the local agencies
  • An even stronger position of the TYPO3 GmbH as party who can give assurances to companies
Q11
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As we are managing T3Terminal, TYPO3 Marketplace, What do you think about the T3Terminal.com? What are some key factors & characteristics that would attract you?

TYPO3 Talk with Ric

First of all, any marketplace helps grow market share. So the initiative T3Terminal is excellent. Many of you probably know about the successful marketplaces like Themeforest and Templatemonster. Those two marketplaces have been a large contributor to the success of solutions like Wordpress. 

Building a site starts with selecting the tool (a CMS), a design and some functionality. TYPO3 has the label of a difficult to develop CMS. If you take out that complexity by providing templates for instance, you lower the barrier for agencies to start with TYPO3 and also, you create the possibility that people are quicker in picking up TYPO3. And that will foster the growth of users worldwide. (combined of course with more documentation and the new book).

With marketplaces providing ready to use material, we target the market for DIY and agencies building small sites. That is a market that is also targeted by Wordpress and to a lesser degree WIXX and the likes. That is a market where revenu is low and profit thin. As such the business model is focussed on quantity. So, if standard components built with quality can help agencies in that part of the market, it sure helps.

Q12
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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?

TYPO3 Talk with Ric

It helped when TYPO3 wasn’t a big brand by itself. For the end user or company choosing a CMS solution, it’s not always that important to know in what language it is developed. In most RfP’s where I was involved in, it was never an important criterion to select the solution.

Q13
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There are extensions, multilingual, multisite enterprise CMS, ease of use, among all these, what attributes for the TYPO3 success?

TYPO3 Talk with Ric

ELTS by far, multisite and the consistency of the backend even when you install an extension.

Q14
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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?

TYPO3 Talk with Ric

I don’t have anyone specific. If I name some people, I know that I forget to mention someone else. I can only say that it’s easier than ever to reach out to open source heroes, and if you have something interesting to ask them. Simply do it. I have asked several open source leaders in the past (even recently) about their products, and I always got a straightforward answer. 

So, who is the hero? It’s any open source community!

Q15
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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?

TYPO3 Talk with Ric

Our Slack channels. Our new book ‘The TYPO3 Guidebook (typo3book.com)’ and all our events (online and when possible IRL)

Q16
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Would you suggest some ideas on how TYPO3 could be expanded globally?

TYPO3 Talk with Ric

If you have a great idea, submit it when the Association introduces the budget request round.

Q17
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Do you think TYPO3 still needs more active contributors? Especially in awareness, branding, and marketing.

TYPO3 Talk with Ric

I rather see some more active contributions of native English speakers on documentation.

Q18
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Besides TYPO3, what's your favorite open source CMS/Tool?

TYPO3 Talk with Ric

NextCloud. I have introduced NextCloud at one of my customers, and it’s one of the most versatile and stable solutions for file-collaboration. And yes, it can fully compete with OneDrive.

Q19
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Last but not least, Apart from TYPO3, What're the things you love to do?

TYPO3 Talk with Ric

Like many more in the community: BBQ with a nice piece of meat. Watch a good movie with friends. Going to restaurants.

Many thanks Ric 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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Comments :

  • Theodor February 12, 2021 At 12:29 pm
    Interesting conversation. I love Ric's strategies, plans, and visions for TYPO3.
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