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ImpressCMS Contributors - Retrospect Part 9

Published by [CMS]Stefan on 2013/4/21 (1094 reads)

In this series of articles, we take you back to how it all started for ImpressCMS.

We do this in a series of interviews with our early contributors. This series of interviews marks the 5th anniversary of ImpressCMS.

Our next contributor's interview is with David Janssens. Three and a half years ago, he was looking at creating a site to act as a public 3D model exchange site and got introduced to ImpressCMS by Marc-André.

How did you get involved with ImpressCMS?

David @ CMS Expo 2012

It was 3,5 years ago when I wanted to setup a site to act as a public 3D model exchange site for an open source tool called Blender. I really wanted to have OpenID login on my site.

At that time OpenID was still full of promise of becoming the single sign-on solution everybody would use. I was using Xoops at the time for the sites I constructed, but Xoops development had stalled a bit, and OpenID integration needed some hacking in the core, which I wasn't comfortable with.

I blogged about it, and in a comment on that blog post, Marc-André introduced me to ImpressCMS. I took a look, tried it out and a few weeks later I asked to join the core team to start contributing.

What where your goals and ambitions when you started getting involved?

I needed content management system that was easy to setup, easy to administer and easy to extend. Being a fork of Xoops, I already knew that these would be covered by ImpressCMS. Development was going at breakneck speed at that time, adding many features in a very short time. My goals at the beginning were to be part of a community with the common goal of creating an enhancing a very nice content management system.

Do you still use the tools?

As part of the core team, I use the tools everyday. Some days, I just fiddle with test environments to verify some code changes, other days I work on sites for others. This isn't the major part of my day job at the moment, but lately I've been looking at opportunities of focusing more on web project management and making it more official.

In which direction do you see the community evolve?

The project has gone through a rough time during the protracted development cycle of ImpressCMS 1.3. We lost the lead developer (Marc-André) after a few months in the development process because running his company left not enough time to dedicate to ImpressCMS. Also, ImpressCMS 1.3 wasn't a 'sexy' release. It was a cleanup release, where major work was done under the hood to clean up fundamental parts of the codebase. To keep it manageable, we decided quite early in the development cycle that no new functionalities would be added.

So for a long time, the project was operating below the radar: no new features, a long time between announcements etc. We should have managed this better, making more releases, and dedicating as much time to explaining what we were doing, as doing the actual development. After the 1.3 release, I believe things have improved, even though we're not quite there yet. We had quarterly releases with new functionalities each time, and development is advancing, albeit slowly, on ImpressCMS 2.0.

We'll need to start working with time-based releases to keep interest and keep the new features getting in the hands of the users. We have the tendency to give in to feature creep if we plan our releases based on included features. We need to extend the group of active people in order to move things forward faster, and for that to happen we will need to reach out more, contact people and organise more online chats and webinars.

That isn't as easy as it sounds, as we have contributors on most continents, in many different time zones. Finding a time slot that suits most people is a constant challenge.

Any recommendations for the future?

Focus is the key. Be guided by the mission statement for ImpressCMS, and don't try to be everything. Drupal, Wordpress, Joomla have that covered. We should focus our efforts on the points where ImpressCMS stands out, and where we excel (security, powerful access management, speed, quite easy module development).

Don't re-invent the wheel. There are many great libraries, frameworks and web-based services out there of very high quality written by people that are experts in their domains. Think about HTMLPurifier, Google Analytics, Symfony 2, Laravel 4 among others. We should look more at integrating this code instead of wanting to write everything ourselves. Making it easy and straightforward to do this type of integration will be a reasonably small investment of time and effort, but with huge potential gains, higher quality code to build on, less time needed to get a feature out of the door, faster development cycles and fast integration of a huge array of specialised web-based services.

This will mean that we'll need to integrate with other communities and learn how they work, in order to use their work. Organization wise, we should communicate more often, both on the website, on social media, and in events (both self-organised online gatherings, and offline events). We are too much of a group of people working next to each other, doing some more direct contacts will get us to know each other better, and should speed up collaborations.

It's not such an easy undertaking, as we are very wide-spread geographically and timezone-wise, but I believe it should be feasible.


You can follow David via his profile at: ... p?uid=1102

Our previous interviews can be viewed at: ... egoryid=30

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