It’s been a hectic six months for the Joomla
open-source CMS since its split from the Mambo project, but an
even busier six weeks lie ahead.

Next week Joomla will make its debut at LinuxWorld Expo in
Boston, with the milestone Joomla 1.1 release due towards the end
of April.

It all means that Joomla chief Andrew Eddie will find little
time to enjoy the sunshine at his home town in
Toowoomba, Queensland.

As project director for Joomla, Eddie oversees the “core team”
which is the driving force behind the Joomla engine. For an
industry that remains decidedly United States-centric, the
22-strong team includes only four stateside programmers, which is
equal to the number from Eddie’s home country of Australia.

“Yeah, it’s always nice to find other Aussies,” Eddie
acknowledges with a chuckle. “A lot of Australian regional
councils have picked up Mambo, and this might have an influence
in developers popping their heads up. But right around the world,
people just come out of the woodwork.”

While Eddie is well aware of the “tall poppy syndrome” where
narrow-minded Australians too often delight in cutting down their
outstanding peers, he says: “I look out for the tall poppies in
the forums. We try to poach a lot of the people in the community
as they rise above the rest of the people on the forums. You see
this guy or girl has been around for a while, they’re helping
above and beyond the call and have a skill set we need, so we’ll
ask them on [the core team].”

More than half the core team hails from Europe, which Eddie
describes as “very strong in open source. I think South America
and Antarctica are the only two continents that aren’t
represented on the core team.”

Making jam from Joomla
Having become involved in open-source CMS while doing
development work with Toowoomba Council, Eddie is today a
director of JamboWorks, a company he founded with fellow Joomla
core team member Mitch Pirtle. He describes the work of
JamboWorks (the name indicates the common codebase shared by
Joomla and Mambo) as “consulting on Joomla development, working
on commercial sites and components, ad hoc performance tuning and
so forth.”

Eddie is the first to admit that “it may seem strange having
commercial and open source in the same melting pot” but believes
the result is a healthy “symbiotic relationship”.

“There are times when we’ll do something for a client and then
we’ll think ‘Hey, that’s really cool’ and we’ll build that into
the core. It also gives more credibility to the project in the
commercial sector who are thinking of adopting Joomla but
wondering ‘Who do I call?’.

“The more of these small to medium sized shops are around, the
more credibility it gives the project, and the more business
there is behind Joomla the more popular it will become.”

The jump to Joomla
Gaining that momentum is key to Joomla’s success following its
split from Mambo in August 2005 after a series of disputes over
open source principles. Eddie believes that many users are still
not confident enough in either platform to make the necessary
commitment, despite the fact that most of the Mambo team moved
across to Joomla.

“Everyone responsible for the project left, all the main third
party developers walked, a heap of the community walked. But
there are still people sitting on the fence waiting to see where
they should invest their resources in either Joomla or Mambo. The
next version of each application will be one of the defining
moments when people get off that fence.”

In fact, as each platform continues to evolve, users and
developers will be forced to declare their colours.

While the common codebase of Joomla 1.0 and Mambo 4.5.2
provides a degree of cross-platform compatibility, the divergent
Joomla is increasingly marching to the beat of its own drum.

“Anything that worked on Mambo 4.5.2 has a chance of working
on Joomla 1.0,” states Eddie, “but with each patch and point
release the compatibility dwindles. There are also some goodies
in Joomla’s API that are exclusive to Joomla. If you’ve got
people who know Joomla well and are building to all its features,
there’s no backward compatibility.”

This will be most pronounced with Joomla 1.1, in which the
framework has been overhauled and the API moved to “a more
object-orientated approach,” according to Eddie.

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