My journey to JoomlaDay Poland 2015
Dear friends, below you can become familiar with my report of JoomlaDay Poland that took place in Gdańsk at September of last year. I've prepared detailed report in Russian in January, but English version of this report came with a really huge delay, but I guess it’s better to late with the report, than to ignore, eh? :) So, let’s start.Gdańsk is known as a city with rich history that included to the UNESCO World Heritage List. Since I arrived in plenty of time, I could enjoy to the full aside from IT conference, but also atmosphere of the city itself. But first things first. Starting this report, I would like to tell a few words about Polish Joomla community and about the city. Further I shall come over to narrative of the event.
Joomla in Poland
The Joomla! CMS is represented differently in each country, starting from uncoordinated users who don not forming any unity and ending the powerful community whose representatives actively participate in platform development and organises thematic events on regular basis. Researching the dynamics of platform development is a riveting experience since under the pallid statistics you can discover a host of factors like economic numbers, IT trends, the usage of powerful marketing arms, competitions with another platforms, State support, popularity of the language and and a host of other things. For this reason Joomla is represented in some countries big-time. And now my turn came to get to know how things are going with Joomla in our neighbours.
Polish users could build a consolidated community with essential infrastructure: in most parts of Voivodeships (regions) you can find official Joomla User Groups that organises meetings time to time and once a year the most important event take a part - it is JoomlaDay. Besides, there is centralised portal and organisations which are responsible for organizational matters and for international contacts.
There are Joomla traineeships, seminars, publishing books and special hosting providers oriented on Joomla in the country. Moreover, the community is known by famous template and extensions providers as Gavick, Joomla Monster, DJ-Extensions whose names are recognised by many users.
I have to mention a friending and solidarity of Polish community which is this apparent from outside: there is a communication between different JUGs who give support to each other and work on platform development. For another thing Polish Joomla representatives communicate to their colleagues from another countries. I can say without any doubt that such community is a showcase of coordinated intercommunion and teamwork, volunteering and commitment to results. Eventually, Joomla take sound position in Poland just because of such approach.
Gdańsk is a city with almost thousand-year history and unique culture. Being located at intersection of trade routes, it was a place of concentration of artisans, merchants and scholars and was a part of Kingdom of Poland. It was turbulent times and Europe dip into desperate fights as between states, war unions as well as it was never-ending conflicts of feudal lords. After a series of conquests, the Teutonic Order solidified in the region. The city changed its name to Danzig.
It started to enlarge and grow rich with time and became a culture and business centre of the region. Later Danzig got more privileges and changed its state to a Free City of Danzig and joined the Hanseatic League (where Russian city Novgorod the Great was a part too) which provided great advantages in trade. Ethnic make-up diversified and Germans, Poles, Kashubs lived side by side in the city which was a part of different countries during the history: in some period it was merged to Prussia or became under Polish crown, but the city always kept its special status and could provide independent policy on many fronts and to be under the law of the state just nominally.
The dramatic events came thick and fast around the city in XX century. After the end of First World War Gdańsk became a part of Poland again. In 1939 Germany demanded Poland to return the city along with an extraterritorial highway to connect Germany with East Prussia. The refuse became a formal cause for aggression against Poland. In September the Wehrmacht military forces penetrated into Polish territory and the Second World War has began. During the liberation of the city by Soviet military forces, German forces offered hot and strong resistance. As a result the city sustained great damage during act of assault and after the bombardment. City historical centre was almost completely destroyed (until 80%) and some buildings were reconstructed just from post cards. Today the process or recovery is yet not completed, though the most part of reconstruction is finished.
But that's not all. The city left a fresh trace in the history and confirmed its status of a freedom-loving place. In the early 80s an independent labor union organisation called Solidarity was founded at one of dock yards, that laid the foundation of the fall of communistic regime in Poland and later in the rest part of East Europe.
Today Gdańsk is a cultural, scientific and economical centre at the North of Poland and together with Sopot and Gdynia towns forms an agglomeration called Trójmiasto (Tricity). The city attract tourists, and last but not least, from Russia. Hello to Kaliningrad region! (this is federal subject of Russia and an exclave in the west bordered by Poland and Lithuania). Furthermore, this is a hometown of legendary blackened death metal band called Behemoth where they live and do a spell which could not be ignored and caused my interest, but this is another story.
Now I entered upon Polish land.
I arrived to Gdańsk in the early morning after redeye trip from Berlin and was satisfied with beautiful views that opens to my eyes at the dawn - it is magical time when first sun's rays started to play with spires, weathercocks and magnificent buildings with skull caps and almost full lack of people added a sense of fairytale. Now I entered upon Polish land.
The bus station is located within walking distance to historical centre (Main Town) and since I have had enough time, I unhurriedly started to discover the city admiring the architectural buildings and enjoying the morning freshness.
Gradually, a sleepy town has awakening and started to fill with passers: townspeople hurried to work, the sound of church bells and here are sculptures who look down from the eternity at daily commotion. Walking down the streets, I have been approached to the hotel - my endpoint for now. A wonderful, aromatic scent of baking spreading from narrow cobble streets definitely tempted the appetite and increased my movement - I had to check-in at the hotel, leave the luggage behind and find signs titled as Kantor (currency exchange) that finally will let me to enjoy traditional cuisine and, of course, to taste a few glasses of beer and after some time, as much again since as is well-known, a measured beer drinking during a day won’t make you overcome with drink if its quality is good. What was performed with honour.
Well, I have a free day for walking and for sightseeing. I made two serious mistakes going to Europe: I forgot to install offline map app on my phone and bought new boots. In the first case I figured it is enough just to catch Wi-fi somewhere at the place and download Google map of a city to use it in offline mode. That was certainly naive - Google Maps loads the content dynamically and you need Internet connection all the time. However, mobile gadgets are something which I don’t like at all since it steal us from the reality and turns people into walking dead. So, live communication is much more better! In the later case new boots are no good for long trips and your walkings turns into nightmare.
Catching the moment, I decided to define the route and walk to Gdańsk Science and Technology Park where JoomlaDay will be held in one of the foundation tomorrow. I must say the distance for hiking was underestimated and taking into account new shoes this accelerated march became… memorable.
So, I came to the place of destination. A few words about the park: it is scientific and technological complex located at an immense park territory. The main direction of the researches leads in biotechnology, IT and power industry. There are over 100 companies and start ups within the complex whose activity is affiliated to innovations. The government pays a high attention on development of the scientific and technological potential and there is a base to support and to develop innovative and creative social and economical projects to provide all necessary conditions for intercommunion and to materialise ideas.
This centre is a real paradise for start ups since we are talking about a real park which territory partly is used for bulks. There is hard to find better place to organise IT events.
Time are passing by along toward evening and there is less that a day until JoomlaDay open its doors. I found organisers and after greetings I spent some time there. The work was humming - organisers have been occupied with event preparations. Here is the daylight faded and I started my way back to the centre to the hotel - it is better to have a rest beforehand since the next day is promised to be full of impressions.
The day first (business)
Upon arrival, I was passed registration where smiling ladies handled me a bag with gifts and the program brochure. JoomlaDay took 2 floors and look like a J and Beyond by its structure which was organised by the principle of rounded table: first floor was allocated for registration and there was hall full of sponsors’ banners, the conference hall for conducting keynotes and a large hall where it was easy to talk to people, drink a tea or coffee and make a new contacts. A dining area was near.
At second floor there was a terrace where it was possible to breath of fresh air.
Besides, it was so easy to relax at the sofa with notebook since fortunately a free wi-fi was available everywhere.
The following foreign guests have attended the event:
- Sarah Watz - OSM President, Sweden
- Soren Beck Jensen - Neno Translate / Joomla Component Creator developer, worldwide
- Yves Koekkoek - UX and usability specialist, France
- Olivier Nolbert - web developer, Octopoos representative, France
- Nicolas Claverie - Hikashop developer, France
- Adrien Baborier - AcyMailing developer, France
- Jan van Kuijk - web designer and SEO specialist, The Netherlands
- And my very self - project manager, Russia.
So, the event has started from complimentary speech by Stefan Wajda - Polish Joomla Community founder, PCJ foundation leader and JoomlaDay co-organiser. Since Joomla project have celebrated its 10 anniversary in 2015, the opening of the conference gradually turned into a “Joomla - 10 years together” report, within which Stefan told about Polish community achievements, noted people who contributed to the community and demonstrated on examples and infographics how does Joomla ideas and values were translated into reality and which influence does Joomla CMS have in Polish segment of Internet. When the keynote was over , it is time for thematically sessions which were held in 3 rooms in the same time. I have to note a stroke of genius: 3rd room was given to foreign guests where English was spoken. What JoomlaDay is and what is its difference with another events? It is just specifically local event oriented on the auditory who speak in official language of the country. In this case foreign guests make shift of talking to people in the sidelines and preparing own presentation or enjoy the interior (LOL). Most part of the program escape the attention of the person because of language barrier. Polish colleagues have solved this task effectively: all foreign guests were spoken in 3rd room, thereby there was no any discomfort because of language barrier - we got mini J and Beyond and on a high level. I personally was lost in admiration and even forgot this is national event. It looks like a typical international Joomla conference.
Each spokesperson have had a half of hour for presentation - that’s enough to cover a topic and do not bother to audience.
Well, the first presentation became “Translate your Joomla site with Neno Translate” by Soren Beck Jensen. Using this product you can quickly and effectively work with multilanguage content including auto translation feature. During his session, Soren demonstrated how to translate Joomla based site in another language using Neno Translate features.
Next spokesperson was Nicolas Claverie with his session called: “Easily Create a shop with Hikashop”. Nicolas introduced features of the component on the live example of creating e-commerce site during 5 minutes. Soon he told how to work with groups of price, how to add items and easily customise the template layout and also shown the principle of checkout. Hikashop has a good recognition in Russia and it’s time to introduce the Polish audience to this product (but maybe it is already got its popularity here too, I don’t know).
Essentially, such sessions are always useful since the market is overstocked and user could hear about some product name, but not sure is it worth to spend own time on its examination. Such presentations gives answers on most questions and illustrates significant benefits of the product and what exactly you can do with it on a tight schedule.
It is time for next session performed by your humble servant and is called “Effective team building for extension development”. During the scheduled time I told the benefits of teamwork, how to manage processes and assigning roles and tasks, how to control the processes of extension development and finally get product ready for the distribution.
Later Yves Koekkoek (UX & usability expert) took the floor with session called “UX Blur”. It was dedicated to perception of information by human brain and eye and touched his experience how you can impact human consciousness within your site and set accents on important parts of the site. The session was highlighted by its non-standard subject and Yves’ shock value (épatage). Furthermore, author already had a talk at JoomlaDay Poland last year and is known to the audience, thereby number of visitors was greatly increased in the room.
Some persons named Seblod as Drupal killer.
And certainly Seblod was introduced at the event. Have you heard about this product? No? Then getting started with this WAB project is a must-have. In point of fact, Seblod is applications construction kit and framework as well as environment being integrated in Joomla and let to solve almost any task. Some persons named Seblod as Drupal killer. Olivier Nolbert, one of extension developers, have prepared a detailed session called “Going beyond the CMS and framework structure”. Technically, this session is meant for advanced users who wish to exceed the scope of standard features and to create breath-taking by flexible things. There following subjects were considered: how to optimise time on web development using ready environment and how to create custom Seblod applications. The extension has a high barrier to entry, but result matters. At my modest opinion, this product must be encouraged by the community and is worth of high attention since Seblod boost Joomla on a principally new level.
And finally, icing on the cake - second session of Soren Beck Jensen called “Let’s Build a component in 30 minutes using Component Creator”. To whose who don’t know Soren: he is author of component constructor called Joomla Component creator. This service has a flexible settings and let to create skeleton for custom extension that corresponds to JED rules. You can use any fields and elements. The author showed how to build a book index component by interacting with the audience. This tool can be very useful for developers who want to develop an extension quickly and save the time. It was one of the most memorable sessions for me!
So insensibly, the official part of First Day has been over. But an unforgettable evening had waiting us onwards.
After finishing the formal part of the event, it’s time for dinner and informal communication of JoomlaDay participants. The banquet was held in Hard Rock café (a nice choice!) to let visitors to celebrate the first day free and easy and to spend time with good mood, strong drinks and that sort of thing.
This is where we let oneself go! People in Poland turned out to be so friendly and kind hearty. There was no any problem with language - the rest of the people know English, some people know Russian on a very good level, so it was a really exciting time! All participants came: as host persons (Poland), so guests from France, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands and Russia. People could exchange impressions, discuss on actual questions and just to have warm-hearted talks. I even accidentally made a awkward move and the tray with champagne glasses was broken :-)
Old metalheads are here too! We drank Polish vodka with Darek Śnieg and Miłosz Wojaczek for your and our freedom. I was surprised that those people who knew Russian language, they had very good knowledge and were spoken without grammatical mistakes. The waitress Alexandra struck to the very roots when she read a poem of classical Russian poet by heart. Generally, all was just exciting! The afterparty have finished deeply after the midnight. There were just a few hours to sleep…
The day second (community)
Day second labeled as “community” was opened by Stefan Wajda again. After his speech, the next speaker became Sarah Watz - the president of OSM and JoomlaDay honorary guest. The keynote she prepared is called “Be a part of Joomla” within of which Sarah told which positions & achievements does Joomla have and shared her ideas on future plans. Also the audience met a few stories how Joomla have changed life of Joomlers. The completing part of keynote - how to became a volunteer. Polish translation of Sarah’s speech was provided by Justyna Michallek in real time.
Later all visitors came to the selected rooms with sessions they chosen. It’s also resembles me J and Beyond format again. Well, I proceeded to the room C full of foreign guests. Yves Koekkoek introduced his 2nd session dedicated to the psychology of human brain perception and usability secrets and it was a capacity crowd again.
it’s time to lunch hour and all people proceeded to dining room to taste the dishes and to open a discussion to the interlocutors. We have such proverb in Russian language: "Till the last crumb I am deaf and dumb" (English version is: "Don't speak with your mouth full") - following to this proverb I was busy tasting the cuisine since when I am talking I cannot eat and may keep myself hungry, hehe. There were different dishes as well as vegetarian. I noticed that when Polish people were getting up from the table, they were saying a word “dziękuję” (thank you) when repast is over, and thereby they expressed their gratitude to neighbours for good party and for food they have shared with other people. A politely and noble. This is nice Polish cultural character which I haven’t heard about at the time.
Well, it’s time to go on the event. I returned to the room C and the next session was prepared by Adrien Baborier and called “The best practices for e-mail marketing in 2015… for Joomla!”. The keynote of the speech: how to unassumingly draw attention to oneself to the subscribers and to get feedback. He also told how to get to know the reason why user have unsubscribed and how to analyse how is your subscription campaign successful. It was useful session since being an AcyMailing user, I’ve discovered something new for myself.
After Adrien’s speech a big talk has started - Jan van Kuijk from The Netherlands have prepared detailed overview on NoNumber extensions (two sessions at a run), made a guided tour on the site and told about each extension developed by Peter van Western, including “What? Nothing!”.
As a matter of fact, all video sessions are available in the Internet and here you can watch any session you might be interested in.
The time have been passed quickly. And what's next? A surprise have waited us! The organisation team of JoomlaDay™ Poland decided to introduce their city to foreign guests and show places of interest & sightings and provided an excursion to us with accredited guide. A promenade during a few hours within historical centre and listening to interesting stories about the city and its history from professional guide with excellent English spoken - it was really memorable! Walking down the narrow streets we stopped at street crossing and I noticed how the gracious black cat crossed the way in a dignified manner. Cats are my passion and in that moment I stopped listening to the guide and under the illusion of photographic process proceeded to the cat in attempt to ruffle the cat's fur, but catty decided it’s much more comfortable to it to be under the black car. What I can say about it? In comparison to Prague streets, I made certain of Poland have cats and I am calm for the fate of this country, hehe.
At the end of the tour we were taken back to the Technology Park. We proceeded to the main hall where JoomlaDay Poland took action. Meanwhile we were at the guided tour, something out of ordinary happened… One of the visitors proposed marriage to his bride. The couple get acquainted at one of JUG meetings and as it caused it the life, a spark flashed between two hearts. Generally speaking, Milosz offered one's hand. You must admit that it is not often happens on IT conferences.
Now, we have returned from the guided tour and proceeded to the keynote. There was a friendly background and hall was full of fun: leaders actively interacted to the audience and made jokes. And since the event is close to its end, it is time for ceremonies: contests and awards. The main sponsor Andrzej Herzberg (CEO of DJ-Extensions and JoomlaMonster) have presented the bags full of prizes to all active members of Polish Joomla community for their contribution in developing Joomla CMS in Poland. Besides, organisers of the event have prepared care packages and diploma. Next part is awarding the diploma to all speakers. General sponsors were invited to the stage to have a word. The second day might be described as a day of surprises.
And now it is finished. Nobody wanted to leave since it was very comfortable and kind hearty atmosphere. So, JoomlaDay™ Poland officially became closed. A common photography, leave-taking and I have a long trip back to home across Kaliningrad.
The general Joomla! event in Poland was held on a high level. In my estimation it took about 150 visitors. All sessions were captured by professional photographers & video recorders Tomasz Karolski and Piotr Kompowski.
Moreover, all sessions were recorded on video camera and arranged that let us to hold these great moments for memory.
I must admit high professionalism of the organisation team, qualitative approach, the common positive background of the team spirit and warm hospitality that matters! A successful place was taken (ecological region, Science and Technology Park), the program was rich, a significant persons representing Polish Joomla community visited the event and moreover, it was an intensive cooperation with foreign partners. JoomlaDay in Poland is a great example how such events must be held. I am just thrilled to bits! It was so nice to meet friends and make new contacts.
See you next time, friends!
Eugene has been a part of and worked in many of the web development roles over the years, taking on various projects. At the present moment, he is involved as a team manager working inside his personal projects. This blog is specifically dedicated to start-up businesses, team management, and how to maximize your success with Open Source ideology.