The Talkoot Project Blog

In our series of personal profiles called "Spotlight on...", we introduce you to Magnolians. Get to know the person behind Magnolia CMS and learn what they do - including surprising details you won't find in their CV.

Magnolia attracts adventurous, hungry-for-change people: after portraying Jozef, who moved all the way from Czech Republic to Switzerland, you’ll get to know another Magnolian who left home to work in Switzerland: trainer Cesar Desales. He even had to fly over quite a big pond to do so!

Cesar and his kids: Alonso, 5 years old, and Diego, 4 months.

Cesar is from San Pedro Atzompa, Mexico, a small village that was swallowed by Mexico City 15 years ago. He moved to Switzerland five years ago and started working for Magnolia in April 2012. Before, he had never been to Europe. His career has been very diverse: “I’ve been the usual jack of all trades for start ups (Analysis, Design, Architecture, Development), done Software Development for international corporations, and taken over government funded projects. I was even one of the employees of the richest man on earth for quite a while” (we’re talking about this guy, in case you’re wondering). When Cesar started working for a company that had an international focus, his desire to move for a new job started to grow. 

Therefore, when an opportunity to work at PacketVideo Switzerland came up in 2007, Cesar seized it. At PacketVideo, Cesar developed and maintained Web applications and mobile sites for big mobile network operators. He also owned applications with a considerable amount of unique active subscribers and strict availability policies. After a few years there, it was time for a change: some of the company’s products were close to reach the end of their life cycles. “I was drawn to Magnolia because of the excellent reputation that the company enjoys among the local Software Development and Open Source Communities, and also because of its start up feeling and its astonishing growth."

Cesar started with a “blank slate and zero preconceptions”. He was surprised to find how welcoming and supportive his colleagues are, and how easy it is to get to know everyone. Cesar thinks this is the main reason for Magnolia’s success: “There's room for ideas and improvement without the politics and bureaucracy levels that one has to go through in corporate environments”.

As a trainer, Cesar first has to become a Magnolia expert. This means that he has to know about best practices: “I spend most of my day with my colleagues, who provide guidance in Magnolia CMS best practices that they learned the hard way.” Recently, he conducted his first training in Sweden: “It was a very educative experience, not only for the participants but also for me, as I realised that there’s still a long way to go and a myriad of things to learn”. Time permitting, Cesar takes a break for a table football match on the terrace - as a champion who has won the first tournament, he has to stay in shape!

Cesar is ambitious about his next few years at Magnolia: “I want to take additional responsibilities to contribute to the company's growth. I see myself empowering our partners and educating a crowd of Magnolia developers that realize how good our product is.” He could also see himself getting involved in expanding the Magnolia community in the Spanish speaking world.     

New work routines and companies are one thing to stomach, settling into a completely different cultural environment must be a whole other challenge. To Cesar, the move from Mexico to Switzerland came as quite the culture shock: “This rude awakening didn’t only come from big things like not being to understand a single word of German or the completely different food, but from small things, for instance the health system, trash rules, the freezing weather, a rigid laundry calendar at the house we live... And people can be so respectful of privacy and personal space that there's little room for spontaneity and no fast track to friendship. It's totally different from the Latino mindset!” Nowadays, Cesar is accustomed to those little things, and he has an impressive level of German. He first learned German with a private teacher for nine months and continued studying on his own afterwards.

Thinking about and figuring out those cultural differences took up a lot of time and energy in Cesar’s personal life during his first few years in Europe. Otherwise, even his leisure activities are connected to his job: “I enjoy reading a good book, but for some strange reason my favorite hobby is Python programming - once I start coding I cannot stop adding features to my scripts”.

 
 

In our series of personal profiles called "Spotlight on...", we introduce you to Magnolians. Get to know the person behind Magnolia CMS and learn what they do - including surprising details you won't find in their CV.

 


Zak at the Magnolia Conference 2012. Photo Credit: Isa Dubach.

The resume of Magnolia’s Canadian community manager Zak says “enthusiasm” all over it: Zak has been intensely involved in technology startups and open source communities for nearly 20 years. It all started in 1994, when Zak set up a web business (an online travel magazine focused on Calgary, Alberta) with his mother and brother, and learned HTML. In 1995, he posted his first real website, and in 1997, he co-founded his first web startup. 

Zak’s career gained momentum fast after that point. He became busy working at different startups, as well as editing technical articles and books. He also spoke at a lot of conferences all over the world. His most important roles were MySQL’s first community manager, and starting the North American office for eZ Systems. Zak was also the third staff member at the Mozilla Foundation after its restructuring in 2005. After over a decade in the industry, Zak realised that he was working and traveling far too much, so he cut back: “I quit eZ and Mozilla, and co-founded my own start-up. In 2012, I went even further and shut down my long-running consulting business. That’s when I started looking for a great new company to be a part of”.

On this pursuit for a new employer, Zak first looked into Magnolia because friends had spoken highly of the company’s people and the product. Zak sought to work where he could put his skills to good use, in an environment that would support his personal development. “After my first visit, it was clear that Magnolia and I were a good fit – the people were warm, open and hard-working, but it was also clear that they faced challenges that I could really help with”. Zak consequently started work at Magnolia in February 2012. He works remotely from Vancouver, Canada, but travels to Basel a few times a year.

So what does a community manager do? “I don't have a standard day – I do a lot of different things. In the last week, I've reviewed licenses; developed presentations; interacted with user groups, community members and a potential technical partner; written a bunch of email and plans, among other tasks!” Right now, Zak is traveling through several European countries to visit community members.

After almost a year at Magnolia, Zak is ready to assess his initial expectations and pinpoint his favorite aspect about Magnolia. Zak expected Magnolia to be a little more chaotic and messy - simply because of his extensive experience in the industry. “The level of order at Magnolia took me by surprise!”. Another thing that positively surprised Zak was how kind Magnolians are: “As an example, Greg met me at the airport on my first trip. It wasn't needed, but it sure made me feel welcome. People spend time with me outside of work when I visit, which I treasure because I'm away from my friends and loved ones”.

Zak really likes how Magnolia isn't very hierarchical. “My experience is that everyone treats me as a peer, regardless of what their title is”. One point that Zak would like to improve is internal communication: “Right now, we have too many systems and too little coordination - information is scattered across a lot of different platforms. Often, I get the feeling that we don't even know what we know. It's not awful, but it'll make things hard as we grow.”

In the light of Magnolia’s constant growth, this is a legitimate concern. Zak is excited about the company’s future and his role in it: “Magnolia 5 is a game changer for us and the industry. I just hope that we've got the resources we need to really make use of the team's great work here. My long-term goal is to build a large, healthy and productive Magnolia community!

You now know that Zak has had an adventurous career so far, with five start-ups, over 60 conference speeches and countless travel in the mix. However, those adventures can’t compete with the funky variety of pets that Zak has had. He’s been the proud owner of the following creatures: a half-bobcat, a magpie, a bat and a Manx-cross cat. Not enough idiosyncrasy? Zak used to work as a mould maker in a ceramics factory that made ceramics for industrial and military applications – things like hydrocyclones and bullet-proof armour plates. And, to round off the fun fact section on our community manager, let’s include a tidbit on his game preferences: “I may have spent more time playing role-playing games than the entire rest of the office combined and used to work at what was once the world's largest role-playing game store”.


Magnolia Academy

Magnolia Academy

Sure, it has a ring to it. But what is an academy?

Is it a misty place, many layers deep, where masters of the dark art of Java wander around in black cloaks, silently nodding to each other as they head back to their lonely cells?

Or is it an ultra-slick, sci-fi zone, where people in pristine lab coats busily analyze complex data on large transparent screens?

Perhaps it's one of those places you read about in adverts at the back of the Economist magazine; a place where smiling handsome international people with nice watches and nice suits prepare to shake up the world of business and communications?

Truth is, we are not sure yet what it is. (smile)

The Magnolia Academy concept has been around for some time now. And when an idea is on the cards for so long it is hard to avoid having suspicions about why it never got off the ground.

Well, in Docu, we like to see things differently - we think it is a great idea and we are concentrating on the fact that it never got abandoned. We just need to keep it defined in accordance with the requirements of those who are most in need of solid training with Magnolia CMS: devs.

For now, the Magnolia Academy will not be a sprawling maze of tunnels and Escher-esque staircases leading to cavernous, candle-lit libraries. Nor will it be a set from the latest sci-fi blockbuster.  And as for Italian ties and slick business suits - well, we are a t-shirt and jeans company. We know our market.

No matter what the final format, one thing is for sure: the Magnolia Academy will be a quick injection into the world of Magnolia CMS from the perspective of a professional dev. It will be training in your own good time. It will be free. It will be focused. And it will be available to anyone that wants to get under the skin and bones of Magnolia CMS.

No, the trainer will not be there to hold your hand.  But you will be able to pause the video. (smile) And you will be able to do some reading up and try some exercises. You can fire off questions to a tailored forum.  And yes, you will have access to some libraries. They will contain java-docs....

So, get your note pad out; lick that quill; work on that steely handshake.... The first Magnolia Academy training session is on its way...

 

In our series of personal profiles called "Spotlight on...", we introduce you to Magnolians. Get to know the person behind Magnolia CMS and learn what they do - including surprising details you won't find in their CV.


 


Dominik's highest jump - 5,2 meters!
Photo provided by Dominik Steinacher

 

Magnolia is called Magnolia International for a reason: even though we’re headquartered in Basel, Dominik is the first Swiss employee portrayed in “Spotlight on...”! Our previous profiles let you in on the work and life of two Germans, an Irishman and a Czech Magnolian.

Dominik has been with Magnolia since March 2012. The desire to work with a product that will matter in the future drove him to the company: “I joined Magnolia because I enjoy working with people who want to change the future, to build something innovative and exceptional.”

Before starting work at the Magnolia office in Basel, Dominik worked in software, IT-finance and banking. His fortunes took him to a start-up bank and the first semantic job matching platform as COO, for example. But the common thread in all of Dominik’s roles is the connection between product development, relationship management, innovation and management. One of his most important achievements was a product called “multi-manager strategy” he launched at the start-up bank. “I was responsible for planning it, getting partners on board, and implementing it. It was a great success and it’s still being used!”

However, jobs in banking and insurance have a downside when it comes to their corporate culture: “A lot of things were shiny and superficial, and not particularly authentic and real. I was getting tired of this, and sensed from the start that Magnolia would be different in that respect. Here, everything is more open, and employees are expected to really make a difference, and not just be there for eight hours a day.”

So this change in culture was another factor that attracted Dominik to Magnolia. What were his expectations before starting work at Magnolia? “I hoped to be in a position where I can bring in my own ideas and experience. And it was great from the beginning! I felt like I was a part of Magnolia very soon after starting work. Everyone’s values and ideas are appreciated and taken seriously”. The minimal hierarchy is what Dominik likes best about the company: “Everyone connected to Magnolia, be it employee, partner or customer, is more or less on the same level”.

Dominik’s standard workday starts with coffee on the terrace. As a partner manager, Dominik spends his day following up with customers’ or partners’ enquiries, as well as working on new opportunities. He also develops management concepts and high-level strategies. “My main goal is to create an environment where things gets done with ease, but also with high quality, of course.”

If he had an opportunity to magically change one thing about Magnolia, he’d improve knowledge management. “There is a lot of information floating around on the website, the partner extranet, the documentation, our wiki and google docs. These multiple locations are not only confusing internally, they also perplex our partners, who try to gather information for their customer presentations and projects. However, I’m sure with everyone working on this, it will improve, soon.” 

 Working hard is a key phrase when it comes to Dominik’s personal life, too. Or maybe “working out” describes his leisure activities more accurately: “I do a lot of sports like jogging, biking and tennis. And I was a pole vaulter for 14 years! I won the Swiss championship in 1996, but I never managed to get as far as the Olympics because of my back injury in 1997.” Other than sports, Dominik spends a lot of time with his family. “I have two kids, aged 4 and 6. We love to travel as a family, for example to the US (specifically Florida), Italy and Austria”.

 

This is the second in a series of blogs from the Magnolia Documentation Team on acting on conference feedback.


Cautious of being too optimistic in our appraisal of our own documentation, we took the comment that there was a lack of Tutorials very seriously. One again, we started a with a very simple question - 

'What is a tutorial?' 

And once again we set about searching to discover what we have that might fit the shape of this particular 'gap'.

At its simplest a tutorial is a detailed procedure or set of procedures. Generally a tutorial shows you how to do something. 

It could be a short step by step guide interspersed with screenshots:  http://documentation.magnolia-cms.com/use-cases/creating-a-custom-control.html 

Or a video with a voice over:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=pWA8sPcQV18 

Sometimes a tutorial can just be about something:  http://wiki.magnolia-cms.com/display/WIKI/Newbie+perspective

 

To ensure that we stood a better chance of sniffing out hidden tutorials of every type, we drew up a list of terms we thought would be likely candidates to feature in a title:

 

Add, Adding, Addition, Additional, Adjust, Adjusting, Batch, Build, Building, Enhance, Enhancing, Fix, Guide, How to, Monitor, Monitoring, Optimize, Optimizing, Set, Set-up, Setting, Setting up, Settings, Solution, Tutorial, Workaround etc.


Moral of the story? As with our Best Practices, we have created a new wiki page that lists many of the tutorials that you can find in our community wiki and official documentation. And we have called it simply -  Tutorials.


Community effort

Remember that our wiki is a community effort. Don't be afraid to add a comment or to make a tutorial contribution.  If you would like to add a useful tutorial to the community wiki, the following are some guidelines:

  • Search to see if a similar post exists. If it doesn't, choose a suitable location.
  • Give the tutorial a meaningful title. ("How to Configure X in EE 4.5.3',  'Configuring X' are fine.)
  • Provide an introduction. State the scope.  "In this tutorial..." , 'This tutorial shows...."   and 'This tutorial shows how to..."  You could even exaggerate and say "This tutorial is a guide to how to + verb of choice"
  • Use the spellchecker! It mkase it os mchu eaiser to read things. (Hint: You can usually tell there is a typo if there is red line under the word....)
  • Tell us about it. This one is really important. We don't always see that something has been added to our wiki.

You can check out our wiki guidelines here

We sometimes go in and edit material from our contributors.  If you see that we have changed some stuff in your tutorial, don't take it personally - take it as a compliment that your work is appreciated and noticed.

Keep it up! 

This is the first in a series of blogs from the Magnolia Documentation Team on acting on conference feedback.


Conferences are always good for gathering feedback. This year’s was no exception. We were particularly keen to hear what our user base had to say about our documentation - not just because we like flattery (we do), but because we strive to produce the best documentation that we can. And to do our best we have to able to act on advice and humbly accept any criticism that comes our way. Ahem…

One of the observations about Magnolia CMS documentation was that there appeared to be a lack of Best Practices old.

That really got us thinking.

It was good a observation. We just we weren’t sure where it was coming from. We felt that we had always included best practices.

It seems we had a communication problem.

It was time for Docu to go into deep thought mode and to figure out what the issue was and how to solve it without taking on the mammoth task of rewriting large portions of technical text.

Our approach was to start with a really simple question – ‘What is a best practice?'  The answer we came up with didn’t break any cognitive molds. A best practice should be a high-level guide to how to approach a given task. It is a tried and tested way to achieve an objective; one that is known to be more effective than other approaches.

Next step was to search our documentation for patterns that fit that definition. Using our inbuilt customized Google search, we looked for as many references to best practice(s), recommendations etc. as we could find.

We then tried to eliminate duplication of pages by merging the lists.

Along the way we realized that essentially our documentation has three kinds of best practices:

1) 'Best Practices' - This is where we explicitly use the words ‘Best Practice’ somewhere in a page or in the metadata.

2) 'Tips & Recommendations' - this is where we provide a best practice, without actually spelling it out. Sometimes we say things like ‘We recommend’ or ‘It is recommended’.  

3) Wiki articles - Our developers are a hard-working lot and they like to share their knowledge. What isn’t in the documentation can often be found in our wiki. If our developer shares an approach to doing something in Magnolia CMS, you can be pretty damn sure it is a best practice...

Here in Magnolia all eyes are on the future. All eyes except those in the backs our heads, which are still looking at the past and wondering how best to build upon it. Magnolia 5 is on the way and with it will come a whole new documentation suite. And yes it will have best practices and yes they will be easy to identify and to chase up. For now though, we’d like to help you find what you are looking for in our existing documentation.

Armed with our freshly collated info, we did some sweaty editing and sorting. The result is a thematic list of best practices across Magnolia documentation, alphabetically ordered and available in one location for research and reference.

For a (reasonably…) comprehensive list of ‘Best Practices’, check out our brand new wiki. Watch this space...

  Naming things in Magnolia 5

This is the last in a series of short blogs from the Magnolia Documentation Team on terminology in Magnolia CMS 5.


As Juliet famously said -
 
“What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet... ”
 
Perhaps.
 
But try ordering a rose over the phone without using the word ‘rose’ or ‘flower’, never mind trying to order a dozen ‘Gloria Mundi, Polyantha’.

It’s easy to see the case for calling things by their proper names

Here are the naming conventions for ‘things’ in Magnolia CMS 5: 

  1.  If it's unique to Magnolia 5 it gets a capital. The nature of the thing remains in lower case. In discursive text we refer to the Workbench, the Pulse icon, the Action bar, the Apps screen, the X app etc. In snappier contexts we can say ‘Workbench is..”. “Pulse is where ”. In procedures, we say "Click Pulse...", “Go to Pulse’, “In Pulse, click X”.

  2. If it's unique to Magnolia 5, but requires the reuse of common terminology, all names takes caps. So we talk about the Page Editor, Workbench.

  3. Generic things get generic names - page, header, search box, section, groups, etc. We can say ‘The search box in Favorites...”.

  4. All naming conventions in Magnolia 5 should be respected for all apps developed for Magnolia 5.

To see how things are currently called in Magnolia 5 and to learn a little more about the cutting edge of content management, check out the soon to be expanded Core User Interface Glossary.

The Thing With No Name
Naming things in Magnolia 5


This is the third in a series of short blogs from the Magnolia Documentation Team on terminology in Magnolia CMS 5.


“They wants all the benefits of living in Springfield, but they ain't
even bother to learn themselves the language.”  - Moe, The Simpsons.
 
Why are the naming conventions so important? Well, there there are at least three reasons why the naming conventions are important:
 

  1. Precision - Naming things correctly makes it easier to talk about things correctly. The community forums are central to the Magnolia CMS community. We hope to avoid people coming into the forums asking questions or offering ideas in relation to Magnolia 5 without using the right terminology. The same applies to our documentation. We aspire to being the best at what we do and that means that we have to adhere to the best rules.

  2. Identity - So much effort has gone into making Magnolia 5 that we want our product not only to be unique, but also to be uniquely identifiable. And so many of the features in Magnolia 5 are unique - not just to Magnolia CMS but also in the wider context of content management.

  3. App development - We want to emphasize the innovation behind Magnolia 5 and to ensure that community developers work within the context of Magnolia CMS in such as way that helps maintain our sense of unity. Apps developed for Magnolia CMS will be accessed via the Apps screen; they will work in harmony with Pulse etc. 

To get a feel for how Magnolia 5 has been specifically designed to allow for the integration of a wide range of apps, take a look at our app dev guidelines:

Developing an app

Call a Spade a...
Naming things in Magnolia 5


This is the second in a series of short blogs from the Magnolia Documentation Team on terminology in Magnolia CMS 5.


They say to call a spade a spade. Well, when you have just invented the spade you can call it what you like... 

As the Magnolia CMS conference edged closer, the office had that ‘things are finally taking shape’ buzz and a number of (so far) unwritten naming conventions had emerged into the fading summer light. Essentially these came from cross-team discussions and under the ever-watchful eye of Magnolia management. Many of the names of Magnolia CMS 5 features are refined versions of the names that were being used by the business process, user interface and development teams during the evolution of the product.

The thing is, the rules for capitalization and the use of articles were never quite the same in any one document, be it on the wiki or in the various development channels. Everyone knew what they were talking about. Now we just needed to talk about it in a uniform way. Official documentation was the key. We began to feel that there would probably end up being two terminology sets - one for developers and one for everyday users. Moot topic? Not quite...

One thing was certain, by the time preparations for the conference were in full swing there was a very strong sense of deference towards the core concepts in Magnolia 5 - in particular towards the trinity of Apps, Pulse and Favorites. This would help to shape how we named the other features.
 
Learn more about Magnolia 5

What's in a Name?
Naming things in Magnolia CMS 5.

 

This is the first in a series of short blogs from the Magnolia Documentation Team on terminology in Magnolia CMS 5. 


One of the challenges in creating Magnolia CMS 5 was how to present a fresh approach to content management that ensured that users familiar with Magnolia CMS up to version 4.5 would still recognise the spirit of the core functionality -  whilst also being aware that much has changed. Part of that process meant deciding what to call things.
 
From day one there was always going to be a core set of Magnolia CMS 5 concepts. Everyone knew that Magnolia 5 would be the first content management system built with a very active eye on the world of mobile computing and tablet technologies, but also with 'traditional' computers and operating systems in mind. Truth be told, the concepts were more in the shape of concrete ideas than ideas with concrete names. If this were the film industry, we’d have been using a series of ‘working titles’ - one for every ‘feature’.

Once we knew what everything would be called, the final step would be that of deciding on a set of rules about exactly how things should be referred to in our documentation and in the wider context of the Magnolia CMS community. We knew there would be apps and the system made to accommodate app development. But were they Apps or apps?

Luckily, some rules seemed to be floating in the aether from the start; it was clear that the Pulse would always have a capital ‘p’, even if some elasticity remains in referring to Pulse or the Pulse. From this we could infer more general rules. This was a fun, collaborative effort that involved a whiteboard, a html prototype, a developer version of Magnolia 5 running and - of course - reading through lots of user interface documentation. We even took a peek at how other companies did things. But just a peek.

In the next post we’ll take a look at how this process fit into the overall development process and how the approach of the conference helped us finalise how to refer to the core features of Magnolia CMS 5 - not to mention how to explain them!
 
Learn more about Magnolia 5 

In our series of personal profiles called "Spotlight on...", we introduce you to Magnolians. Get to know the person behind Magnolia CMS and learn what they do - including surprising details you won't find in their CV.

 

 


Jozef, defending himself against his Karate students
Photo provided by Jozef Chocholáček

 

Meet a brand-new Magnolia employee in "Spotlight on..." today: software developer Jozef. Jozef might be a freshman at Magnolia, but he is not brand-new to the field of software-development at all. He studied applied informatics in Slovakia in the 1990s, when the Web was something quite new. Jozef was an active student: "I was very committed to the 'netification' of the department and the dormitory, and was one of the admins of the local SANET node, the organization that was responsible for the Internet infrastructure in Slovakia at that time".

After his studies, he moved to the Czech Republic and landed his first job as a Linux programmer. When a colleague left the company unexpectedly, Jozef had to take over important projects. This allowed him to learn new key skills, above all Java. He also worked on projects for banks and insurance companies. The OpenCMS based solution he deployed for the Czech National Bank in 2005 is still used today! His next position at a mid-sized company was also challenging: "My task was to bring their IT from the 90's to the new millennium. This was quite hard, as there was a lot of user resistance coming my way. They didn't really want to switch to new things".

Jozef then came across Magnolia CMS while working on the JBoss Community team at Red Hat: "I took care of Magnolia CMS behind the JBoss site. Magnolia was the main part of my work: I made customizations, created specialized modules, and worked on the integration of Magnolia and ModeShape". That's how he came into contact with the Magnolia developers and eventually found his way into the company in July 2012.

What are Jozef's first impressions of Magnolia after a few weeks here? "I hadn't used Apple computers before, so that's what I am trying to become accustomed to. And I'm also new to the SCRUM methodology." All these new things are not an issue, though: The "friendly and willing-to-help colleagues" continue to impress Jozef. "And the outlook from the terrace, of course!"

At Magnolia, Jozef focuses on a few big tasks, which he really appreciates: "In my previous jobs, the wide scope of projects always bothered me a little, because I simply didn't have the time to devote myself to all of them equally". At the moment, he is working on replacing the old workflow module (based on the outdated OpenWFE engine) with a new one, based on jBPM.

On top of the opportunity to work for Magnolia, it was also the move to Switzerland that attracted Jozef. "I've taken it not as a mere job change, but as an adventure, which it definitely is with two small kids aged 4 and 2". Jozef moved to Liestal with his whole family! "The most difficult is the language gap - I haven't used my German for 20 years, so it is pretty rusty right now. But people are helpful and except for some bureaucratic delays, we love being here".

Apart from being a family man, Jozef spends his time fighting. That's right - Jozef is a committed Karate practitioner. The particular style he performs is Goju-ryu. "It's one of the four main styles of karate, and it's called "soft-hard" style. It uses much more "soft" open-hand and circular techniques, and is aimed more on the short distance defense (sometime we joke that our style is for fighting in a phone-booth)". Jozef would love to visit Okinawa and practice karate with the local masters. Besides Karate, Jozef also loves trains: "I could have been a train-dispatcher, because I studied railway at high-school." His travel dream is to do a USA round trip in an Amtrak train.

Weekly community reports

Hi! Zak from Magnolia here. This blog post focuses on plans to make weekly reports of community activity (and on a few other ways to make the Magnolia community easier to follow and participate in.

Preparing for community growth

As Magnolia and the Magnolia community continue to grow, we'll see increased use of our forums and issue tracker. We'll likely also see more novices participating. While this increased use is something that we hope for, it will also increase the amount of time it takes people to keep up-to-date.

For the remainder of 2012, we're going to try three things focused on making our community easier to follow and participate in.

Weekly forum activity reports

While dedicated community members and Magnolia team members do a good job of making the forums great places to get help, it takes a lot of time from these people. A weekly report will help more people stay up-to-date with what happens on the lists. As I prepare the reports, I'll also look for nuggets to pass to our docs team, common issues that we can address, etc. My initial report will be for the week of August 6th to 12th. I'll post the draft structure for the reports at Weekly community report template shortly and update it as needed.

New member welcome

I'll drop new forum members a small welcome note when they first post. The note will have some info about Magnolia and the community, and will give me a chance to find out why someone's come to forums, how they use Magnolia and so on. It should give the person a chance to have a better experience on our forums and with Magnolia.

Forum gardening

In any forum, there are things that don't work as the forum members (or, in some cases, member) would like. These can be dangling threads and unanswered questions or arguments and conflict or any of a hundred other things. I'll keep a daily eye out on the forums for discussions where I can help out in some way.

What we hope to learn

Finally, in trying a more structured approach to supporting the Magnolia forums, I hope to help us develop a better understanding of our community - something that is especially important as we grow.

Thank you!

As always, feedback is welcome. Either leave a comment or drop me a line at zak.greant@magnolia-cms.com

Labels: community

In our series of personal profiles called "Spotlight on...", we introduce you to Magnolians. Get to know the person behind Magnolia CMS and learn what they do - including surprising details you won't find in their CV.


Sebastian Stang has been a sales and marketing professional for 10 years. He started in 2001 with his own event management company. As an event manager Sebastian promoted independent DJs and acts. A highlight of this time was a festival in Kuala Lumpur where his acts performed while Sebastian spinned the discs. Another memorable event was the "F-Club", an exquisite party where only people with a special invitation were allowed in. "The VIPs were informed about the venue and date via text message only two days prior to the party", Sebastian explains.

Sebastian's most important job experience after independence was a role at Inxmail in Germany where he worked as a Sales Team Manager. "This job taught me a lot about organisation and management".

Today Sebastian works as a Sales Enabler at the Magnolia HQ in Basel. What brought the 37-year old to Magnolia? He spontaneously applied for a job, even though there was no ad running at the time, and was invited to an interview. The opportunity to meet the founders Pascal and Boris clinched the deal. "I saw how passionate they were about the company and the product and I couldn't help but be intrigued. Their enthusiasm was contagious". Two further selling points were the small size of the company and the short commute from Freiburg, Germany.

In the beginning Sebastian was a little intimidated by the thought of being surrounded by developers but he soon overcame that feeling: "When I started here I wasn't sure what the overall atmosphere would be like. Now I know that they are a very social group. I very much enjoy the everyday lunch get-togethers, the BBQs and table football tournaments on the terrace".

Besides honing his football and BBQ skills Sebastian works with Magnolia's international customer base and prospects who have questions about the product. His main task as a Sales Enabler is to organize contacts and opportunities, which encompasses dealing with a lot of different people and organizations.

Sebastian's primary goal for the next few years is to make Magnolia "play in the Champions League" - to constantly improve and grow in order to play at the top of the CMS field. "I want to make sure we keep up the quality of our product and services. Being true to what you promise is extremely important. I think Magnolia is definitely playing in the qualification round to the Champions League right now".

With growth come changes to the corporate culture. Sebastian can already see that in a rapidly growing company like Magnolia one needs to pay special attention to communication. "I am working to implement weekly cross-team meetings in order to know what's going on. The teams' knowledge has to be connected". He would also like to compile quarterly reports on what was done in the past three months and what his team intends to do next, and present this to all employees.

Sebastian juggles contacts and sales activities by day but transitions to a different role at night. He has been a DJ for 20 years and regularly plays tunes from a collection of 10'000 vinyl records and CDs. DJ Shaddy delights clubgoers with house, techno, disco and soul. As if that wasn't enough commitment to the beats, Sebastian is the label manager for Foul and Sunk Records where he does about everything from choosing artists, releasing records and promoting. He aims to release six records a year, three have been out this year.

 


Sebastian spinning
Photo provided by Sebastian Stang

 

Hi! Zak from Magnolia here.

During my last visit to Magnolia headquarters in Basel, I started working with Andreas W. and Antti H. on Human Interface Guidelines for Magnolia 5. I wrote a bit about this in my Drafting Magnolia 5 Human Interface Guidelines blog post.

This post focuses on a draft Table of Contents for the Magnolia 5 Human Interface Guidelines. Please take a moment to read and comment (or drop me a note at zak.greant@magnolia-cms.com.)

Guidelines title

  • While writing this post, I realized that the name "Magnolia 5 Human Interface Guidelines" may lead readers to believe that we're writing about guidelines for websites powered by Magnolia 5, while we're actually writing about human interface guidelines for apps that run in the Magnolia 5 administrative interface. We should try to find a clearer title.

Introduction and Usage Suggestions

  • This section should provide a concise introduction to the guidelines, along with tips for using the guidelines effectively.
  • Ideally, the introduction should fit on a single printed page.

The Magnolia 5 Platform

An overview of the central concepts behind apps in the Magnolia 5 administrative platform. These core principles might be:

M5 apps are people-centric

  • Apps should be carefully designed to meet the actual needs that users have, rather than simply being one-to-one matches for requirements.

People use one app at a time

  • Each app should focus on doing a single task well

Apps are a core extension mechanism in Magnolia 5

  • Apps are one of the core ways to extend Magnolia 5
  • Content apps replacement for data modules
    • Allows for easy separation of roles
    • One app per data type

Convention over customization

  • We should encourage developers to build apps in the "Magnolia Way" so that they can take advantage of our future work.
  • For example, developers should use standard UI elements, so as to be able to take advantage of our work making the standard Magnolia 5 UI elements work across a wide range of devices.

Designed for touch and WIMP

  • Use stable metaphors for touch devices and map to WIMP interface.

Parking lot

  • We should likely talk about when and how to break the rules. This might be best left to a future draft.

App interface principles

  • Cover the broad guiding principles for designing apps. These could include principles like:

Consistency

  • Strive to build apps that look, feel and behave like the native Magnolia 5 apps.
  • Don't make users learn a new style or design of app, unless you have a concrete reason.

Context

  • Strive to provide users with context that helps keep them oriented within the interface.
    • Examples of this include using animations to help show when a given icon has been clicked or using transparency to show the parent menu of an open menu.
  • The pulse feature also gives users a single place to see messages about changes to or events within Magnolia 5.

Different apps for different roles

  • Discuss when and how to break larger pieces of functionality into individual apps.

Avoid complex configuration

  • Don't require apps to have extensives configuration before you, unless absolutely required.

Feedback

  • Use feedback to users engaged and oriented.

App Design and Implementation Guidelines

Common issues and their solutions. We can't cover everything here, but we can cover key things that many developers will face.

Experience

  • General touch design guidelines
    • Avoid configuration when possible
    • Put important content near top (scrolling, etc.)
  • M5-specific guidelines
    • Don't extend the core action groups
    • List of gestures that we support
    • Use new groups
    • Use standard actions

GUI Element Usage

What are the standard GUI elements?

  • Action Bar
  • Dialogs
  • List
  • Thumbnail
  • Tree

Integrating 3rd Party Services

  • APIs
  • iFrames

Look and Feel

  • Branding
  • Color scheme
  • Custom Icons
  • Embedding
  • Images

M5 Shell Use

  • APIs
  • Pulse

Tutorial: Build a Magnolia 5 app

  • We should create a tutorial that guides readers through building a Magnolia 5 app.

Tutorial: Migrate an existing module to Magnolia 5

  • We should create a tutorial that guides readers through migrating a Magnolia 4.x module to Magnolia 5.

Thank you!

As always, thank you for reading! If you have comments or questions, please leave them below or drop me a note at zak.greant@magnolia-cms.com.

In our series of personal profiles called "Spotlight on...", we introduce you to Magnolians. Get to know the person behind Magnolia CMS and learn what they do - including surprising details you won't find in their CV.


Lars Fischer has a special relationship with Magnolia CMS. He implemented the system in a project last year, before he even started working for Magnolia. This begs the question, was there something that bugged Lars while working with Magnolia that he now, finally, is able to address and fix? More on that later!

Let's get to know Lars a little first. Lars has worked at a diverse range of IT companies over the last 20 years. His previous job titles include systems specialist, client supporter and application developer. At his last job, he was a project manager at a small IT company for 10 years. This was his most important job so far, because it made him discover Magnolia: in 2011, Lars' company decided to build an enterprise portal and development platform with Magnolia.

The project involved integrating a lot of different existing and new applications. "I chose Magnolia CMS because it provides end-users with a nice and easy to use user interface to edit Web content, and it uses the technologies I preferably use." The project certainly played an important role in attracting Lars to Magnolia, but what drew him to the company most were its principles.

"A company needs to have a vision and stand for values an employee can identify with. Otherwise you'd work just for the money - and this is extremely exhausting over the years", says Lars. When every employee works on their own, there is no exchange of information. Lars says that such a situation de-motivates him. "I like knowing what the colleague next door is doing and sharing anything work-related".

His expectations about Magnolia have been exceeded so far: "I didn't expect the company to be organized so well, because it's small and has had a lot of growth recently. It seems like a great place to work". His first few weeks have been very varied. "I'm still learning. There are several things I find interesting and can work on in the future. At the moment I am focusing on SSO integration, the Magnolia testing environment and project work for a large client".

Now back to that initial question: what would you change? Lars would upgrade the wiki to the latest Confluence version. His favourite feature of the new version is the new editor "which looks like the preview of the old version".

His life outside of work provides a funny surprise: "Despite the fact I like technology very much I'm old fashioned in my taste for music. I still buy CDs". His favourite style is rock - anything from blues rock to heavy metal.

The computer scientist at work is a wordsmith at home. "I like to play with words or sentences with my children to keep them thinking, such as switching the letters of words: "Muesliriegel" (Granola bar, see picture below)  becomes "Rueslimiegel" ("Lagronabar"). I even write down such things for my wife on our shopping list". His family's favourite travel destination is Italy, especially the region close to Venice. They'll go again this summer.

 


Granola bar
Credit: Jamieanne