Hey Alice, please tell the readers a little about yourself - where you're from and where you spend your time.
I am American, grew up in northern New Jersey, and moved to France after university. In 2001, when my kids were old enough, I enrolled in a professional certification course at the American University in Paris in website design and management. I learned HTML, CSS, Photoshop, Dreamweaver and Flash. There I met my web partner, Dianne Henning, and we began to collaborate. We got on board with Mambo just before the split, chose Joomla!, and love its power and flexibility, as well as the fact that it is so international.
How did you first get started using Joomla!?
I was volunteering for FAWCO, a large American non-profit organization (The Federation of American Women's Clubs Overseas, the largest global federation of American clubs, with consultative status to the UN). I managed the federation website, as well as the hosting program for 45 of the 77 member clubs. The website needed the ability to handle registered members, newsletter subscriptions, etc., and the clubs needed websites that could be managed without the need for html expertise. Joomla! was the perfect solution, and I had an enormous playground on which to try out anything and everything.
What kind of sites do you build with Joomla?
The most common scenario is a non-profit website needing to manage a certain amount of content and memberships. I have also done ecommerce, news sites, and small businesses. Lately I've been having fun with social network websites.
Any thoughts on Joomla! strengths and weaknesses?
Joomla! keeps getting better and easier to use all the time. How much hair have I pulled out trying to learn it? But learn it I did, thanks to the huge community and wealth of resources in forums and tutorials. My daughter, who is a Computer Science student, tells her CS friends that her mom makes really cool websites but can't write an "If" command. They say, "No way!"
Joomla! allows me to build websites that do amazing things, using code I couldn't write myself. And the ingenious family of Joomla! developers keeps adding to it every day. I feel like a kid in a candy shop in when I visit the JED.
What extensions do you use most and why?
K2 for the management of user-submitted content, Community Builder to manage member registrations, CiviCRM for conference registrations, Jomsocial for community sites, Project Fork for project management, Akeeba Backup for backup, Kunena for forums, Mosets Tree for listings, Virtuemart for ecommerce, MyBlog, JoomFish... I'm sure I've left out a bunch. I am just starting to become acquainted with Anahita and Tienda.
The question is what DON'T you use?
My range is pretty wide, and I'm proud of that. Depending on the extension, installing, configuring, and understanding the full scope of functionality can be fairly complex.
I prefer to use a commercial service for newsletters to better guarantee delivery and to avoid IP blacklisting.
I saw that you're involved in a community site, as well as in the new Joomla! Community Magazine. You're also very active on Twitter, alltogetherasawhole.org and in other Joomla!-related channels.
Why do you think it's important to get involved in the Joomla! community?
I think that when you are passionate about something you want to share the love! I find the community to be very welcoming and full of the most wonderful people. We are stronger when we share what we know and learn from each other. People work so hard to innovate and develop new core and extension capabilities, and we get to use them for free! The least I can do is contribute where I can. I am especially excited about the just-launched Joomla! Community Magazine, and the plans we are discussing to make it more international. It is a fantastic team and I like writing and communicating.
A new area of involvement will be co-hosting the Blog Talk Radio show JoomStew with Robert Vining. I will join that adventure in a few weeks when Amy Stephen completes her series. They have announced my participation and I am honored beyond measure at the invitation to contribute to what they have created.
There are quite a few women involved in the Joomla! community. For one, Amy Stephen has been talking a lot about the importance of women getting involved.
What are your thoughts on this?
Overall, the number of women in computing is very low, yet it's such a great career for women! This will change. The ranks of the JoomlaChix are growing: Jen Kramer is drawing in large numbers of women in New England, and there is an awesome group of women working on the magazine. It's important for women to speak up. I joined the magazine because of something Amy tweeted. I had read about the magazine, but her encouraging message, and maybe also the fact that she is female, provided the nudge I needed.
What else do you do - apart from being a Joomla! addict?
I am a harpist, I like to read, walk/hike, garden, cook, knit and travel.
Anything else you want to share with the JoomlaBlogger readers?
I hesitated getting involved in the Joomla! community for a long time because of my php inferiority complex. It has been an eye-opener to learn that many, even in the leadership, are users like myself. The Joomla! community is a family of developers and users working together, and there is a place for everyone!
Thank you for your time, Alice - and keep up the great work you're doing for the Joomla! community!