Today Joomla! turns 5. It was five years ago when a handful of individuals decided to put community engagement and Freedom of Choice above profit and fork the Mambo CMS, forming one of the most successful 100% community-driven projects in the world: Joomla!

Today Joomla! turns 5. It was five years ago when a handful of individuals decided to put community engagement and Freedom of Choice above profit and fork the Mambo CMS, forming one of the most successful 100% community-driven projects in the world: Joomla!

It’s hard to find the proper words to describe how I feel about today’s Joomla! birthday. Thrilled? Excited? Grateful? All these and much, much more. No word is concise enough to grasp my emotions towards Joomla!, for my relationship to Joomla! is deeper than words can describe.

For me, it all began about six years ago, when I was working with my friend John in his then-newfounded company, Concise Technologies, a small Greek sole proprietorship mostly building sites. After we were fed up with Dreamweaver and PHPnuke (do you remember that beast?), we had created our tiny CMS. Our problem was that it wasn’t extensible enough. Then, I discovered Mambo almost by accident. To be honest, I was upgrading and installing packages on our new server – powered by Mandrake Linux – and Mambo CMS was one of the available packages. I decided to give it a spin. Well, wow! It was exactly what we were looking for. Simple, powerful and produced valid markup without having to hack its guts. The calendar was reading April 2005.

A few months later we were so comfortable with building sites with Mambo that we couldn’t imagine using anything else. With extensions like Zoom gallery, reMOSitory and Mambelfish we could create multilingual sites with media galleries and download areas. I’m sure we had been using a lot more extensions, but memory starts failing after all those years. Then, we were taken by surprise. Miro decided to take over the direction of the project. This was very worrying. What if they decided that multilingualism is not a desirable feature? What if they asked for a boatload of money to implement a basic feature? What if they – gosh! – decided to follow a paid GPL licensing scheme? We were back at square one and feared that our investment in time and effort was all for nothing.

Obviously, we weren’t the only ones aggravated by this dishonest decision. Several heroes deeply involved in the Mambo project had enough with Miro’s double-faced policy and decided to write an open letter to the community and separate themselves from the Mambo project, forming Open Source Matters. Their names are: Andrew Eddie, Emir Sakic, Andy Miller, Rey Gigataras, Mitch Pirtle, Tim Broeker, Alex Kempkens, Arno Zijlstra, Jean-Marie Simonet, Levis Bisson, Andy Stewart, Peter Russell, Brad Baker, Brian Teeman, Michelle Bisson, Trijnie Wanders, Shayne Bartlett, Nick Annies, Johan Janssens. It was August 17th, 2005, and I was just back in the office from a two week vacation. My instinct forced me to immediately tell my friend and business partner John that either these guys will succeed, or we have to start building our own CMS once more.

Two weeks later, on the hot first day of September, I saw the post. The name of the new project was announced: “Joomla!”. With an exclamation mark at the end. “Joomla? What kind of name is that? Well, at least it doesn’t resemble the name of a Latin dance act and doesn’t have any inappropriate connotations in Greek” I thought. John wasn’t enthused with the name, either, so he had to ask me: “Dance with Mambo, or go with Joomla!, whatever that means”. I made up my mind in a snap. “Joomla!. Mambo is dead.”. If nothing else, I always believed in the power of community.

Fast forward five years. Nothing in my life looks anything like 2005, except for Joomla!. I now have a company of my own, building Open Source software for Joomla!. I’ve built many Joomla! sites and I regularly write Joomla! related articles in this blog, in the Joomla! Community Magazine and pretty much everywhere else I can. I’ve even made new friends and started travelling around the world to meet them thanks to Joomla!. I’ve found out that, contrary to popular belief, most people are honest and value other people for what they are.Yes, the only constant all those years has been this project, this community, this ever-increasing sense of community engagement. For all I know, I owe my biggest professional successes to Joomla!. Or, better said, to the thousands of volunteers who make Joomla! rock 🙂

So, Jooma!, my dear friend, happy fifth birthday!

Published by Nicholas Dionysopoulos

PHP developer, author of Akeeba Backup and Admin Tools. Father, husband, cat herder and geek. Proudly uses all major Operating Systems on desktop and mobile.