TYPO3 Talk With Sybille: Configurability and Expendability Are TYPO3's Asset

Welcome to the TYPO3 Interview Series! Check out the Interview with Alex Kellner on TYPO3 For Everyone! We have launched the TYPO3 initiative for business executives, professional freelancers, marketers, decision-makers etc. The ultimate goal, Inspiring people to communicate about TYPO3 eco-system by keeping the philosophy of OpenSource.

TYPO3 Talk With Sybille: Configurability and Expendability Are TYPO3's Asset

Welcome to the TYPO3 Interview Series - 23!

Dear TYPO3 People, this week we have Sybille Peters with us this week for interesting TYPO3 Talk! Sybille Peters works at the university Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg as developer. She joined the TYPO3 Documentation Team in 2018. Sybille is an open source enthusiast and a big fan of the TYPO3 community.

Grab that cup of coffee to explore Sybille's insights into her views, the history and potential of TYPO3 and the open source community, and how we can build a better TYPO3 ecosystem together!

Let's explore her journey with TYPO3 from then to now, and much more!

  • Interviewee : Sybille Peters
  • Company : Universität Oldenburg
  • Designation : TYPO3 Documentation Team
  • Topic : Together Building a Better TYPO3 Eco-system

Hey Sybille, please tell us something about yourself to our audience.

I work at a German university in the Northwest of Germany. In the past, I have been known as a Documentation Team member and contributor but currently I am focusing more on my own extensions. I wear many hats and change them frequently (figuratively, not literally).


First question, How did you initially get involved with TYPO3?

I applied for a job which required it. I had no prior knowledge of TYPO3, not even PHP programming or web development. I had mostly worked with Java, C++ and C. It made total sense at the time but looking back, I am wondering “What was I thinking?!?”


How do you contribute to TYPO3? How does your company encourage open source business practices?

My company (or rather university) is active in open source development and supports contributions. I contributed to the official documentation, the TYPO3 core and some extensions. Sometimes it was about submitting back a bugfix I found and which was necessary for solving a problem at work.

I always say, I got back more than I contributed, especially at the beginning. It helped me to gain insights and improve myself. But - most of all - it helped to motivate or at least challenge me.


As a TYPO3 Professional, What was your biggest challenge to building your TYPO3 business? Do you have any special tips & tricks for TYPO3 business people?

I can’t really say because I don’t have my own business. If I did, I would try to hire (very) good people and keep them happy.


Over the years, the TYPO3 open source ecosystem has evolved. When you look back, Are you surprised or feel lucky with the overall success of TYPO3? Where do you see it going in the future?

Frankly, I was not always a fan of TYPO3. Over the years, I came to appreciate it more and more. I understood some of the reasons why things were done the way they are. 

What seemed complicated before, I now consider extremely powerful. A huge asset of TYPO3 is its configurability and extendability. That is top notch (though some things could still be streamlined more).


Can you give us a sneak peek of TYPO3's future visions?

I am not sure about TYPO3’s future vision.

My personal vision would be - “easy to get started” (as developer, editor, admin etc.). In every sense. There are still some things which make it confusing and difficult, IMHO. A part of this is documentation. Another is that there are often many ways to do things, up to date and “authoritative” information is difficult to find. I think you should be able to get started with everyday things, using only the official documentation and not need to go to user groups, read additional blogs etc. (though it is nice to do this too)


TYPO3 is 20+ years old OpenSource CMS, Although we have very little CMS Marketshare. eg., At present, TYPO3 0.6%, WordPress 63.6%. In your personal opinion, What do you think about what we majorly missed in TYPO3 journey?

There was major refactoring being done and considering that - I think we are doing great. Some new features and ideas for the TYPO3 ecosystem are very promising, so I am rather optimistic.

But, right now, I think it should be all hands on deck for core and documentation.

And come together as a community and work on a common vision.


Unlike other CMS' where do you think the TYPO3 opensource ecosystem lags behind?

I am actually not sure. I think in some ways, TYPO3 is superior to the competition.

But it has a bad reputation of being overly complicated and having bad documentation. Both have improved but the reputation takes longer to change.


What do you think of the global expansion of TYPO3? What do you feel the TYPO3 OpenSource Eco-system needs most?

In order to expand globally, I think we should have more online events and combined in-person / online, so we can come together regardless of location. This is currently necessary because of the Corona pandemic, but I think it would be nice to keep it up in the future. 

Also, there used to be a lot of resources (blogs, videos, tutorials, events) in German only. This has now improved.

I think the solution should not be to force everyone to use English - there are still vibrant local communities in native language everywhere, not just in Germany. But I think the focus should be to try to make more English resources available: events, blogs, videos, tutorials and make it easy to find these. 

For the events, it would help if it was easy to find them and filter them by language and location / online.

Regularly get feedback from the community / contributors.


As we are managing T3Planet, TYPO3 Marketplace, What do you think about the t3planet.com? What are some key factors & characteristics that would attract you?

I looked at it a while ago, but to be honest there are so many extensions and other things, I never get around to really tinkering with it. If the usefulness is not immediately obvious to me, it gets added to my endless todolist.


TYPO3 is built on PHP. PHP was established and it’s easy to understand. There was a huge community for PHP already. How important was that “TYPO3 was powered by PHP” for its popularity?

I think it might have worked with python too. In any case, it is good that a well known and easy to learn programming language was used.

PHP is fairly easy to learn and it is possible to write good quality code, especially using additional tools (like static analysis, rector, codestyle checkers, tests etc.). PHP has a bad reputation which (in my opinion) no longer applies to reality today.


There are extensions, multilingual, multisite enterprise CMS, ease of use, among all these, what attributes for the TYPO3 success?

There are many great and underrated TYPO3 features. Some of them are configurability & extensibility, multilingual, multi-site (several sites in one installation), BE group / user management, the TYPO3 community, the TYPO3 events.


Who is your open source mentor/hero? Can you name some people (at least 5) whom you follow to get knowledge and updates of the TYPO3?

Mentors / helpful have been (among others) Benni Mack, Mathias Brodala, Georg Ringer, Markus Klein, Daniel Siepmann, Martin Bless, Simon Gilli, Christian Kuhn, Mathias Schreiber. I also often get helpful insight from Slack channels, twitter and Stack Overflow.


What are some places, blogs, and online communities you would recommend to our readers that you think are the best places to get help about TYPO3?

The b13 blog in general is often excellent. I often find T3Planet blog entries when googling and it answers the many questions I often don’t find answered in the documentation. The usetypo3 blog by Daniel Goerz is excellent. Also, I follow several people on Twitter.


Do you think TYPO3 still needs more active contributors? Especially in awareness, branding, and marketing. Also, can you suggest some ideas on how TYPO3 could be expanded globally?

The marketing / communication I see is currently often done in the TYPO3 bubble. It would be good to get some people who have a larger audience or can reach more people, e.g. via publications in more general magazines, blogs etc.

Also, it would be helpful to get people who are very active in other CMSs or frameworks and can give some new insights from “the outside”.

It would be good to have some reference / showcases - both for download or which you can visit online and see TYPO3 in all its glory. Typo3.com is a good example for a blog. You can also download the blog extension. It would be great to have more examples like that for other types of sites.


Last but not least, Apart from TYPO3, What're the things you love to do?

I love humor, the outdoors, nature, reading and many other things.

Dear Sybille many thanks for making time to conduct these interview and sharing your views with insights. 

If you too want to share your views regarding the TYPO3 Eco-system and TYPO3 Open source community, you are more than welcome. Feel free to reach us or drop us a message in the comment section below.
Also, thanks to all Post Status readers, we will see you at the next interview. Till then stay tuned for next exciting T3Interview :)

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