This month we acknowledge another SilverStripe member who has contributed to making our open source community an awesome place to discuss, share and learn: Jonathon Menz (Jono).
Jono is an Australian born, independent graphic designer and developer. He is an expert in SilverStripe software and has released many SilverStripe modules including the popular FocusPoint and BetterNavigator, and most recently Share Care. His services include graphic design, web design and development, and photography. In his spare time, he likes to travel, go hiking and get out in nature.
Jono has just moved from Australia to a new country, so I skyped him for a little chat.
How did you first discover SilverStripe?
About 7 years ago, I started looking around for a good content management system, as I felt I had to move beyond static html sites. I evaluated a lot of CMSs on paper and had frustrating experiences with a couple of popular CMSs at the time. Then I tried SilverStripe and fell in love!
So what stood out about SilverStripe CMS?
I just felt that it empowers both developers and content authors to do their jobs without distractions. The CMS is just for content editors; there is no developer-oriented configuration there which I think is great. I’ve seen CMSs with all kinds of technical configuration options that just intimidate users and make them afraid to go into the CMS. I really like that clean separation of roles in SilverStripe.
I also find it easy to build whatever I like with the framework and customise the CMS quickly. You don’t need to rely on a module or theme being available that does what you want as you can build a custom solution very quickly. There are a lot of great modules available to get you started too.
How have you been involved with SilverStripe?
I’ve always been fascinated by the open source movement, and I think if you benefit from the work of others by using open source software, it’s nice to give back in some way.
I’ve helped a bit in forums, which is actually a great way to learn new things yourself. I’ve released some modules and at some point I managed to fix some bugs in SilverStripe and learnt the dark magic of squashing commits. My main community involvement now is in discussions on the mailing list and GitHub.
What do you like about SilverStripe community?
I really like the community. It’s very supportive and friendly for the most part. I’ve only ever met one other SilverStripe developer in person but I feel like I know some of the community members at least a little bit from interacting online. I have another module, a jQuery plugin, that is much more popular than my SilverStripe modules, but I don’t feel very attached to it because there is no sense of community there.
Tell me about a cool experience working with SilverStripe!
I almost won a drone once [in the SilverStripe Code Competition]. Such a bittersweet moment!
Is there anything else you want to work on in the future with the SilverStripe community?
I’d like to spend all my time doing open source stuff but I have to do some paid work, unfortunately (laughs). I have a lot of ideas for modules so I’ll gradually release more. I’d love there to be a SilverStripe conference in New Zealand. It would give me an excuse to fly in and meet everybody in person.
How should open source projects encourage more UX contributions?
Good question! I guess there may need to be a change in perception of who can contribute to open source. Traditionally there are only developers, people that code, that are on GitHub, getting involved. But people can contribute without knowing anything about code, by just joining the conversation—reporting problems, suggesting solutions, giving feedback. Maybe we need to make it easier for non-technical people to be heard.
What would you do if the web no longer existed?
I guess I would have to look for another job (laughs).
If you could invite anyone to dinner, dead or alive, who would that be?
(Thinking for a long time) Leonardo da Vinci. I guess we couldn’t talk but he could draw on the napkins.
If you won Lotto, what would you do with the money?
Same things I do with it now. But I’d spend my time very differently.
Tell me something surprising about yourself!
I live on a small island off the coast of Canada. It’s called Salt Spring Island. Nice people here. There’s a good coffee brand that comes from here. Lots of wildlife too.
Since I haven’t heard about this island before, I told Jono that I would google Salt Spring Island. So I did and FYI, Salt Spring Island is the largest, most populous, and the most frequently visited of the Southern Gulf Islands, in the Strait of Georgia between mainland British Columbia, Canada and Vancouver Island. And as a coffee lover, I couldn’t resist searching for that good coffee brand that Jono was talking about—it is actually called Salt Spring Coffee.