Interview with Ingo Schommer of SilverStripe

Posted by Paul Rogers on 13 February 2012

I was introduced to Ingo Schommer at the UK SilverStripe meetup event in November 2011, and I recently got back in touch with him to ask if he would mind taking part in an interview for the GPMD blog - which he kindly agreed to.

Here are the questions that we asked Ingo and his answers.

Please can you provide a brief introduction to SilverStripe and tell us a bit more about yourself.

SilverStripe is an open source content management system, which excites professional web development teams with it's technical abilities, but also content authors with its ease of use.

I'm a core developer for SilverStripe, which means I get to collaborate with smart people all over the world, which is a very humbling experience.

Currently based in Germany, I work on exciting stuff like the CMS interface, but also the less visible bits like improving search results on silverstripe.org, nagging people about coding standards and keeping the builds passing.

What is your favourite SilverStripe website and why?

Being a developer first and foremost, I tend to be impressed by websites which achieve complex business goals through SilverStripe, such as geographically mapping large amounts of data or providing a personalised experience for thousands of customers. It’s often difficult to see the technical effort "under the hood" though, so it’s hard to pick out a favourite.

On the community side, I admire Aram's work on ssbits.com - it’s been a fresh breeze to the spirit of sharing in SilverStripe, with it's "site of the month" feature and numerous helpful tutorials.

SilverStripe has grown significantly since moving to open source in 2006 - what do think the main reasons for this success are?

Web professionals have to be pragmatists, otherwise you'd go insane over browser support and the inconsistent development stack. But they also want to be proud of their work. I think we just hit a sweet spot between providing a framework architecture to build clean solutions, while still keeping in mind the practical problems of developing medium-sized websites and apps.

In 2011, SilverStripe introduced a number of new features and released the first version of v3.0 - do you have any big plans for 2012?

Our SilverStripe 3.0 release (which is currently in alpha stage) will be continued and consolidated, combined with a greater focus on user experience.

SilverStripe has loyal supporters around the globe - how will you grow the SilverStripe community in the coming months/years?

I feel that the SilverStripe 3.0 release brings a lot of motivation and inspiration to the core team as well as the wider community. Everybody loved Felipe's design concepts and is dying to see them in action. I see this as a chance to involve more community members in activities typically undertaken only by a handful of dedicated individuals. This includes exciting stuff like creating new core features, but also necessary work to keep the overall system healthy, like reviewing patches and being active on our bug tracker.

We'll use our visibility and community reach to ignite and support these activities, but in the end it’s up to everybody who wants to see SilverStripe flourish to step up (see silverstripe.org/contribute to find out how you can help).

Version 3.0 is due out this year and is a major overhaul with many improvements - what are your favourite changes?

As a long-time tinkerer in the CMS interface, I'm thrilled that we’ve got the opportunity to start more or less from scratch on the technical layer. SilverStripe 3.0 uses modern libraries and approaches, and generally provides more opportunities for deeper customisation.

On the framework side, I'm particularly fond of the new ways to query and express data, using a fluent PHP API rather than raw SQL queries.

Looking past version 3.0, where do you see SilverStripe going in 2013 and beyond?

I think we'll see more competition from content management systems with solid framework underpinnings, given the proliferation of exciting framework solutions in the PHP space, combined with the ease of developing front-ends with modern web techniques.

On a more abstract level, the types of content managed with our product will expand, and won't neatly fit into the "nested pages on a website" concept.

We need to listen closely to both customers and developers to stay relevant in this market, and ensure we're solving the right problems on both functionality and framework architecture.

It's a big challenge, and only realistic with a wide community providing feedback and help.

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Once again, we'd like to thank Ingo for taking the time to do this interview - you can follow him on Twitter or read his recent articles on the SilverStripe 3.0 interface and how SilverStripe is maturing on the SilverStripe website.

You can follow Paul on Twitter and Google Plus.

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