Hi Vince, tell us about yourself and your company
Hi Kristian, as you know my name's Vince Wooll, I'm the director of a small web application development company based in Wales, called Woollyinwales IT, and the creator of Jomres, Joomla's most popular booking system.
Can you tell us about Jomres?
Well, apart from Community Builder, I believe that Jomres is probably one of Joomla's very oldest components, as it can trace it's roots right back to March 2005. A business aquaintance wanted to manage bookings at his hotel via computer, rather than the written cards they were using at the time, but didn't want to pay the high fees being charged for Property Management Systems. I agreed to look into how he did things and came up with a rough model of how something like that would work. In fact, the online booking functionaity was tacked onto the side, it wasn't part of the original discussion but it's something I wanted to experiment with.
As it turned out, he didn't end up using the system but I stuck with it because I thought it would make an interesting project as there were no Open Source booking systems that had anywhere near the functionality needed. This was back in the Mambo days, and I'd already worked a little with Mambo, so I created a project on the Mambo Forge and invited folks to offer their thoughts and suggestions.
Within a few months there were so many feature requests that I decided to focus on the project full time, and when the Core Developers moved from Mambo and set up Joomla I went with them, renaming the system from Mosres to Jomres in September of that year.
Jomres now has a team of 4 running it. I do the main development like bugfixing and new features. Aladar's main role is support and there are two admin staff. We also have fantastic forum users, and whilst they're not technically staff they're a key part of the Jomres community and I consider many of them friends. I've deliberately not offered multiple extensions, because I believe that the only way to truly provide great service for a plugin that's core to my user's business plans is to put all of my energies into Jomres alone.
The main focus of the system is to act as an online booking portal. If you want to offer something to be booked by the day (or even hourly slots, but that's slightly more complicated) then Jomres is the tool for the job. The core of the system is a free download and this offers you a basic yet functional booking system for something like a hotel or guest house, however the real power of the system comes from it's plugin system.
Virtually every page in Jomres is a discreet script, and you can override/extend and add to the scripts that Jomres uses in plugins. Currently, if you purchase a Jomres Developer license you'll be able to access 70+ plugins from the Jomres Plugin manager that turns the system from a basic booking system into a full blown booking portal. Additionally, there are 35 gateways available from OSDCS, and Jomres Extras (our partner company) offer another 14 very useful plugins. I also actively encourage people to create their own functionality for the system using my plugins to learn from and there's at least one mobile application that's currently under development.
You recently had some problems with your listing at JED, what is it all about?
Jomres has been listed on the Joomla Extension Directory ever since the JED was first offered to the Joomla community. Indeed, as soon as I saw the JED I realised that it would be a very important resource, so as I wanted to give something back to the community I spent a very happy year as one of the JED's editors. This unfortunately had to come to an end in 2007, however it gives me a unique insight into the huge amount of work that the JED editors do to keep it running.
Since then the JED's rules and regulations have evolved beyond all recognition. One of those rules is that you need to upload a file that allows the editors to check that the system is genuinely GPL licensed, so I duly uploaded a file.
Jomres is huge. It's 6.3mb zipped up, therefore far too big for most server's upload limits so the main method of installing the system is via a web installer that pulls the core file from one of my servers and extracts the file on your own. This is way quicker than uploading it via ftp (although, purchasers of a Developer license can still download it zipped up if they want) and means I don't have to maintain a massive xml file of the 1,878 files in the system.
As a result, the file I uploaded was one of the installer files and for a long time nobody at the JED had made an issue of this. A couple of days ago however one of the JED editors abruptly unpublished Jomres from the Joomla Extension Directory and the reason given was "File not attached to listing. Installers not accepted in lieu of extension file." As soon as I was aware that the extension had been unpublished I uploaded the full version to the JED. As the huge majority of our business comes from the Joomla Extension Directory we can't afford not to be listed.
Ok, this looks like a rule change that I wasn't aware of so it's my fault I guess, but what irks me is the way that the process was done.
There's no communication from the JED team, they simply unpublish your extension and you've got no way of appealing the action. In the email that you receive when it's unpublished they say "Republishing is a last priority for team duties", "Republishing may take up to 30 days or more." and "Do not email the team, post in the forums, on the J!People site or in other non-project sites seeking republishing information - this will only delay your listing being republished".
This basically boils down to "Get lost, we'll deal with it when we're good and ready, if you hassle us we'll just bump you down the queue", which I suppose if all you're offering is a module or two this would be no big deal, but when you're running a business where people's homes and ability to buy food rely on sales of the system's plugins then it's a major problem.
It's of course especially galling to me that as an ex-editor they should know that they can just email me and ask "can you please upload the full system to the JED?" Naturally, I would have jumped to do it. I've always tried to play within the rules, my relationship with the JED's too important to risk that, but that's not how the game works now, it seems.
Why did you choose to develop for Joomla?
Sometimes I wonder!
Seriously though, it simply makes sense. Formally, Jomres is CMS agnostic in that it can be run as a Standalone system, or as a plugin for Joomla. I've deliberately split off parts of the code that talk to the host CMS so in theory it can be modified to work with another CMS but I've never seen a need to support any other system with as much vigour as we do Joomla because Joomla let's us find ways to do everything that our clients want.
Besides, there are a heck of a lot of really interesting and fun people in the Joomla community. I'd be hard pressed to find another job that allows me to interact with people as mad or dedicated as the likes of Brian Teeman.
What in the pipe for Jomres 2011?
Aladar and I are currently on a summer hiatus of sorts. We've released v5, and we're now concentrating on mainly supporting the system for the next few months while the feature requests build up again. Come the autumn we will go through the requests and figure out which ones will benefit the most existing and new Jomres users and spend the next nine months working on those. Obviously, we're still working on minor feature improvements in the meantime, but we're not going to do anything major, we just want the system to be the best it can be.