MiaCMS interview

Date Submitted: May 19 2008 11:14 pm
Chanh Ong is a volunteer at OpenSourceCMS.com
Chad and Cem is team member and core developer of MiaCMS project.

1) Who are you and tell us a little about the MiaCMS team?

MiaCMS team:
The MiaCMS project was initiated by four individuals with profound knowledge of the Mambo CMS system. The founding team includes Al Warren (alwarren), Chad Auld (cauld), Ozgur Cem Sen (ocs), and Richard Ong (arpee). Together we have held the following roles within Mambo over the years; project leader, board member, steering committee member, core team leader, quality team leader, documentation team leader, and server administration. Those who know the project well will recognize those listed as what was the majority of the current core Mambo development team prior to this fork.

My name is Chad Auld. I am a Yahoo! Software Engineer by day and a MiaCMS hacker by night. I spent 3+ years on the Mambo CMS team helping push the 4.5.3 through 4.6.3 releases out the door. I wrote much of what will eventually be Mambo 4.7, the portability database installer which may eventually be used in Mambo 5 if they continue down the roadmap as it stands today, and I am the author and/or a contributor on a number of popular extensions like MOStlyCE, MOStlyREST, MiaCMS Sitemap, Byte, etc. Enough about me though... this should be about MiaCMS

And this is Ozgur Cem Sen here. I'm with S1 Corp. as a Software Engineer by day, and like Chad, a MiaCMS hacker by night. My daily duties are mostly based on C/C++, and sometimes Python and I get my PHP-kick out of Mia during the dark. After doing my time with Mambo project for just over a year, I hopped on to the MiaCMS train (they said, it's gonna be lighter and faster). As the other folks in the team, I also had several roles with Mambo; QA & Release Lead, Translation Team (Turkish Translation), and finally Core Team Lead. Even though the titles sound pretty intriguing, the excitement of the titles rapidly diminish when you cannot do much with them in certain environments. Aside from my core MiaCMS involvement,I have a few goodies that I develop and/or contribute to, such as moseasymedia, a few PayPal extensions, MiaCMS Sitemap, MOStlyREST & Bridget... next...

2) Tell us a little about MiaCMS? Why Mia? Why fork?

MiaCMS team:
MiaCMS is a fork of the Mambo CMS. Why a fork? We felt that the policies, processes, and priorities of the official Mambo Foundation were having a negative impact on the code and the community. Innovation, creativity, and team spirit have all but been eliminated. Thus the fork. Much of the same crew that built you Mambo 4.5.3 through 4.6.3 are here now continuing development on the same award winning software base that everyone has come to know and love. Let us make clear we never gave up on the product or the community, but rather just the Foundation which controlled it.

Ozgur and I have also blogged a bit more about the fork on our personal blogs for those interested:

3) Why did you want to create MiaCMS in the first place?

MiaCMS team:
Chad: We loved Mambo. If not we would not have helped make it the CMS is has grown to be today. However, it can and should be better. We aim to do just that, but don't feel that it can be done in its current environment. So MiaCMS is an attempt to remove the barriers preventing advancement, creating distractions, and destroying motivation. Simply put... we want to get back to making the best CMS on the planet.

Cem: I am still trying to figure out the reasoning behind the uptightness, the heavy politics and power struggles in an Open Source project. Clearly, those are the top motivation killers, and still unavoidable. Why would anyone, especially when donating time, put up with with those? This is one of the reasons, we established the MiaCMS without any hierarchical structure. Now that, we all are pretty much addicted to Open Source, we gotta do it. And we wanted to give ourselves at the least "some fun" while doing it.

4) What do you consider are some of the strongest features of MiaCMS?

MiaCMS team:
Here is the base feature set:
* Simple Installation
* Graphical Content Editors (automatic code generation)
* RSS Content Syndication
* Powerful/Extensible 3rd Party Extension System
* Flexible Site Theming Capabilities
* Free & Open Source (GPL v2 License)
* Site Search
* REST enabled
* User Management
* Multilingual
* Stable, Secure, and Mature

MiaCMS is built on the strong CMS base that we helped build over the last 3 years. For reasons noted in question #2 we decided it was time break away from the Mambo Foundation and get back to building a state of the art CMS. Outside of reasons that have made Mambo a very popular and powerful CMS over the years, MiaCMS also offers a number of unique features. Much time for the first releases was spent rebranding, building out our SVN, the new sites, the forums, etc. We did however work in a number of nice enhancements and new features, but expect many more in the upcoming releases. More information on the initial release can be found here - http://wiki.miacms.org/wikka.php?wakka=ReleaseNotes.

5) What are some of the features you want to incorporate into future MiaCMS releases?

MiaCMS team:
First up was the release of 4.6.4 which was to finally get long awaited security fixes and bug enhancements in to the hands of the community. In addition to the those items the team also focused on fixing many of the XHTML validation issues found in prior Mambo releases. There is still work to be done in this area, but we invite you to compare Mambo to MiaCMS in this respect to see the improvements we made in just 2 weeks time. We also reimplemented quite a few of the Mambo 4.7 enhancements that many have been waiting for, but that have still not been released to the community. The wait is now over, convert and enjoy (http://docs.miacms.org/wikka.php?wakka= MamboToMia).

Perhaps the largest set of visual changes in the first release was the implementation of the YUI Library (http://developer.yahoo.com/yui/). YUI is now the official library of choice for Mia and where possible it will be used throughout the system over other 3rd party libraries to create a consistent, robust, and maintainable system. The YUI implementation will also have the positive impact of simpler cross-browser development and equal support of all A-Grade browsers. There is still quite a bit of YUI related work to be done, but you can already see it in action in 4.6.4. 4.6.4 utilizes YUI dom, events, grids/css, the rich text editor, menus, tabs, plus more. For more information about the major changes in 4.6.4 you can see the release notes here - http://wiki.miacms.org/wikka.php?wakka=ReleaseNotes.

Here are some of the new features we are looking into for future releases:
Improved ACL's (User/Group Permissions)
Database Portability
LDAP Support
Dublin Core
N-Level Content (remove the two tier section/category limitation)
Content Versioning
Multilingual Content Management
Writeable REST Interface
Multi-Site Management
Better File/Image Manager (Tighter integration with the editor)

We have started a discussion about these on our forum to solicit feedback from the community (http://forum.miacms.org/viewtopic.php?id=47). Anyone is welcome to chime in with their personal votes, suggestions, and/or recommendations.

6) What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of creating an open source CMS?

MiaCMS team:

Chad: One of the biggest challenges of developing Mambo was the political mumbo jumbo that went into the effort. We are developers and we love to code. We aren't about politics, slowdowns, rules, meetings, etc. MiaCMS is back to focusing on the basics. We feel that through close communication with the community and a great friendship between the developers a best of breed CMS will emerge. Gone are the monolith six month releases of the past. We are going with release early release often approach. Perhaps the most challenging aspect to developing MiaCMS will be combating bloat. MiaCMS will be used to build sites of all sizes and types. Each with its own set of requirements, some requiring more functionality and some requiring less. New features bring more code and additional complexity. It is the nature of software. This will be combated by building out a solid core and developing functionality through core extensions that can be enabled/disabled at will by system administrators.

Cem: As Chad said above, we loved Mambo. A good amount of sweat and tear went in it. But today Mambo is so stuck at looking back to its bright past. "Past", it happened, done, fin. With MiaCMS, We're over it. Today's web and CMSs require a richer feature/function set. We are holding a good core in our hands to enhance towards those goals, yet better surpass them with newer and better.

7) There is a plethora of open source CMS's available out "there" for people to choose. Why should people consider MiaCMS?

MiaCMS team:
Chad: The MiaCMS team is focused on producing an simple, yet powerful content management system. The team is focused on stability, security, innovation, web standards, performance, and our users. We are community focused and take pride in our product. MiaCMS is not a toy, an experiment, or a hobby. It is a robust CMS which can be used for sites of all types and sizes. Furthermore, MiaCMS has a very powerful extension system which can be used to develop custom extensions to enable functionality not found in the core by default.

Cem: One of the good things that we inherited from Mambo is the mindset of "simplicity". Can we make it simpler, yet better! We are working on it.

Thank you your for your time!
The MiaCMS Team (http://miacms.org)

Thanks to MiaCMS team for the o pportunity to get to know MiaCMS.

Chanh Ong