TYPO3 Talk With Frank Nägler : CTO of TYPO3 GmbH

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 Frank Nägler : CTO of TYPO3 GmbH

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Welcome to the TYPO3 Interview Series - 24!

Hey TYPO3 People, this week we have Frank Nägler with us this week for interesting TYPO3 Talk! Frank Nägler works as CTO for TYPO3 GmbH. He's been involved in developing the TYPO3 CMS core since October 2014 and has been programming professionally since 2000.

Grab that cup of coffee to explore Frank's insights into his 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 his journey with TYPO3 from then to now, and much more!

  • Interviewee : Frank Nägler
  • Company : TYPO3 GmbH
  • Designation : Chief Technology Officer
  • Topic : Together Building a Better TYPO3 Eco-system

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

I am working for the TYPO3 GmbH as the CTO and live with my wife and cat in Hamburg, Germany. Since around 2010, I have been part of the TYPO3 community.  I had my first experience with TYPO3 with version 3.6. From 2014 until 2021, I was part of the TYPO3 core team as a framework merger. I have been an active member of the German Red Cross for more than 30 years.


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

As already mentioned, my first TYPO3 version was 3.6, but I was not successful ;) With version 3.7, I started my first CMS project, which was going live. At this time, a core patch was handled by sending patch files into a mailing list and discussing them there. I started writing some patches but was soon frustrated for several reasons. Some weeks later, I decided to stop contributing again but still use the CMS and report issues. After a few more years, I had a very long and excellent talk with Christian Kuhn (also known as Lolli) at the TYPO3 user group in Hamburg. He was the reason to dive deeper into the TYPO3 community and get involved in the core team.


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

The TYPO3 GmbH is providing services around the TYPO3 community. We support the whole community with platforms like My TYPO3, the official TYPO3 Shop, or the Exam Tool, where everyone can get certified online. We are running various other systems on an administrative level. But we are doing more things, for example, managing the TYPO3 YouTube channel or providing the ELTS program that extends the support of every TYPO3 major version for an additional three years.


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?

Before I started at the TYPO3 GmbH, I was working for various bigger and smaller agencies. The advantage for these agencies was my proximity to the community. Contributing to the core during working hours was a win-win situation for both the companies and the project. It is the best training for an employee, and the proximity to the project helps improve their skills and make projects better. I can give that recommendation to any company working - and making a profit - with open-source products like TYPO3: Enable your employees to contribute and enforce community work. You will have a huge benefit even if you cannot put a price tag on it directly.


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?

When I think back to my beginnings and look at the product today, I am proud of the development. From a technical point of view, we have been stable and predictable for years and remain up-to-date.

With three years of public support and an additional three years with the ELTS program, customers and agencies get the possibility to plan for up to six years in total. I am not sure if many other open-source products provide this. I think the project will have a great future, the community is growing, and many people love TYPO3.


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

In my opinion, this question should get answered by people other than me. But I think the future of TYPO3 is depending on what the community is doing. Indeed, we have people like Benni Mack with some visions or ideas, but TYPO3 is also what everyone can and will contribute. Open-source means bringing in your thoughts and concepts and taking responsibility for your ideas. You don’t need to be a programmer to contribute.


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?

I don't think it's fair to compare the market share of the two systems.

Each system has its strengths and weaknesses. Compare specific use cases and features, e.g., how many multi-language sites are available with the respective systems, how many instances are one-pagers, or how many instances have more than 10, 50, 100 content pages. I want to say that the market share alone is not the basis for a direct comparison.

If we missed things in the past, I would say it is maybe the ease of use and perhaps the documentation, but teams are already working on it. In many talks, I heard, “TYPO3 is so complicated” or “Every time I need it, the documentation is missing or wrong.” And yes, this was often a problem in the past, but we have made excellent progress, the documentation team did a great job, and the usability gets better and better with every release.


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

The statement is “TYPO3 CMS is an Open Source Enterprise Content Management System”, and yes, it is on an enterprise level. But TYPO3 CMS is suitable for a private homepage, the craftsman in the neighborhood, the school homepage, or a small society. If I ask people: “Why do you not use TYPO3?” I often get the answer: “No, that is too much for my project.”. I say no, TYPO3 is for everyone and can be the right solution for nearly every CMS project. With tools like the bootstrap package, you can directly start creating content and have a rock-solid frontend out of the box. My personal opinion: “TYPO3 is a CMS for everybody.”, but people don’t know it :)


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

Global expansion starts in the local area. Sometimes I hear statements like “I don’t need this or that feature.”. Ok, but maybe someone else needs it? Or “Why should I write or talk in English?” Because we are a worldwide community! We have contributors from all over the world! Don’t get me wrong, every contributor is very welcome, but everyone should think bigger. I think a little less egoism and a little more thinking outside the box could help the project the most. Be open to new ideas, think outside your own needs, and ask yourself what will be the best for the whole community.


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 think T3Planet is a good example of the power of open-source and the opportunities. T3Planet provides services and solutions that help our community, from the customer to the developer to the agencies. And T3Planet also supports the project by making TYPO3 more popular overall.


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?

If we talk about popularity, we should mention that about 70% of all websites are built with PHP, so PHP is very popular and under active development. In the last years, many new programming languages were born and disappeared after some years. PHP has existed for more than 25 years, and I am sure it will live for at least 25 more years.

I am very sure that the popularity and ease of PHP are some of the reasons for the success of TYPO3. But if you would start TYPO3 today with the most popular programming language, would it be successful like TYPO3 is today? I am not sure, but I guess no because it is not the programming language that makes a product successful; it is the community and the programmers.


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

An interesting question, and if I think about my time at the agencies, the power of extendability was the most crucial feature for me. If the core does not provide the functionality, there is a big chance that you can find an extension or write your own.

Another significant feature was the multi-language feature, which has existed as a core feature for many years and is still missing in other open-source CMS.


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?

That is hard to answer because many people in the open-source world have inspired me, not only in the TYPO3 universe. To name a few: Benni Mack, Oliver Hader (TYPO3), Fabien Potencier (Symfony), Nikita Popov (PHP), Nils Adermann & Jordi Boggiano (composer). But around each project, you find a lot more people, blogs, or other sources. It is hard to follow them all.


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?

There are a lot of sources, but one I get in mind first is the TYPO3 developer blog “use TYPO3” of Daniel Goerz, he is writing about how to use all the new features of TYPO3 with code examples, and he also explains complex things in a way that everyone understands it. A second source is the blog of my colleague Susi Moog. On “susi.dev”, she writes about developer-related topics, also with code samples.

To get help and support and be part of the TYPO3 community, I recommend joining the TYPO3 Slack.


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?

I already talked about the global expansion, but sure, the project needs active contributors at any time and in nearly every area. We already have fantastic teams, but every team can profit from more contributors because we also lose team members from time to time. The whole TYPO3 project can benefit from more contributors. If you are a marketing expert, UX guru, security expert, or nearly anything else, you can improve and help the project.


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

For two years now, I love to fly with my drones and take nice pictures and videos from the bird’s perspective.

As mentioned in the beginning, I am an active member of the German Red Cross. I started at the age of 12 in the youth organization of the red cross, and at the moment, I am the manager of the Civil Protection Unit of a local Red Cross District association with around 80 people.

I like and love the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement idea and am proud to help people if they need help.

Dear Frank 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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