One on One with a Joomla student coder

Aaron Schmitz will create Google APIs for Joomla websites

The popular open source content management system Joomla is tapping some young talent for upgrades to its core software. Eighteen-year-old Aaron Schmitz, a rising Junior at the University of Minnesota, is heading up one of the premier Joomla projects as part of Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) Summer of Code program--needless to say, it's a far cry from working at the pool or a summer camp.

Schmitz will be creating a Google application programming interface, or API, to integrate Google services such as Google Maps and webmaster tools into Joomla-powered websites. FierceContentManagement sat down with Schmitz to discuss the Joomla project and the Summer of Code program. (Interview responses have been edited for clarity and length.)

FierceContentManagement: Have you started working on the Joomla project yet?

Aaron Schmitz: Officially, the coding period started on May 21, but I've been working with Joomla over the past month or month and a half.

FCM: To prepare?

AS: Yes.

FCM: What's the structure of the Summer of Code program? Do students participate remotely? How were you accepted into the program?

AS: Summer of Code is all remote. Different organizations apply to Google to be part of Google Summer of Code. I don't remember how many applications they had--I think hundreds of organizations applied. And then, maybe 80 of those organizations were accepted.

Students can apply to work at one or more organizations, and then they're either accepted for the summer or they're not accepted. So, specifically for Joomla, there were upwards of 50 applications and there were eight students who were accepted this year.

FCM: Why did you want to work with Joomla?

AS: So, I love developing in PHP, so that narrowed it down quite a bit. I think there were maybe, roughly 10 organizations that work largely with PHP. And I've used the Joomla CMS in the past for managing a few websites, so I was familiar with Joomla and its software that I've used before. It's well-written and I love to work with it. Joomla's amazing because, last I heard, it powers 2.7 or close to 3 percent of all the websites on the Internet.

FCM: You're going to be working on a Google API, can you tell me a bit about that?

AS: Joomla's split between two distinct software packages. The first is the Joomla platform, which is a lot of code and code that's useful for developers and developers looking to build their own applications. And built on top of the Joomla platform is the Joomla CMS, which is a content management system for, essentially, building websites and hosting blogs and that sort of thing.

So, what I'm working on is a package for the Joomla platform that will be used largely by other developers and then subsequently included in the CMS for plugins and that sort of thing that are designed to work on the CMS.

My package will interface with different Google APIs to perform tasks but it will make them easier for developers. One thing it will do is make it a simple, one-line call to output code for Google Analytics, so you can easily inject that into your website and load Google Analytics' JavaScript.

FCM: Given that the platform eventually feeds updates to the CMS, do you have any idea how long the process will be--by the time your project is done Aug. 24 and when actual CMS users will see this feature, based on your work?

AS: I don't have a good feel for how long that would take because once the coding process ends on the 24th, then all the people from the Joomla platform have to go through and make sure that the code is good and include it in the Joomla platform.

And then after that the Joomla CMS would have to release the next major update with the latest version of the Joomla platform. So, I don't know how long that will take.

During the last month, month and a half I've had the opportunity to do smaller things like bug fixes that are already committed into the latest version of the Joomla platform and will be committed into the Joomla CMS as soon as that updates.

For more:
- see a press release on the project

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