The unofficial, community organized Joomla! (newssiteconference «J and Beyond» took place this weekend in Wiesbaden, Germany.

This is the first time an international conference has been organized by the Joomla! community. And international it was! «J and Beyond» saw 187 participants from 27 countries. There were people from Europe, North and South America, Africa and Asia present. People came from all over the world. From above the arctic circle in Norway, from below the equator in Brazil and Cape Town, from China and Vietnam, from nearby France and Netherlands, to mention some.

And they all spoke a common language: Joomla!

A Diverse Crowd

J and Beyond was announced as a conference for everyone in the community. This resulted in a varied crowd of people. From hard core programmers and people working in the Joomla! project, to the end-users of the product. In between you could find most of the leading developers in the community.

I don't think there has ever been this many Joomla! developers gathered under the same roof. Some of them are «competitors» in a way, as they create products for the same type of users. One example is the Joomla! CCK extension developers. Almost all of them were present. This proved fruitful for both the developers and the community.

To quote Fotis Evangelou of Joomlaworks:

It was a great opportunity to discuss with like-minded people. We extend our knowledge, share information and all this is going to be to the benefit of all of us, and the end users of Joomla!. This enables us to implement new features, new ideas, that we have discussed here. I think the «J and Beyond» more or less represents the «creme de la creme» of the Joomla community.

The CCK component K2 from JoomlaWorks won the award for «Best Joomla! component» in the J!Oscars award on Monday night.

A Wide Selection of Topics

In regards to the official program, there was something for everyone. Introductions to Joomla! concepts and extensions, productivity and optimization tips, developer sessions and workshops, to mention some.

The sessions were actually submitted by speakers before the conference. Then the community voted for the sessions and the program was put together from the resulting votes. True community involvement.

A fair share of the participants were designers and integrators. They could benefit from talking directly to the developers of their favorite Joomla! extensions. Both to learn more about them and to suggest improvements and report bugs or other issues. I saw several examples of end-users and developers coming together to exchange views. The result being a change or improvement in the software.

Long Time Online Friends Met for the First Time

As the Joomla! community is so spread out across the world, many people had never met before. Many knew each other from online communities like Twitter, Skype, the new people.joomla.org website and forums. Some had even worked together on projects small and large, some even in the same company, but never met in person.