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Java: Interview

Web Designer Dreams Come True: PHP & JSP Module Creation on Java Platform

Interview with Emmanuel Garcin, Jahia VP and General Manager USA

Hi Emmanuel, it sounds like there's a lot of excitement among your clients and integration partners over Jahia's new composite content platform, currently in beta. Why is version 6.5 a big deal?

Emmanuel Garcin: Version 6.5 is a big deal for several reasons. Above all, I'd say that our new release will make module creation easier than ever before - more like a PHP solution such as Drupal -- which is unheard of among Java platforms.

What do you mean by "next generation web content management"?

Emmanuel Garcin: The "next generation" tag isn't of our making. As per Forrester's Stephen Powers:

"IBM is betting that the WCM and portal markets will converge and cease to be separate markets, with vendors offering combined WCM/portals suites that have on administrative tool set, one presentation management structure, one repository, and so on."

Gene Phifer, of Gartner adds:

"The user experience platform (UXP) will allow enterprise developers and end users to create cross-platform user interfaces via a single set of integrated technologies, tying together disparate tools for the creation of websites, portals, mashups, RIA and mobile apps."

Jahia 6.5 does exactly what the analysts recommend, so we aren't taking the "next generation web content management" tag lightly. This release brings real innovation to our industry, and we are happy to have our community validate this.

What is a "composite content platform"? Is it unique to Jahia 6.5?

Emmanuel Garcin: Here again, the term "composite" isn't an invention of Jahia, but of Gartner. What is unique to Jahia 6.5 is that not only is it the first Java open source CMS to support composites, but it also provides a full-fledged studio that enables users to compose composite content applications with zero coding.

How does the new Jahia Studio work, and how does it compare to competitor's' end-user tools?

Emmanuel Garcin: For a software provider to release a studio isn't new. What is new, and especially in the Enterprise CMS market, is the studio's capability to build business solutions by simply assembling its components (through drag ‘n' drop functions). Most studios in our industry are IDEs (Integrated Development Environments) or SDKs (Software Development Kits) - ours is a composition tool that dramatically cuts development time.

Jahia claims that advanced users can create sophisticated web projects with "zero coding". Could you please elaborate?

Emmanuel Garcin: We're turning all Jahia capabilities into reusable components for developers to assemble and configure into actual solutions, without any coding.

But, there is still plenty of coding our community members, partners and customers can do to contribute additional components -- we'll soon open a Jahia Forge for that very purpose.

Will putting sophisticated tools in users' hands lead to changing roles and balance of power between users and developers?

Emmanuel Garcin: Let me clarify an important point: casual business users do not have to deal with our sophisticated Jahia Studio to contribute content! We've thought about their needs too. That is why we have a simplified, very easy to use "contribute mode" tailored to business users.

Conversely, Jahia 6.5 also has a sophisticated "edit mode" dedicated to advanced Jahia users, as well as the Jahia Studio for solutions builders. Thus, builders can actually be developers, but it's not a mandate. Developers can build their own modules, leveraging their scripting language of choice, such as PHP or JSP.

How are customer and public expectations for web sites evolving? Is Jahia able to keep up?

Emmanuel Garcin: More than ever: by streamlining the creation of today's and tomorrow's tools, Jahia 6.5 is a true "future proof" platform. Instead of just keeping up with what the market provides, we are offering our ecosystem the ability to build the tools they'll need tomorrow!

Do you see Jahia 6.5 opening up web content management to new classes of users and businesses, and, if so, where is this taking us?

Emmanuel Garcin: Jahia 6.5 is the first iteration of a great journey ahead, together with our community, customers, and partners. Next generation IT is about bringing new levels of abstraction to create more value for users. First were the operating systems, then databases, followed by application servers. Now, the larger Jahia community is making a new "content smart" application platform. Analysts call it the "rise of composite content platforms" with which entire business solutions can be created with built-in content services, as opposed to building in "silos".

As Jahia becomes more sophisticated; do users and developers need more training to take advantage of its powers?

Emmanuel Garcin: Actually, quite the opposite. Jahia is becoming both simpler to use and more sophisticated. With Jahia 6.5, it has never been easier for a marketing professional to create content, yet it has never been easier for solution builders to put together unique JahiaApps, using our component library.

Jahia talks about "using any programming language" and embedding "content composites from any source". Will this free customers from vendor lock-in?

Emmanuel Garcin: Previous releases of Jahia already protected our customers from being locked with a single technology because we've always relied on standards and mature frameworks that seamlessly integrate with Jahia's open source software. Any content created through Jahia could be easily migrated elsewhere. Jahia 6.5 takes this one step further by adding the ability to leverage languages other than Java, which is in line with enterprise needs. For example, CIOs want to be able to rely on the strength of Java when it comes to scalability and interoperability, but they also want to harness the agility of "lighter" scripting languages such as PHP or Ruby On Rails, which is why we've implemented bridges to them.

As to the ability to embed content from virtually any source, this isn't new to Jahia 6.5; the Jahia United Content Hub was incorporated in version 6.0.

What are the advantages of a RESTful API?

Emmanuel Garcin: REST is a very easy way to call or manipulate any type of content through a simple HTTP request. What is very interesting is that REST now prevails among other so-called standards, such as Portlet which Jahia also supports, which are much more complex to instantiate. Making Jahia REST compatible opens many opportunities to fully interoperate, both within and outside of the platform.

Do you see yourself as a bridge between the PHP and the Java community?

Emmanuel Garcin: No, such bridges naturally arise within communities - we simply work to make them stronger. The PHP and Java open source communities share similar values and motives, so those who oppose Java and PHP are wrong - innovation (thus value) comes from sharing and inspiration, not confrontation. We acknowledged this by bringing to the Java world some of the good things we've seen in PHP and that Java developers asked for years. Obviously, bringing the widely recognized PHP modularity into a robust Java architecture, built with the strongest Java open source frameworks, and adding a great aggregation tool (our Studio) on top of it is a great recognition of successful cross-community work. PHP modules may even be reused with Jahia 6.5 thanks to another great open source project named Quercus. We believe in pursuing all opportunities to simplify the lives of both users and developers. Using the work of other communities as a source of inspiration and sharing the result is a great way to achieve that objective and is clearly one of the key principles of all open source projects - whatever their coding language.

You said you are reaching out to new communities. Which communities are you serving?

Emmanuel Garcin: Our new release reaches out to new developer communities, such as the PHP community. Solution providers in specific industry verticals such as financial services, government, higher education, and manufacturing industries may also find ways to leverage Jahia to create new, innovative business solutions.

How does community-centric collaboration work?

Emmanuel Garcin: We are used to working with a wide range of contributors, from enterprise systems integrators to smart individuals. Our new software makes contributing easier than ever, and we'll streamline that further with a Jahia Forge and lots of documentation!

Can you tell us about the new JahiaApps capabilities?

Emmanuel Garcin: In addition to the core JahiaApps feature that covers existing WCM/portal and document management capabilities, we're adding samples of food for thought for our community, such as Stickers (easy collaboration through quick notes), Newsletters, My Connections, My bookmarks, Twitter feeds, and so on. We have many more in the works, and we will make them available, along with community contributions, through our Forge.

When will you release the stable enterprise version of 6.5?

Emmanuel Garcin: When it is ready ;-) And since the Community version and the Enterprise version of 6.5 share the same code, they will be released at the same time.

Is there anything else you care to add?

Emmanuel Garcin: I would like to add that we are very proud of the new Jahia, and that we are looking forward to working with our users to make our platform even richer. #

To learn more:

Visit http://beta65.jahia.org/ for a global tour of Jahia beta 6.5, download Jahia Beta 6.5 at: http://beta65.jahia.org/download.

More Stories By Xenia von Wedel

Xenia von Wedel, Tech blogger and VP of Socialradius/San Francisco-San Jose. She mainly writes about B2B solutions, social media and open source software. SocialRadius is a full-service social media marketing agency, serving clients in a variety of industries worldwide. The agency is focused on thought leadership content creation and syndication, social media outreach and strategy.