As a friend, and later as budget manager for the Neos team as a member of the TYPO3 Association Expert Advisory Board, I knew the makers of Neos personally when they were part of the TYPO3 project, and I am incredibly impressed to see what they have accomplished since becoming independent last year.
The split of TYPO3 and Neos and its effects
At the time of the community split in July 2015, it was very hard for me to see Neos leave TYPO3. I wanted them to stay together. But looking back I now realize that the split was necessary to turn energy spent towards the inside - on keeping the community together - to the outside - into the development of the products. TYPO3 CMS and Neos CMS have both matured since. But not only the products, also the communities have developed tremendously. The Neos team has matured and grown on the one side and the TYPO3 Association has focused on becoming more professional by founding its own company TYPO3 GmbH on the other side.
Back to the Neos team: Once the split became inevitable, I felt it was important it would be made effective as quickly as possible. The Neos team had to take their future into their own hands - marketing, fundraising, organizing themselves, developing the product - and they have done it very well as we can see now, one year later: An LTS release is a significant step for any developer and therefore also a great benefit for the customer. It requires committing to a given feature set and to consider code as stable, done, practically unchangeable, maintainable - for a while. A team needs to feel safe to make this happen.
A stronger identity, a stronger developer community
Another long-critized issue by different web agencies was the absence of a logo for Neos. But as we know from Agile development practices - to stop and think - leads to improved quality. That's exactly what the team did when they introduced a temporary logo while taking time to meet designers, draw, create and innovate to finally launch their new Neos logo in April this year. Looking at the result, the Neos logo looks really unique and stands out in the logo cloud of technologies.
In April this year I attended Inspiring Conference, the yearly Neos CMS and Flow Framework community event. While the number of participants decreased compared to previous years, which is not surprising taking the split into consideration, the developers attending were more convinced about the products and more determined to use and improve them. In the beginning, only the core team believed in the potential of Neos CMS, today many developers do and agencies feel more confident to make it their content management system of choice for innovative web projects.
Expanding the Neos community
At Web Essentials, we have been using Neos CMS since 2012 (the T3CON12 Asia website was the first Neos site we built even before Neos version 1.0). We have since built a dozen of Neos CMS sites and used Flow Framework as a basis for enterprise web applications. Recently we haven’t been able to provide the Neos team as much financial support as we would have liked but we have tried to contribute in other ways. Some of our staff have attended Neos code sprints. Our customers have been Neos officers. And with Swisscom as a customer and sandstorm media as a technical partner we have developed an open source newsletter system based on Neos CMS which allows companies to self-host their newsletter system.
Yet, our support for Neos has not ended here. We will continue to on-board our partner companies, which are design, communication and marketing agencies, with Neos CMS. They and their customers love it because from its first line of code, Neos was created for editors, not only for developers.
I truly hope this effort will exceed commercial value. Asking a participant of the Neos DevCamp in Nuremberg in August 2016, what the Neos community needed most right now, he replied people who join their marketing team.
Perhaps one day these companies will be joining the Neos community to do what they are best at: to market it.
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