Last week in Wiesbaden, Germany 190 people from 27 different countries gathered together for three days of Joomla, Joomla and a little bit more Joomla.
The idea of this international gathering was several years in the making but after Joomla!Day Germany 2009 Robert Deutz was determined to make it happen and happen it did, in style.
This event was designed to be run by the participants. All the sessions were proposed and run by attendees and with over 55 sessions it was certainly going to be a challenge to attend everything that you wanted to. Thankfully almost every session was filmed and the videos will be available at JandBeyond.org over the next few weeks.
Although the event was not specifically targeted at advanced users it soon became apparent that the vast majority of attendees were either extension developers, designers or site integrators, and the sessions reflected that. In addition to the speakers there were workshops, lightening talks and an all too short time for un-conference style discussion groups.
If Joomla! is about one thing for me then it is about the community.
In my talks at Joomla!Days over the last year I've always impressed on people that working in isolation is not productive and that its important to communicate with each other and to share everything from coding tips to best business practice.
Before the event I was trying to stress to people that the event was not just about the sessions but also about putting a face to the name, avatar and nickname. It's fair to say that a few people received a little pressure from me to attend as a result and I'm so happy that they all got as much, if not more, from J&Beyond as me.
It's all a matter of perspective
All the talk at J&Beyond was about the positives of Joomla and its strengths. Developers who were busy creating new and innovative ways to work with Joomla, integrators with so much work they were employing more and more staff to handle the workload etc etc
It was a dream to not just see presentations of amazing work but to see often competing developers and integrators sitting down over a meal or a beer, helping each other and sharing best practices.
Everyone present was there with an open mind and an open heart, willing to listen and to share. This was not an event where the Joomla Rock Stars spoke and the audience listened. Everyone was and is a Joomla rock star, whether you've been here since the beginning or have only recently found Joomla.
On a personal note
I was fortunate to meet up and spend time with old friends and make countless new friends. People who I know in their hearts care as much about this project as I do. People like Jack and Joseph who have been inspired by the buzz and the vibe at J&Beyond to sit down and make a JAB Pledge and all the rest who clearly enjoyed the event.