The Bob Bloom Show #42: Virtual Guest Alan Langford On Joomla Distro, Content Pattern Plugin, And Transcripts

Thursday December 8th, 2011



Alan Langford was born waiting for the Internet. In 1964 he decided he was going to work with computers. By 1970 he was baffling teachers with essays on how connected computing would change society. In the mid-70's he wrote a popular instant messaging application for his university's mainframe that offered both user presence and geo-location features. His love of telecommunications drew him to technology projects at Bell-Northern Research and Mitel, including work on the Telidon videotex system. In the mid 1980's he started working with Interactive Voice Response systems, holding senior positions at several companies and publishing a newsletter on the industry. As the Web first started to gain popularity, he served as a General Manager for the interactive unit of Grey Canada, where he contributed to a variety of projects and used early forms of Web 2.0 technology to build more interactive user experiences. Alan is fascinated with how communications technologies continuously shape society, business, politics, and the economy. He is an advocate for open source software and passionate about small business and the entrepreneurial process. Alan is deeply involved in the Joomla project. He is a member of the Joomla Security Team and the Joomla Bug Squad. He has made significant code contributions to the Joomla core and has taken on a leadership role in the Joomla User Group Toronto. Alan is the founder of Abivia Web Hosting and Development, suppliers of high quality web hosting, web sites, and Joomla extensions.



Welcome to the 42nd “The Bob Bloom Show”. My name is Bob Bloom from Toronto, Canada. Today is Thursday, December 08th, 2011.


Podcast Recordings Crapped Out On Me — Twice!


I recorded not one, but two recordings with Alan Langford, my guest today. The Skype recording software called Pamela did not write the MP3 to disk after both recordings.


Alan is very gracious about re-recording, and is being a good sport about a third go-’round. This tells you something about his Big Heart beneath the sardonic wit. But I’ve overstayed my welcome on this one, so I will compose a fresh show based on what we talked about — twice.



Sometimes I think Alan Langford Flies Too Low Under the Radar

Do you follow Alan on Twitter? No, well you should.

He is  @FxNxRL.

Alan Langford has a long history contributing to the Joomla project. It looks like Joomla 1.7 does not have a file called credits.php, but Joomla 1.5 does. Alan is listed in this credits.php file for all the Joomla releases.

Alan leads the Toronto Joomla User Group since forever.

Alan’s technical skill is considerable. He runs servers as part of his business. He offers unique Joomla extensions for free downloads. His management background is extensive.

Alan’s foray into servers parallels the extensions he offers for free download: solutions rooted in real-world problems. Spambots harrassing his Joomla user table? Write a little plugin called “User Killer” — pretty snazzy name, actually!

Frustrated with the webhosts his client sites resided, Alan went through a long and winding road to becoming a first class hosting provider. Alan’s newest service is Canadian hosting, which is something my Canadian Club Commerce members should keep in mind.

Maybe I shouldn’t put “Canadian” and “Club” side-by-side lest anyone think I’m talking about something else!


SquareOneCMS Joomla Distribution

We talked about SquareOneCMS?  It’s the brainchild of Jeremy Wilken.

Y’know, Jeremy has no idea I’m talking about his Distro. But, I had one question, which is not a criticism, but if I have to even ask myself if something will be interpreted as criticism then that’s reason enough. So I emailed Jeremy last night and we’re going to do a show next month after his initial SquareOneCMS release.

I love the footer that takes pain to explain that this is not a fork:

Square One is a Joomla distribution. Some people may consider it a fork, which is when software is taken and then independently developed, but this is not the case. Square One is a simplified version of Joomla, but remains 98% Joomla. Almost all of the changes between Joomla and Square One are removing unrequired core extensions of Joomla, and a few minor additions to make it possible to reinstall those extensions.

I love the idea of Joomla distros. Love it. There should be tons of ‘em, I think the marketplace thirsts for them.

Alan installs his own personal Joomla distros on his client sites, which makes complete sense. If you customize and run the server, you have encyclopaedic knowledge of Joomla, and you can program in your sleep, then why not tweak the Joomla you install on servers you lovingly configure?

In my first recording with Alan, I confessed that I’ve been dense understand Free Open Source Software for a long time. It’s a culture shock, and I’m now aclimatizing to it. Do you know that this fall I keep going to the site and re-reading the four freedoms of General Public Licenced software?

  • The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0).
  • The freedom to study how the program works, and change it so it does your computing as you wish (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
  • The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).
  • The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others (freedom 3). By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

I harp on this because it is worth harping about: you are entitled!

Users of open source software, especially Free Open Source Software, shoulder every risk and every burden of using it. In exchange for shouldering extreme risk, users get extreme control.

The only way to get the benefits of this extreme control is to wield it. With FOSS, control is truly a “use it or lose it” proposition.

You are entitled to do whatever you want with the code, and then to distribute the code you messed with.

This is precisely what you are supposed to do. This is what you are meant to do.

Joomla from is just raw material, baby.

We need more Alans and Jeremys baking the software. All the learning, all the experience, all the wisdom that the Alans and Jeremys of the world have should be imputed into the raw material before the users and consultants use it.

You know why? I’ll tell you why. Because the Alans and Jeremys of the world, who devote their love and life  and passion to their profession, will mitigate our risk using Free Open Source Software. And given that we-who-use FOSS absorb extreme risk using it, this software intermediation takes away a major layer of operational risk.

Jeremy is to be applauded for his ground-breaking Distro. I do not know of any other Joomla Distros out there. To my eyes, Jeremy is setting things up for the long haul, which bodes well for all of us.


My hats off to you, Jeremy! Looking forward to having you on my show, and contributing to your valuable Joomla Distro.

As for the question I had about your Distro that you answered in an email I just received, let’s talk about it together next month.

The GitHub file is a terrific description of the SquareOneCMS Distro — by the way, that’s an interesting name for your Distro, I have to remember to ask about it! — at


Abivia Content Pattern Plugin (ACP) – a simple CCK

We talked quite a bit about Alan’s ACP plugin, availabe at

ACP is a clever Joomla plugin, born of a real-life need, that exploits the way plugins relate to articles.

You have recipes. Each recipe is supposed to be a separate Joomla article. You want the recipe title at the top. The picture to the left. Ingredients listed on top of the instructions. You want the number of servings at the very bottom.

First thing you look for is a component — or maybe you figure you’ll whip up a component. Usually, you just decide to create a separate Joomla article per recipe although you know that somehow your butt’s going to be bitten later on. Well, how ’bout putting Abivia Content Pattern Plugin in your toolbox?

That something that comes back to haunt you is the inevitable layout change. Ingredients and instructions now go side-by-side, not vertically. Instead of modifying 100 recipe articles, you modify the article with the ACP’s bracketed words once, and that’s it.

No components, no views, no over-rides. But go ahead, bill a couple of hours anyways!

I’ll be spending quality time with ACP to see what it can do with Tienda. ACP has IF..THEN conditional patterns which I want to check out.

It might get interesting using ACP in the checkout views — if that’s even possible. Maybe it will after I create my own ACP distro!

Abivia Content Pattern is free at



Who convinced me to create transcripts? Yup, Alan did. He reads shows instead of listens to ‘em. I agree, it’s faster to scan an article than listen to a full podcast — although you miss the sound clips!

It takes me 30 to 45 minutes to proof a 25 minute podcast. I can’t just type corrections. Oh no, I have to add notes, links, and tweak formatting for the really profound passages. Sometimes I skip a week of podcasting because the editing adds too much time. For podcasts with no guest, I compose the show first, and then publish my script.

Transcripts are a long-term proposition. Looking back and having a library of podcasts with transcripts is a good thing for SEO, for people who don’t listen to podcasts; and, to reference for other shows.

I think being listed in iTunes is important. I think having your own podcast is important. The mobile devices are made for audio and video, and niche ecommerce proprietors should have content for mobile. That content is not the written word! However, it’s also important to have the written word as follow-up and for an SEO boost, so podcasting with transcripts is a Good Thing.



Alan thank you for being a guest today – ha!

Good deal: record a podcast, don’t use it, then do a monologue show. Twice in a month — really, it’s a coincidence!


This is Bob Bloom, signing off, wishing you a profitable week.

You have been listening to a production. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of SouthLaSalleMEDIA dot com, nor of the organizations represented. Links and materials discussed on air are available in the Show Notes for this show. Information contained herein have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but are not guaranteed. Podcasts are released under a creative commons licence. Some rights are reserved. Email correspondence to the attention of Bob Bloom at info at SouthLaSalleMedia dot com.


Monthly commentary and interviews about websites, technology, and consulting. Produced by Bob Bloom, founder and developer of LaSalle Software.

Produced 57 podcasts from 2010 to 2016.

Currently on hiatus.

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