Ruud van Leent is one of the most interesting developers in Joomla. He’s not only a prolific developer, but also deep thinker about communities and leadership.

Ruud’s main Joomla site is onlinecommunityhub.nl where you can find over a dozen extensions.

I’m delighted to say that you can now update Ruud’s extensions using Watchful. This is the seventh new Joomla extension provider we’ve added in recent weeks, following on from RolandD, JoomlaCK, Joomshaper, Weeblr, Tassos and Simplify Your Web.

First, I’ll show you how to enter your OnlineCommunityHub license key to enable updates. Then we share an interview with Ruud about his Joomla work.

How to use Watchful with OnlineCommunityHub extensions

  • In your Watchful dashboard, go to Settings > License Keys.
  • Look for the “OnlineCommunityHub Download Key” area.
  • Enter the license key you have from the OnlineCommunityHub website:
Onlinecommunityhub

Hi Ruud. Can you introduce yourself?

Hi, my name is Ruud van Lent and I live in Houten, in the Netherlands.

When I was still a kid, computers were my biggest hobby. It turned into my profession and I have fulfilled roles in all layers of the OSI model, including network infrastructure, application development, server maintenance, project management and IT governance.

I ended up as a interim-manager who was hired by companies to ‘fix’ non performing teams and departments, plus derailed projects. At that time I realised that most of these problems occurred not because the people in the teams and or projects where non-performant, but that there was a lack of servant leadership, vision and guidance.

How did you get started in Joomla?

To create a platform and community around servant leadership, I looked at what CMS would best fit the bill. I was already using several Open Source products and services so I looked at what these projects were using. It turned out that my favourite project was using Joomla, so I followed that and created a community platform on Joomla. I believe it was a 1.x version

What I noticed was that a lot of functionality I needed was either not available or not ticking all of the boxes. I started to create my own plugins and extensions to fill these gaps.

After some time people asked me if I could build them a community platform as well: I always said “no”, because working on the leadership platform was a hobby of mine. My profession was interim-management and leadership coaching.

And then my wife got sick with cancer. This left me with full responsibility for taking care of her and my three kids (6, 8, 11 years at that time). This changed everything because the line of business I was in (working a lot of time with customers on site) was not going to be possible with my responsibilities at home.

So I decided to just say “yes” to people asking me to build them a community platform and I shifted my business to extension development. These activities I could do from my home, in my own planned time and pace. Joomla and extension development helped me get through my wife’s last months and now that she is not living anymore, I am still very thankful that I made the switch I made.

Maybe someday I will pick up on leadership and leadership coaching again. But until that time I will stick to extension development and helping customers in getting the best possible user experience and functionality possible for their business.

What Joomla extensions do you develop?

As said, I strongly believe in communities and community thinking. So that is my ‘niche’: all extensions I develop are built around that vision, and I use my extensive ICT knowledge of maintenance, support, security and architecture to create the best possible solutions. I strongly believe in Joomla and the great way its is build (around the MVC pattern). I Always use that as a foundation and build upon that instead of building my own functionality repeating what is already in the CMS.

I developed the following plugins and extensions (in random order), all extensions are or will be Joomla 4 ready:

ochLogFiles

A free extension with which you can view and edit log files on your server. This is an extension i use myself very heavily.

ochClickThis

An extension with which it is possible to register clicks on any configured element on your website. I use it myself to measure the number of clicks on ads on one of my platforms and build additional logic that when an ad on a page was clicked e.g. ten times, then no more ads will be shown. I have also customers who use this for A/B testing on their site.

It also lets you create feedback URLs with which you set up a mini-survey. You can share these URLs via email or newsletter or perhaps in your support forum.

ochSimpleFirewall

This firewall takes community thinking to the next level: a lot of big commercial security firms are creating and maintaining lists of hackers, abusers, spammers. With ochSimpleFirewall you can simply import these lists and block visitors based on them being on that list: so no trying to catch them in the act, but just block them because they have been caught somewhere else. ochSimpleFirewall also lets you block / allow visitors based on their country and it has a rules based firewall and real admin site protection.

ochAddAds

This plugin gives you the possibility to create ads and then dynamically or manually insert them anywhere in your website. It serves as an ad repository, so when you change your ad, that change is automatically changed everywhere you are using that ad on your site. It supports Google AdSense and Google Ad Manager Ads.

ochStopDMR

When running a community site where people register to get access, or when running a campaign where you give away something free in return for an email address, you will be surprised how many people will use a disposable email account. That is an email account that is only valid for approximately 10 minutes: just enough for them to finish the registration and download whatever they need, leaving you with a useless email address. ochStopDMR has appr. 100K of disposable email domains and is connected to multiple external validators. What it does is validate the email domain the visitor uses and if that domain is marked as ‘disposable’, prohibits the registration. Forcing the visitor to use a real mail address, or not register at all.

ochBlog

This is blog component fully based on Joomla, Joomla Custom Fields and Joomla articles. It has everything you need for running a commercial blog platform: from adding author badges and expertise ratings, to email notifications on number of blog visits. It can even differentiate between two kinds of bloggers adding value to e.g. paying bloggers.

ochGotNews

Content is king, but there is a lot of good content already out there. ochGotnews lets you use that (remote) content, and use it to attract visitors to your site. Every (registered) community member can simply add content to your website this way. Growing traffic but also growing your site’s authority on the web: great for SEO!

ochSEO|SMO Basic Tools

SEO and SMO (Social Media Optimization) is a recurring activity. These tools help you automate things centrally. When you want to add the blog title to the image’s alt text in that blog, it is as simple as configuring this: no more going through all your blogs and doing it manually. It can even help you create the needed redirect rules to get rid of the article id in the url. Google doesn’t understand these numbers in the url and getting rid of them is actually good for SEO.

ochJSsocials

This is actually my first plugin, the start of it all. It allows you to add social media buttons anywhere on your site. Buttons are plain HTML and require no external sources and are therefore 100% GDPR compliant, even the facebook share counter is fetched server side (and cached) so no visitor information is shared with Facebook. You can differentiate what buttons appear in what order on what devices (why have a whatsapp button on a desktop?). The buttons are fully customizable via CSS to 100% match your sites look and feel!

ochOpenGraph

There is no OpenGraph plugin like this one, I am sure: it gives you full control of how shared posts look on social media, it can differentiate between author (e.g. pro-blogger should get a different image when the content is shared) and between open graph and twitter cards. You can customize description, title, image, etc. Fully based on Joomla and integrated with Joomla Custom Fields.

ochResponsiveImages

This plugin makes all your configurable images on your website responsive by replacing them with image source sets: this is the new and preferred way of displaying images. It also has the possibility to add lazy loading – not via a javascript, but the new browser supported implementation. And it can replace your images with the new and very SEO / PageSpeed friendly WebP image format. It differentiates based on browser, so when a visitor uses an old browser that doesn’t support this image format, it will get served the original images (jpg or png). It does wonders for your pagespeed and thus for your SEO: automatically!

ochCall2Action

This plugin inserts other Joomla articles into your content on fixed or flexible positions (using regex: e.g. after every 2nd image in the article). What this enables you to do is insert call-to-action content in your blog. It uses regular Joomla articles and respects publish up / down dates. Ideal for running campaigns on your website and showcase these to visitors of your blogs.

ochFitVids

This plugin uses JavaScript to make your embedded (Youtube) iFrames responsive to your visitors device screen size. Simple but effective.

What are you looking forward to for Joomla and your extensions?

What is Joomla? Who are it’s key users? How do decisions get made? The world is running quickly nowadays.  Without a clear vision and focus, without leadership facilitating and making decisions, a company / community cannot survive.

Currently Joomla is good in a lot of things. As a metaphor: it has a lot of perfect fingers. But these fingers are unable to work together and make a “fist” at what is going on out there in the “market”. When I look at Joomla with my extension developers glasses on and having discussions with other extension developers, I currently see no super-bright future for Joomla. It will be the CMS for the happy few but lacks the drive to become top of mind again for web agencies: the ones responsible for growing the installed base. I really look forward to the day that this will change and we can work together to create a bright future again.

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