This is a brief interview in our series of Community Spotlights.
Where do you work?
University of California at Berkeley
Community Edition or Enterprise Edition?
We use Alfresco Enterprise Edition
How and when did you first start working with Alfresco?
Late 2009. Prior to that, we had been making an attempt to run a departmental-scale DAM system at an Enterprise-wide scale, with predictably poor results. We evaluated several different enterprise-scale systems at that point before finally settling on Alfresco for our next-generation system for these needs.
I still owe an incredible debt to Peter Monks, who spent hours on the phone with me teaching me the basics of how to get Alfresco working. His task was made harder by the fact that this was the first large Java/Tomcat/SQL/Linux/etc. app I had ever been responsible for, so there were some pretty massive chasms in my basic knowledge about how this stuff works. Thanks Peter!
What is your favorite way to contribute to the Alfresco community?
I can be frequently found on the #alfresco IRC channel. I also write the (very) occasional blog post at http://wanderingalfresco.wordpress.com, usually about stuff that took me a while to figure out, and that I want to save other people from having to figure out on their own.
What does the Alfresco community mean to you?
Really it's more about the moral support and community of people who really get what I'm experiencing than anything else. (It's less easy to rant to someone--like my wife--when I have to spend half an hour beforehand explaining the context!) Also, as I mentioned above, Peter Monks spent a lot of time with me when I was getting started, so it feels good to pay it forward a little bit.
What's something you wish someone would have told you when you first got started with Alfresco?
That taking any opportunity to talk to an Alfresco employee face-to-face is incredibly valuable (whether it's at a Meetup, at a Lunch and Learn, at a conference, whatever). Alfresco is still a pretty small company, so building those personal relationships can really help when you get stuck on something. And Alfresco employees are by and large an extremely nice bunch of folks.
That, and the fact that learning curve does get less steep, eventually. It really will start to make sense.
What do you do when you aren't working on Alfresco projects?
Professionally, I'm involved in one way or another with most of the the assortment of content management systems on the University of California, Berkeley campus. I like to joke that if you name a technology, I'll find someone on our campus using it. On a more serious note, we have centrally-supported deployments of Alfresco, Box, and Google Apps for Education, among others. I spend my time trying to help figure out how to shape those tools into service offerings that meet the needs of the students, teachers, researchers, and administrators on our campus.
Personally, my wife and I bought a fixer-upper about 5 years ago, which has kept us quite busy. The very last big project (the landscaping) should kick off in a few weeks. I'm not sure exactly what we'll do with all our time once that's done. When we do get a break from that, we enjoy exploring the rather extensive food truck scene in the San Francisco Bay Area, and travel a fair bit (Moab, Utah and Arches National Park was a highlight last year).