Adi Gilbert

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Adi Gilbert is well known on the Textpattern CMS forum for his plugins, many of which are great time-savers for website builders. Gomedia is his forum alias and if you follow his website link you will find that Great Ocean Media does website design, editorial & PR services and freelance journalism amongst other things. I asked Adi if he knew there was a magazine named after him …

AG Bloody Hell … I feel ancient some days!

TXPQ ADI also means ageless in Hindi so I hope you’re feeling ageless too!

AG Not sure about that – maybe it also means old-fashioned?

TXPQ When I asked Adi if I could interview him for TXPQ

AG Sure thing, I can be interviewed. Will it be good cop, bad cop? Do I need a brief?

TXPQ Ah! So you’re already feeling guilty! Now I’m glad I pulled you in for questioning – the Textpattern community deserves answers don’t you think? Spill the beans!

AG I’m not sayin’ nuffin. You’re fitting me up! … ah, I do miss The Bill.

TXPQ What is life all about?

AG That’s a big one! It’s not something I really think about. I dunno – getting through unscathed, having a laugh, enjoying the minor victories of life, looking after my family and our home, giving my son the best upbringing I can.

TXPQ Would you like to say anything about the Gilberts, your background etc?

AG I’m English, Karen’s Australian, and Tom is a bit of both. I grew up in a little village by the Fens. Karen grew up in mining towns in Queensland and the Northern Territory. Tom’s growing up in a world of satellite telly, computers, iPhones, iPads, sat nav. Very different worlds, but I know things are going to be alright, because he still gets as much pleasure out of using a cardboard tube as a sword, as he does making videos on Photo Booth.

One of the locals trying to work out how to snort the longest white line in the world
One of the locals trying to work out how to snort the longest white line in the world

TXPQ What do you love doing? Hobbies, musical tastes, activities, guilty pleasures etc?

AG I guess programming is a hobby. It’s something I’ve been interested in from the start and I’ve always tried to engineer my various jobs to include some dabbling here and there. I like doing a bit of woodwork too. My musical tastes are fairly varied – Punk and New Wave, Two Tone, Van Morrison, Billy Bragg, Indie. My formative (teenage) musical years were in the mid to late seventies but I’m not averse to the gentler stuff: Everything But The Girl, Rickie Lee Jones, The Style Council. Activities are all based around our home – DIY, decorating, maintenance etc. In England I used to do a lot of gardening, but now we have acres to look after I’m more of a groundsman. Pleasures – my family, beer, cheese, wine, cider, English pubs, British comedy, dinner parties with friends.

TXPQ How is life and work along the Great Ocean Road and the Otways region of Victoria, Australia?

AG “Interesting” is the only way to describe it. We live on a mountain ridge and it’s one of the wettest places in Victoria. The weather here is very extreme, violent even – big rain and hail events, strong winds, blasting hot sun, cold, occasional snow. It’s taken a bit of getting used to, and a lot of wood is burnt in the winter! English weather is very gentle in comparison. We get visited by kangaroos, wallabies, snakes and the occasional echidna. With all the modern communications it’s not a problem working here, although we do have to contend with power cuts occasionally. And as we’re a bit isolated, travelling to client meetings can be a bit of a chore.

Some corner of a foreign field that will be forever England (or "What a planker")
Some corner of a foreign field that will be forever England (or “What a planker”)

A prickly visitor
A prickly visitor

Great Ocean Media

TXPQ So how come you are into computing, web design etc?

AG I went to the same uni as Stef (Bloke)I stumbled out of school like most other kids not knowing what to do as a career. But unlike my contemporaries, rather than just doing my best A-Level subject again at university, I took a year off. In that year I did a bit of computing at the local technical college (using teletypes on a PDP-11) and realised it was the thing for me. I then went on to do Computer Science at university. Here’s a coincidence for you – I went to the same uni as Stef (Bloke), albeit some years earlier, and we did the same final year project (a Pascal source code pretty printer)! We only discovered this recently. What are the chances? After working in the Thames Valley for 16 years in data network technical support, I emigrated to Australia. Needing to earn a bit of mortgage money I had the bright idea of getting into website design.

TXPQ Great Ocean Media is a partnership of you and Karen Patterson. Does the partnership go beyond work? (If you’re married/living together, don’t you drive each other up the wall or does it work well having so much contact?)

AG Poor Karen…I make her work in the evenings and weekendsYes the partnership does go beyond work! We live together with our son Tom. Poor Karen has a full time job, managing a local theatre and arts centre, so I make her work in the evenings and at weekends too. I was a “stay at home Dad” but now Tom is at school I get a bit more time to work on Great Ocean Media. I think we work very well together. Not being in the house together all day probably helps.

TXPQ Tell us about Great Ocean Media and some of your services.

AG Karen’s background is in journalism and publishing, so doing web design is a perfect fit for us. She does all the creative stuff with words, ideas and layouts. And her skills at communicating with people to get all the information we require are amazing. I do all the technical bits, together with all the minutiae of laying things out precisely. We have clients that we create and maintain websites for, others require press releases, some brochures, newsletters and marketing advice. Sometimes a client needs all of the above. We proofread the local council’s annual report one year and I’ve even made wooden toys for clients. It is going well. Unfortunately there’re not enough hours in the day to cope with the work that comes in. Some of our clients have developed into good friends. There’s a great diversity – a lighthouse, two housing developments, a couple of holiday accommodation businesses, a cheese factory, a school camp, a golf club, an opera event, to name but a few. The latest one we’re working on is a dinosaur exhibition.

Our favourite lighthouse - Cape Otway Lightstation
Our favourite lighthouse – Cape Otway Lightstation

The Twelve, minus one, Apostles
The Twelve, minus one, Apostles

Textpattern CMS

TXPQ Do you use Textpattern exclusively as your CMS?

AG Yes I do. It’s so fabulous, it’d be rude not to.

TXPQ What are the Textpattern features you like best?

AG I love the complete flexibilityI love the complete flexibility. When I was looking around for a CMS I seem to recall I did a simple search in Google for something like “cms semantic html”. Textpattern and MODx were two that stood out, and the two that I actually downloaded and tried. So many CMSs out there impose a way of working which interferes with what I want to do. I still have a couple of hand-coded websites that I look after and going back to them now I can see embryonic sections, pages and articles in them. But it was Kevin Potts’ book “Textpattern Solutions” that helped swing it for me. I’m also always very grateful for the reliability of the core code. And plugins of course! Textpattern wouldn’t be half the CMS it is without plugins.

TXPQ You have 17 Textpattern plugins listed on your site and are very helpful on the forum. Why don’t you have a donate button?

AG I’m a bit uncomfortable with the concept of getting paid for something that I’ve essentially built on top of free and open source software. So I’m happy to create plugins or help out where I can. Although, I’m hopeless at matching the lightning responses of els, gocom, wet, bloke, colak, jakob, maniqui, ruud, uli and many others in the forums. You’ve probably noticed that I tend to chip in if I think one of my plugins might help someone out! I also make a donation to a member of the development team for each website that goes live. (I do have to own up something though: Kevin Potts paid me for adi_cat_menu with a copy of his book “Web Design and Marketing Solutions”, and Julian (jakob) sent me a few bottles of beer for some work on adi_contact.)

TXPQ Which of your plugins seems most popular and which do you think people are overlooking?

AG if a plugin is going to go wrong, it’ll be on a client’s website at the wrong time!adi_menu has been popular and adi_matrix as well. And I think adi_variables, adi_calc and adi_gps get a good run too. I don’t keep stats on how many times they’re downloaded, so I’m not really sure. It’s funny how things turn out sometimes. I got more of a reaction from adi_wrap, which is only a simple, but in my opinion, very handy plugin, than I did with adi_recent_tab – which I though would rock the TXP world. Not that that’s the reason for publishing them, of course. I’m writing plugins to make my life easy but I’m also just very happy to spread the love. One great advantage with making them public is that it forces you to do a thorough job on the code. If anyone’s going to find a bug it’ll be someone else. And if a plugin is going to go wrong, it’ll be on a client’s website at the wrong time!

TXPQ/AG What would be your advice to someone just starting out with Textpattern?

AG Keep calm and carry on! The hardest thing, I seem to recall, was getting my head around sections, pages and forms. Once you realise that a section gets you to the (web)page, that a page is a template, and that a form is not a <form> but a chuck of code, the penny will drop. I would also say keep an eye what’s going on in the forums. It’s amazing what you can learn from other peoples’ problems and solutions. And don’t be afraid to ask questions. Even the “I’m scared to ask, because I think I might look a prat” ones. Or the “Why does it have to be like this” ones. They’re my favourite!

TXPQ Final thoughts re plugins, Textpattern community and Textpattern CMS?

AG The forums have always been very helpful and friendly but they’re even more so now.I looked up when I joined the Textpattern community – it was only in June 2008. It seems longer, so much has happened. Over time I’ve noticed a change. The forums have always been very helpful and friendly but they’re even more so now. The development side has changed for the better now too. Once it seemed an uphill battle to get suggestions included, now it seems a lot easier. And the development team are very dedicated and hard working – we are very fortunate. I’m very much looking forward to TXP5 and also to the big changes planned on the public side. Exciting times ahead!

TXPQ Yes indeed. Textpattern CMS goes from strength to strength! Thank you very much for the interview, Adi, however…
This is a kangaroo court and I am judge and jury. After consideration of all the facts, you are hereby found guilty as charged of making fine plugins and spreading Textpattern love. Your sentence is transportation to the colonies. You are also guilty of collusion in criminally bad jokes. For this I must impose the maximum sentence of indefinite TXP community service to run concurrently with conditional sentences that start with <txp:if_> and <txp:adi_if_>

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  1. Julián Landerreche (maniquí) #

    Funny and lovely interview to another friendly member of TXP community.
    Adi’s plugins do really enhance TXP in many aspects, both for end-users (of TXP admin side) and web developers (the ones having fun with all those txp:tags).

    But… where is a picture of Adi?
    At least, I’d have expected a picture of Adi’s hands that does the keystrokes!
    Adi, don’t be shy!

  2. Marc Carson #

    Great interview. The setting of oceans, lighthouses, and stormy weather makes for good web dev reading. :-) Thanks both of you.

  3. Uli #

    Thanks for reviving the interview section, Peter. And thanks to Adi for making a bit of his background public. Was curious to see what a person the man is some of whose plugins I had the honour of beta-testing over the last weeks.
    Julián, Adi could be the “planker” in one of the images above.


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