Hailing from Vancouver, British Columbia, we are talking with Alexey Bobkov, the co-founder of October CMS. Alexey’s career started even before the modern Web, and he has witnessed the internet world’s transformation.
Alexey has created desktop applications for DOS, Windows, and *nix and later – websites, web technologies, and frameworks. Thanks to his extensive knowledge and leading an award-winning CMS, Alexey is a prominent figure in the PHP community. Let’s hear it from the maestro.
Shahzeb: Hello Alexy, thank you for talking with us today! Before we start, please introduce yourself to our audience — how did you get interested in programming, and what inspired you to create the October CMS?
Alexy: Hello Shahzeb,
I’m a second-generation programmer. My dad is a scientist and a programmer. I have been interested in programming since my childhood.
In high school, I got access to personal computers and started learning Pascal and Delphi. During my university years, I wrote many applications for DOS, Windows 3.1, and Windows 95.
Around graduation time, I learned PHP, which stood for Personal Home Page then, and gradually transitioned to web development. I have developed many web applications – time tracking, project management, remote file management, e-commerce, and content management systems. CMSs were especially popular in my practice.
I have worked in several web studios and created several content management systems for internal use before October CMS. I loved the simplicity of building Windows applications with components in Delphi, and I had the idea of moving this concept to web development. I implemented several ideas in LemonStand. LemonStand was an e-commerce platform where I was a CTO before October CMS. Later, the ideas evolved into CMS components realized in October CMS.
The basic idea of October CMS is quite simple. We moved the component-based RAD (rapid application development) concept to the web and implemented it as a flat-file CMS. The configuration section of October CMS pages uses the INI format. The INI format is an ancient technology; I believe it’s at least 30 years old. Thus, we took several really old ideas and mixed them with the best and newest technology in the PHP world – Laravel. That mix is now known as October CMS.
Shahzeb: Who are the key contributors to the project? Can you tell us a bit about them?
Alexy: There are two key contributors – Samuel Georges and me. Sam lives in Australia, and I live in Canada. We have never met in person. We started working together around 2013 when I offered him the idea of building a CMS platform. Sam is an experienced and extremely talented developer. At the moment, he puts more time into platform development than I do. Now Sam is the main architect of October CMS.
I’m responsible for the business side of October CMS, which includes building services, marketing, Partner Program, and some other things. We also have a distributed team responsible for non-technical components of the business.
Shahzeb: Is October CMS well-suited for a particular type of developer?
Alexy: October CMS is perfect for website and web application developers familiar with Laravel. If you have web development projects with tight deadlines and a lot of custom requirements, October CMS is the best fit.
Shahzeb: What makes October CMS stand out in the marketplace? Why do people use it as their CMS?
Alexy: October is the best CMS based on Laravel. Laravel is an extremely popular framework. October CMS adds a missing part for developers who build websites for clients and want to use Laravel. Simplicity for developers and reliability for clients is our primary selling points.
Reliability means that the website doesn’t break when you update the platform. It’s especially important for business customers who have project deadlines and commitments to their clients. Summarising the answer – developers love October CMS because they can quickly create reliable websites for clients using the most popular PHP framework.
Shahzeb: What was the inspiration for October CMS’ name?
Alexy: The platform name was inspired by the season we started coding and the music we liked to listen to at this time. We were actively working on October CMS in the autumn of 2013. And we liked the song November Rain by Guns N’ Roses. One day we talked about a possible name and thought November could be a good option. But then we thought October could be a better choice because November is usually cold and dark, at least in North America and Europe. In October, nature is the most beautiful, which encourages creativity.
Shahzeb: What advice would you give to someone just starting with October CMS?
Alexy: If you know Laravel, you know October CMS. Review the platform documentation. Start by learning how the CMS works – creating pages and using components. Learn how to display dynamic content from Tailor and third-party plugins. The next step would be developing your own plugins. Soon you will find that you can do basically anything with the platform.
Shahzeb: You released a paid version earlier this year. Can you tell me a little about what’s new in this version and the reason for having a paid version in addition to the open source?
Alexy: Switching to a paid license was a tough decision. At the same time, it was a necessary step for growth. After running a marketplace business for several years, we found that we are losing development agility because of the growing support demand and insufficient resources.
Switching to the paid license model and working with professional developers fixed both problems. Our mission is to offer professional web developers the highest quality CMS platform and ecosystem to achieve their business success.
Now we see it was the right decision. We regularly roll out new features. In addition to the platform features, we are making the Partner Program more valuable for our clients. For example, right now, we are creating the Teams service that will be available to all partner levels. The service will allow teams of developers to collaborate on projects. And finally, we are actively working on marketing. Recently, we hired a digital marketing agency to help us scale the business.
Alexy: We often get requests to recommend a hosting provider compatible with October CMS. Some of our largest clients use their own servers to host their clients’ websites. But the majority of our customers use public hosting providers. Reliability, flexibility, security, cost, and performance are the main metrics when choosing a hosting platform. From what I know about Cloudways, it’s good at all of them. It’s a managed hosting solution, which means that you get a configured server maintained by Cloudways. For many business customers, it’s an optimal solution. Managing servers manually could become an unnecessary burden for a small or medium digital studio.
Shahzeb: It can be challenging to balance work and personal life. How do you spend your spare time? What are your hobbies?
Alexy: I play the electric guitar and wish I could spend more time doing it. We also love hiking. British Columbia is a beautiful province.
Shahzeb: Who do you think we should interview next?
Alexy: I believe Sam Georges can give interesting and detailed answers on the technical side of the platform. You can also interview one of our partners. They can explain why they use October CMS and why their clients love it.
Shahzeb: We have a tradition of asking interviewees to share a picture of their desks or workstations. Would you mind letting us see where the magic happens?
Shahzeb: Thank you once again, Alexy!
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Shahzeb is a Digital Marketer with a Software Engineering background, works as a Community Manager — PHP Community at Cloudways. He is growth ambitious and aims to learn & share information about PHP & Laravel Development through practice and experimentation. He loves to travel and explore new ideas whenever he finds time. Get in touch with him at [email protected]