TYPO3 and Platform.sh: A love letter from Germany as shown in this view of the Berlin Fernsehturm.
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TYPO3 and Platform.sh: A love letter from Germany

Andrew Melck
Andrew Melck

Platform.sh is different. Why? Because it allows developers, editors and project managers to focus on their applications and leave the rest to us. This is a story that we’ve seen around the world, as new teams and projects try out Platform.sh and discover the benefits that it brings.

This trend is now also gathering pace in Germany, where our strategic cooperation with Microsoft is making the cloud an attractive option for partners and customers across central Europe.

In an interview on the popular Entwickler.de website (Entwickler means developer in German), Benni Mack, Core Team lead at the TYPO3 Association, explained how Platform.sh is transforming the way the he works with the popular TYPO3 CMS. As well as spearheading TYPO3 development, Benni is Managing Director of b:dreizehn GmbH and a top Platform.sh partner.

Interview with Benni Mack: TYPO3 and Platform.sh - a match made in the cloud

Stefanie Schäfers

In October 2016 the partnership between TYPO3 and the Platform.sh cloud hosting service was officially announced. We talked with Benni Mack about his experience and the advantages of the cooperation for TYPO3 users.

"TYPO3 in the Cloud" is the motto for the new TYPO3 version 8. And the partnership between TYPO3 and the Platform.sh cloud hosting service is intended to make it much easier for users to deploy TYPO3 in the cloud.

In the meantime TYPO3 has been supported on Platform.sh for almost half a year: reason enough to take a look at the lessons and insights the partnership gathered the last few months. And that's not all: with TYPO3 v8 LTS, the new long-term support version of the popular content management system is also available. We spoke with Benni Mack (Managing Director at b: dreizehn GmbH) about TYPO3, Platform.sh and the new CMS version.

TYPO3 and Platform.sh - the advantages

Mr. Mack, since last year, TYPO3 has been working together with Platform.sh as a cloud hosting service. Why did you choose this provider?

Benni Mack: The big topic for the new TYPO3 v8 is "TYPO3 in the Cloud". We support various cloud hosting services with the new TYPO3 version, including Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services.

However, Platform.sh is a continuous cloud hosting service that, in addition to hosting, also covers other areas such as deployment and automatic cloning to additional test environments. It’s an approach that no other vendor is currently offering in this form.

What other (further) advantages does Platform.sh offer to TYPO3 users?

Benni Mack: Platform.sh is deeply grounded in the code versioning of a website project. That means that any change in a Git branch (via git push) automatically results in a new version of the application on the server. In addition, all user data, including all files and the database, are automatically copied when a new Git Branch is created during development. The new server environment is then available with its own URL. That saves a lot of unnecessary work for simple testing with real data or acceptance testing by a project manager or customer.

At the same time, this saves time for developers who no longer really need local development, although that is, of course, still possible and supported. DevOps is also reduced to a minimum - at Platform.sh they even speak of NoOps.

My personal Platform.sh highlight is that unlike traditional hosting providers, file system for any PHP code is read-only, making the entire system extremely secure.

What challenges did you face during implementation?

Benni Mack: TYPO3 supports the installation via Composer, thus the automatic loading of all necessary libraries. If a TYPO3 project has already been installed with Composer, Platform.sh interprets it and the biggest hurdle is overcome.

Platform.sh uses a simple configuration file that defines which PHP modules or databases are required. In addition, further project-specific scripts for the build time are defined. All of this is also maintained and versioned in Git. This may be new at first, but thanks to good documentation it’s quickly understood.

This configuration file also makes it easy to raise the PHP version from 7.0 to 7.1 and test it on an automatically created test branch. Furthermore, additional specific parameters can be defined for each test system ("Environment" in Platform.sh speak), in order to give TYPO3 additional options, that differentiate the live and test systems.

Tech Preview of Platform.sh TYPO Support - Findings and Lessons

Platform.sh support for TYPO3 was initially available as a tech preview. What lessons did you draw from it? What lessons have been drawn into the project?

Benni Mack: The Tech Preview is a sample TYPO3 project that we developed for newcomers to TYPO3 - but also newcomers to Platform.sh - to quickly get aboard the bandwagon. Thanks to the close cooperation with Platform.sh, we have used a variety of approaches to make sure that TYPO3 files are always put into the right place by default. In the end it’s about managing content - not just text, but also images, PDFs, etc.

The sample repository is freely available at https://github.com/platformsh/platformsh-example-typo3.

The Tech Preview should be ready for testing until the release of the next LTS version of TYPO3. How has the collaboration and adoption of TYPO3 and Platform.sh developed since then?

Benni Mack: One of Platform.sh’s strengths is that other services such as Solr search or Redis for efficient caching are already provided free of charge for every Platform.sh project. Based on this we’ve worked to create an effective, automated configuration of these services to deliver the best performance for TYPO3 website projects. TYPO3 v8 is the successful realisation of these efforts.

With the Tech Preview we’ve provided a one-click installation of TYPO3 that puts our CMS in the cloud in five minutes.

TYPO3 v8 LTS - what to expect

TYPO3 8.x LTS will appear in April. What innovations can users look forward to?

Benni Mack: In addition to the promised cloud features, we have many improvements for editors - including a faster TYPO3 system and an easy-to-configure text editor based on CKEditor, as well as a flexible kit to create forms. For integrators, all templates are now uniformly designed and easily expandable.

The focus was definitely on scalability in larger projects, e.g. On several servers where it is now possible to share TYPO3 on different databases or to outsource all user sessions to distributed systems such as Redis. Support for complex, multi-lingual websites has been greatly improved and standardized.

Let's take a look at the future. What plans are currently available for the next TYPO3 versions and the further collaboration with Platform.sh?

Benni Mack: The TYPO3 community has been opening up increasingly to other open source projects like Symfony, Composer and the PHP community altogether. Technology giants like Microsoft are also on board. There will be a lot of change in the entire hosting sector, and Platform.sh is a pioneer with an innovative technical solution. Close cooperation at various PHP-related events is a win-win for both Platform.sh and TYPO3.

TYPO3 has some USPs that no other content management system provides. In future, we would like to emphasize these strengths even further and to link our CMS more closely to other systems and projects - not just at a technical level.

Our interview partner: Benni Mack

Benni Mack is the managing director of the online agency b:dreizehn GmbH in Stuttgart, a team of TYPO3 specialists. He has also been actively involved in TYPO3 development since 2006 and has been coordinating the technical development of the TYPO3 project since 2015.

Read the full interview (in German): https://entwickler.de/online/php/typo3-platformsh-579794768.html