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Choosing an open-source CMS, part 2: Why we use Joomla

Robert L. Mitchell | Feb. 20, 2013
In the second part of a three-part series, we look at two companies that have chosen Joomla as their content management system.

Pros: Joomla could be a good fit for organizations that don't have a dedicated IT department, according to Paul Orwig, president of Open Source Matters. "It's an easier way for folks who aren't full-time Internet experts to create their own full-featured websites," he says.

Joomla's latest 3.0 release delivers out-of-the-box support for mobile users. While most open-source CMSs support MySQL, Joomla recently added support for PostgreSQL, as well as commercial offerings such as Microsoft SQL Server, Azure cloud services and Oracle. It also supports 68 different languages and offers a choice of 10,000 different extensions -- less than either Drupal or WordPress, but impressive nonetheless.

Cons: Not everything in Joomla is WordPress-easy. While the permissions system, called the access control system, is powerful, it can be cumbersome without some tweaking. Third-party extensions can help with that, Orwig says.

In addition, Joomla's committee-based approach to governance has not always served it well and has at times stalled decision-making. "People involved in Joomla want to have a say in the direction. They are passionate and independent thinkers," Orwig says. But they don't always agree. "In fact, sometimes they violently disagree," he adds.

The community has worked on improving processes and has pulled together around a new release schedule that includes minor releases every six months and a major revision every 18 months to which large production websites can transition.

Finally, Joomla extensions don't always play well together -- something that can happen in other communities as well. "Even though all of the extensions will work perfectly within Joomla, the left hand doesn't always know what the right is doing," Orwig says. For example, a photo gallery extension might not integrate seamlessly with a shopping cart extension.

What's coming: Joomla is now available both as the Joomla CMS and as a general Web development platform called the Joomla Platform. The latter is a PHP framework that lets developers create standalone applications that can run on desktops, tablets, smartphones or in the cloud. While the Joomla Platform and Joomla CMS are separate projects, the Joomla CMS is an application that runs on top of the Joomla Platform.

Joomla 3 introduced a full front-end for end users, a new back-end for website developers and administrators, and mobile support via an integrated Bootstrap framework.

"We also added a new back-end administrator interface," Orwig says, which has created a foundation for the overall user experience. "I expect we will see lots of enhancements and innovation that will continue building on that foundation, including more consistent user interfaces with the thousands of Joomla extensions," he adds.

Orwig says that it's too early to say what will be coming in Joomla 4, but working groups are forming around several initiatives. For example, he says, "We are exploring new ways of organizing and accessing content and simplifying how extensions are installed."


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