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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.

But Joomla didn't support responsive design at the time. So, to accomplish that, CloudAccess' developers created separate views of the site page that were formatted for mobile devices. Users could then use whatever view -- mobile or desktop -- was appropriate for the device they were using at the time. "It was particularly challenging to create separate mobile views for each of the main portions of the application," Gafill says.

Since then, that weakness in the Joomla platform has been addressed. "Now Joomla is capable of mobile responsive layouts out of the box. You can purchase prebuilt templates," he says.

With SPARC, users can create their own public or private groups, each with its own wiki document repository and a blog that others in the broader community can view. For example, members started a Craigslist-style resource exchange where employees can see if anyone has an unneeded printer or wants to carpool.

The old system had a document repository and a wiki as well, and had some fairly extensive features that CloudAccess needed to replicate as it imported the data from Socialtext. "We developed a custom component for that and built it into JomSocial," Gafill says.

The project, started in December 2011, wrapped three months later. "That's a pretty small amount of time to develop something with a scope like this," Gafill says. "It gives you an idea of the rapid development and relatively quick time to market that is possible with Joomla."

Joomla's administration tools are easy to use, Gafill says, and that served the hospital well when the site administrator left this fall. Abello, who has no technical background, took over the administration responsibilities on an interim basis. "Learning to administer the SPARC environment with little prior training was pain-free," she says. "The platform is extremely user friendly."

VideoRay manages its product database

VideoRay, a well-known manufacturer of submersible remotely-operated robots, needed a website that could efficiently handle 15 different variations of its products for 12 different applications. VideoRay's products are used by research scientists, law enforcement, the military and other government agencies.

VideoRay, which manufactures submersible remotely-operated robots, needed a website that could efficiently handle 15 different variations of its products for 12 different applications.

The previous site didn't use a CMS at all. "Managing all of that with HTML pages was a nightmare," says marketing manager Brian Luzzi. Using the open-source Joomla 2.5 CMS to recreate the website took just four months and was "very cost effective," he says.

Luzzi worked out the design using Photoshop layouts -- "I had ten templates I wanted," he says -- and then hired CloudAccess, the same developer that built Boston Children's Hospital's SPARC site, to build the site and integrate modules such as the Joomcart shopping module. The new site, which launched last July, is far easier to use. "I was sick of editing pages in HTML and Dreamweaver. The new back end is really simple," he says.


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