What is Joomla?

This is a very good explanation about What Joomla Is. 

By Jen Kramer

The CMS is also in active development.  The CMS now undergoes releases every 6 months, with three releases occurring during each major development cycle, called a series.  The first two releases of the cycle (in this case, Joomla 1.6 and 1.7) are short-term releases, viable for a period of 7 months before reaching end of life. The third release (in this case, Joomla 2.5) is a long-term release, good for at least 18 months. Joomla 1.6 was released in January 2011, and Joomla 1.7 followed in July 2011. Joomla 2.5, a long-term release, is expected to be released in January 2012.

Following the release of Joomla 2.5, a new cycle of development will begin. Major changes will happen to Joomla with the next release, Joomla 3.0, which will appear in July 2012. A discussion of those changes is starting to emerge now.

Joomla 1.6 ushered in some major new features for Joomla, including a powerful access control list (ACL) system, nested categories, and improved templating. Joomla’s core output now supports HTML 5 as well. A fully accessible administrator template, Hathor, comes with this Joomla release. Hathor allows use of Joomla’s back-end by people with disabilities. It supports WCAG 2.0 AA standards, making this template essential for those with disabilities who must support Joomla administrators.

Joomla 1.7 has built on Joomla 1.6′s successes, squashing hundreds of bugs, adding a few new features, and completing the separation of the framework from the CMS.

What kinds of sites are good to build with Joomla?

Joomla is generally seen as standing between Drupal and WordPress from both a marketing and technical perspective – while WordPress occupies the low end of the Web site development market and Drupal the top end, Joomla bridges these two markets easily. Because of Joomla’s simple, friendly interface, Joomla is widely adopted by former WordPress developers who need a bit more power to build a given site but don’t necessarily have a full arsenal of coding skills. At the same time, in the hands of an experienced developer, Joomla can build a powerful site with thousands of pages, shopping carts, social communities, and more.

My company, 4Web Inc., has built small sites (5-20 pages) with Joomla, mostly so our clients can edit the sites without knowing HTML. More typically, the sites we build consist of hundreds to thousands of pages of content.

With a wide variety of both commercial and free templates and extensions available, it is possible to build a Joomla site without knowing HTML, CSS, PHP, or MySQL. However, if you want to go beyond the basics in Joomla, the best way to accomplish this is by learning hand-coded HTML and CSS, with an eye toward learning Joomla’s templating system.

What are Joomla’s strengths and weaknesses?

Joomla’s weakness, at this point in time, is its lack of multi-site management capabilities. There are some third-party extensions that allow for multi-site management, but I have not used them, and reviews of these extensions tend to be mixed. Without excellent multi-site management potential in Joomla, there is a major difference between Joomla and Drupal, since multi-site management is core to Drupal’s functioning.

One of Joomla’s strengths, however, is that over 8,000 third-party extensions are available. These extensions are useful – from the simple (creating dropdown menus in Joomla) and the beautiful (slideshows and photo galleries), to the powerful (shopping carts, social networking, and content construction kits) and the downright silly (the Simpsons Quote Generator comes to mind). Don’t see an extension you need? Joomla is built with the integration of extensions in mind, with tools that developers need to make this integration an easy and seamless process.

Joomla’s community is also a major strength. Many engaged, involved participants write code, squash bugs, write documentation, complete translations to dozens of languages, answer forum questions, and generally socialize with each other. Joomla Day events happen around the world with great regularity, typically organized by Joomla user groups, providing opportunities for developers to meet each other in person and collaborate. Two international Joomla events are planned for 2012, one in Europe and the other in the U.S.

I encourage you to take a closer look at Joomla. The community is strong and supportive, the tools are excellent, and the fan base continues to grow.

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