Joomla!® User Group Milton Keynes

Open Source Content Managed System For All

Joomla!™ User Group Milton Keynes

Joomla Content Management System Overview

This is a personal evaluation and analysis of Open Source Content Management System called Joomla in version 1.5.x.

I wanted to answer the question: "What is the Joomla system and what is a good purpose for Joomla?"

Joomla is a Content Management System (CMS) which simply means that the content is stored in a database with an online administration system which is normally called 'the back end' and is not seen by the public. Joomla is delivered as downloadable 'free to use' Open Source software under version two of a licence called GPL.

In truth, Joomla is more than just a CMS...

by virtue of how it has been built. Joomla can be extended to have additional data tables and front and back end administration support for new functionality. You could, for example, ignore all the article publishing aspects of Joomla and use it as a on-line team diary management system via an extension application. This is what makes Joomla so powerful, but there is more...

 

As a website owner you can install the software and you have full access to the source code to make any of your own changes if you so wish. The majority of website owners are not developers so this freedom to change the source seems less valuable but this is far from the truth. The Open Source freedom permits others to write components and access the market more freely with there offerings. This normally has a tremendious advantage to your website because most of your website needs can be accomplished through a free downloadable extension. Extensions are additions to the standard Joomla system offering enhancements such as eCommerce or maybe something more complex like a holiday accommodation booking and rental system. There are nearly 6,000 listed extensions so you can often get to choose from several different free offerings to accomplish your website enhancement.

There are several other major Open Source Content Management Systems but Joomla stands head and shoulders above the competition due to the leadership of the Open Source Foundation which owns and supports Joomla. It is a strict interperitation of the licence which ensures your freedom and this, in turn, leads to the growth of the Joomla project. Use of the Joomla system (the Applications Programming Interface/API) implies that the developer writing any extension also has to be GPL version 2. The result is that you get the source and are never tied down to one prorietory vendor. If others make an enhancement of the code then they can sub-folk (or re-version) the software and add their improvements. If the extension enhancement is good then it may work its way into being a general core part of the Joomla code for the benefit of everyone.

There are some significant advantages to this 'strict GPL' complience and these work to your benefit without your knowledge. When developers make a Plug-In or Extension they need to reach the widest audience of Joomla users. To do so their code must adhear to coing standards, internationalisation standards, documentation standards and all manor or professional standards not found in most in-house developer situations. This adhearence to standards benefits website owners because the use of common coding standards perits any developer in the Joomla community to 'run with the code'. Joomla is easier to support and easier to extend because the fraimwork and the extensions are built in a standard way.

Other eCommerce solutions exist such as Drupal and UberCart http://www.ubercart.org - these solutions did not find favour with me. The principle reason for this was the high overheads to making changes and the lack of strict GPL version 2 or any ambition towards GPL version 3 (no hardware or system lock-in code). As a developer this might be commercially mad because demand exists for Drupal developers but Joomla demand exists as implementation rather than code development. In other words demand exists to deliver a site not coding for a site and on balance I prefer the delivery of website benefits to website owners.