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Joomla! A User's Guide

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago | from the read-all-about-it dept.

117

Michael J. Ross writes "Of all the content management systems (CMSs) from which a Web developer can choose for creating a new Web site, Joomla is generally considered to be one of the top choices -- partly because an experienced developer can create an attractive site faster with Joomla than with the majority of other CMSs. However, Joomla's online documentation leaves much to be desired, as is true for most if not all CMSs. Intermediate and especially new developers need a clear and comprehensive resource that can explain the terminology, customization, administrative panel, and other aspects of Joomla. A promising candidate is a book written by Barrie M. North, titled Joomla! A User's Guide: Building a Successful Joomla! Powered Website." Keep reading for the rest of Michael's review.It was published by Prentice Hall, under the ISBNs 0136135609 and 978-0136135609, on 21 December 2007 (although page 233 confusingly suggests that the material was written in November 2006). The book is available not only in print, but in electronic form as well, as part of the Safari Books Online library. On the publisher's Web page for the book, visitors can read the table of contents, the preface, and the index. Also, they can download a sample chapter -- "Creating a Pure CSS Template" -- as a PDF file. Lastly, visitors can check for updates to the book's content, i.e., reported errata, of which there are more than half a dozen, as of this writing.

The majority of the book's 480 pages are organized into 12 chapters, covering a number of topics: an introduction to CMSs and Joomla; installing Joomla; administration basics; content management; menus; extensions; WYSIWYG editing of content; search engine optimization (SEO); building a table-less template; and how to build Joomla sites for a school, a restaurant, and a blog. Four appendices cover: getting help on your Joomla problems; case studies; SEO basics; and installing WAMP5. The book offers plenty of screenshots, which make it possible for someone to follow the discussion even when away from their computer. Sadly, much of the text shown in the illustrations is extremely small, and could prove very difficult to read for anyone with diminished vision. Even some of the captions are so small as to almost require the use of a magnifying glass. Moreover, the illustrations are printed in light gray, which makes the situation even worse.

The intended purpose of the book is "to guide a non-technical user step-by-step in learning how to create and manage a website powered by Joomla" (page 7). The book is definitely geared towards people new to Joomla, and even new to Web development, given the amount of elementary material covered, such as the author's explanation of Joomla's need for a Web server.

In the preface, the author touches upon the growing popularity of Joomla for a wide variety of Web sites. He also mentions that PHP and CSS are not prerequisites for understanding the book; however, readers not well experienced in those technologies will struggle in implementing everything described in the book -- especially templates -- and this is substantiated by readers' comments online. Admittedly, a book that provided adequate coverage of PHP, CSS, and then Joomla, would likely be overwhelming in length. Readers unfamiliar with PHP and CSS should first secure a basic grounding in those technologies, prior to trying to create their own templates or other Joomla extensions. On the other hand, if a reader has no intention of creating any extensions of their own, then they can still use Joomla to build a new Web site, and use this book to learn how to do so.

In the first chapter, the author provides a valuable introduction to CMSs and the advantages they offer in separating content from the Web pages themselves. However, he refers to Joomla as a rebranding of Mambo, while it would be much more accurate to characterize it as a derivative project, having forked from Mambo, which still exists (sort of). The author also lists Joomla's major features, and the basic elements of a Joomla-powered Web site. Installing and configuring a CMS -- particularly for the first time -- is oftentimes a major stumbling block for any Web development newbie. Chapter 2 steps the reader through the process of downloading and installing the latest version of Joomla (the book uses version 1.5 RC1).

In the third chapter, the author explains the most commonly used administrative tasks, and how to accomplish them in the Joomla 1.5 administrative panel. He intentionally does not cover all of the administrative settings, and this may prove frustrating to some readers who are looking for comprehensive coverage. Yet he does note that such readers should consult the official Joomla User Manual. Also available is the Administrator Manual. The fourth chapter describes in detail how Joomla displays content in pages, how it organizes that content in sections and categories, and the role played by the Front Page component. It concludes with a discussion of how to create menu items and how to connect them to components, as well as how to use module content. Especially valuable to Joomla beginners is the explanation of the two methods of deciding what content appears on a site's homepage.

As noted in the preface, the relationship among menus, menu items, pages, and modules, is one of the most confusing aspects of Joomla -- even after the improvements with version 1.5. In Chapter 5, the author explains this relationship, and then the major menu layouts and how to control them using the various sets of parameters. He mentions the overriding of global settings, and this points up how, prior to this, the book should have explained where to change those global settings, and recommended values. The index is of no help, because they are not mentioned. In Chapter 6, the author shows how to install and manage extensions, which comprise components, modules, plug-ins, templates, and languages. (Templates were missing from his list presented in the book's preface.) Chapter 7 examines the use of WYSIWYG editors for changing content on the back-end and front-end.

The most functional and attractive Joomla-powered Web site will be of little value if it receives few visitors. Thus, search engine marketing (SEM), discussed in the eighth chapter, is of critical importance, and the author's largely sensible advice is worth reading -- despite the nonsensical reference to cowboys and cowgirls (on page 198), and his reference to the "miserable failure" Google bomb, which was diffused back in January 2007. Note that the links provided to the SEM tools strongly recommended by the author -- WordTracker, PR Prowler, and Perry Marshall -- are affiliate referral links. Thus it seems disingenuous when he writes "...this might be the place I would have a few affiliate links!" (emphasis added). Speaking of emphasis, it seems as if too much weight is given to resources from which the author would receive affiliate compensation. This is not what readers typically expect in a book for which they have paid good money. Also discussed in the chapter are the important topics of Web standards, accessibility, keywords, referral traffic, pay-per-click traffic, Google AdWords, e-mail traffic, and common SEM mistakes. He correctly points out the low SEM value of Joomla's native "Read more..." anchor text. But his recommended solution, a mambot from Run Digital, does not appear to work with Joomla version 1.5.

Most of the templates written for Joomla and Mambo have used tables for page layout, instead of the more accessible and efficient CSS approach. CSS- based templates are only now becoming increasingly available, and Chapter 9 furthers this worthy goal by stepping the reader through the development of a pure CSS template. As noted earlier, readers unfamiliar with CSS will most likely find this chapter quite daunting, if not disheartening. The book's overall tutorial approach kicks into full gear in the last three chapters, in which the author shows in great detail how to create Web sites for a school, a restaurant, and a blog site. This material could prove very helpful to readers who wish to review and put into practice the more theoretical ideas introduced in the earlier chapters.

In general, readers should be pleased with this book. Even though the author is clearly a fan of Joomla, and the tone of the book is positive, he does not hesitate to point out Joomla's flaws, such as the misleading name of a module type. This is rare among technical authors nowadays, and for this Barrie North should be commended. Yet it is odd that he does not mention the obvious misspelling, "Imagess," in Extensions > Module Manager > module > Other Parameters.

Sprinkled throughout all of the chapters, the reader will find short paragraphs, with a dark background, labeled "The Least You Need to Know." These summarize the preceding paragraphs. This could perhaps be justified after a significant number of paragraphs, but unfortunately they also appear after just a couple paragraphs, which makes these "LYNTK" boxes redundant and unnecessary. Even worse, every chapter ends with a summary, which further repeats the boxes' content. With the book nearing 500 pages, the chapter summaries and even the LYNTK boxes should be excised, to good effect. Also, most of the chapters contain at least one footnote, which are not located at the bottom of the page or collected in a special section at the end of the book (as is traditional), but instead listed at the end of the chapter. Such material should instead be integrated into the text, if it is important enough to be included in the book, or left out entirely.

The writing quality of the book is generally solid, and the writing style is straightforward and friendly. Yet it does contain some blemishes that should have been caught by the publisher's editors, e.g., multi-word adjectives missing hyphens; misuse of the terms "that" versus "who"; inconsistent use of lowercase and title case for Joomla roles, even in the same paragraph; the same inconsistency in menu names, such as in Chapter 4; and the inexcusable "try and explain" (should read "try to explain"; page 19, among others). Thankfully, the author intentionally leaves off the silly exclamation mark from the Joomla name, starting after the preface, for greater readability. The book contains some misspellings/errata, such as "eXtensible" (page 2), "Wordpress" (pages 7 and 8), "over writing" (page 22), "Cpanel" (pages 27 and 29), "php html" (page 148), "api" (page 150), "flash" (page 209), "sight" (should read "site"; page 221), and "add fee" (should read "ad fee"; page 225). The author incorrectly states that the acronym PHP stands for only "Hypertext Preprocessor," but it actually is now a recursive acronym of "PHP Hypertext Preprocessor."

Overall, the book's production quality is up to snuff. The book stays open fairly well, despite the absence of any special lay-flat binding. The pages were produced using recycled paper, which is always encouraging to see. Unfortunately, the pages are thinner than in any other technical book I have ever seen, thereby allowing the text on the other side of each page to show through. This exacerbates the aforementioned problem of the text within the figures being difficult to read. Moreover, all of the copies that I have seen have an unusual diagonal ridge along the bottom edge, suggesting that the page cutting machinery was malfunctioning -- at least for one batch of copies produced, and perhaps more. In addition, some of the pages have small ink blotches. At a list price of almost $45, the book might seem a bit pricey. But online bookstores are fully discounting it, such as Amazon.com's current price of under $30.

The book may have some minor weaknesses, noted above, but otherwise, Joomla! A User's Guide is a logically organized and potentially quite valuable resource for beginning and intermediate Joomla developers -- perhaps the best Joomla book currently available.

Michael J. Ross is a Web developer, writer, and freelance editor.

You can purchase Joomla! A User's Guide from amazon.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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117 comments

FirstPostLa! An AC's Guide (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23752243)

The book may have some minor weaknesses, noted above, but otherwise, FirstPostLa! An AC's Guide is a logically organized and potentially quite valuable resource for beginning and intermediate First Poster -- perhaps the best First Post book currently available.

terrible name (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23752253)

joomla sounds like the first name of some mudjahidin

No download? (5, Funny)

poptones (653660) | more than 5 years ago | (#23752297)

it's a book about using an open source cms and I can't download it? So I have to wait for it to be delivered, then I have to keep up with it? I have to sort through it on my desk without using common search tools to find what I am looking for?

And I'm supposed to BUY this?

Yeah, right.

Re:No download? (4, Insightful)

Angostura (703910) | more than 5 years ago | (#23752425)

I read a book about the history of television the other week. I was Shocked SHOCKED that it was in book form, rather than being a television program. What were they thinking?!

You like reading documentation on screen, that's great. The publishers are betting that there are significant numbers of people who are willing to pay for a book that describes a complex subject at length.

Re:No download? (3, Informative)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 5 years ago | (#23752755)

No - you can access and search it online as well - it's up there in the review - read it again.

Re:No download? (3, Insightful)

owlnation (858981) | more than 5 years ago | (#23752917)

And I'm supposed to BUY this?
It's Joomla. What did you expect? One of the biggest problems with Joomla, is that while it itself is free, it's far from userfriendly, and has a massive learning curve. So much so in fact, that there's a whole parasitical industry built up around it in template and modules design.

It's amazing the number of people that do, indeed, expect you to pay for Joomla stuff.

Re:No download? (2, Insightful)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 5 years ago | (#23753053)

I wouldn't call the learning curve massive. That's a bit of an exaggeration. The fact that it can support a decent number of commercial offerings speaks to the wide adoption.
 
The fact that there are commercial options available doesn't really reflect back on the core software itself, in my opinion. That's like saying Wordpress is bad because there are so many people selling themes for it. It might be bad for other reasons, but all commercial offerings prove is that it is popular.

Re:No download? (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 5 years ago | (#23753595)

I wouldn't call the learning curve massive. That's a bit of an exaggeration.
If you are already pretty good with CSS, HTML and maybe PHP you'll not find the learning curve massive. You'll still have a learning curve, but maybe not massive. However, Joomla like to see itself as being good for newbies. Trust me, for them, the learning curve is indeed "massive".

Commercialization? The Joomla templates and modules, and also for that matter the Wordpress ones, it's the same tired and failed business model that died with the shareware CDs on the front of computer mags in the late 80s. Time to embrace 21st century economics.

Re:No download? (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 5 years ago | (#23754139)

That's what I mean- why does a user need to know PHP, CSS or HTML to use Joomla? Isn't the whole point that they don't have to? I've done a Joomla install so that I can play with CiviCRM [civicrm.org]. I have it all up and running and I'm messing around with setting up different stuff on the CiviCRM side. So far I have used absolutely zero PHP, CSS or HTML. And it all works. I've done the same with Drupal as the underlying component.
 
I guess if I wanted to create my own plugin, or my own template I might need to become familiar with those things, but not to use it - not to use any of the templates others have already made available. I feel pretty confident that I could also hand over what I've done to someone else and with very little training they could be a proficient user of both pieces of software.

Re:No download? (1)

poptones (653660) | more than 5 years ago | (#23756737)

This is why I gave up on joomla, like, three hours after I installed it on a test server: from the joomla civicrm "demonstration" site...

Notice: Undefined index: custom in /var/www/joomla.demo.civicrm.org/svn/CRM/Event/Page/EventInfo.php on line 103

Notice: Array to string conversion in /var/www/joomla.demo.civicrm.org/svn/CRM/Core/OptionGroup.php on line 281

Notice: Array to string conversion in /var/www/joomla.demo.civicrm.org/svn/CRM/Core/OptionGroup.php on line 282

Course I dunno why I should expect mroe from them than from Microsoft. I can't even log into hotmail without using their "secure" portal. It seems like "web2.0" is shorthand for "screw the turtles, it's houses of cards all the way down!"

Re:No download? (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 5 years ago | (#23758881)

I haven't run into any problems yet. I did have to take a couple runs at the install but it was because I had some things set up wrong with my host. It was a good learning experience and is running smoothly now.

Re:No download? (0, Troll)

raziael (1305989) | more than 5 years ago | (#23753383)

And I'm supposed to BUY this?
....there's a whole parasitical industry built up around it in template and modules design. It's amazing the number of people that do, indeed, expect you to pay for Joomla stuff.
Give me free.. I WANT FEEEEEEEE!!!! (enter childish tantrum sounds) .... lame ass....

Re:No download? (1)

Larryish (1215510) | more than 5 years ago | (#23759611)

It's Joomla. What did you expect? One of the biggest problems with Joomla, is that while it itself is free, it's far from userfriendly, and has a massive learning curve. So much so in fact, that there's a whole parasitical industry built up around it in template and modules design.

It's amazing the number of people that do, indeed, expect you to pay for Joomla stuff.


Your issue is a non-issue. The same applies to all of the bigger CMS systems (Drupal and phpWebsite spring to mind) and there are pro (semi-pro?) template designers and module creators for all of them.

Re:No download? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23759829)

And I'm supposed to BUY this?

It's amazing the number of people that do, indeed, expect you to pay for Joomla stuff.
LOL....

Heard of "Free as in Freedom"?
Because Joomla is opensource, everyone that's associated with it is supposed to attend to all your needs for no money?

Re:No download? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23753783)

Seeing as you won't buy it, then no one will buy it? Someone should really tell all of the publishers that have written books about Linux, MySQL, PHP, Python etc.
Also a lot of the Joomla publishers provide a stipend back to the project, and believe it or not, some of these projects require money to function

Re:No download? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23754725)

Worst of all, it is a book about a piece of PHP junk.

Spell! It! Correctly! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23752361)

It's! "Joomla!"!, not! "Joomla"!

Re:Spell! It! Correctly! (3, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#23752533)

What do you know? I bet you've never even seen a hippopotamus, let alone heard one fart underwater.

Re:Spell! It! Correctly! (1)

spun (1352) | more than 5 years ago | (#23753689)

I have no idea what this means or why it made me laugh so hard coffee came out my nose.

Re:Spell! It! Correctly! (1)

Tsar (536185) | more than 5 years ago | (#23754185)

I think Hognoxious was implying that an underwater hippo fart might sound something like "Joomla!" with or without quotes.

As an aside, back in 1996 when Larry Page first told Sergey Brin about his page-linking thesis project called "BackRub" [wired.com], Brin lauged so hard that coffee came out of his nose. His java-enhanced expletive came out "Google!" and the name stuck.

Check Wikipedia if you don't believe me—but please wait a few minutes before you do.

Re:Spell! It! Correctly! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23761663)

I think it's a recycle of this one.

It Is Woomba

At an international meeting, two surgeons were having an argument. The Indian surgeon was saying, "No no no, I am telling you it is Woomba"The African surgeon is saying, "No Man, it is Whoooooommmmmm"They go on like this for about 10 minutes. Up comes the English surgeon, and interrupts them. "Excuse me chaps, but I do believe that the word you are trying to say is "Womb."

After he has gone away, the African turns to the Indian and says, "I bet you he has never even seen a hippopotamus, never mind heard one fart under water!


Re:Spell! It! Correctly! (3, Funny)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#23753633)

It's! "Joomla!"!, not! "Joomla"!
So its !"Joomla"!

Or it is "Joomla"!

I'm confused. Why do you spell out "not" in your statement once when you use "!" so many other times?

1.5 RC1 to Current (1)

NaCh0 (6124) | more than 5 years ago | (#23752387)

I've seen conflicting reports so I must ask...

Has joomla changed much (other than bug fixes) between 1.5 RC1 as covered by the book and the final 1.5 release?

Re:1.5 RC1 to Current (3, Informative)

Dynedain (141758) | more than 5 years ago | (#23752441)

For a book like this, probably not. End-user UI and administration hasn't changed substantially between 1.5rc1 and 1.5.3. If you're a developer however, yes, various API changes have been made. But this book isn't for developers, it's for non-technical day-to-day admins of a basic site with relatively standard needs.

Re:1.5 RC1 to Current (2, Informative)

Firehed (942385) | more than 5 years ago | (#23752881)

One should hope not, as any changes from a release candidate to the final version should only be bug fixes.

Shortest Chapter (4, Funny)

CompMD (522020) | more than 5 years ago | (#23752423)

The shortest chapter is about preventing script kiddies from comprom!#$^@in#%g@#!$nkHACKED BY CHINESE

Joomla is a top choice? (2, Informative)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 5 years ago | (#23752443)

Of all the content management systems (CMSs) from which a Web developer can choose for creating a new Web site, Joomla is generally considered to be one of the top choices...
Sure, maybe if you're a patient sadist when it comes to admin interfaces.

Re:Joomla is a top choice? (2, Interesting)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 5 years ago | (#23752541)

Yep, for me the biggest downturn of joomla is mess. If you are not REALLY careful and experienced, you end with page tree better described as voronoi graph. I prefer typo3, most types of pages can be created in about half an hour if you start with html templates from designer.

Re:Joomla is a top choice? (1)

Slorv (841945) | more than 5 years ago | (#23759843)

You get the same easy html based page/article templates with the JCE editor.
Make the looks, save it as a html snippet. Done.

Re:Joomla is a top choice? (2, Interesting)

xevioso (598654) | more than 5 years ago | (#23752553)

It's very easy to use. It's pretty intuitive, although you have to learn the meaning of a few special terms. But the admin screen for 1.5 is a breeze, at least for me.

Re:Joomla is a top choice? (2, Informative)

ceejayoz (567949) | more than 5 years ago | (#23753075)

It's a breeze if you don't mind some bizarre restrictions. Try putting an article in more than one section, for example.

Re:Joomla is a top choice? (2, Informative)

spun (1352) | more than 5 years ago | (#23753729)

This is the one thing I find annoying about Joomla. But Joomla 1.5 is written as a framework. Nothing is built in, not even the article, section, or category systems. It would be pretty easy to make a tag based system that lets you have arbitrary page trees instead of the two tier section/category system that comes built in.

Re:Joomla is a top choice? (1)

ceejayoz (567949) | more than 5 years ago | (#23755955)

That's what I see as the key difference between Drupal and Joomla.

Joomla says "don't like the core content module? ditch it and use one of the crappy or commercial replacements". Drupal says "don't like the core content module? well, it's super configurable, and you can even extend its workings without ditching it entirely".

I smell a holy war! (1)

spun (1352) | more than 5 years ago | (#23756089)

Eh? There is no core content module in Joomla, that is the point of a framework. There are a number of small content modules that work together and are all very configurable, so it is quite easy to extend their workings without replacing the 'core' because their is no core. There are also a number of open source as well as commercial options, although options for 1.5 (the one built on a framework) are limited because it just came out.

I'm happy for you that you've found a CMS you like, though. That's nice. Just don't identify with it to the point that when someone likes something else, it feels like a personal attack. That's bad.

Re:I smell a holy war! (1)

ceejayoz (567949) | more than 5 years ago | (#23761625)

com_content doesn't count as a core content module? Who are you trying to kid? Alternately, what odd definition of "core content module" are you using?

Re:Joomla is a top choice? (1)

Swampash (1131503) | more than 5 years ago | (#23755801)

Of all the content management systems (CMSs) from which a Web developer can choose for creating a new Web site, Joomla is generally considered to be one of the top choices...

Sure, maybe if you're a patient sadist when it comes to admin interfaces.


Oh god, I would rather stab out my eyes than administer a Joomla site ever again. Joomla has the worst admin console... the worst documentation... oh jesus, the pain, it's all flooding back, nooooooo......

Joomla is wonderful (4, Interesting)

xevioso (598654) | more than 5 years ago | (#23752499)

I am actually developing a site with Joomla right now for a large client. This was my first time actually developing a fully-functioning CMS-based site like this, even though I have been developing sites for a long time. It is a breeze to use. It was difficult to set up, only because I am not a php and database expert and the server we set it up on did not have all of those things installed from the get-go, but an experienced php/mySQL user can deal with the configuration issues with no problem. However, Joomla 1.5 is a breeze, as long as you are experienced with CSS/HTML. It is actually mostly intutitive, with the exception of understanding sections vs categories and their relationship to the overall menu structure, but a quick read through the online help for this solved the problem. I went with this over Drupal partly because it is so easy to use, and very robust.

Re:Joomla is wonderful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23754477)

I agree, I have the reviewed book too, and it's very good. I bought it 3 years after I started doing Joomla site development though, so I don't use the book all the time. But it's nice to have as a refresher.

Re:Joomla is wonderful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23754645)

Sure, it might make things easy, but the fact that Joomla! ends up at least once a week on milw0rm.com should be enough of a warning.

Re:Joomla is wonderful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23755497)

I'm going to add to the parent's comment. I use Joomla on about 20 different websites I manage for various organizations.

The longest I've had a Joomla install take was just under 2 minutes, including the time it took to upload the files. If you've got MySQL and PHP, you can literally just upload the ZIP file, unpackage and install. It's pretty much self-configuring.

I've never had a problem with scalability either, but then again the sites I manage average less than 15,000 unique visitors per month.

The sheer number of components and add-ons available for Joomla is also very appealing. The main repository for Joomla add-ons, http://extensions.joomla.org, lists over 3200.

Re:Joomla is wonderful (4, Informative)

S-100 (1295224) | more than 5 years ago | (#23757639)

Joomla setup isn't too bad as it's a pretty standard PHP/MySQL application. After that, the installer does a pretty good job of getting things going. The admin interface is smooth, but the main problem with Joomla is figuring out WHAT TO DO in the admin pages to build your site. Web pages are abstracted into an arcane menu structure, and "articles" need to be universally structured into a fixed hierarchy of "sections" and "categories". So unless you know all of your web site's contents in advance, you can easily build a system that "can't get there from here". I've also been waiting for a long time for pure CSS templates. The table-driven templates that I've used are very fragile - the smallest innocuous change can knock the entire site out of whack. Joomla has great potential and it's still getting better. There's great support for open source plug-ins, and out of the box, it's quite reliable. However, if you're building a large, complex site with Joomla, be sure to map it out very carefully.

Re:Joomla is wonderful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23761159)

Either you're a moron, or you didn't try very hard with drupal.

Or maybe your site fills in the very narrow niche that joomla is designed for.

I've played with joomla a bit, because it was supposedly `best of the breed', and then discovered drupal, and it was a breath of fresh air.

Joomla doesn't have anything going for it compared to drupal. Most anything you may want to do with a CMS (specifically, *having* a CMS, as opposed to a simple news site with mostly unrelated articles jumbled together with *all* organisation left to the poor admin) is doomed from start with joomla.

Oh well. The critical acclaim means most users are morons who prefer a bit of eye-candy in the admin interface to most of the work being done automatically.

At a glance.... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23752501)

I thought Joomla was a robotic vacuum cleaner.
No... wait... That's a Roomba.

Sorry!

Modded insightful??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23756149)

Many funny, in a silly kind of way, but definitely not insightful.

Crap Management System (4, Insightful)

GigaHurtsMyRobot (1143329) | more than 5 years ago | (#23752549)

In the time it takes to configure a system like this to spec, and learn it's obnoxious 'mambot' system of plug ins, you could pick up any random programming language and build a better mouse-trap all by yourself.

A vigilant open-sourcer at my company was able to get approval to use this hunk of junk for a production web-site. Trouble is, when he left, it was quicker to re-write the whole damn thing (in .Net, no less) than continue development for other clients. We now have 1 client running on a shitty Joomla portal, and 6 clients on our much sexier high performance portal.

Re:Crap Management System (3, Interesting)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 5 years ago | (#23753013)

I became a fan of Drupal after learning its internals and writing modules for it. So when a client came along that needed a custom site that seemed to closely fit the Drupal model, we started with that as a foundation. Well over a year later it's become far too convoluted. We could now (if we were given the time) rewrite the whole thing from nothing in under 2 months and have far fewer problems.

So for custom development, unless the work can be accomplished through only module and theme development, it's typically better to create something on top of a simple framework. Each CMS is good for its specific scenarios, so unless your scenario fits right in, don't bother.

Re:Crap Management System (2, Insightful)

DeionXxX (261398) | more than 5 years ago | (#23754499)

How could you POSSIBLY see the internals of Drupal and still go with it? Everything is a global function. No classes, and a mess of spaghetti code.

For every page render, there are like 100 function calls that go something like this: is there a function called blah_blah_blah_blah? is there a function called blah_blah_blah? is there a function called blah_blah?

Re:Crap Management System (2, Informative)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 5 years ago | (#23755391)

The only reason every function is global is because that's the only way PHP works until namespaces are introduced. And there are no classes because it's not object oriented. Object oriented programming isn't the only solution to every web development problem (although I use it for 95% of my work).

I'd rather have 100 small functions than 10 huge functions. Problems in Drupal are all broken down into bite-size parts, so the function call overhead is offset by maintainability, modularity, and code re-use.

It's actually quite easy to follow Drupal code in most cases.

Re:Crap Management System (2, Interesting)

sctprog (240708) | more than 5 years ago | (#23755413)

I've always built my own CMS engines.. never used Drupal et al.. but I can say this..

Classes are overkill in a web app. They slow everything down. It's far more efficient to require_once the code that you need once you figure out which module the user wants.

Re:Crap Management System (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23759735)

No classes
Ooh, it doesn't have classes! It must be crap.

Guess what? Every app written in C doesn't have classes, so they must automatically be crap as well. And don't get me started on Lisp; what were they thinking when they designed THAT without classes?

By your logic, a "Hello World" program written in Java that requires 175 classes is the best program ever written.

Okay, maybe that last part was deliberately exaggerated, but my point is that a lack of classes does not preclude a program from having good code.

While we're talking about the issue of OOP in Drupal (wait a second; I thought this was a Joomla article), have you read this article [drupal.org] from the developers themselves?

CMS = Conversational Monitoring System (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23752637)

Attention microcomputer idiots:

Please stop using the TLA CMS for your worthless crap. "CMS" will always stand for the "Conversational Monitoring System" component of VM/370, VM/SP, VM/ESA, etc.

Damn kids.

Re:CMS = Conversational Monitoring System (5, Funny)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#23753097)

Please stop using the TLA CMS for your worthless crap. "CMS" will always stand for the "Conversational Monitoring System" component of VM/370, VM/SP, VM/ESA, etc.
I think I'll just get off of your lawn now...

Re:CMS = Conversational Monitoring System (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23753397)

Hah, you little tykes and your 70's IBM wizzbangs. CMS has stood for "Compiler Monitor System" since the Navy designed it in the late 60's.

Re:CMS = Cave Management System (1)

spun (1352) | more than 5 years ago | (#23753807)

Ugh! You modern hominids and your fancy 'technology.' CMS has stood for 'Cave Management System' (AKA Mrs. Ogg) ever since I married her, uhh, many moons ago.

Re:CMS = Cave Management System (1)

EugeneK (50783) | more than 5 years ago | (#23756285)

Ugh! You mammals and your caves. CMS has stood for Cretaceous Mollusc Survival for the past 145 million years.

Drupal (5, Interesting)

hyperion454 (766214) | more than 5 years ago | (#23752679)

I just did my first site in Joomla!, and I will never use it again. It took me far longer than it should have to figure out how to do anything useful as far as creating custom components. It's so much easier with Drupal, because the documentation is so much better and creating custom modules is so much easier.

Re:Drupal (2, Interesting)

ceejayoz (567949) | more than 5 years ago | (#23753083)

You had the same experience as me. Drupal's API is far, far superior. You can modify the way just about any core component works with a few lines of code.

Re:Drupal (4, Interesting)

xevioso (598654) | more than 5 years ago | (#23753617)

Well, not everyone needs to create custom modules. There are a ton of modules in existence out there already, and while Drupal may be great for building those, I have been able to find all the modules I need without much difficulty. I also did my first CMS site in Joomla, and I had the basic site with a well-designed template up and running in a few days. I would recommend it, IF you are a decent developer and know your stuff pretty well. If you have difficulty finding your way around CSS or HTML you will have problems trying to match your template to a design. I used the BEEZ template that is provided and heavily modified it.

Re:Drupal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23753693)

I'm replying anon, because I'm using a pub machine ... but Yes, I agree that Drupal is so much better. Docs, Community and features are all there.

Re:Drupal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23756399)

Couldn't agree more. We use a variety of CMS's at work and are all quite mystified by the popularity of Joomla. If it does everything you need out of the box I guess it's OK, but for any sort've custom work it's complete crap.

Drupal is a little quirky but surprisingly flexible and powerful. I like it and have used it on a couple projects.

My fav though is ModX. It provides a solid framework, but stays the fuck out of your way and lets you do your thing. Between template variables and snippets you can do pretty much anything. And Wayfinder is the coolest menu generator ever, once you learn the basics.

Re:Drupal (1)

miruku (642921) | more than 5 years ago | (#23757059)

My main annoyance with Joomla is that it doesn't do blogging very well. The Joomla dev team use WordPress themselves. That and I dislike the workflow.

I'm currently using Drupal to build a site for a local social centre and further looking to create an install package that's got preconfigured settings and modules for easy and practical out-of-the-box usage by users who may have little CMS experience. The problem with Drupal 6 is that there are a number of heavily used non-core modules that haven't been ported from Drupal 5 yet. CCK [drupal.org] (custom forms) is in alpha. Panels 2 [drupal.org] b5 (nifty layouts) for Drupal 5 was released last week with the D6 port due after the final is out. The other big hitter from what I've been able to gather is Views [drupal.org] (custom content presentation), but that's already at beta3 for D6. I'm betting that once these are all final for D6 that more users will upgrade which will in turn drive mod devs to start on D6 porting.

Drupal seems very flexible and a good middle-of-the-road CMS. It doesn't have the fantastic individual centric user interface for posting content that you get in WordPress or Movable Type, but most of what the average user will see is customizable. Still the best of a bad bunch though ;)

Meetup Clone? (2, Interesting)

roscivs (923777) | more than 5 years ago | (#23752735)

If anyone's been to Meetup.com, they know that (a) it's a pretty convenient site, and (b) they charge a hell of a lot of money for what they do. It seems like with a CMS like Joomla or Drupal, you should be able to mirror much of the functionality of the site on your own (basically: event calendar, mailing list, member roll, and RSVP).

I've tried playing around with various CMSs but it seems like they're just too heavyweight for me to wrap my head around a simple event calendaring system. Has anyone put together a HOWTO for this sort of thing? (Or done it themselves?)

Re:Meetup Clone? (1)

xevioso (598654) | more than 5 years ago | (#23753653)

I am using a Joomla-based calendar. I think it's called JEvents, and the only difficulty is making sure Joomla 1.5 is running in Legacy mode so that you can import the most recent version of the module correctly, but thats a switch in Joomla.. Other than that, it was very simple to set up.

Re:Meetup Clone? (1)

hairy moose (256972) | more than 5 years ago | (#23754337)

Go check out zanby.com -- meetup functions (groups / calendars / rsvp lists / etc) and more (discussions per group, groups of groups, enterprise skinning). Basic service is **free**, for unlimited groups and unlimited group size

Re:Meetup Clone? (1)

roscivs (923777) | more than 5 years ago | (#23755371)

Go check out zanby.com -- meetup functions (groups / calendars / rsvp lists / etc) and more (discussions per group, groups of groups, enterprise skinning). Basic service is **free**, for unlimited groups and unlimited group size
Tempting, but Meetup.com started out that way too. There's no guarantee zanby.com won't start charging money too once I'm hooked. I'd prefer software that I can install on my own machine.

Joomla (2, Insightful)

piemcfly (1232770) | more than 5 years ago | (#23753033)

What's with the stream of Joomla news all of a sudden?
I remember a joomla book review (from the same user) some weeks ago ( http://books.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/05/14/1335211 [slashdot.org] )?

Re:Joomla (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 5 years ago | (#23754391)

I don't know how the editors choose what gets posted - but if you check the firehose and filter on recent book reviews you'll see that there are tons that don't get to the front page. Just like other types of submissions. (I write plenty that get rejected myself, including one for this book). But what comes up here is a result of what's out there - and I guess they thought both reviews were worth posting. If you've read something you think is more worthwhile, you should write a review and submit it. It's a lot of fun, in my opinion. If you want to see your review on the front page - I'd recommend taking a look at what Michael does in his as he seems to have a very good rate of getting them accepted. Of course there are the slashdot guidelines mentioned above as well.

My criteria for choosing a CMS: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23753147)

if( theCMS.getName().endsWith("!") ) { next; }

This would have been handy... (1)

djtachyon (975314) | more than 5 years ago | (#23753161)

...before I created my site [djtachyon.com]. It is quite a bit of a different paradigm to use a system such as this.

Getting a mod to be able to publish instantly and post directly to the front page without using the administrator page is a must. I use myContent [joomla.org].

Adam (2, Funny)

marketanomaly (1163583) | more than 5 years ago | (#23753335)

In my evaluation, I determined that Joomla kind of sucks. It tries to be powerful and flexible like Drupal, yet as simple as Wordpress. Unfortunately, it ends up being just as complicated as Drupal and no better than WordPress.

One of the top choices? Says who? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23753495)

I don't know any web developer that uses or likes Joomla. I've been developing websites since the late 80's and honestly Joomla is one of the worst development tools I've ever used. Not that I think any of them are very good. But saying that Joomla is "generally considered to be one of the top choices" is like saying that if one wishes to breathe a non-poisonous gas Carbon Dioxide is generally considered one of the top choices. Yes, it's there. Yes, it's free. That's all I can say that's good about it.

I love open source software. But Joomla needs to be broken down, destroyed, and then completely rebuilt. It's actually easier and faster to straight text edit webpages then to build them in Joomla. And so I do.

-Jordan

Re:One of the top choices? Says who? (1)

cpuh0g (839926) | more than 5 years ago | (#23754307)

Developing websites since the late 80's? Really? Is your real name Tim Berners-Lee, by chance? Seriously. Just because you don't care for it doesn't mean others don't find it to be a very workable solution. And the # of "years" you have been designing websites has nothing to do with anything.

Re:One of the top choices? Says who? (1)

Slorv (841945) | more than 5 years ago | (#23759891)

>I don't know any web developer that uses or likes Joomla.

I do. I also been setting up systems to a number of large and small corporations and schools that are more than happy with Joomla.

Joomla maybe isn't for the the programmer type of webdevelopers themselves - they could write their own CMS if they wish/could - but for the publishers who simply want something up and running and than add/remove functions. Joomla give you that. Drupal needs someone to give it a fresh shiny, publisher friendly look exposing it's features when installed by someone who doesn't understand php at all. Look at a no-frills Drupal install [drupal.org] w default template, it looks feature-less and plain. Joomla while rather boxy looking [joomla.org] atleast it shows of lot's feature in matters of minutes of beeing downloaded.

Joomla is a system that's easy for a designer to do a template for. Yes it really is if you know CMSes and look into a template. Look at XOOPS , EZPublish or Typo3 - absolutely horrible. I say no to anyone asking for EZPublish.

Of course Joomla has it's flaws, the very limited fixed section/category way of organizing articles/pages, still many default modules gives you tablebased code as it looked in 1994, no support for GD built in, no built-in support for auth. against LDAP or other system, I could go on for ever.

Many other open CMSes has the similar oddities and/or misses out on the same obvious features maybe because there are no publishers involved in the development of the functions. Get them involved!

>I've been developing websites since the late 80's
Eh.. no, you haven't.

Symfony all the way! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23753641)

for ease and use i use symfony, yahoo bookmarks! uses the same framework and it has 15 million users to said project.

still skeptical (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23753845)

The reviewer is right about that Joomla's documentation leaves much to be desired. I just bought a competing book. It too, leaves much to be desired.

I'd rather use Xoops but it will not work for my current project.

Very good book with good business perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23753851)

Barrie's book is really interesting, a worthwhile read, imho. Of course you can get free manual of Joomla, but this book has way more of a business perspective on how to best use Joomla effectively for your site. Something that you won't find in the free manual ;)

Vulnerabilities galore! (3, Informative)

WD (96061) | more than 5 years ago | (#23754667)

A search for CVE identifiers related to Joomla returns 244 hits:
http://nvd.nist.gov/nvd.cfm [nist.gov]

New exploits for the vulnerabilities are released several times per week:
http://milw0rm.com/search.php?dong=joomla [milw0rm.com]

Sounds like really good quality stuff...

Re:Vulnerabilities galore! (3, Informative)

SqueakyFerret (240793) | more than 5 years ago | (#23755177)

A search for CVE identifiers related to Joomla returns 244 hits:
http://nvd.nist.gov/nvd.cfm [nist.gov]
And how many of those vulnerabilities relate Joomla itself, or crappy third-party downloadable components? If you download and install crappy untrustworthy components, won't that compromise even the most secure system?

Re:Vulnerabilities galore! (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 5 years ago | (#23759947)

And how many of those vulnerabilities relate Joomla itself, or crappy third-party downloadable components? If you download and install crappy untrustworthy components, won't that compromise even the most secure system?

You're right, but it appears that what many people consider core functionality exists only in third-party components.

It might be wise to use components as a lab and bring the most popular into the core.

Re:Vulnerabilities galore! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23758055)

A search for CVE identifiers related to Joomla returns 244 hits:
http://nvd.nist.gov/nvd.cfm [nist.gov]

New exploits for the vulnerabilities are released several times per week:
http://milw0rm.com/search.php?dong=joomla [milw0rm.com]

Sounds like really good quality stuff...
Notice that most of the vulnerabilities are for 3rd party add-ons or earlier versions...

Sounds like really good quality comment...

Re:Vulnerabilities galore! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23758335)

The vulnerablities listed are not Joomla per se but extensions written for Joomla.

Code Documentation vs book? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23755715)

I still can't beleive I have to pay for the stupid book to tell me how to use a stupid program - why dont they just document the code better - most real programmers do. Joomla! is a waste of time for the most part - if you are planning on developing a community site there is no basis built in for different user classes (not without a lot of work or paying someone $$$) - its not easy to work with and to modify it takes way too much effort because of the lack of documentation.

Expression Engine (0, Offtopic)

macjosh (1047136) | more than 5 years ago | (#23756767)

I know it's not open source, however Expression Engine I believe is THE most powerful CMS for non-technical minded people. There is a free 'base' version for personal use, however the commercial license is cheap as chips in my opinion. I know that there has been some debate between Exp.Eng. & Drupal, however I believe for non-tech users, Expression Engine wins hands down. That said, Joomla is a better 'out of the box' solution if you wanted to have a fully functional portal on install. However I find it frustrating as hell to customise it for basic brochure ware sites. Expression Engine shines when you want precise control over how functions look and feel, and is very easy to set up quick & sexy solutions. Sorry, went off-topic.

e107 (1)

ezwip (974076) | more than 5 years ago | (#23757607)

I prefer e107 it is very simple to use and things fall into place in a very logical manner. With Joomla that's often not the case. This could be because e107 was the first cms that I used, but I tell you this when you go from something logical to illogical it's painful.

actually? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23758719)

actually? How many times are you actually going to say that word?

Drupal and Joomla Advantages (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23759699)

Both have the obvious advantages of an existing framework to develop from. This requires learning the structure and core functions of them in order to build custom web applications.

For someone that would like to divulge themselves into an open source community in the CMS development world I see no harm in learning the joomla and or drupal structure. I say this only because you will inevitably take the lessons you learn from these open source CMS solutions and apply them to your own proprietary CMS solutions in the future.

if I have to pay money (1)

nx6310 (1150553) | more than 5 years ago | (#23761801)

I'll just stick with the .NET technology CMS's out there, at least that way I get support.
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