A popular open source CMS which is also free to use by anyone and everyone. This plus the fact that it is easy to customise and extend the functionality makes it a winner in many people’s opinion.

Joomla enables users with no technical skills to build and maintain websites for both the internet and intranets. It can also be used to develop small but robust applications as well.

The name ‘Joomla’ is derived from the Swahili word ‘jumla’ which means ‘all together’ and this refers to their strong emphasis on the support community and the ethos of the development team.

Joomla was released in 2005 and has won the Packt Open Source Content Management Award in 2006 and 2007.

(Source: www.packtpub.com)

It has been used in a variety of ways which include e-commerce sites, community-based portals, corporate intranets, local/central government applications and media portals.

About Joomla

Joomla is written in PHP, stores data in a MySQL database and uses OOP (object-oriented programming) to manage a range of content which includes photos, video, audio and text.

The user is provided with a set of templates to help build their site, choosing a single template to fix the theme of the site or multiple templates for each section of the site.

There are several ‘manager’ tools such as the ‘media manager’,‘language manager’ and the ‘user manager’: these provide options to handle all types of media, ensure that there are several language versions of the site and set personal controls regarding the level of site maintenance.

Content is written in a WYSIWYG editor and can be edited, organised and published in the same way as any other CMS.

A major feature is Joomla’s extensibility which enables developers to push the boundaries of this CMS to the nth degree.

Characteristics of Joomla

A main feature of this CMS is the fact that it is free but there are several other features to consider which include:

  • Ability to run multi-language websites
  • Easy to download, use and maintain (‘out of the box’)
  • High degree of flexibility, e.g. plug-ins for forums, events etc
  • Can be adapted for any purpose, e.g. blogging
  • Search engine friendly
  • Can be personalised without prior knowledge of programming languages.
  • Works efficiently in shared web hosting environments
  • Ideally suited to medium to large websites
  • Deep level structure and navigation reduces the risk of a Joomla built site being hacked into.

These are just a few of the many features (and advantages) of Joomla.

Disadvantages of Joomla

Whilst Joomla has many things to recommend it, it is, nevertheless, important to recognise its limitations as well. It is considered easy to install, learn and use although there are opinions which are contrary to this.

They argue that there is a steep learning curve with Joomla and that other systems such as WordPress may be better for less technical users who have small websites.

Whilst the numerous plug-in’s are a great idea, not all of them are free which is something to consider if you are thinking about which ones to incorporate into your system.

There are people who argue that sites built with Joomla place an excessive demand upon their server’s resources, causing these sites to slow down and eventually crash. This is a particular problem for a site which attracts a large volume of traffic, e.g. 40-50,000 visitors each day.

This requires the services of an SEO expert to change the source code in order to accommodate this traffic, and to reorganise the demands placed upon the server.