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Joomla! A User's Guide 117

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
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.
Joomla! A User's Guide
author Barrie M. North
pages 480
publisher Prentice Hall PTR
rating 8
reviewer Michael J. Ross
ISBN 0136135609
summary learn how to create and manage a website powered by Joomla!
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'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 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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Joomla! A User's Guide

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @02:38PM (#23752253)
    joomla sounds like the first name of some mudjahidin
  • by poptones (653660) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @02:41PM (#23752297) Journal
    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? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Angostura (703910) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @02:48PM (#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? (Score:3, Informative)

      by stoolpigeon (454276) * <bittercode@gmail> on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @03:04PM (#23752755) Homepage Journal
      No - you can access and search it online as well - it's up there in the review - read it again.
    • Re:No download? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by owlnation (858981) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @03:14PM (#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? (Score:2, Insightful)

        by stoolpigeon (454276) * <bittercode@gmail> on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @03:21PM (#23753053) Homepage Journal
        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.
        • by owlnation (858981) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @03:52PM (#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.
          • by stoolpigeon (454276) * <bittercode@gmail> on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @04:27PM (#23754139) Homepage Journal
            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 []. 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.
            • by poptones (653660) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @07:42PM (#23756737) Journal
              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/ on line 103

              Notice: Array to string conversion in /var/www/ on line 281

              Notice: Array to string conversion in /var/www/ 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!"
      • by raziael (1305989) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @03:40PM (#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....
    • by XHIIHIIHX (918333) * on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @03:55PM (#23753647)
      Buy it scan it torrent it done
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @04:05PM (#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
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @05:05PM (#23754725)
      Worst of all, it is a book about a piece of PHP junk.
    • by ||Deech|| (16749) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @09:48AM (#23763109)
      "The book is available not only in print, but in electronic form as well, as part of the Safari Books Online library"


      Man, even when it's right in front of you, second line. Nice.

      Plus, a subscription to the Safari Books Online Library is ridiculously cool and cheap for the access to the library that you get.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @02:45PM (#23752361)
    It's! "Joomla!"!, not! "Joomla"!
  • by NaCh0 (6124) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @02:46PM (#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?

  • by CompMD (522020) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @02:47PM (#23752423)
    The shortest chapter is about preventing script kiddies from comprom!#$^@in#%g@#!$nkHACKED BY CHINESE
  • by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @02:49PM (#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.
  • Joomla is wonderful (Score:4, Interesting)

    by xevioso (598654) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @02:51PM (#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.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @04:47PM (#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.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @04:59PM (#23754645)
      Sure, it might make things easy, but the fact that Joomla! ends up at least once a week on should be enough of a warning.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @06:05PM (#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,, lists over 3200.
    • by S-100 (1295224) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @09:12PM (#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.
      • by macurmudgeon (900466) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @11:00AM (#23764177) Homepage
        While I've built a half dozen sites in Joomla, I'm not a big fan of its administration. I find it non-intuitive and difficult to teach to end users but one place where Joomla really shines is in its template system. It is really quite easy to convert almost any web page into a Joomla template, and since its use of simple conditionals allows for numerous optional page sections, it offers extremely flexible layout potential. Add in the ability to easily assign different templates to different menu items and Joomla is extremely designer friendly. This flexibility makes assigning content to a page and menu with a separate template - and assigning optional sections - a pain, but that's a separate issue.

        Anybody comfortable with HTML and CSS and just a small bit of PHP knowledge should be able to convert a well designed web page into a Joomla template reasonably quickly. Templating is one area where the online Joomla documentation is pretty good, and Barry North, the author of the book in review offers a free Joomla template guide in PDF that is quite straightforward and readable.

        Give Joomla its due. It is very designer friendly.

        And if you are building a large, complex site without first mapping it out, you're in for trouble, regardless which CMS you use. Tags are not a substitute for planning.
  • At a glance.... (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @02:51PM (#23752501)
    I thought Joomla was a robotic vacuum cleaner.
    No... wait... That's a Roomba.

  • by GigaHurtsMyRobot (1143329) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @02:54PM (#23752549) Journal

    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.

    • by truthsearch (249536) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @03:19PM (#23753013) Homepage Journal
      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.
      • by DeionXxX (261398) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @04:49PM (#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?
        • by truthsearch (249536) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @05:57PM (#23755391) Homepage Journal
          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.
        • by sctprog (240708) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @05:59PM (#23755413) Homepage
          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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @02:59PM (#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.
  • my take on it (Score:4, Informative)

    by stoolpigeon (454276) * <bittercode@gmail> on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @02:59PM (#23752647) Homepage Journal
    here is my review [] from my journal. If you don't feel like reading the whole thing - I guess I could sum it up by saying I pretty much agree with Michael.
  • by unspokenchaos (1295553) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @03:00PM (#23752657)
    idiots guide to web development
  • Drupal (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hyperion454 (766214) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @03:01PM (#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 (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ceejayoz (567949) <> on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @03:23PM (#23753083) Homepage Journal
      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 (Score:4, Interesting)

      by xevioso (598654) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @03:53PM (#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.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @03:58PM (#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.
    • by jaykali (1207794) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @04:16PM (#23753957)
      I am a Drupal homer too. Drupal has a nice book btw. I think Drupal has similar issues of not have a cohesive set of docs. Pro Drupal Development: [] is a nice book to fill in the gaps. I used drupal for a few years before I got my hands on that book. I still don't get Joomla or Mambo.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @07:13PM (#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.
    • by miruku (642921) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @08:11PM (#23757059) Homepage
      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 [] (custom forms) is in alpha. Panels 2 [] 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 [] (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? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by roscivs (923777) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @03:03PM (#23752735) Homepage
    If anyone's been to, 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?)
  • Joomla (Score:2, Insightful)

    by piemcfly (1232770) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @03:21PM (#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 ( [] )?
    • by stoolpigeon (454276) * <bittercode@gmail> on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @04:41PM (#23754391) Homepage Journal
      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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @03:26PM (#23753147)
    if( theCMS.getName().endsWith("!") ) { next; }
  • by djtachyon (975314) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @03:28PM (#23753161) Homepage Journal
    ...before I created my site []. 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 [].
  • Adam (Score:2, Funny)

    by marketanomaly (1163583) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @03:37PM (#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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @03:46PM (#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.

    • by cpuh0g (839926) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @04:38PM (#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.
    • by Slorv (841945) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @02:23AM (#23759891) Homepage
      >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 [] w default template, it looks feature-less and plain. Joomla while rather boxy looking [] 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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @03:55PM (#23753641)
    for ease and use i use symfony, yahoo bookmarks! uses the same framework and it has 15 million users to said project.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @04:09PM (#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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @04:09PM (#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 ;)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @04:32PM (#23754219)

    It's a free CHM format download on Bitspyder [] or more specifically: [].

    Ugh why CHM? Pain in the butt for Linux users...

  • by WD (96061) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @05:01PM (#23754667)
    A search for CVE identifiers related to Joomla returns 244 hits: []

    New exploits for the vulnerabilities are released several times per week: []

    Sounds like really good quality stuff...
  • Wasn't that one of the utterances that Timmy [] would proclaim between saying his own name?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @06:20PM (#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.
  • by ezwip (974076) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @09:09PM (#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.
  • by eiapoce (1049910) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @10:29AM (#23763751)
    I just build a website with Joomla I faced a lot of problems.

    First Joomla documentation as stated in the summary is at best obscure.

    I needed to consult more than a website to understand that anything you put on the page is called a module. To understand the twisted logic that makes a menu itself a module and that in order to get a menu you have to install the module first was not easy in itself.

    Then templates may not have all the same regions so a content visible in some of them becomes unaccesible in others...

    But the worst part is instructing a customer manage the content on the site you just intalled... this topic really needs some more books (And Joomla is still more easy than Drupal)

    If you are curious the website is at []
  • by mikeulus (1307315) on Friday June 13, 2008 @04:29PM (#23784275)
    Joomla is nice, but I've found that as far as CMS's go, It's really hard to beat Drupal when it comes to sheer functionality. I've just spent a while throwing together a new Joomla website, but kept coming up on petty issues like user group handling and comments functionality. A lot of the Joomla Extension/Module developers have adopted capitalism in it's finest form, which is fine since I'm willing to spend a bit of money to save some time, however you will find your choices quite limited. Joomla styles have hands down been some of the best I've seen in a CMS, but that's not enough to keep most people's attention after they find themselves wrestling with the mundane details. Great CMS, but it still is a long way off from being my 1st choice yet.

No amount of careful planning will ever replace dumb luck.