Joomla!

The great thing about Joomla is that it’s big, complex, and does everything.

The bad thing about Joomla is that it’s big, complex, and does everything.

No, that is not a contradiction.  Joomla is a pretty amazing system.  With just a little training a person can create rich, detailed and complex websites in weeks rather than months.  Heck, if I had to do it all over again, I could probably do the same thing in the half the time.

My recommendation if you were to learn Joomla is to create two sites.  The first with all the default data and the second with no data in it and then figure out how to add content to the blank one by drilling down into the pre-populated one.  My other recommendation is to explore the modules very closely and figure out the relationship between them and menus.

One observation that suprised me was the shear amount of modules (open source and commercial) there is available for Joomla.  The Joomla extensions directory must have hundreds of modules and plugins available for nearly every need.  Another observation is that a lot of commercial development on Joomla is being done in Eastern European countries and their prices are quite a bargain.

Of course, my travails into Open Source software has lead me to a conclusion.  OSS has poor documentation and if a commercial company put that level of effort into documentation we’d skewer them.  Now that’s not to put down the efforts of what documentation they have because Joomla is a big and complex piece of software and they just went through a fairly major revision.  In 6 months the documentation will most likely catch up.  It makes me appreciate what companies do to either document the heck out of their software or make them so simple anyone can figure them out.

Many website CPanel’s have Joomla! as an option now as a single click install.  It’s well worth exploring if you have a church group, or not for profit website you’re dealing with and you don’t want to be THE site master forever.  That’s the beauty of a CMS driven site, once it’s set up regular people (with a little training) can add, delete and modify content to their hearts desire.

The Joomla! address is http://www.joomla.org/.  What is your experience with CMS sites?  I know another big one right now is Drupal but I’ve not compared them.  Anyone have experience with it?