At Joomla! Day UK 2011, Ryan Ozimek, president of Open Source Matters, held a session where newcomers to Joomla asked questions around ‘Why Joomla.’ We took notes and added some extra bits and pieces in a kind of FAQ for newcomers to Joomla.
How does Joomla sit within the CMS ecosystem?
As a CMS, Joomla is often compared to two other open source CMSs: WordPress and Drupal. On one side you have WordPress, and on the other you have Drupal. WordPress was born as a blogging system, with ease of use being the main focus. On the other side, Drupal was built as a fully featured CMS for developers, where sites are built from modules, which act as a tools for developers to build whatever site they need.
If what you are trying to build is a small site, with a focus on publishing content, then WordPress is a great option. If you’re looking to take the requirements of a big client and want to write apps and modules that you can build to create a site, then Drupal could be a good option. If you need something in the middle, then Joomla is a great option.
While Joomla has blogging and content management at it’s core, it’s more complex.
Joomla balances both sides by providing ease of use and keeping developers happy. Over the course of the last three years, Joomla had a shift in how it thinks of itself. In essence, there’s a framework, and then there’s the Content Management System. The Joomla! Platform is for developers who want to focus on the tools that Drupal users might be used to, whereas the Content Management System layer is more about the front end and content publishing.
One of the other advantages of Joomla extensions over Drupal modules, is that with modules, you often have smaller bits that depend on other modules. However, when one module is updated, it isn’t certain that all the dependent modules will still work. With extensions, it is more often than not the case that an extension is a fully featured product, that doesn’t act in a modular fashion.
How Scalable is Joomla?
All of Joomla’s sites run on Joomla, with Joomla.org hitting approximately 6Tb of bandwidth per month. Chris from Rochen, the company who host the sites, said that for each of the different Joomla sites, there was a two server cluster behind each, with no load balancing, and yet there is no issue with speed or downtime (he did mention that each of the servers has around 46gb of RAM though). However, other clients of Rochen’s have a different setup, with load balanced machine.
The key thing to take away is that Joomla’s code is clean and fast, and has the potential to scale. Where most people fall in terms of performance is with extensions and themes that aren’t efficient, or have major holes in their construction. This is why it’s essential to always install extensions you trust and you need.
On that note, one of the big problems with Joomla sites is be smart about installing extensions. Just because there are loads of extensions, doesn’t mean you need to install them all. It’s better to think about what extensions you need for a site, as then it’s easier to keep monitoring a small amount of extensions for updates etc.
Is Joomla a good platform to run something like a CRM system?
A content management system is quite often made to do something that a content management system shouldn’t do. For this reason, if you are looking for a CRM, it’s best to use a CRM like Microsoft Dynamics. However, the Joomla Platform can be used to create apps like this by forking off from the existing system. For example, ebay have used the Joomla Platform to create a bunch of apps that deal with large amounts of analytics data, and then use the CMS to create a ‘Facebook for analytics’ that pulls this data through.
What is security like on Joomla?
Joomla follow security standards, which are the same across open source and proprietry systems. However, from an open source standpoint, Joomla benefits from having a large number of people looking at the code and flagging security issues. There is then a team who are dedicated to fixing these issues as quickly as possible.
Interestingly, Chris from Rochen made a comment that almost all of their security issues as a hosting provider stem from extensions, not the core Joomla code, which is why it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the Vulnerable Extensions List.
Is Joomla cross browser (and device) compatible?
The short answer is yes.
However, it won’t always look the same across all browsers. Ryan made a point that there are extensions available that help alter the appearance of your theme to suit various devices. However, none of these are perfect and there are no current plans to include anything like responsive design into the core of Joomla.
However, Ryan did make mention of the Jux team, who are working on the UX of Joomla as a system, working towards implementing best practice and web standards into the core of Joomla.