Joomla, Open Source Christmas Present for this Web Master!

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Joomla – An Open Source CMS worth looking at.

Joomla is an open source CMS system (CMS stands for
Content Management System. I'm currently using Joomla to develop a number of themed web sites. There is a Christmas site, a recipe site and a travel site. Joomla has adapted nicely to each of these themes.

Generally CMS systems are extremely pricey
and somewhat complex to use. I've found Joomla to be quite easy to use
and now a month into using it I am really starting to appreciate it. If
you do not feel like using a simple page development tool and binding
pages together by hand, then you should look at a CMS system. From what
I've found, Joomla seems to be moving forward the quickest. I am
currently using version 1.0.11 which is the latest of the 1.0 line.

Never use 1.0 software, that's what people will tell you and for
the most part, that's true. However in the case of Joomla we must
remember (or sometimes it's my job to educate you) that Joomla's roots
(at least the 1.0 version) are in another CMS system Mambo. In fact, if
you are familiar with Mambo, Joomla will be second nature (and the
other way around).

Joomla is organized in menus, sections, categories and items. It
fits together kind of like this (general, remember this is not a book,
it's an article). A menu can link to a section, category or item in a
number of ways (table, list, etc). A section can link to a category. A
category can link to a number of items. So, if you need to organize
your website by menu's or tabs, this is ideal. Of course there is much
more to joomla than that, but that is the first thing you'll end up
doing … just like I did.

Joomla extensions, templates, plug-ins, components
One of
the things I love about Joomla is the wide assortment of plugins and
templates available for it, both commercial and free. I found a site,
joomlahacks.com which has a ton of these things (over 200 freely
downloadable templates). I found one that was appropriate for each of
my sites and with a little modification (you are allowed to modify most
templates as they're part of the GPL) GNU Public License, or LGPL
(lesser GNU public license).

Components that I am using are the metataggenerator component
(downloaded) and the SEO component (allowing more Google readable url's
for my web site. Also, like I said I'm using a different downloaded
(and personally modified) template for each of my sites. My sites are
Christmas, Recipes and Travel. There are a couple more, but why go into
those details.

If you go to joomla.org, you can actually test drive the software. I did this
before setting up the christmas site. I wanted to be sure that joomla was right for me.
They've set up a joomla based server and give you a demo account to
play with. This is great to get a feel for the software. I think the
site gets reset every 30 minutes or something, so do not expect your
content to stay there. Also, please please refrain from spamming on
this website! The joomla folks have been good enough to give us a great
product and let us try it out live, please do not take advantage of
their good nature by putting spam up there.

Which technologies does Joomla use
You could also call this section "what does my webserver / hosting
package need to run joomla "?

– PHP, joomla is a PHP based system. If you do not know what PHP is, you
should search around a bit. It's a language for web development (I.
believe loosly based on perl) which can have html embedded in it. I
personally compare it to Java jsp's. I needed to do a bit of PHP modification on the travel and
recipe sites to make things fit properly, but this is not the fault of the original templates or Joomla, I
just wanted a bit of a different look.

– MySQL, joomla needs access to a mysql database. It's installs will
create it's own tables, but of course you need to have the appropriate
permissions to do this.

That's it … although, if it is running on an apache web server it too
makes the SEO stuff work better as you can (possible depending on your
hosting) change the .htaccess file to rewrite urls appropriately.

Linux makes a nice joomla platform, but there's no reason why it can not
run on any platform which has the above capabilities.


On my host (godaddy) it was
dead easy. I just downloaded joomla to my pc, uncompressed the zip
file, then uploaded the joomla stuff to the appropriate directory on my
server. From there, I tried to acess that directory via the web browser
and voila! Up comes the installation screen. I simply followed the
instructions and there it was. Perhaps I'll write another article on
installing joomla on godaddy (a more current one than the old ones I
found which scared me away from doing this at first).

Performance
I do not have much of a frame of reference for
this. Also my templates are a little heavy on the glitter. I'd say it's
reasonable for what it's doing and obviously the faster the cpu and the
more bandwidth your provider gives you the better joomla will perform.

Future
Joomla 1.5 is now in beta, when it's
considered production ready you can be sure I'll be installing it (on a
test site) and seeing what's new!

Here are some websites that I've done with Joomla, feel free to kick the tires (from an end user perspective).

Try Joomla out for yourself. Keep checking back
here for future reviews on the other free products I used to put
gocurious travel, gocurious christmas, gocurious recipes and gocurious
books on the net.

Johnny

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