Joomla! and its Candyland of Extensions

Refresh Detroit! joined Joomla! Detroit for its November meeting. Here is a recap of a few highlights of this information rich meeting.

The meeting opened with Shane Sevo, the leader of Joomla! Detroit giving an overview of Joomla and discussing how it compares to the other big open source platforms – Drupal and WordPress.

Shane began looking at different opensource content management systems several years ago. At the time, what drew him to Joomla! was the commitment by the worldwide Joomla! community. Any question he had he could get an answer for it.

Joomla!’s Candyland

A big difference Shane finds between Joomla! and other CMS choices is how extensions presented. He describes Joomla!’s Extension Directory as a “really happy candyland” of plugins. It has descriptions of what the extensions do, community feedback about how good it is, ratings and reviews. Anything you’re trying to do, chances are other people of done it and built a component or extension for Joomla! that at least gets you going in that direction or shows you a way it could be done.

“For me, as a person without much of a coding background… I could install this stuff and it’d pretty much work out of the box,” said Shane. “ Maybe I would have to come back and do stuff I was comfortable with like play with stylesheets or work on the graphics.” Sometimes Shane would have to hire someone to make a piece work the way the client wanted.

“Visually, you can get Joomla! to go just about anywhere you want.” If you look at the Joomla! template clubs, they demonstrate how Joomla! can accommodate unique layouts that make the most out of CSS.

Shane points out that Joomla! has also become a platform for software delivery. Because there are so many Joomla! users, third party developers are committed to Joomla! as a base for software development. As proof, there are over 6,000 different extension listings, some free some commercial, in Joomla!’s extension directory .

Drupal

Shane compares this with the Drupal world where most extensions are free but the same type of third party support isn’t available. He points out that Drupal’s extensions do get used a lot and are pretty reliable. Drupal is powerful, but you’re going to have to spend more time, getting your hands dirty, to create a custom solution.

CCKs or Content Construction Kits, is another big difference between Drupal and Joomla!. With Drupal you basically have one choice of a CCK, that everyone loves. With Joomla! there are numerous options. Some of them do amazing things out of the box and your whole problem is solved. Shane explains that the Drupal world doesn’t have that. You’re going to have to start with a base and build it up into what you need it to be. He demonstrated what you could be done with Yoothemes’ Zoo CCK for Joomla!.

WordPress

Shane then discussed the differences between WordPress.com and Joomla. “Wordpress.com is a elegant, free solution to anyone who just wants an online presence. “ It’s fast, easy to get started, and secure. The Joomla! equivalent of this doesn’t really exist. Cloudaccess.net is an attempt by a Michigan company to develop something like WordPress.com but its more expensive.

A difference between WordPress.com and a Joomla! service like Cloudaccess.net is that Joomla! is more extendable. If you want to add some extensions to a WordPress.com site you’re going to have to buy into one of their packages or install WordPress software on your own hosting service. There are numerous WordPress extensions available but most are naturally geared toward blogging.

Shane finds that for a pamphlet like site for a small business, either WordPress or Joomla! can accomplish it. It’s just a matter of which you like better and which has the extensions you need. From a design standpoint you can see from the different template clubs that both Joomla! and WordPress sites can be made to look exactly the same.

If you look at where WordPress is going, “it starts to look more like a CMS every day” says Shane. Joomla! on the other hand is moving from its original newspaper methodology to a blog like tool set. The two tools are starting to look similar.

Joomla! 1.6

Shane then discussed the upcoming release of Joomla! version 1.6. The big difference he sees in this version is in rights management. In Joomla! 1.5 you were pretty limited in how you set up access to parts of your site for specific users or groups. If you wanted more control you had to use a 3rd party solution. In Joomla! 1.6 you’ll be able to control this in much more granular way.

After Shane spoke a question was asked about the best way to move a Joomla! site from a local development platform or another host. The next speaker, Steven Pignataro, recommended using a Joomla! plugin called Akeeba Backup for this.

corePHP

Steven, CEO of corePHP, started by sharing his perspective on the basic differences between Joomla and other platforms. “Joomla is…. more of an ideology of ‘this is the base framework and there’s other people out there that can build for it.’ “ he explained. “Whereas Drupal … the mindset of … ‘lets get all the stuff like forms and commenting system into the base package so people can start utilizing it right out of the box’. … And WordPress isn’t really a CMS.”

corePHP specializes in customizing Joomla sites, fixing problems in the middle of development, developing from scratch, design work, print work and things like that. They offer a wide range of products for Joomla. Steve went on to describe, and demonstrate some of them (although the Internet connection wasn’t very cooperative ) .

WordPress for Joomla

WordPress for Joomla is a fully functional WordPress inside of Joomla component. Anything you can do in WordPress you can do in WordPress for Joomla. “The idea was to take the world’s best blogging tool and merge it with the world’s best CMS.”

Community ACL

Joomla! currently lacks the ability to give roles to groups and users. Community ACL is a tool that lets anyone restrict access to specific portions of the site. It has very fine-grained control. Community ACL offers controls that even Joomla 1.6 new access control won’t fulfill so corePHP will continue to support it.

jomCDN

Both visitors and Google don’t like slow sites. jomCDN is a new corePHP product that connects with Amazon S3 services so that no matter where you’re at your site’s assets like image files, CSS files, Javascript files are all pulled from a server located near your visitor. This dramatically reduces your load times.

Droomla

(Coming Soon)
Clients sometimes want features that aren’t available or don’t make sense to do in another CMS. corePHP will be coming out soon with Droomla, which in a similar fashion to WordPress for Joomla!, integrates Drupal inside of Joomla. It allows people to get the features they want from Drupal in Joomla. Droomla doesn’t modify Drupal all, so you can still do everything you could always do with Drupal. It will now be possible to have Joomla, WordPress and Drupal all in one suite!

Steven answered questions about his products and how you use Joomla as a base for your business. It’s clear that Steven could have spoken for much longer but it was late and we had to stop there.

Refresh Detroit would like to Steven from coming all the way from Battle Creek for our meeting. We’d also like to thank Shane and the members of Joomla! Detroit for letting us join their meeting.

2 thoughts on “Joomla! and its Candyland of Extensions

  1. Both Joomla and Drupal have a lot to offer. Droomla sounds a bit crazy to me but why not?! I could see where a business might want the best of both worlds.

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