Joomla!

Created: Monday, 20 August 2007 Written by Gary Elsbernd Print Email

I have been using Joomla! content managment system for about a year now and love it.  This site, and several others that I manage, have been built using it.  I love it and cannot recommend it highly enough for web developers ready to take the next step.

I started developing websites using text editors and early WYSIWYG editors such as HotDog Pro (by Sausage Software – I have no idea if they are still in business) and enjoyed the coding as much as the content.  I created pages because I could and because I wanted to try new bells and whistles.

Eventually, I moved to Dreamweaver and again, had a great time implementing lots of new functions and creating interactive pages.  I love Dreamweaver and still use it.

However, after hearing that you create web pages, every volunteer organization you are affiliated with wants to recruit you to create their site.  They want it up to date, but don’t want to provide content, they want control, but don’t want to touch it themselves.  You end up putting in more time with clerical changes to the site on their schedule than you do working on new functions or content.  It is no longer fun, but a chore.  I’ve created more than a dozen websites for various non-profit organizations, and maintained them for up to 10 years manually.

Last year when I found Joomla!, it was the epiphany I was waiting for.  I know the CMS industry has been out for a while, but like wikis, you had to know other syntax to use it or had to compromise designs to make it work.  Joomla! lets me create the template and authorize others to keep the information that’s only important to them up to date.  I still get involved for new functions or particularly hard questions, which is what I like.  The drudgery is gone.

I like it because a) it’s open source – no fees, works on the LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) b) web-based means no one has to download/install a program to work with it, universally accessible c) it’s a vibrant community of developers constantly making cool new extensions to add to it.

The extensions I frequently use are:

  • JCE – the best content editor out there – must have for every site.  Beats TinyMCE hollow, but it’s based on the TMCE code.
  • Jevent calendar – I use this on every Joomla! site I set up.  I love the small calendars and latest events modules.
  • EasyGallery – this is a cool photo gallery that just keeps getting better.  The latest version allows you to upload zipped collections of photos and displays them in a lightbox.
  • Mamblog – this blog, though I’m still working on how to use it.
  • dClock – for a high school site that wanted some fun stuff.
  • Ipodnanopro – again for a high school band site.  this is a paid module, but worth it to make my daughter happy
  • Joomap – to automatically create and maintain a site map – this used to be a huge and boring chore.
  • SM2 DB Check – to maintain DB health
  • Ricetarro – Recipe book
  • Fabrik – forms tool
  • lxmenu – cascading menu – I only use the free menu, but wish I could have the professional version.  I just don’t want to pay for it.   
  • GMaps – I haven’t used this much yet, but I plan to.
  • Docman – a document manager I haven’t worked the kinks out of yet
  • JoomlaPack – a backup/recovery utility

I heartily recommend Joomla for those web developers who have wrung the last bit of satisfaction out of traditional HTML development and are looking for the next challenge.

<UPDATE>

As of August, 2014, Elsbernd.com has moved away from Joomla! to a responsive, WordPress design.

<UPDATE AGAIN>

As of November, 2016, Elsbernd.com has returned to Joomla! because of security concerns with WordPress.