Discussing Joomla!

One of the neat things about managing a site like CMSReport.com is that discussion on a topic can happen when you least expected. This is exactly what happened in the comment section of a rather benign post regarding a Latin American University's use of the content management system, Joomla! I was thanked by Open Source Community's Amy Stephen, also a Joomla! user, for posting an excerpt from one of the Joomla! working group blogs. Instead of a "you're welcome" I decided to ask some questions that have been puzzling me about the Joomla! community for some time.

Instead of hiding that discussion, I've attached the comments so far in the conversation. I'd really like to continue the discussion further with other Joomla! users. I think this is a good discussion for anyone like me who is trying to get to know Joomla! and its community better. Before I continue, let me share with you two personal motives for why I want to strike a conversation about Joomla!

  1. I'm considering using Joomla! for a project. While I've installed and played with Joomla! many times (mostly 1.0.x though recently 1.5), I've never actually used Joomla! for a live production site.
  2. Conversations with Joomla! user now using Drupal. While attending a recent Drupal Meetup, I spent my time talking about Joomla! and SharePoint. There was a new Drupal user at the meeting who was frustrated with the short-comings of Joomla! and was beginning to migrate over to Drupal. However, he still spoke highly of Joomla! and its community. It was an interesting one-on-one conversation in that while he wanted to like Drupal, he didn't quite get Drupal. It struck me that while I have wanted to like Joomla!, I have never really understood Joomla!. I left that Drupal meetup wanting to know more about Joomla!

So there is there is my motive for wanting to have more discussion about Joomla! In a nutshell, I want to like Joomla!, I just don't quite get it. Let's continue the discussion we've already started and help more non-Joomla! users like me out.



Like to share more

I'd like to share more Joomla! news, though these days I appear to be looking in the wrong direction. In fact, I've even had Drupal people ask me why I don't put more Joomla! news up. However, the majority of the RSS feeds I'm looking at from Joomla.org appears to give me a lot of advertisement (Joomla! templates, hosting, tutorials at a cost, Joomla services at a cost).

Does Joomla have something comparable to a Planet Mozzila or Planet Drupal...that appears to be more community based and less commercial based? By the way, why does Joomla.org use Wordpress for blogging and not some type of built-in module/extension for blogging? This is not an attack against Joomla! and more than Amy can answer this question. It's just that I've always been curious as to why Joomla! relies so much on third-parties for bridges/extensions to such CMS features as a forum and blogs?

... that appears to be more

... that appears to be more community based and less commercial based?

You're right. We need reach other people than just developers. If we want spread open solutions, we should write news for non technical profiles ! But where publish it ?

Communities have life

Communities have life cycles. Joomla! is 2 1/2 years old - Drupal is 8. It should not come as a big surprise to see advanced community processes in Drupal.The Joomla! community is strengthening. In many ways, we are like an enormous, disfunctional, fiercely loyal family and how we go through transitions is sometimes like watching sausage made. :P Drupal is going through a transformation right now, too. Some will love it and engage further; others will not feel the same.

Forums are not the future. Truthfully, Drupal's forum isn't Drupal's strength, anyway :P Drupal is coming from Bulletin Board beginnings -- Joomla! from CMS roots. I think that point, alone, explains a lot. Regardless, where we came from is of little consequence. Gaps are being bridged and now we are rapidly heading towards the Semantic Web - social networking - VOIP and other collaboration improvements.

You know, Bryan, the WWW was invented in 1989, the year my daughter was born. She was very young - not yet in school - when a friend of mine and I sat at a computer and used this thing we heard about called a Mosiac Browser. There were no images - no Flash - no Javascript - no PHP - certainly not tens of thousands of database driven websites on GoDaddy each sharing 2 gig photo galleries of children growing older, vacations at the beach and home remodeling projects. Even then, though, looking at directory listings and text files from all over the globe, we knew we were seeing something that would change our world.

The list of CMS's you have at the left will grow, and grow, and grow, until we start to realize that at some point, software became a freely available raw material, not any more or less available simply because another copy was downloaded by one more person. Websites, as we know them, will fall away. The railroad will have been built by an intelligent, volunteer crowd, somehow able to collaborate over long distances, without benefit of organizational structure or HR departments, without payment, for crying out loud, overcoming very real human failings long enough to produce what is necessary for our species.

It might not look like it, but, I really did answer your question to the best of my ability. ;-)

Let's not talk Drupal

You keep bringing up Drupal in our discussions about Joomla!, quit that! laugh

Beyond using Drupal (as well as Mozzila) as examples of Planets I find informative...I was fully focused on Joomla!. I'm just asking if Joomla! has a good RSS feed that's more community driven than commercial driven? I think I'm using the wrong RSS feeds. Does any Joomla! fans have some recommendations?

Amy, as you know...a lot of effort at Joomla.org has gone into integrating/bridging non-Joomla apps...Wordpress, phpBB, and and one time SMF. A CMS that bridges such features with independent apps (forum apps, blog apps, shopping cart apps) instead of their own dependent modules intrigue me...because I see both the pluses and minuses. Using a CMS that bridges your Wordpress blog makes it easy if you are using Wordpress and doesn't require CMS "lock-in". However, also wonder about the headaches for the CMS developers and site owners when Wordpress decides to make significant API/template changes.

It's not just Joomla that does this but many other CMS, with ECM Alfresco coming to mind. I'm curious if Joomla! community itself is pushing for those features in their "core" as Joomla! matures or find the current model working for them? Not really judging Joomla! for their choices. I do admit though that I have a bias about CMS that try to deliver the features within the core or fully supported modules/plugins/extensions. It's one of the reasons that I keep an eye on not just Drupal, but e107, and in some features...CMS Made Simple.

You are wrong though, my list of CMS on the left will not grow larger. I decided a year ago to cap my list to my top 30. The CMS I list on the left all have to interest me personally and having only 30 keeps the site honest. The past few months I've had people beg and offer money to have their CMS included on the left even though I know very little about them. It's not money I want from these people, it's participation and conversation.

Actually, you said "Drupal

Actually, you said "Drupal people" asking, you talked about "Drupal's native forum" and "Drupal's communication methods" with Planet. Frankly, I'd rather not compare. But, in all honestly, you were and you still are. You are approaching this from your experience from Drupal - how Drupal operates - Drupal's core - Drupal's forums - and asking why J! is different.

OK. Let's get busy - here's some straight talk on Joomla! - from my perspective -

- Joomla! is huge. Some think it's ten times the install base of Drupal. Some think there are even more J! installs than WP. (I find that hard to believe, but the graphs seem to support it.)

- Commercial is not the same as proprietary. (We've had this talk - it's a license thing. not a charge thing. Acquia is really showing how to do commercial GPL - well within the terms of the license.)

- Yes, there are more commercial "ads" than informational blogs in the J! community. Why? Well, I suppose there are a few reasons for that. First of all, when you have ten times the customer base, advertising will increase. Secondly, Joomla! has working groups who communicate in the forums and on Google Groups and via email and Skype. So, you won't see that communication in your RSS feeds.

- In an open source community, the most active people tend to be commercial. It makes some sense since it is their livlihood. In communities where code is shared on a common SVN, "advertising" tends to be more about reputation, contributions, involvement. So, communication looks different.

The RSS feed you are talking about from Joomla! is not managed like WordPress's RSS feed inside of their admin utility or Drupal's. Dude - you gotta be on the "A" list to make that feed. In Joomla!, you have to submit the news item. So, turning the question around, how do you think a community's RSS feeds might change if those feeds were liberated a bit? Would they become more self-promoting? Advertising?

I look forward to Joomla! continuing to mature in this way and to use blogging for discussion of concepts. Sorry, but Drupal will be heading the other way. :P WordPress is taking huge steps towards the CMS market and the group blogging environment. Will be interesting to see if their discussions get more lofty or more commercial.

I tried for polite and subtle, but, apparently just turned out to be unclear. Straight up - the WP integration was ridiculous. Who in their right mind would put someone else's CMS inside of their own? Time would have been better spent on a little comment module. The person who reached that conclusion is gone.

I can't think of an open source CMS that doesn't integrate with phpBB or SMF. That includes WordPress and Drupal. Sorry, but, Drupal's forum is not the best. Neither is WordPress's. Joomla! does have a native forum. It's called FireBoard. I don't think it's any worse - or any better - than the other two.

Perhaps others who focus exclusively on forums, build better forums?

Is there any CMS with a native shopping cart app? But, if you need strong support for eCommerce - does anyone doubt that Joomla! is clearly in front?

It is odd to hear you say you prefer a CMS that delivers more features in core. Drupal doesn't come with much in Core, at all. WordPress is just cute as a button - but - it's lean and mean in core, too. Have you heard the claim that Joomla! is bloated? Well - it's because SO MUCH is bundled in core. The talk in Joomla! is increasingly about unloading that baby fat and stripping down to the shiny new MVC application architecture, object oriented environment underneath. Getting naked, as it were.

I didn't mean "your" list. I meant "the list" of OSCMS options available to the world. My apologies for my poor wording. :P

Amy beams. :-)


Good discussion

This is actually good discussion. Though, again I'm not trying to push anyone into defending Joomla! here, but instead discussing Joomla!

With regards to "shopping carts", I probably could have clarified better. I wasn't so much trying to say that it should be part of the initial core package, but instead looking at shopping carts that are dependent on the core. For example, Joomla! reliance on an osCommerce bridge never really went far enough for most Joomla! users. This in turn prompted the need for the very well done Joomla! extension, VirtueMart. Someone in the Joomla! community recognized the need to not build bridges but to give Joomla! its very own ecommerce extension and some big pluses were gained.

This is why I wonder for Joomla! or any other CMS whether in the long run they're better served with creating bridges to other independent Web apps or to create modules/extensions/plug-ins that that are dependent on the CMS to deliver.

I'm struggling with a client's site that depends on SMF for a forum, osCommerce for a shopping cart, and some poorly written PHP scripts I wrote for him to glue it all together. The site needs an upgrade. Because Joomla! does a better job in bridging with forums (whether it is SMF or phpBB) than Drupal and the community is more open to the idea of bridges, I'm considering using Joomla! Actually neither Drupal or Joomla may be my first choice, but that's another discussion. My point is that no matter what type of CMS portal I may decide to use, a decision needs to be made whether to continue bridging the CMS with independent apps or using modules/extensions/plugins that are written exclusively for that CMS (ie VirtueCart).

From my perspective, CMS projects that have solutions from within the project serve the users better in the long run. I agree with you that a CMS provided feature (whether in the core or a dependent plugin/module/extension) such as a forum, blog, etc is usually not as good in features as an independent application (such as Wordpress, SMF, phpBB, etc). Yet, in the long-term, I often wonder whether such bridges are really a solution. This is a question I've pondered for some time and it's not really just a Drupal or Joomla question.

Either way, I agree that social software is changing the landscape once again. The independent forums and blogs as we know them now is quickly being pushed out of the spotlight by advances in modern social publishing systems. I think even many of the CMS on "my list" will either have to evolve into more social features or be dead projects in a year or two. Things are changing quickly...