(Skip this post if you don’t know what is Joomla, it is only meant for Joomla Fans)
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Joomla is the MOST popular CMS today. They have a lot of users, a lot of developers, a lot of contributers, a lot of extensions and a lot of templates. I put in a very high expectation on Joomla and have play with it for the last few months. My experience ended up quite disappointed with Joomla and thus I take the time to try out over 30+ CMS, reading their documentations and users feedback. Finally, I admit that Joomla is not for me with the following problems.
#1. Joomla Uses UGLY URLs (No Built-in Friendly URL Support)
As the #1 CMS in the market, Joomla didn’t even have built in SEF (Search Engine Friendly) capability to display nice looking URL. The best built in capability is still something like www.yoursite.com/section/category/2/5 and sometimes it can be as ugly as www.yoursite.com/component/option,com_weblinks/catid,26/Itemid,45/
Long and Ugly. There are 3rd party extensions available, some are free and some are not! Installing and managing the friendly URLs do takes a lot of configurations and a lot of work. Joomla 1.5 is said to put in more attention to SEF, but it will be in 2nd phase. The current Joomla 1.5 beta still doesn’t have any improvement yet.
If you have already have a website and thinking of converting it into CMS, think twice before you choose Joomla. It’s very hard for you to configure Joomla to use your old addresses and naming. Unless you don’t mind losing your old addresses (i.e. lose all the traffic that is going to the old addresses).
#2. No Built-in Comment System!
This is really bullshit, as the so-called #1 content management system, there isn’t built in comment system support for your articles and blogs! You need to install 3rd party extensions and I tried almost all of them, but didn’t like any of them.
#3. Documents are group using Section and Category System
While there are people who like this, I prefer a hierarchy model. All documents in Joomla must be placed in a category. What that means is that if you have 2 sections call FRUITS and COLOR and categories APPLE, ORANGE and MANGO under FRUITS, GREEN, YELLOW, BLUE under COLOR, you must put your document in one of the 6 categories. You cannot put your document under FRUITS or COLOR, nor can you create subcategory under APPLE or BLUE. So everytime you create a document, you must pick 1 section and 1 category.
There are 2 problems. The first one being that if you just want a category call FAQ, you have to first create a ‘ghost’ section call FAQ that you will not use and create FAQ category under the FAQ section. So everytime you create a new item under FAQ, you need to choose FAQ under the section drop down, and then FAQ under the category drop down. This is not logical.
The second problem is already mentioned, you will not be able to have more subcategories. Even there is section and categories, note it is still 1 LEVEL only and not 2 level because you MUST put a document under a category, you cannot put it under a section!
Hierarchy method is a more logical way of grouping, you can create a 1st level call FRUIT, then 2nd level call APPLE & ORANGE and 3rd level call RED APPLE, GREEN APPLE (under APPLE). You can put you documents in any of them! Hierarchy method make more sense. That’s the way how our files are saved in our computer (directories, subdirectories, more subdirectories …) where you can save your file in any of them. That’s also the way how book are indexed (chapters, sub chapters, more sub chapters …).
#4. Poor Documentation for Developers.
Joomla core-developers are busy migrating all their Mambo codes to Joomla and they are too little effort on documentations. If you are new to Joomla and you are a hard-core PHP programmer, you will find it very difficult for you to start making extensions for Joomla. There are not enough tutorials and documentations. Maybe they think it is not worth it to make documentations for Joomla 1.0 as all their effort now is to fully migrate to Joomla 1.5.
#5. Nightmare if you want to add a little PHP code to your site!
Joomla is designed for end-users and expect everything to be easy so that grandma and grandpa can use it easily. However, if you know some PHP and wanna add some dynamic stuff to your site, it can be a nightmare! Even a simple echo “Hello World” will require you to create a complete module/mambot/component (writing XML file, a lot of joomla-integration PHP codes, etc). There isn’t a more simple way to quickly put some PHP code.
For other CMS like Drupal, MODx, WebsiteBaker, etc, you can easily add some PHP code to extend your site.
#6. A Joomla site is very fixed to its Pattern
What I mean is that you can easily recognize a site being made by Joomla by looking at a few things. Most of the time you can see from the urly URLs (look for the word component and option) This search in Google looking for both keyword in the URLs return 13 million pages
Others include the way they list our their categories with a bullet on the left and with a bracket that contain the articles count on the right. Also thanks to their Section/Category structure, you can only see a long flat list of documents listed in a category because there isn’t any hierarchy. There is also an easy recognizable filter, order, display row on top of listing. And lastly the << Start < Prev 1 Next > End >> Joomla Signature found under the listing of their documents.
Something Good About Joomla
Ok, I have bash too much about Joomla and with their fan base, I will not be able to stay alive long. So here are some praises for Joomla.
1. Should be the CMS with the most templates available! (only maybe WordPress can have a little bit more)
2. So many users that the website and forum is extremely active! Joomla.org is the top 500 most visited sites of the internet according to Alexa!
3. A very BIG and dedicated team behind Joomla. So Joomla will continue to grow rapidly in the future. You don’t need to worry that it will be abandoned like some of other CMS (or maybe wait very long for new releases).
4. Hopefully after they read this post, they will do something on it and I can blog “Why Joomla Rocks!” in 2007!