Joomla’s Coming of Age
You’ve probably heard of, or even used a Content Management System (CMS) in your projects, and as Joomla! is almost ten years old, you may have used it once or twice.
Over the years, there has been a healthy rivalry between the main CMSes in use on the planet: WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla!, and all three have hosts of die-hard fans that would pitch for their favorites over the others any day.
Don’t worry, I’m not about to add to the high pile of subjective CMS comparison posts available on the web.
Instead, I will briefly review all the recent changes in Joomla! that have modernized it for the present day developer – from version 3.0 onwards (currently 3.3).
Joomla! has made it a major point to brush up their game, and give their loyalists a better product by rewriting the whole system from the ground up to fit current trends and structures. Apart from the ever-present exclamation mark that ensures we all stay excited, there have been a whole lot of changes made in the software. Here are some of the new additions that make Joomla! 3.x tick:
Updates are now a breeze
It used to be a major assignment to keep Joomla! websites up to date. First you had to update the core Joomla! install to the latest version. Wait, I jumped the gun – first you had to check that the extensions you used initially will work with the new Joomla version (apologies – I have gotten tired of the exclamation) beforehand. Then if it says so, you update to the latest, then visit each extension’s developer’s website to get the most current version, and update those as well. One by one. All this on your test site, before you proceed and work on the actual site, if all went well.
That was then.
Now, upgrading to the current version is a breeze – at the touch of a button. Joomla 3 even gives you the window to check if any of the extensions you are using have an update, which you can implement from within the website, also at the click of a button. You are still advised to do the updates first on a test location before going live, but they made life easier by giving you the opportunity to do the updates within a shorter timespan.
J3 is M0b1l3 R34dy!
Ok, I got carried away with the numbers a bit there.
The entire front-end and back-end have been overhauled and are now mobile-ready, thanks to the inclusion of the Bootstrap framework and the Joomla Team streamlining the Admin User Experience. It used to be that I needed to get an extension that would allow my clients’ sites to be mobilized, but now, it’s all ready for every kind of device, be it desktop, tablet, or smartphone. According to their site, the site template, admin user interface, and core output are now mobilized and responsive.
User Access Flexibility is on steroids
Users and fans of Joomla had been complaining about the rigidity of user access levels in the system since inception. In fact, some developers took it upon themselves to create extensions to fill that void. From Joomla 2.5, User Access Levels are no longer limited. Users can belong to various Access Groups with different permissions. Fact is, each section of the system, down to articles, and even each extension, can be restricted according to User Access Groups. So if your client is clamoring for access to the back-end, so that they can update their blog section themselves, with Joomla this is now very possible. The Guest User Group is now also included by default.
Going along with Joomla’s goal to be usable for any web project, they have made the latest version very developer-friendly. To aid smoother development, they have included a current Joomla UI Library that gives you a standardized interface with LESS CSS, JQuery, and Bootstrap support, to aid faster, cleaner and smoother development. They also add the icing on the cake by providing a wealth of retina-optimized icons from IcoMoon.
Joomla is now more Security-conscious
Security was a bone of contention to deal with, for Joomla 1.5, as it is for every CMS. Let’s face it – hackers never sleep. Joomla has tried to stay one step ahead by maintaining their list of insecure extensions, and by updating the software to block out detected and reported security loopholes. These security updates are now more frequent, and streamlined with the whole system.
The JED is right under your nose
To get great extensions, all I had to do before was visit the Joomla Extension Directory and search. Joomla 3 brings the directory closer – right in your Extensions Manager within your website. Search, selection and installation are instant.
Joomla now has Smart Search and Tags
Joomla 3 now allows users to add tags to their content, increasing the categorization capabilities. Smart search also increases the speed of searching content and retrieving results.
The Joomla Database is more connected
Joomla now lists database errors at the administrator back-end, for review, and even gives the option to fix it. The system also recognizes manual installs, through the “Discover” option, and allows any found ones to be integrated into the system.
Two things I wish they did not change
I wish they had left alone the smooth installation process. Right now, to install a Joomla 3 package on my test server, I have to do it manually, then I have to create a user manually. Not pretty, in my opinion. I miss the 5 minute install process in Joomla 1.5
I also wish they had continued to allow users access to the Joomla 1.5 extension archives, if only for another year. Many websites have not yet migrated successfully to Joomla 3.x, or even Joomla 2.5 for that matter. I have clients that refuse to see the light but insist on my providing support regardless. This is just a personal wish, though.
The Joomla Team have promised to continue cleaning out old code, and improving the database structure with each release. Let’s see if they can deliver on that promise, and remain one of the best CMS choices out there.
Did I miss anything worthy of note? What is the most important addition that has been made to the new and improved Joomla, in your opinion? Let me know in the comments!