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In CMS Fundamentals, James Williamson defines content management systems (CMSs) and explains their role in web site development. The course demonstrates the different CMS solutions available today, including WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla; reviews CMS terminology and best practices; and shows how to develop a content management strategy. Guidelines are also included for evaluating a potential CMS, whether hosted or self-hosted, open source or proprietary, and choosing a CMS based on a specific need or focus.
Joomla! is another very popular open-source CMS. It's extremely powerful, and it's capable of creating and managing large, heavily trafficked sites. What's really nice about Joomla! is that despite its power it's straightforward enough to be used for pretty much any site, regardless of size or complexity. Although having prior web design and development experience will help you get the most out of Joomla!, a novice web designer could use Joomla! to get a site up and running fairly quickly. To give you a better idea of what Joomla! is capable of, let's take a closer look at how it works.
For most people, Joomla!'s content system takes a little time getting use to. The default structure has three tiers to it: sections, categories, and articles. Articles are the actual pieces of content and are associated with categories when added to the site. This is a little easier to visualize if you think of sections as a file box, categories as folders inside the box, and articles as pieces of paper in the folder. For more complex sites, this rigid structure can make some tasks more difficult than you'd like.
The most recent release of Joomla! allows you to merge sections and categories, which should give you a little bit more flexibility when needing to display related content. Once the content has been structured, pages within the site are built using Joomla's menu system. This is another concept that can be a little confusing at first. Basically, to add content to the site, you create a new menu item, associate that with a menu item type, which can be anything from custom pages like a contact page or a blog layout, to an individual article of content.
Now, that might seem a little obtuse at first, but trust me, after you do it once or twice, it becomes pretty straightforward. The page layout and customization is handled through templates. A Joomla! template is a mixture of static HTML that controls layout, modules that add functionality like menus, search boxes, or other functional plug-ins, and a content component. Although templates can have as many modules as you'd like, you can only have one component per page. Components hold the main areas of content on the page, and they can be anything from a single article, to a blog or a message board.
Much like Drupal, Joomla! Has a huge feature set that is further extended by modules. Joomla! has a fairly robust roles and permissions, with nine built-in user groups and extensions that let you have even more granular control over those roles and permissions. Joomla! also has a media manager that assists in managing images and any other file type that you need on your site. It also supports multiple sites and has multilingual support, although it isn't as powerful as some of the other systems.
One of the more intriguing features of Joomla! is that every Joomla! install also contains a Moodle installation, meaning that in addition to its powerful content management tools, you can also handle complex e-learning tasks. Now I've often heard that Joomla! is targeted more towards designers than say Drupal, but I'm not sure that's true. Joomla! is certainly is easier to set up and administer than Drupal, but the templating system is often seen as restrictive and hard to update. Now I simply see Joomla! as a powerful alternative to Drupal.
It might not be quite as flexible, but it makes up for that by being easier to set up and use. You can build almost any site you can imagine using Joomla!. And it handles large sites and heavy traffic just fine. Some of the more complex sites that have really complicated content relationships can sometimes be hard to build in Joomla!. But for the most part, if you can dream it up, Joomla! can build it. The development community for Joomla! is also a quite strong, and there is a huge amount of modules available to extend at Joomla's core feature sets.
Much like Drupal, it's quite easy to find a developer if you need a custom module or help developing your site. Learn more about Joomla! and even test-drive the demo at joomla.org.
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