Joomla is widely regarded to be one of the more popular content management systems in the world. Some claim it is second only to WordPress in popularity among professional bloggers, but many people know little about the application.
Content Management and Joomla
A content management system is a piece of software that allows websites to be built easily and efficiently, by automating the tracking and allocation of resources for a site. Content management systems are also well known for being easy to use for people outside of the development community. While a limited amount of specialized knowledge on how to use the tool is required, users do not need to know how to write code. This makes content management systems more accessible to the general public than code based options. The Joomla tool is open source, meaning that access to the system's code is unlimited and modifications can be made without prior permission of the developer.
Joomla began as a fork of Mambo, a different CMS system. The tool was first launched in August of 2005, but broke ties with Mambo after a conflict of ideology. The conflict centered around the values of open source, which requires both universal access to a product's design with a free license and the universal right to redistribution. This prompted the Joomla developers to create the OpenSourceMatters.org website and split into a separate entity. Since then, three versions of the software have been released. The most recent of which was released in September of 2012. Some features of note that were added in the current version included: the incorporation of Twitter Bootstrap into a jui media package, the addition of a PostgreSQL Driver, a simplified installation process and allowing for the installation of language packages directly from the extension manager.
Joomla uses a three-tiered system of articles, which allows users to organize files in a way that makes content accessible. This organization does not have to reflect the structure of the website's final design. This allows for a system that both maximizes user experience and administrator efficiency. The WYSIWYG editor allows for the generation of content by users unfamiliar with code. The system also allows for built in archiving of legacy content, allowing it to remain with the site even though it is not visible to visitors. The current version also has an enhanced smart search and added a mobile device friendly administrator template, dubbed ISIS, to the software package.
Joomla is used to make a wide variety of websites, from Quizilla to the site for iHop restaurants. To that end it supports a variety of features, which include:
In addition, Joomla is well known for its expandability. The system allows for people with development knowledge to create add-on's to the system's basic framework. These tools can be used to provide ecommerce systems, create custom catalogues or to allow Joomla to interface with other tools. These add-on's, known as "Extensions", can also be shared via a site called the Joomla Extensions Directory. The Joomla Extensions Directory can be found online at http://extensions.joomla.org/. As with the main program, extensions are available as free downloads to the public.
The majority of management in Joomla will be done during setup. If templates are created correctly, and user categories are well defined, there should be little need for technical support. The need to correctly define access privileges however is critical, and may be a moving target. If a site is growing, or generates a large amount of user content, then these needs may have to be readjusted over time.
The management of any extensions added to the site, however, is a different matter. Most of these must be manually updated from time to time. Failing to update extensions could potentially cause lapses in security. This can be done quite simply. Choose "Extension Manager", under the Extensions menu. Now choose "update" from the menu on the left. Then check the box next to the item you wish to update. Click on the "update" button.
It is important to note however that not all extensions can be updated in this manner. A quarterly check of the sites of developers of these products is recommended to keep up to date. Installation instructions on these products will vary.
Joomla itself will also require updating from time to time. In the event that a version needs to be updated, or migrated if you missed a version in between, the site offers a variety of tutorials designed to help with the change. The videos can be found at www.siteground.com/tutorials/joomla-video/.
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