Not long ago, in a less civilized time, we couldn’t design really awesome web content in a web browser, and our users and customers couldn’t manage their own blogs, storefronts, and whatever else they pleased on our web services. Content Management Systems changed that, so now we can offer all the commentary, streaming video, and self-promotion to anyone with an internet connection directly from their web browser. Content Management Systems (CMS) are great. It’s hard to imagine what did without them!
This revolution in web service management has produced many competing CMS technologies, and you’ve likely heard of the more popular ones. Joomla! is an open-source CMS that followed the demise of an earlier popular service Mambo, which is likely making a comeback. Because of Mambo’s popularity at its peak, it makes sense that many web developers turned to Joomla! when Mambo lost ongoing development and support. However, Joomla! was not the gem Mambo once was.
First, the open-source community descended on Joomla! with wanton abandon. Without sufficient core guiding principles and good curation by experienced developers, Joomla! soon become overloaded with templates and extensions designed by web developers young and old. While this does produce a variety of solutions to many web development problems, the result is a list of over 3000 extensions (now approaching 4000) to sort through looking for the right extension to fulfill your specific needs.
For even experienced developers, it can be just as time consuming to test solutions until you find the right one and figure out how to get the extensions to cooperate as is it is to engineer a custom solution from scratch. One of the primary benefits of any CMS system should be rapid development, and Joomla! today cannot get out of its own way to provide a concise set of usable common solutions. Instead, the curse of spaghetti code and far too many options bogs down the entire development process.
The proliferation of extensions and templates also makes each Joomla! site very different. This isn’t an issue if you are the sole developer, but when you collaborate with a larger group or incorporate new members, familiarity with the Joomla! CMS is seldom applicable from one site to the next. In this way, Joomla! occupies an awkward space between a familiar set of somewhat limited tools that translate well across implementations, like WordPress, and a powerful developer-oriented CMS with customizable components, like Drupal. Investing in a flawed system is counter to the interests of most businesses and the interests of developers who want to cultivate marketable and recyclable skills. Therefore, Joomla! is seldom useful for any long-term strategies in the eCommerce marketplace.
Finally, ongoing support for a Joomla! site can accelerate into a nightmare. Extensions lose developer support, interoperating components work in unintuitive and often arcane ways, and there is seldom any guarantee that designer options are well engineered. This leads to fragile sites that fail in unpredictable ways. When Paypal alters their policies or your customers want to host content using a new streaming engine, a Joomla! site can become your worst enemy, and no CMS should force anyone to tell their biggest client to wait another 48 hours for a fix that might not arrive.
Don’t let this happen to you. Avoid Joomla!