An introduction to Joomla was my birthday present to myself this year. If I had known the open source content management system was this good, I would have started using it years ago. Aside from servings of too much food and a little holiday camaraderie, I’ve spent most of my time the last few days marveling at how powerful Joomla can be.
There is a pretty prominent manual in the computing section of the Barnes and Noble I frequent whose title insists a reader can learn Drupal, another open source content management system, over the weekend. Maybe that was in the back of my mind when I decided to check out Joomla after seeing one too many free Joomla templates available for immediate download.
I try to update the look and feel of my personal blogs and websites pretty regularly, which usually means I spend a couple of weekends around this time of year looking for new Blogger templates and new css templates. Once I’ve found what I want, it may take a day or two or three to transpose my content into the html code of my new website template and fiddle with the tweaks necessary to get my new Blogger template properly installed.
Joomla makes these tasks seem like they belong in the Stone Ages of website maintenance. It took a few hours with a couple of online tutorials to load my content into the demo site at Joomla.org, but only a few seconds to upload a new template and designate it as the default face of my site. Instead of looking at a slew of templates and imagining how each one of them would showcase my content, I simply downloaded the ones that caught my eye, if they were free, and gave them a whirl. In a lot of ways, an individual like me using Joomla could be considered overkill, given the amount of content I produce and manage. But I look at it the same way a parent who buys their growing child clothing that is a size too big.
I had actually been leaning towards migrating my blog over to a Wordpress template because of the number and variety of useful plugins that always seem to be popping up on my friend’s blogs. But I’ve been blown away by the manner in which the Joomla system has made me rethink how I see individual bits of content, known as articles in the Joomla nomenclature, and its relationship to the aggregate of content you have assembled. And with the endless number of extensions available to enhance the functionality of this system that I've only begun to explore, the sky truly seems to be the limit to what a user can do with it.
If you run more than one blog, or several web properties, a content management system of some kind seems to be the only way you will be able to keep up with the technical and design changes the web will continue to demand from your sites. It may take me a couple more weekends to really get the hang of manipulating the basic functions of the system, but if it makes updating the look and feel of my websites this easy, it will be well worth the investment.